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Posts published in “podcast”

#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

LSS 85: Earth Day Edition

P. madseniana (courtesy R. Wilhelm)

In today’s episode, we observe the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day by exploring soil bacteria and volcanology. We also learn about how to observe the natural world that surrounds us.

We start off with a brief history of Earth Day presented by Candice Limper.

In our feature interview, Janani Harihanan speaks with soil scientist Dr. Roland Wilhelm. They discuss the newly discovered and characterized soil bacterium Paraburkholderia madseniana, which is named after the late Cornell scientist Eugene Madsen. Dr. Wilhelm also talks about the fascinating ways that plants and soil bacteria interact with each other.

Calbuco, Chile volcano erupts on April 22, 2015 (courtesy Creative

Later on in the show, Liz Mahood presents an overview of one of Earth’s most iconic features, the volcano. She talks about some current volcano research and what scientists are learning about the causes of some eruptions.

Laurie Rubin (courtesy Stenhouse Publishers)

We also hear from local educator Laurie Rubin about the benefits of getting outside and observing the natural world.

Enfield Glen at Robert H. Treman State Park
(Creative Commons)

We close out the show with a poetry reading, in observance of National Poetry Month. Local author Jay Leeming reads “At the Falls”, from his book Miracle Atlas.

Show Producer: Esther Racoosin

Featured Interview: Janani Harihanan

Music: Joe Lewis, Blue Dot Sessions, Ben Jordan