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WNC college professor competes on her favorite childhood TV quiz show - Jeopardy!

Warren Wilson College Professor Alisa Hove, Ph.D., with host Mayim Bialik, competes in the inaugural Jeopardy! Professors Tournament on Friday, December 10.

  12/10 Exciting update!  Alisa Hove is advancing to the  Jeopardy! semifinals:   https://www.jeopardy.com/contestant-zone/2021/professors-tournament

Heads-upJeopardy!fans:  A college professor from Western North Carolina is putting her skills to the test as a competitor on the brain bending quiz show. BPR's Helen Chickering reports. 

Here's the clue:  She's a botanist, an avid reader and chairs the Biology Department at Warren Wilson College.

“One of my research projects involves looking at the genetics of American Ginseng, which is a really important cultural plant in this region that is at risk of being over harvested. “

The answer: Who is Alisa Hove, Ph.D. ?

Along with her long list of academic credentials (check out some of her research here), Hove is one of 15 professors from around the country chosen to compete in the first ever Jeopardy! Professors Tournament.

“I grew up watching Jeopardy!,” says Hove.  “ In my family, that was our favorite show. And we'd get together every night, trying to shout out the answers to the television  -  learning about lots of different kinds of things, ranging from science to pop culture, to history.  I've always enjoyed the show.”

So decades later, when she learned about a chance to try out for the show, Hove went for it,  and to her delight, she got a call back.                                                                                                                            

Warren Wilson College Professor Alisa Hove, Ph.D.,  with fellow competitors in the inaugural Jeopardy! Professors Tournament

“And then a few months later, I got an another call saying they wanted me to play                                            some Zoom based games of Jeopardy using ballpoint pens as the buzzer.”

And before she knew it, the book-loving biology professor was hopping a plane to Los Angeles to compete.

“When I got on the set, it was so surreal,  just to be up there and see all of the lights and the giant screen. And all of the competitors/professors – we were used to public speaking and all of that. But on a game show Hollywood television set, well….. we were all out of our element and we just kind of bonded over that!”

Along with reading, Hove says her Jeopardy! strategies included lots of geography quizzes, and playing along with the show, practicing with her ballpoint pen buzzer.

“It was a dream come true.   Really, to be able to just engage in that way with a favorite TV show from childhood – so cool!”

That Jeopardy! dream come true hits the air Friday night, December 10,  when Hove competes against a business professor from the University of San Francisco and an associate professor of French literature from the University of Delaware. I'm Helen Chickering BPR news.

The 15 educators are competing  for a $100,000 grand prize and a spot in the upcoming Tournament of Champions.   The tournament will air on consecutive weeknights until a champion is crowned on Friday, December 17.    The tournament is hosted by Mayim Bialik, an American actress known for her roles as Amy Farrah Fowler on “The Big Bang Theory,” Blossom Russo on “Blossom” and Kat on “Call Me Kat.”  For more information, please visit jeopardy.com/contestant-zone/2021/professors-tournament. Check local listings for show times and stations.

Helen Chickering is a host and reporter on Blue Ridge Public Radio. She joined the station in November 2014.