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People Behind the Science Podcast - Stories from Scientists about Science, Life, Research, and Science Careers
51 minutes | 6 days ago
603: Exploring Extreme Environments and the Emergence of Life - Dr. Charles Cockell
Dr. Charles Cockell is a Professor of Astrobiology in the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Edinburgh and Director of the UK Centre for Astrobiology. In addition, he is the Founder and Chair of the Earth and Space Foundation and also the Co-Founder, current Board Member, and Past President of the Association of Mars Explorers. Charles has also been elected as an International Fellow of the Explorers Club. His work examines how life has emerged and has persisted on our planet and beyond. One of Charles's favorite things to do when he's not at work is go walking out in the hills and wilderness. It's a great way to clear his mind and enjoy the outdoors. He did his undergraduate training in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Bristol University and received his PhD in Molecular Biophysics from the University of Oxford. Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Edinburgh, Charles was a National Academy of Sciences Associate with NASA, a visiting Scholar at both Stanford University and the University of Arizona, a Research Scientist with the British Antarctic Survey, and also Professor of Geomicrobiology at Open University. In this episode, Charles discusses, his life, science, and more.
33 minutes | 13 days ago
602: A Researcher with an Eye for Great Science Studying Retinal Cell Rewiring After Damage - Dr. Rachel Wong
Dr. Rachel Wong is a Professor in the Department of Biological Structure at the University of Washington. In her lab, Rachel is working to understand how neural circuits in the retina (the light-sensitive part of our eye) are assembled during our development and how they can be repaired or rewired in disease. Outside of science, Rachel has a passion for music, and she is currently spending her free time learning to play the violin! She also likes to spend time with her lab members because they have become like family to her. She received her PhD in Vision Neuroscience from Australian National University. Afterward she served as a Research Associate at the National Vision Research Institute of Australia. Rachel then conducted postdoctoral research as a CJ Martin Fellow at Stanford University and then an RD Wright Fellow at the Vision, Touch, and Hearing Research Centre. She served on the faculty Washington University in St. Louis before joining the faculty at the University of Washington. In this interview, Rachel shares more about her life and science.
41 minutes | 20 days ago
601: Sensorimotor Neuroscientist Studying the Cerebellum's Role in Motor Control - Dr. Amanda Therrien
Dr. Amanda Therrien is an Institute Scientist and Director of the Sensorimotor Learning Laboratory at Moss Rehabilitation Research Institute (MRRI). As a sensorimotor neuroscientist, Amanda studies how the brain integrates incoming sensory information with motor commands to control body movements. She is interested in better understanding how the nervous system works to control movement, how damage to particular areas of the brain may disrupt our control of movement, and what interventions may help improve movement control in clinical populations. Running, knitting, gardening, reading, and cooking are some of Amanda’s favorite ways to spend her time when she’s not doing science. She loves exploring new places through running, and she’s often knitting her way through her next hat or sweater during TV time. Amanda received her B.Sc. in Human Kinetics from the University of Ottawa and her Ph.D. in Kinesiology, specializing in sensorimotor neuroscience, from McMaster University. Before accepting her current position at MRRI, Amanda conducted postdoctoral research at the Kennedy Krieger Institute and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. In our interview, Amanda shares more about her life and science.
51 minutes | a month ago
600: Seeking Clues to Climate Change Using Deep Sea Corals - Dr. Jess Adkins
Dr. Jess Adkins is a Professor of Geochemistry at California Institute of Technology. Jess is an oceanographer who studies the history of the earth's climate. He is working to understand the inner workings of the earth's climate system by studying long-term shifts in climate that are documented in the chemical, biological, and geological records of the deep sea. When he's not at work, you can find Jess coaching his kids soccer teams, hiking in the mountains near Los Angeles, and cooking with his wife. He received his PhD in Chemical Oceanography from MIT and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. He then completed postdoctoral fellowships at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and at the University of Minnesota before joining the faculty at Caltech. Jess has received many awards and honors during his career, including the Houtermans Medal from the European Association of Geochemistry, the Ruth and Paul Fye Best Paper Award from MIT and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and the Organic Geochemical Division of the Geochemical Society Best Paper Award. In our interview, Jess shares more about his life and science.
43 minutes | a month ago
599: Growing Excitement for Research in Potential Treatments for Spinal Cord Injury - Dr. Herbert Geller
Dr. Herbert Geller is a Senior Investigator in the Developmental Neurobiology Section and Head of the Office of Education at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health. The Geller lab investigates why people don't recover from central nervous system injuries including spinal cord injuries. They are working on developing potential treatments that will help people recover function after spinal cord injury, particularly focusing on how to inhibit the stop signals in the brain that prevent cells from regenerating after injury. When he's not busy in the lab, Herbert stay active with running, skiing, and gardening. We also discovered that he is quite handy and has been hard at work repairing and restoring his old house. He received his PhD in Biomedical Engineering from Case Western Reserve University and conducted postdoctoral research afterward at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. Herbert served on the faculty at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School for over 30 years before joining the NIH. He is a member of the Society for Neuroscience and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In our interview, Herb shares his journey through life and science.
44 minutes | a month ago
598: Conducting Research on Old Stars that has Universal Appeal - Dr. Anna Frebel
Dr. Anna Frebel is the Silverman Family Career Development Professor of Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). As an astrophysicist, Anna spends her time working with students, reviewing and analyzing data on the computer, and occasionally traveling to telescopes for observing time. Her research focuses on identifying and studying some of the oldest stars in the universe using chemical analyses. Anna loves spending time with her family and young son in her free time. She received her PhD from the Australian National University's Mt. Stromlo Observatory for which she was awarded the Charlene Heisler Prize for the best Australian astronomy PhD thesis of 2006. Afterward, Anna was awarded the McDonald Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Texas, Austin and went on to receive the Clay Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics before joining the faculty at MIT. Anna and her research have been recognized with the Ludwig-Biermann Young Astronomer Award of the German Astronomical Society, the Annie Jump Cannon Award of the American Astronomical Society, and a National Science Foundation CAREER award. She was also named a Kavli Frontiers of Science Fellow by the National Academy of Sciences. In this interview, Anna shares more about her journey through life and science.
49 minutes | 2 months ago
597: Chemical Compounds as Protectors of Plants! - Dr. Jack Schultz
Dr. Jack Schultz is a Professor in Plant Sciences and Director of the Bond Life Sciences Center at the University of Missouri. Jack is interested in understanding why insects and other animals don't consume all of the plants in the world. In his research, Jack has examined chemical defenses of plants and also chemical signaling in plants that can be detected by the predators that eat the insects that eat plants. Jack loves learning, so it's not always easy to pull himself away from the science. However, for most of his life, he has been an avid guitarist and really enjoyed playing music professionally and for fun. Jack also enjoys photography and landscape gardening. He received his PhD in Zoology from the University of Washington and completed postdoctoral research at Dartmouth College. He was then hired at Dartmouth as a Research Assistant Professor. Jack's next career move brought him to Penn State University where he remained for 25 years, rising to the rank of Distinguished Professor of Entomology before joining the faculty at the University of Missouri. Jack's research has been featured by the New York Times, People Magazine, and Time Magazine. Jack is here with us today to tell us all about his journey through life and science.
47 minutes | 2 months ago
596: Studying the Science of Sound and How Building Acoustics Affect Performance - Dr. Lily Wang
Dr. Lily Wang is a Professor of Architectural Engineering in the Durham School of Architectural Engineering and Construction and the Associate Dean for Graduate Programs and Faculty Development in the College of Engineering at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Lily's research is in the field of architectural acoustics, which helps us understand how sound behaves in buildings, from glamorous concert halls to everyday offices and classrooms. When she's not in the lab, Lily loves to sing and spend some quality time playing with her two young daughters. She received her PhD in Acoustics from Pennsylvania State University. She then worked as a research fellow in the Department of Acoustic Technology at the Technical University of Denmark before accepting a faculty position at UNL. Lily has received many awards and honors during her career, including the R. Bruce Lindsay Award, the top award given by the Acoustical Society of America to a person under 35 years of age. Lily has also been awarded a National Science Foundation CAREER Award as well as numerous awards from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln for teaching and mentorship.
38 minutes | 2 months ago
595: A Botanist Who Rose to Prominence Studying the Evolution and Diversity of Flowering Plants - Dr. Peter Crane
Dr. Peter Crane is the Carl W. Knobloch Jr. Dean of the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and Professor of Botany at Yale University. Much of Peter’s work has involved studying fossil plants, particularly plants from about 130 million years ago, to find out what they tell us about plant evolution and the evolution of flowering plants. Peter also compares fossil plants to those alive today to understand the relationships between historic and present day plants. Peter loves to travel and often gets to explore different places in the world as part of his scientific and other professional responsibilities. He enjoys spending time outside and is delighted to be able to work outdoors in the field for his research. When he has time to relax and pick up a book, Peter gravitates towards reading biographies of interesting people. Peter received his B.Sc. and Ph.D. in Botany from the University of Reading in the United Kingdom. Afterward, he conducted postdoctoral research at Indiana University and worked for about 17 years at the Field Museum in Chicago, rising from Assistant Curator in Paleobotany to Museum Director. Peter then served as Director and Chief Executive of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. He also served as the John and Marion Sullivan University Professor at the University of Chicago before joining the faculty at Yale where he is today. Peter has received many prestigious awards and honors during his career. First and foremost, he was knighted in the United Kingdom in 2004 for his contributions to horticulture and conservation. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society, a Foreign Associate of the National Academy of Sciences, a Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In addition, Peter has received multiple honorary degrees and fellowships, including an honorary doctoral degree from the University of Cambridge. He was also the recipient of the International Prize for Biology, as well as many other national and international awards. In this interview, Peter shares more about his life and science.
41 minutes | 2 months ago
594: Paving Pathways to Success Studying Substance Abuse and the Brain - Dr. Yasmin Hurd
Dr. Yasmin Hurd is Professor of Psychiatry, Neuroscience and Pharmacology and Systems Therapeutics as well as the Ward-Coleman Chair in Translational Neuroscience at the Icahn School of Medicine in New York. She is also Director of the Center for Addictive Disorders in the Mount Sinai Behavioral Health System. Yasmin studies the brain and addiction. She wants to know how drugs impact the brain, as well as how genetics and other characteristics shape disease vulnerability. Her work also has applications for developing new therapeutic treatments for substance abuse. Outside of work, Yasmin loves cooking, including the challenge of assembling meals from the random ingredients in her pantry and hosting elaborate dinners for her friends. She has also developed a passion for painting. She received her PhD in Medical Science from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden and spent time as a Pharmacology Research Associate Fellow with the NIH and Staff Fellow at the National Institute of Mental Health. Afterward, Yasmin returned to the Karolinska Institute where she remained as a faculty member for 13 years before coming to Mount Sinai. She is also a member of the American Society for Neuroscience, New York Academy of Sciences, and the College on Problems of Drug Dependence. Yasmin shares more about her journey through life and science in this interview.
38 minutes | 3 months ago
593: Sinking His Teeth in to Exciting Research Questions in Periodontal Disease - Dr. George Hajishengallis
Dr. George Hajishengallis is a Professor in the Department of Microbiology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine. Through his research, George is trying to understand how the immune system interacts with oral bacteria. He is curious about why you see destruction of gums and the bone that supports the teeth in some people. They are also working on treatments to prevent gum disease called periodontists. Outside of his work life, George spends his time watching soccer, reading books, and hiking and swimming with his wife. He received his Doctor of Dental Surgery Degree from the University of Athens in Greece and his PhD in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Following postdoctoral studies in Immunology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the University at Buffalo, George served on the faculty at Louisiana State University Health Science Center and the University of Louisville before joining the Faculty at the University of Pennsylvania. George has been elected as a Fellow of the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science and was a recipient of the Distinguished Scientist Award in Oral Biology from the International Association of Dental Research (IADR) in 2012 and the AADR/IADR William J. Gies Award in the Biological Research Category in 2014. In this interview, George shares more about his life and science.
38 minutes | 3 months ago
592: Researching Human Function and Rehabilitation after Traumatic Brain Injury - Dr. John Whyte
Dr. John Whyte is the Founding Director and Institute Scientist Emeritus at the Moss Rehabilitation Research Institute (MRRI), as well as the Founding Director of the Responsiveness Program at the Drucker Brain Injury Center at MossRehab. The goal of John’s research is to help people perform the tasks and roles they are interested in doing, regardless of any diseases or disabilities. Much of his work has focused on people with traumatic brain injury (TBI), especially more severe traumatic brain injury. He is also dedicated to advancing the field of rehabilitation research through developing novel methods, new assessment tools, and a specification system to more systematically describe and deliver rehabilitation treatments. Beyond science and medicine, John enjoys cooking, music, and going for long walks in the city. In pre-pandemic days, he also enjoyed going to the theater, but he hasn’t been able to do this lately. John was awarded his MD and PhD in cognitive psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. Afterwards, he completed a residency in physical medicine and rehabilitation at the University of Minnesota followed by a fellowship in traumatic brain injury at Tufts University. Among his many awards and honors, John is a Fellow of the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine and recipient of their Gold Key lifetime achievement award. In addition, he has received the Distinguished Academician Award from the Association of Academic Physiatrists, the Moody Prize for contributions to brain injury research and practice, and he is an elected Member of the National Academy of Medicine. In our interview, John shares more about his life and work.
58 minutes | 3 months ago
591: Science on Stress in Single-Celled Organisms - Dr. Amy Vollmer
Dr. Amy Vollmer is Professor and Department Chair of Biology at Swarthmore College. Amy is interested in understanding how bacteria sense and respond to their environment. In addition to her research, she is passionate about teaching through her classroom lectures and public science literacy efforts. Family is really important for Amy, and she likes to spend her spare time on the phone with her sisters and two grown children. Amy and her husband own a small Italian deli and market, and you can often find her at the store when she's not in the lab. She received her Bachelor's degree in Biochemistry from Rice University and her PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Afterward, Amy conducted postdoctoral research in Immunology at Stanford University and served on the faculty at Mills College before joining the faculty at Swarthmore where she is today, conducting research and teaching students. In this interview, Amy shares more about her life and science.
30 minutes | 3 months ago
590: Investigating Inflammatory Diseases and Developing Novel Therapeutics - Dr. Luke O'Neill
Dr. Luke O'Neill is Professor and Chair of Biochemistry in the School of Biochemistry and Immunology at Trinity College Dublin. He is also an author of three popular science books, including the recently released book Never Mind the B#ll*cks, Here's the Science: A Scientist's Guide to the Biggest Challenges Facing Our Species Today. In addition, Luke co-founded Inflazome, a company dedicated to developing therapeutics to address unmet needs in inflammatory diseases. Luke is an immunologist. He studies the immune system, focusing mainly on inflammatory diseases like Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, and Alzheimer’s disease. His lab aims to understand the underlying mechanisms of these diseases and develop new medicines to treat them. Recently, Luke’s lab has also been studying COVID-19 and potential therapeutics. In his free time, Luke enjoys music. He sings and plays guitar in a band called The Metabollix, and they have played a wide variety of gigs over the years, including at scientific conferences. He was awarded his B.A. in Natural Sciences with an emphasis in Biochemistry from Trinity College Dublin and his PhD in Pharmacology from the University of London. Afterwards he accepted a Medical Research Council postdoctoral fellowship to conduct research at Strangeways Research Laboratory in Cambridge. Luke has received numerous awards and honors for his exceptional research, including the Royal Dublin Society & The Irish Times Robert Boyle Medal for scientific excellence, the Royal Irish Academy Gold Medal for Life Sciences, and the European Federation of Immunology Societies Medal. Luke is also an elected Member of the Royal Irish Academy, a Member of the European Molecular Biology Organisation, and a Fellow of the Royal Society. In our interview, Luke shares more about his life and research.
60 minutes | 3 months ago
589: Researching the Role of Genes in the Evolution and Development of Reproductive Systems - Dr. Cassandra Extavour
Dr. Cassandra Extavour is a Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology and Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Harvard University. Scientifically, Cassandra spends her time examining the evolution of embryonic development. Her lab seeks to understand how genes direct cells during development to become different kinds of cells. They are also interested in the evolutionary origin of these genes. In addition to her passion for science, Cassandra is also passionate about music. She enjoys listening to music and is a professional singer as well. Other activities that occupy her free time are dancing, hosting parties, and cooking for her friends. She received her PhD from the Severo Ochoa Center for Molecular Biology at the Autonomous University of Madrid. Cassandra then conducted postdoctoral research at the Institute for Molecular Biology and Biotechnology in Crete, Greece as well as at the University of Cambridge. Afterward, she worked as a Research Associate in the Department of Zoology at Cambridge before joining the faculty at Harvard. In this interview, Cassandra shares more about her journey through life and science.
50 minutes | 4 months ago
588: An Algorithm for Success! Using Computational and Imaging Approaches to Study Cognitive Science - Dr. Aleix Martinez
Dr. Aleix Martinez is a Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Director of the Computational Biology and Cognitive Science Laboratory at the Ohio State University. He is also affiliated with the Department of Biomedical Engineering and to the Center for Cognitive and Brain Sciences. The work in Aleix's lab focuses on cognitive science. They hold the view that the brain operates like a big (very complicated) computer. To understand the brain, they need to understand the algorithms that are encoded in that computer. His lab uses fMRI and computational methods to understand what areas of the brain are activated or work together to solve certain problems. Some of Aleix's favorite activities are hanging out with his family, reading, and running (he runs 50-60 miles per week!). Aleix received a Master's degree and PhD in Computer Engineering from the Autonomous University of Barcelona and a PhD in Computer Science from the University of Paris. Afterward, he conducted postdoctoral research at Purdue University, and also spent some time working as a Researcher at the Sony Computer Science Laboratory in Paris before joining the faculty at OSU. Aleix and his research have been widely featured in the media by sources like CNN, The Huffington Post, Time Magazine, CBS News, NPR, and The Guardian. During our interview, Aleix discussed his research, his career, and his life outside of science.
37 minutes | 4 months ago
587: Engineering Solutions to Improve Global Healthcare Quality and Access - Dr. Rebecca Richards-Kortum
Dr. Rebecca Richards-Kortum is the Malcolm Gillis University Professor of Bioengineering and Electrical and Computer Engineering at Rice University. She is also Director of the award-winning Rice 360 Institute for Global Health and founder of Beyond Traditional Borders Program at Rice University. Rebecca and her colleagues are developing technologies to improve healthcare as well as improve access to healthcare. They are dedicated to making medical technology less expensive and finding ways to modify medical technology so it can be used in different environments and settings across the world. When she’s not working, Rebecca loves to spend time with her children. Rebecca also enjoys getting up early in the morning to go running, and she often participates in half marathon and marathon races. Rebecca received her B.S. in Physics and Mathematics from the University of Nebraska - Lincoln and went on to receive her M.S. in Physics and PhD in Medical Physics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She served as a faculty member at the University of Texas at Austin, where she was the Cockrell Family Chair in Engineering, Professor of Biomedical Engineering, and a Distinguished Teaching Professor. Rebecca has received many awards and honors during her career, including very recently being named a MacArthur Foundation Fellow. Some of her other recent awards include the Pierre Galletti Award (the highest honor from The American Institute for Medical and Biomedical Engineering), the Lemelson-MIT Award for Global Innovation, and the Michael S. Feld Biophotonics Award from the Optical Society of America. She is also a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Academy of Arts and Sciences, as well as a fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Biomedical Engineering Society, the Optical Society of America, and the National Academy of Inventors. Rebecca is with us today to tell us all about her journey through life and science.
54 minutes | 4 months ago
586: Combining Chemistry and Biology in Search of the Solution for How Cell Surface Interactions Contribute to Human Health and Disease - Dr. Carolyn Bertozzi
Dr. Carolyn Bertozzi is the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Chemistry and Professor of Chemical and Systems Biology and Radiology at Stanford University. She is also an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Carolyn’s research combines chemistry and biology. Her lab develops tools from chemistry that can be used to study biology with the goal of ultimately creating new molecules that can cure diseases and help us live better, healthier lives. She has three young boys, and she keeps busy when she’s outside of the lab taking them to swimming lessons, gymnastics, and out to the movies. Carolyn received her undergraduate training in Chemistry at Harvard University and was awarded her PhD in Chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley. She went on to complete postdoctoral research at the University of California, San Francisco and then accepted a faculty position at UC, Berkeley. Carolyn just recently joined the faculty at Stanford in 2015. She is the recipient of the UCSF 150th Anniversary Alumni Excellence Award, the Hans Bloemendal Award from Radboud University, the Heinrich Wieland Prize, the Royal Society of Chemistry Organic Division Bioorganic Chemistry Award, the Lemelson-MIT Prize for Inventors, a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, and many other national and international awards and honors. In addition, Carolyn is an elected Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, the Institute of Medicine, the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina. In this interview, Carolyn shares her journey through life and science.
43 minutes | 4 months ago
485: Using Models to Zoom in on Microscopic Aggregation Events in Nature and Man-Made Materials - Dr. Talid Sinno
Dr. Talid Sinno is a Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering as well as Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics at the University of Pennsylvania. He is also Director of Graduate Admissions. His lab develops computer models and simulations focused on how very small, microscopic objects come together or aggregate to form larger structures in both man-made materials or in natural situations. In his free time, he enjoys cycling and visiting beaches, particularly beaches of the Caribbean.
37 minutes | 5 months ago
584: Studying Smart Slime Molds and Collective Intelligence in Ant Colonies - Dr. Audrey Dussutour
Dr. Audrey Dussutour is a National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) Scientist at Paul Sabatier University in Toulouse, France. Audrey studies animal behavior and collective intelligence in ant colonies and slime molds. In ant colonies, she examines how the ants regulate traffic to avoid traffic jams, and she creates algorithms that may help alleviate our own traffic jams. In slime molds, Audrey investigates the different cognitive abilities they are able to display even though they don’t have brains. Outside work, Audrey loves going out to the movies and watching DVDs. Some of her favorite directors are John Cassavetes and David Lynch, and she gets into sci-fi films as well. Audrey received a Masters Degrees in Ecology from Paul Sabatier University, a Masters Degree in Neurosciences and Ethology from the Free University of Brussels in Belgium, and a PhD in Animal Behavior working in laboratories from both of these universities. She next conducted postdoctoral research at Concordia University in Canada and at the University of Sydney in Australia. Audrey has received numerous awards and honors for her exceptional work, including the Adolphe Wetrems Award of the Belgian Royal Academy, the Young Investigator Award of the French Society for the Study of Animal Behavior, the Outstanding Paper Prize from the Journal of Experimental Biology, Lauréate du Prix Le Monde de la Recherche, and the Young Researcher Prize from the French Society for the Study of Animal Behavior. Audrey joined us for an interview to talk about her experiences in life and science.
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