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The Science Scholars Podcast
23 minutes | Feb 25, 2021
Episode 124: Flowers and Genes
This week, we talk about flower colors and genetics! (Shoutout to Sydney, this episode was inspired by you.) We discuss how flower color is as an interesting example of how phenotype is affected by both environment and genotype. We struggle to describe a Punnett square without the visuals. Then, we talk about how and why hydrangeas change color based on their environment (you’re welcome Sydney). We also discuss the genetics of the morning glory and how that impacts color.
23 minutes | Feb 4, 2021
Episode 123: Covid-19 and Genes
This week, we discuss the paper Genetic Mechanisms of critical illness in Covid-19. The paper explores genetic differences between patients with severe and non-severe COVID cases. The authors pull out a list of genes that are associated with severe Covid-19 cases. They discuss how two genes in particular (IFNAR2 and TYK2) could be differentially involved throughout disease progression and speculate about how that information could be used in treatment.
20 minutes | Jan 22, 2021
Episode 122: Venus's New Gas
This week, we talk about a paper titled Phosphine gas in the cloud decks of Venus, published in Nature Astronomy in September 2020. Phosphine gas was detected (for the first time!) in the middle level of the atmosphere of Venus at ~20 parts per billion. This is exciting because currently, processes associated with the production of phosphine gas are only associated with living organisms. So there may be living organisms on Venus! There were some potential errors in data analysis, so more data should be collected on the topic.
46 minutes | Jan 14, 2021
Episode 121: THE Mike Pokrass
This week, we have fan favorite, Mike Pokrass come on the podcast and talk about his first author paper from graduate school!
47 minutes | Jan 4, 2021
Episode 120: Covid-19 Vaccines
This week, we finally caved and gave the people what they wanted - more Jennifer Huffman. Since she is a frontline worker, she was offered the vaccine through work. We discuss why she decided to get the vaccine and what her experience getting the Covid-19 vaccine. But before her interview, we discuss vaccines generally, types of vaccines and why they are important. Then, we dive into some details about the Covid-19 vaccines - what makes some of the Covid-19 vaccines different scientifically (but still clinically proven to be safe!). We also talk about how normal vaccine clinical trials work (and how it worked for the Covid-19 vaccines), vaccine rollout and how to determine when you may be eligible.
24 minutes | Nov 25, 2020
Episode 119: Self Tanner
This week, in honor of some of the great questions of Victoria Roe, we cover sunless tanners, aka self tanner, aka dihydroxyacetone (DHA). We start things off by describing what a normal tan is and how DHA can provide a safer tan. We talk about the discovery of DHA as an active ingredient that can make skin appear tan and then walk through the reaction that changes skin tone. Then, we discuss the potential risks of DHA and what some new types of sunless tanners are.
17 minutes | Nov 20, 2020
Episode 118: Alice Augusta Ball
Better late that never - we are back this week with an episode about Alice Augusta Ball, a Black researcher who died in 1916 at the age of 24. Despite dying at such a young age, she was the first African American and woman to graduate with a master degree in chemistry from the College of Hawaii (now the University of Hawaii). She also developed the Ball Method, which produced the most effective treatment for leprosy at the time.
55 minutes | Oct 6, 2020
Episode 117: A Therapy session with Lauren Faulkner
This week, we talk to friend of the pod and soon-to-be doctor, Lauren Faulkner. Lauren talks about why she went to grad school and then walks us through some much needed mental health tips for coping with the pandemic.Lauren is getting her PhD in Psychology at UMBC in the Waldstein Lab. Lauren just defended her dissertation looking at how social support affects clinical health and started her clinical internship year.Then, Lauren walks us through the FACE method for coping with Covid-19.
38 minutes | Sep 7, 2020
Episode 116: Too Hot To Handle
This week, we bring on our TV correspondent, Jennifer Huffman (RN, MBA) to discuss one of Netflix’s reality shows, Too Hot to Handle. We discuss who should watch, which cast members we would be friends with, and take a quiz to figure out which cast member we are most similar to.
28 minutes | Sep 4, 2020
Episode 115: Looking for Blue Light Glasses Sponsors
This week, we talk about a paper titled, A circadian rhythm-gated subcortical pathway for nighttime-light-induced depressive-like behaviors in mice. The authors focus on why light exposure during the day and night may have opposite effects on mood. They use a number of methods, including behavior, slice physiology, and optogenetics, to uncover the brain areas underlying this phenomenon. They focus on the modulation of neurons in the perihabenular nucleus and their role in this phenomenon.
23 minutes | Aug 2, 2020
Episode 114: Wear a F***ing Mask
This week, we talk about the importance of wearing a mask in preventing the spread of COVID-19. We get into how aerosol droplets spread COVID-19 and how masks reduce spread of aerosol droplets. Scientists can’t directly do the causative studies linking wearing masks to COVID-19 reduction rates, so we turn to a paper studying how masks reduce transmission of other viruses. We also look at a modeling paper that focuses on infection rates before and after mask mandates. Based on their estimates, mask mandates prevents as many as 230,000–450,000 COVID-19 cases possibly averted by May 22, 2020. Another model produced by the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation suggests that 33,000 deaths could be avoided by October 1 if 95 percent of people wore masks in public. Then, we move onto the question: how many people need to wear a mask for them to reduce the spread of COVID? We discuss a modeling paper that predicts a significant reduction in COVID infection rates when approximately 80% of the population is wearing mask compared to 50% (where they saw almost no impact). In fact, based on their modeling, it would be more effective if everyone wore a mask than to have just a strict lockdown. We end by cover a paper looking at what types of masks are effective. But importantly, any mask you can keep on for a long period of time is pretty good.
44 minutes | Jul 18, 2020
Episode 113: Survivor and Telomeres (with Kameron Azarm)
This week, our other science scholar is Kameron Azarm! Kameron recently graduated with a PhD in Cell Biology from NYU. We talk through his PhD journey - touching on how he decided to pursue a PhD, how he chose Dr. Susan Smith’s lab, and how he got through some of the ups and downs of a PhD. We end by discussing his recent paper, Persistent telomere cohesion protects aged cells from premature senescence.
22 minutes | Jul 6, 2020
Episode 112: Pollutant-Capturing Pores
In this episode of Science Scholars in Lab, we cover the paper, Capture of nitrogen dioxide and conversion to nitric acid in a porous metal–organic framework. The authors created a new material (a metal organic framework) to help with air pollution caused by nitrogen oxides. Previous capture and abatement technologies use toxic chemicals and are incapable of complete nitrogen oxides elimination. Their new material selectively binds nitrogen oxides at a wide variety of conditions and is reusable. Thus, if scalable, this could be an extremely important development in nitrogen oxides abatement technology.
22 minutes | Jun 25, 2020
Episode 111: 23andMe update
After getting through a few technical difficulties (sorry for the quality), we discuss an article published in New Scientist in January 2020. The popular, direct to consumer genetic testing company, 23andMe, sold the rights to a drug that it had developed to Almirall. This marks the first time that 23andMe has signed a deal with an external company to license a drug it developed. To provide context about why this is a big deal, we discuss the history of drug development at 23andMe and more specifics about the drug they developed.
25 minutes | Jun 22, 2020
Episode 110: Implicit Bias
Police officers murdered George Floyd and Breonna Taylor over a month ago. Breonna Taylor’s murderers have yet to be charged. There is pervasive police violence against Black people in the United States rooted in systemic racism. Today, we discuss implicit bias because of its role in contributing to both individual racism and perpetuating institutional and structural racism. We discuss the test that you can take to assess your own bias (and some caveats), when implicit bias is developed, and how it can impact behavior (see below). We want to emphasize throughout all of this - it is likely that most of us have some level of implicit bias, but that doesn’t mean we can just sit idly. We have to understand and work on changing our own biases (see examples below).How implicit bias can impact behavior - hiring practices, medical treatment and policingChanging your implicit biasChanging implicit bias about GandhiHypnosisFor admirer and disliked individualsReducing bias among care providers
30 minutes | May 28, 2020
Episode 109: Stress and Spleens
In this episode of Science Scholars in Lab, we cover the recent paper, Brain control humoral immune responses amenable to behavioural modulation. They looked into how the brain could directly control the adaptive immune system. They used a number of techniques, including flow cytometry, optogenetics and cell type specific tracing. Using these techniques, they discovered that activation of two brain areas (PVN and CeA), via the splenic nerve, increased adaptive immune response. They then developed a new low level stress behavior to activate the PVN and CeA naturally to induce changes in the adaptive immune response. In terms of how this science could be applied to human health, they mainly focused on how modified behavior (through low level increases in stress) could increase immune system activation.
19 minutes | May 20, 2020
Episode 108: Tu Youyou
In this episode of Other Science Scholars, we discuss the life and science of Nobel Prize winner, Tu Youyou. She won the prize in 2015 for her discoveries concerning a novel therapy against treatment-resistant malaria. To find the cure for this type of malaria, her team screened thousands of herbs mentioned in ancient Chinese medical texts. Eventually, they discovered artemisinin, an extract from sweet wormwood. Artemisinin is now commonly used in combination with other drugs to treat malaria. Her discovery has been called “the most important pharmaceutical intervention in the last half-century” (Lasker Award Presentation). She was the first mainland Chinese scientist to receive a Nobel Prize and she did it without a doctorate, medical degree, or training abroad.
25 minutes | May 13, 2020
Episode 107: Don't F*** with Cats
For this science scholars on break, we discuss Netflix’s 2019 true crime documentary series, Don’t F*** with Cats. We give a summary, describe who should watch, and dive into some of the new details about Luka Magnotta’s life. We end the episode by discussing who we’d want on the case if we were murdered.
29 minutes | May 4, 2020
Episode 106: SARS-CoV-2 Antibody Testing
This week, we gave an update about Covid-19 testing, focusing specifically SARS-CoV-2 antibody testing. We are joined by our friend, Maggie Rank, to discuss her personal experience getting an antibody test. We cover the basics of what antibodies are and what they typically do. Then, we discuss what antibodies for SARS-CoV-2 can tell us about Covid-19, focusing two papers looking at antibody levels in hospitalized patients and patients with mild symptoms. We talk about what we are looking for in an antibody test and which tests are the most reliable. Then, we discuss what having antibodies means - briefly touching on the idea of immunity passports. We also discuss a new study looking at the timeline of immunity in rhesus macaques.More information: FDA new test validation and education effortsInformation from the CDC about antibody testing
19 minutes | Apr 20, 2020
Episode 105: The Science of Baking
For our first science scholars in the world (and wild), we discuss the science behind baking. We cover what different ingredients contribute to the final product. We touch on the different types of flour, how sugar is extracted, the role of eggs in baking, and differences between baking soda and powder.
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