5 Questions with Whitney Wood

Whitney Wood stands on the Jeopardy! stage with host Mayim Bialik.

Dr. Whitney Wood, right, stands with Jeopardy! host Mayim Bialik. Photo courtesy of Jeopardy! Productions, Inc.

August 23, 2022 - 10:15am

Dr. Whitney Wood crossed one more thing off her bucket list this summer when she appeared on Jeopardy! in June.

The audition process started in 2019 and was delayed because of the pandemic, but in the spring of 2022 she got the call to appear on the show. The episode was taped at the end of April and aired on June 23. Wood scored second behind Jeff Weinstock. 

Wood is Vancouver Island University’s (VIU’s) Canada Research Chair in the Historical Dimensions of Women’s Health. Her research focuses on the history of women’s pain in modern Canada and the goal of her work is to improve women’s encounters with the Canadian health-care system. She earned her PhD from Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ont. in 2016 and joined VIU in 2019.

We caught up with Wood to learn about what the audition process for the show was like, her experience appearing on Jeopardy! and what’s next for her.

What motivated you to audition to become a contestant?

I’ve been a fan of Jeopardy! for as long as I can remember and auditioned, unsuccessfully, for the Teen Tournament in 2004. In the years since, watching Jeopardy! became a regular part of my evening routine, and I’ve enjoyed following some of the exciting contestants who have appeared in recent years. When I heard about the possibility of writing the online test that represented the first part of the audition process, I jumped at the chance.

What was that process like?

Longer than you might expect! I wrote the initial online test in fall 2019, shortly after beginning my current position at VIU, and was invited to attend an in-person audition in March 2020. For obvious reasons, that in-person audition was cancelled, and due to the ongoing global pandemic, the entire process (additional tests and practice games over the next 18 months or so) moved online. I got the call to appear on the show in spring 2022. 

How did you prepare for this opportunity?

Jeopardy! contestants generally have about three weeks from the time they are invited to appear on the show until their tape date. While I studied some of the most common categories that appear on the show – things like world capitals, etc. ­– during that brief window, I also recognized that luck plays a huge role in the categories that appear on any given episode. The best preparation, then, might be just to be curious about the world around you – although in hindsight, there are some subjects that I definitely could have reviewed in greater detail! 

What was it like being on the show?

Being on Jeopardy! was such a fun and overwhelming experience. It was incredibly impressive to see how Jeopardy! producers and crew worked in concert to film episodes – they shoot five in a single day – so smoothly and efficiently. It was great to meet the other contestants and hear about their own paths to the show, and being on the Jeopardy! stage, with the giant game-board ahead of us, was surreal. 

Now that you’ve crossed this item off your bucket list, what’s next?

Nothing too exciting ­– a return to normal academic life, research and teaching, including some less stressful Jeopardy! viewing. I’m looking forward to the upcoming Tournament of Champions and seeing some of the great champs from the past year – including Amy Schneider and Canadian Mattea Roach – compete head-to-head. 


Tags: 5 Questions

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