Research assistant fulfills longtime dream of ‘Jeopardy!’ appearance

Kyle Becker will appear on "Jeopardy!" beginning Dec. 4. (submitted photo)
Kyle Becker will appear on “Jeopardy!” beginning Dec. 4. (submitted photo)

Kyle Becker started watching Jeopardy! in middle school, shouting out questions to the TV and dreaming of the day he’d be hitting that buzzer for real.

The Vanderbilt University alumnus and research assistant finally got his shot in a Culver City, California, studio earlier this year, feeling slightly nauseated as he stood in front of Alex Trebek and a live studio audience.

He’s barred from sharing how he did, but the nation can watch for itself on Dec. 4. The station and time differs by location, but in Nashville, the show will air at 5 p.m. on Fox 17.

To qualify, Becker had to pass an online test, then an in-person written test and finally a mock round, held in downtown Nashville, that shows recruiters if potential contestants can keep the game going and comfortably interact with the host. Becker taped his show in August.

“I just got in the zone,” he said. “During the commercial breaks, I’d step off the podium and stretch and take deep breaths, preparing myself to go back in.”

Becker, who earned his master’s in microbiology and immunology from Vanderbilt in 2014, works in the lab of John Wilson, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering. The team’s research area is programming nanoparticles to make the immune system attack cancers.