Fellow Tetrapod interviews 1

Koenraad “Koen” Robbert Ruis (b. Rotterdam 1988) is an evolutionary biologist who enjoys taxidermy and cooking, sometimes at the same time. PhD Evolutionary Biology from University of Groningen, MA in International Affairs, Conflict Resolution, and Civil Society Development.

What do you care about?
Well, I care about people. Maybe this is a not so normal thing for an evolutionary biologist to say. Why didn’t I become a doctor or a psychologist? Because people – humans – need around them an environment of non-humans. I mean trees, grass, dogs, earthworms, even leeches. You can’t really be a person in a concrete box, can you? No, to make a good life, a cozy life, one needs an entire complex edifice of species that have co-evolved with us. That’s just the kind of animal we are.

How are you an outcast?
I do not think I am an outcast. I am always surrounded by people. I love to invite guests to my flat and show them my taxidermy and feed them my cooking. “Sometimes both are from the same animal!” I joke. Alright, I am a bit grotesque. Maybe some people don’t accept the second invitation. That’s not so easy when those people are one’s colleagues. Yes, things were hard when I lived in Paris. Politicians do not seem to have the same sense of humor as biologists. If this is an issue for my new colleagues in Convention City, I shall make fewer jokes and more delicious meals.

What are you good at?
Of course I am well-qualified in evolutionary biology and international conflict resolution. This is not boasting – this is the reason why I was accepted into the staff of the United Nations mission to the Convention of Sapient Species. But that you may read from my CV, and about cooking and taxidermy I have already told you. I suppose at base I am good at keeping an open mind and remaining affable. These and studying hard, of course!

What flaw do you have that makes the above skill difficult to put into practice?
This is another question very like a job interview. I’ll do my best to answer. I am friendly, and most people return the favor, but I bore easily. Most of my conversations are with politicians who do not care about non-humans, or biologists who do not care about humans. Does this mean my sin is pride? Alienation? Well, this is why my hopes are high for the CSS, a polity of non-humans, after all. Maybe in Convention City, I will no longer be a host with no guests.

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