Ian Lipkin, world-renowned virus hunter, is often jetting off to far-flung countries—countries in the middle of strange epidemics, that is. From SARS in China to MERS in Saudi Arabia, his lab has discovered or characterized over 500 viruses previously mysterious to humans. But what’s it like working on the frontlines of an epidemic? How do you identify a virus you can’t even see? Gizmodo got in touch with Lipkin to ask some questions about the life of a virus hunter.