Editor’s note: Nancy Cox is the founder of Research Story Consulting and former CPG corporate researcher. Her work and play include words, sketchpads, cooking (not baking) and the occasional sock puppet.

Passions, hobbies, healthy distractions and even guilty pleasures – discover how the research community plays and how that plays out in their work life. In the Venn diagram of work and play, what happens when work and play overlap? Research colleagues share their work and play stories in this interview series by Nancy Cox. 

I’m working on my FAA license to be a commercial drone pilot. Drones let you do aerial photography and video which not long ago may have required a helicopter. Helicopters aren’t cheap, you need a highly-trained pilot and you can’t fly a helicopter out of most backyards! Drone technology is this great democratization of aviation opening the field to so many individuals. 

I’ve always had an interest in aviation but never had the time and cost commitment to pursue flying. Drone flying allows me to apply all the principles of flight. It’s super approachable, the costs are very low and my backyard is my airport.

One of the things I love about drone flying is that on the back end, I download lots of data. My drone collects over 200 unique measures or data points 10X a second! For example, I get data on altitude, signal strength of the remote controller, rate of vertical climb or descent, distance from point of takeoff. The Excel spreadsheet I get back is immense. Looking for relationships between those data points helps me build my piloting skills and understand the limitation of my drone.

Two of my favorite drone moments happened when I got video of large birds in flight from the perspective of above the birds. One time flying above a v-formation of Canada geese and another time with a hawk. With the hawk, it was also a scary moment as hawks are known to be territorial. H...