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CDC employee, former Ga. Tech post-doc fellow on ‘Survivor’ season 37 ‘David vs. Goliath’

Davie Rickenbacker and Christian Hubicki are vying for $1 million

Originally posted Wednesday, September 5, 2018 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

An employee at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a former Georgia Tech post-doctoral robotics research scientist are part of the upcoming 37th season of CBS’s “Survivor.” A Clark Atlanta University graduate is also in the mix to win $1 million. 

The twist this year is 10 folks will be deemed “Davids” and the other 10 “Goliaths.” The Davids appear meek on the surface but are supposedly fierce underneath. The Goliaths are considered those with great advantages who are happy to squash opponents in their wake. 

The show has separated groups in the past in similar fashion. A recent iteration broke them into “white collar,” “blue collar” and “no collar.” They’ve used “villains” and “heroes.” They’ve placed past fan favorites with super fans of the show. Their most controversial split was one season broken down by race. 

Davie Rickenbacker, a health communications specialist at the CDC since 2016, is 30 years old and has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Tuskegee University. He’s part of the “David” team. 

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His hobbies include “swimming, hiking, biking, fishing - basically any outdoor activity that involves my huskies, playing scrabble, cosplaying, and memes!”

On his “Survivor” bio, he wrote that “there’s nothing that bothers me more than a lazy person who acts privileged around those who’ve had to work for things their entire life.” 

Davie on his public Facebook page wrote that “since I was a little boy, it has always been my life-long dream to compete in the reality show Survivor.” [He was 12 when the show debuted.]

“I am eternally thankful that God has granted me this wish and I hope to make all of you proud!” he added. 
He was more self-deprecating on Instagram, calling himself an official “Z-List Celeb.”


Christian Hubicki ,32, was a post-doctoral fellow at Georgia Tech starting in 2015. He was part of Tech’s AMBER bipedal robotics laboratory where he developed control methods for legged robots. Later, he joined Georgia Tech's CRAB lab to explore the interaction of robotic locomotion and the physics of complex substrates. 

A Bucknell College graduate and also part of the David team, he is now an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Florida A&M University. 

“They’re going to think I’m weaker than I am,” Hubicki said in the preview video CBS released during the season 36 finale. “They will assume I’m just a huge nerd - which is not entirely incorrect. But I really studied this game very hard. I’m going to show that I’m good at it. You might be surprised about what I can pull out.”
According to a questionnaire posted by EW, Hubicki greatly admires former player Stephen Fishbach: “he talked about the game as a chaotic whirlpool of alliances, and his nerdy game analysis warms my heart.”

Hubicki’s ATRIAS robot appeared on “Late Night With Stephen Colbert”in 2016.

A third contestant, Jeremy Crawford, a 40-year-old New York attorney and part of the Goliath team, graduated from Clark Atlanta University in 2000. He got his law degree from Wake Forest. He provided EW with this synopsis on who he is: “My personality will not allow me to fly under the radar, but I think my honesty and humor can take me for as long as I make a strong partnership.”

Jeremy Crawford, a New York-based attorney, was raised in South Carolina and graduated Clark Atlanta University in 2000.

Three contestants cited Parvati Shallow as one of their inspirations. The Georgia native won “Survivor: Micronesia”and appeared three times on the show. Kara Kay said “her alliances were well thought out and she made power plays at the right time.”

Another, Gabby Pascuzzi, cited her in a tongue-in-cheek fashion, saying she’s “flirty like Parvati…. if she were bad at flirting and only nerdy guys liked her.”

And Angelina Keeley said Parvati possessed “charm, social awareness and cunningness.”

Actor and film-maker Mike White ( “School of Rock”) will be on the cast and will probably be quickly recognizable. He also previously appeared on “The Amazing Race.”

Mike White competes on SURVIVOR when the Emmy Award-winning series returns for its 37th season with a special 90-minute premiere, Wednesday, Sept. 26 (8:00-9:30 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Photo: (Robert Voets/CBS) Entertainment ©2018 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved. (Robert Voets/CBS)

There’s also a pro wrestler John Hennigan, whose stage names include the Mayor Of Slamtown, Johnny Nitro, John Morrison, Johnny Mundo, Johnny Impact and the Shaman of Sexy. He had a cameo in the first season of “Glow” on Netflix. 

The show returns on CBS Wednesday, September 26 at 8 p.m.

Entertainment Weekly has a nice summary of all 20 contestants

About the Author

Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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