Checking in with the Drew University professor after her win
July 2022 – Last we spoke with Brianne Barker, Drew University associate professor and chair of biology, she couldn’t tell us how her first game competing on Jeopardy! went.
After a watch party on campus and a nerve-wracking win, we had a few more questions for Brianne Barker.
Ahem, that’s Jeopardy! Champion Brianne Barker now.
What was it like to win?
Any lucky charms?
“Some friends’ daughters drew me some pictures, which I had with me in my bag, and made me some good luck charms, which were in my pocket. I am sure that they were the keys to helping me out. I was also wearing some virus earrings.”
“The buzzer itself is pretty easy to use: ringing in reminded me of using a micropipette in the lab, which I do every day. The buzzer system, however, is a whole other issue. The buzzers are not active until the host finishes reading the question, at which time a judge pushes a button to activate the buzzers and also turn on a light next to the board. If you ring in too early, your buzzer is deactivated for a short time, giving the other contestants a chance to ring in before you. During our rehearsal games, I buzzed in way too early most of the time since I was listening for Ken to finish reading the question rather than waiting for the light.”
“According to the Jeopardy! stats website, I tried to ring in on 32 of the questions (out of 57, if I am doing my math right), but I was only able to get in to answer 18.”
Any moments you felt particularly confident or worried?
“I felt quite worried at the start of the game. Ed seemed tough to beat and I had a lot of trouble with the buzzer in the rehearsal games. I felt a bit more confident when I was able to successfully buzz in to the first question and I realized that I had figured out the buzzer. I also felt pretty good when answering the questions about the COVID-19 variant and about March Madness, as I am a huge college basketball fan. I was also quite worried when I saw the Final Jeopardy! question (as I should have been, since none of us answered correctly), particularly since Ed was in the lead going into Final Jeopardy!”
Now that you can tell us you won a game (at least), do you stand by your telling us the friends you made were the best part of the experience?
“Yes, the friends I made were certainly at the top of the list. The support from the Drew community and friends and family across the world have also been a pretty fantastic part. I am thinking about using some of my winnings for travel, so I suppose you can ask me again after I take that trip.”
Jeopardy! posted a behind-the-scenes video of the end credits chat between host Ken Jennings and the three contestants.