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LSS 90: Highlighting Immunology Research By Cornell POC

Avery August, PhD (photo courtesy of Dr. August)

In today’s show, we highlight the work of three researchers at Cornell University who are people of color.  All three of the scientists study different aspects of how the human immune system responds to pathogens such as bacteria and viruses. 

The show begins with Scarlett Lee’s interview of Dr. Avery August.  He is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor of Immunology at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.  Dr. August is also Vice Provost for Academic Affairs at Cornell.  In the interview, Dr. August reflects on how he was first introduced to the concept of doing laboratory research by an organic chemistry professor. He also discusses how he became interested in doing immunology research. Dr. August details his current research goals as well as his hopes for helping to increase the diversity of the Cornell faculty.

Graduate Student Jessica Elmore (photo courtesy of J. Elmore)

Later in the show, Candice Limper speaks with Jessica Elmore, a graduate student in Dr. August’ lab.  She discusses her research understanding the role of immune cells in the development of chronic lung inflammatory disease.

Today’s show concludes with Liz Mahood’s interview of Kristel Joy Yee Mon, a graduate student who is completing her PhD research in the field of developmental immunology.  She is a member of the laboratory of Associate Professor Brian Rudd at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.


Producer: Esther Racoosin

Interview of Dr. Avery August: Scarlett Lee

Interview of Jessica Elmore: Candice Limper

Interview of Kristel Joy Yee Mon: Liz Mahood

LSS89: #ShutDownStem and How Birds, Plants and Insects Protect Themselves From Raindrops

Graduate Student Jeff Pea (photo courtesy of Jeff Pea)

This month has been marked by protests and rallies across the country.  Americans are calling for racial justice, and scientists and scholars in academia are talking about how to dismantle systemic racism in their fields of study.

A multi-identity, intersectional coalition of STEM professionals and academics has started a movement called #ShutDownSTEM.

To learn more about this movement, Candice Limper spoke with Graduate Student Jeff Pea.  We’ll hear their conversation at the beginning of the show.

Butterfly being struck by raindrop (video courtesy of Dr. Sunny Jung)

In the second part of today’s show, Dr. Scarlett Lee speaks with Dr. Sunghwan “Sunny” Jung. His laboratory studies how insects, birds and plants survive pounding forces experienced during hard rains. Dr. Jung is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering in the Cornell College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. His journal article can be found at:

We close out the show with the science news.

Show Host: Marty Alani

Show Producer: Esther Racoosin

Interview of Jeff Pea: Candice Limper

Interview of Dr. Sunghwan “Sunny” Jung: Scarlett Lee

LSS88: Developing a SARS-CoV-2 Testing Machine; How People React to the Threat of Disease

Rheonix Encompass COVID-19 Detection Work Station (photo courtesy of Rheonix)

On today’s show, we will be covering different scientific topics relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.

First, Dr. Scarlett Lee interviews Doug Olsen, Vice President of operations at Ithaca-based Rheonix, Inc., about his company’s COVID-19 MDx Assay using their Encompass workstation.  Rheonix recently received FDA Emergency Use Authorization for their machine that quickly analyzes nasopharyngeal swab test samples.

Dr. Vivian Zayas, Cornell University

Later in the show, Esther Racoosin speaks with Dr. Vivian Zayas, an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Cornell University. Zayas studies how people’s minds shape, and are shaped by, their life circumstances. She recently wrote an article titled, “How people react to the threat of disease could mean COVID-19 is reshaping personalities”.

You’ll also hear a report on recent local science news from Liz Mahood.

Show Host and Producer: Esther Racoosin

Interview of Doug Olsen: Scarlett Lee and Candice Limper

Interview of Dr. Vivian Zayas: Esther Racoosin

Music: Joe Lewis, Blue Dot Sessions, Ben Jordan

LSS 87: PCST 2020 – The Conference That Wasn’t

A short teaser to pique your interest

Today should be the first day of the Public Communication of Science and Technology Conference (PCST 2020), in Aberdeen, Scotland.

Sadly, it was postponed due to COVID-19. We decided to bring the spirit of the conference (that wasn’t) to you through interviews we conducted at the previous PCST conference that was held in Dunedin, New Zealand in 2018. In Dunedin, we spoke with attendees who have/had connections to the Finger Lakes region, especially to Cornell University.

Bruce Lewenstein has been on this show many times before. He is one of the founders of the PCST network. He is a Professor of Science Communication at Cornell University and the Chair of the Department of Science and Technology studies. He talked to us about the importance of the PCST network.

We also interviewed two of his former students, who are both well-established professors now: Dominique Brossard is a Professor and Chair in the Department of Life Sciences Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; and John Besley
is the Ellis N. Brandt professor of Public relations at Michigan State University.

Two other conference attendees with Cornell ties were Christine O’Connell, who at the time was a professor at Stony Brook’s Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science and School of Journalism. Since then she became the Executive Director of a nonprofit foundation called Riley’s Way. She talked to us about the workshop she has developed, that focused on women in STEM fields and bias in science communication. Christine received her bachelor’s degree at Cornell.

We also spoke to Vicki Martin about how Citizen Science fits into Public Communication. Vicki was a Research Fellow at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and is currently a Research Fellow at the Institute for Future Environments at the Queensland University of Technology.

We produced this episode because PCST had a strong impact on two Locally Sourced Science contributors, Kitty Gifford and Mark Sarvary who attended the PCST conference in 2018. They organized an international panel on bringing science communication education to the undergraduate level.

PCST 2018 Panel on Turning Undergraduates into science storytellers.

Conversations at PCST 2018 helped to flesh out ideas about a Science Communication and Public Engagement undergraduate minor that was launched at Cornell University in Spring 2020. If you are interested in Science Communication, join the Friends of Cornell University SciComm (FOCUS) LinkedIn group.

That mandatory selfie before our PCST 2018 selfie

Show Host and Producer: Mark Sarvary
Music: Joe Lewis