Are you searching for great stories to ignite your curiosity, teach you to perform better in life and career, inspire your mind, and make you laugh along the way? In this science podcast, Dr. Marie McNeely introduces you to the brilliant researchers behind the latest scientific discoveries. Join us as they share their greatest failures, most staggering successes, candid career advice, and what drives them forward in life and science.
Dr. Jonathan Toner is a Research Assistant Professor in Earth and Space Sciences at the University of Washington. He studies planetary surfaces, such as Earth, Mars, and the icy moons of Jupiter and Saturn, to identify sources and potential sources of water. He also studies how conditions on Earth and other planetary systems may have contributed to the origins of life. Outside work, Jon enjoys being outdoors, hiking, climbing, mountaineering, traveling, and spending time with his wife and daughter.
Dr. Crystal Marconett is Assistant Professor of Research Surgery in the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California. Crystal’s work centers around understanding the molecular origins of lung cancer. In addition, Crystal’s lab is working to develop new cures for lung cancer and determine which patients will respond best to these treatments. Beyond being a scientist, Crystal loves spending time with her two young children, crocheting, skiing, and painting houses.
Dr. David Weiner is Executive Vice President, Director of the Vaccine & Immunotherapy Center, and W.W. Smith Charitable Trust Professor in Cancer Research at The Wistar Institute. He is also Emeritus Professor at the University of Pennsylvania. He works to create drugs using the same DNA codes and signals that our bodies use naturally. These drugs are natural compounds that can prevent people from getting sick or help them be healthier. David and his wife enjoy reading and going walking with their dog Ruby.
Dr. Ana Spalding is Assistant Professor of Marine and Coastal Policy and Affiliate Faculty at the Pacific Marine Energy Center at Oregon State University. She is also a Research Associate at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute as well as the Coiba Research Station. As a social scientist who works in marine and coastal policy, Ana focuses on the intersections of people, the environment, and policies. She used to row in college, and she's recently been having fun rowing again in her local rowing club.
Dr. Simon Sponberg is Dunn Family Professor and Assistant Professor in the School of Physics and the School of Biological Sciences, as well as Adjunct Assistant Professor in Biomedical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech). Simon is interested in understanding how the brain works with muscles to make bodies move. Animals move gracefully in nearly all environments on Earth, and many types of movement can be difficult to perform in robotics and other created systems.
Dr. Kristen Lani Rasmussen is Assistant Professor in the Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University. Research in Kristen’s lab focuses on studying extreme weather events such as heavy rainfall, thunderstorms, hail storms, and other events that have a big impact on humans and society. She studies these extreme systems in our current climate and how they may change in the future. In addition to spending quality time with her family, Kristen enjoys playing jazz trumpet in local bands.
Dr. Laurel Buxbaum is Associate Director of Moss Rehabilitation Research Institute, Director of the Cognition and Action Lab, and Research Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University. Laurel’s studies how the brain controls perception and action. She studies stroke patients to see where in the brain strokes may cause certain difficulties. Laurel also enjoys reading, going for walks, attending dance fitness classes, hanging out with friends, and listening to her husband’s funk
Dr. Tim Long is Professor of Chemistry and Director of the Macromolecules Innovation Institute at Virginia Tech. His work developing macromolecular structures has applications across many industries, including the development of chemotherapy treatments and electro-active devices important for prosthetics. Tim spends a lot of time at work inside, so he likes to spend his free time outside. There are beautiful mountains in Virginia, and he has fun hiking, mountain biking, and enjoying nature with his family.
Dr. Yolanda Chen is a Gund Fellow in the Gund Institute for Environment and Associate Professor in the Department of Plant and Soil Science at the University of Vermont. She is working to understand the origins of insects as pests in agriculture. She is interested in understanding how insect pests have become so successful, including invasive insect pests like the swede midge that impacts local growers. Yolanda has fun running and exploring the world through food with a local cookbook discussion group.
Dr. Andrew Friedman is an Assistant Research Scientist at the Center for Astrophysics and Space Sciences at the University of California, San Diego. He is also a Research Affiliate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Andy uses observations of astronomical objects in other galaxies to learn about fundamental physics and quantum mechanics. When he’s not at work, you can find Andy hanging out with his wife and dog, or enjoying good food and good conversation with friends and family.
Dr. Sonia Contera is an Associate Professor of Biological Physics at the University of Oxford Physics Department and a Research Fellow of Green Templeton College. Sonia is interested in biology and the mechanics of biology across space and time scales. She studies the physics that allow biological systems to build nano-scale molecules into cells, organs, tissues, and organisms. Outside science, she enjoys spending time with people she loves, cycling, walking, exploring art, and learning new languages.
Dr. Donovan German is Associate Professor of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at the University of California, Irvine. He studies how things move through the gut, what enzymes are secreted, what microbes are present, and what role the microbes play. Donovan focuses on animals with unusual diets, such as fish that eat wood or algae, to determine how animals survive on low quality foods. He also loves sports and music. He played football in college and now enjoys coaching his kids' baseball and soccer teams.
Dr. Mary E. Power is Professor in the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of California, Berkeley as well as Faculty Manager at the Angelo Coast Range Reserve and Director of the California Biodiversity Center. In her career, she has studied the ecosystems and food webs of four different rivers. Mary loves to listen to and play folk and rock and roll music. She has been learning to play Celtic music on the mandolin as well as rock and roll music from the ‘60s and ‘70s on the guitar.
Dr. Gayle Schueller is the Chief Sustainability Officer and Vice President of Sustainability and Product Stewardship at 3M. In her work, Gayle has the opportunity to use science to have an impact on the world through the development of innovative products that span electronics, healthcare, consumer products, and other areas. In her free time, Gayle enjoys biking, food, festivals, and spending time with family. She is also an avid gardener, and she particularly likes growing flowering plants to attract bees
Dr. Jennifer Ross is a Professor in the Department of Physics at Syracuse University. Through her research, Jenny is working to better understand how living things can organize themselves. Jenny and her lab are working to identify simple rules and develop models using physics to explain how biology works. In her free time, Jenny enjoys doing science-related activities with her two kids. She also loves watching TV, listening to podcasts, and reading, particularly when the subject is science fiction.
Dr. John Talley is Co-Founder and CSO of Euclises Pharmaceuticals. He is also Co-Founder, Partner, and VP of Chemistry at Emmyon. John is developing non-opioid treatments for acute and chronic pain and developing a new medicine to be used with immune checkpoint inhibitors to slow or reverse tumor growth in cancer. In his free time, John enjoys cultivating vegetables and flowers in his garden, as well as growing indoor plants. He also likes to travel, go camping with his family, and play with his three cats
Dr. John Talley is Co-Founder and CSO of Euclises Pharmaceuticals. He is also Co-Founder, Partner, and VP of Chemistry at Emmyon. John is developing non-opioid treatments for acute and chronic pain and developing a new medicine to be used with immune checkpoint inhibitors to slow or reverse tumor growth in cancer. In his free time, John enjoys cultivating vegetables and flowers in his garden, as well as growing indoor plants. He also likes to travel, go camping with his family, and play with his three cats
Dr. Jim Estes is Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the Dept of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at UC Santa Cruz. He is also author of Serendipity: An Ecologist’s Quest to Understand Nature and a contributing scientist in the documentary film The Serengeti Rules. Jim studies coastal marine ecosystems, kelp forests, and the kelp forest ecosystems in the North Pacific Ocean. One of his major passions outside of science is fly fishing. He also enjoys hiking, reading, writing, and spending time with friends
Dr. Daniel Chung is the global medical strategy lead for ophthalmology at Spark Therapeutics. Spark Therapeutics is focused on discovering, developing, and delivering gene therapy for rare diseases, and Dan works on inherited retinal diseases. When he isn’t working or traveling, Dan enjoys spending time with his family. He is also an avid photographer who loves capturing photos of nature, landscapes, and wildlife.
Dr. Elizabeth Haswell is a Professor of Biology at Washington University in St. Louis and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI)-Simons Faculty Scholar. Liz’s research examines how the molecules, cells, and tissues within plants can sense and respond to forces. In particular, she studies a type of proteins that is really sensitive to mechanical signals called mechanosensitive ion channels. In her free time, Liz enjoys traveling, hiking, hanging out with her family, reading, and running a podcast.
Dr. Karen Daniels is a Professor in the Department of Physics at North Carolina State University. Her lab studies the physics of how materials change state (e.g. from solid to fluid), how they deform, and how they may ultimately fail. She asks these questions across a variety of length and time scales. Travel is also a passion for Karen. While traveling, she loves hiking in the mountains, eating delicious food, discovering new foods, reading, knitting, and interacting with new people and places.
Dr. Edward Rebar is Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at Sangamo Therapeutics. He is developing genomic medicines using different techniques, including gene therapy, ex vivo genome editing (using cells sourced from outside the body), in vivo genome editing (using a patient’s own cells within their body), and in vivo targeted gene regulation to downregulate genes of interest. When Ed isn’t at work, he loves being outside with his wife, going to local parks, and visiting National Parks.
Dr. Joyce Ohm is an Associate Professor of Oncology in the Department of Cancer Genetics and Genomics at the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. Joyce’s research examines the epigenomics involved in development and disease, particularly in cancer. In her free time, Joyce enjoys cycling as well as hiking and kayaking with her two adorable dogs. She recently cycled 500 miles from New York City to Niagara Falls in the Empire State Ride, and it was an amazing experience.
Dr. Molly Gale Hammell is an Associate Professor in Quantitative Biology at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. She sequences and analyzes genomes to see which differences in our genomes are due to random variation, and which are associated with neurodegenerative diseases like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). In her free time, Molly loves gathering a group of friends together to attend some of the many fantastic live music concerts in the New York City area.
Dr. Kim Tieu is Professor and Interim Chair in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at Florida International University. His research focuses on understanding why people develop Parkinson’s disease (PD), determining why and how dopamine neurons die in the basal ganglia in PD, and developing new drug therapies for PD. Kim loves going to the beach to swim, snorkel, and fish with his family. He also enjoys travel, photography, yard work, and tending to his approximately 30 fruit trees.
Dr. Jessica Tracy is a Professor in the Dept. of Psychology and Director of the Emotion and Self Lab at the University of British Columbia (UBC). She is also a UBC Sauder School of Business Distinguished Scholar and author of the book Take Pride: Why the Deadliest Sin Holds the Secret to Human Success. Jess studies the self-conscious emotions we feel when we are evaluating ourselves (e.g. pride and shame). In her free time, she enjoys being outdoors, hiking, running, visiting the beach, and skiing.
Dr. Michelle Heck is a Research Molecular Biologist with the USDA-ARS, Associate Professor at the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research, and Adjunct Professor in the school of Integrative Plant Science at Cornell University. She studies interactions between the insects that infest plants, pathogens those insects can transmit, diseases that can occur as a result, and new ways to control the spread of these diseases. Outside science, she loves spending time with family, being a musician, and cycling.
Dr. Uri Tabori is a Staff Physician in Haematology/Oncology, Senior Scientist in the Genetics & Genome Biology program, and Principal Investigator of The Labatt Brain Tumour Research Centre at The Hospital for Sick Children. Uri is also on faculty at the University of Toronto. He treats kids with cancer and is working to find drugs and make discoveries to cure cancers and improve patients’ lives. Outside work, Uri enjoys spending time with family, watching football, and exploring the Canadian wild
Dr. Meredith Hughes is an Associate Professor of Astronomy at Wesleyan University. In her research, Meredith uses large radio telescopes to study how planets form around other stars. Studying this process in other star systems helps us learn more about our own solar system and how it formed.When Meredith isn’t working, you can find her hanging out with her husband, two young kids, and their dog. She also enjoys reading fantasy and sci-fi books, being outdoors, and volunteering in her community.
Dr. Susanne Brander is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental and Molecular Toxicology at Oregon State University. She is an ecotoxicologist who studies the effects of environmental stress on aquatic organisms that live in coastal areas, estuaries, and marine environments. In her free time, Susanne enjoys hanging out with her two young daughters, hiking, and doing art and science projects at home with them. She also likes running and making bowls and coffee cups on her pottery wheel.
Dr. Nick Haddad is a Professor in Integrative Biology at Michigan State University and a Senior Terrestrial Ecologist at the W.K. Kellogg Biological Station. Also, Nick is the author of the recently released book The Last Butterflies: A Scientist's Quest to Save a Rare and Vanishing Creature. Nick searches for the rarest butterflies and works to understand what factors cause the decline of these butterflies and what we can do to conserve them. Outside of work, Nick enjoys renovating his home built in 1840.
Dr. David Berman is Head of Research and Development at Immunocore, a leading T cell receptor biotechnology company. He is working on new therapies to train the immune system to recognize and kill cancer (immunotherapy). Immunocore is leveraging the mechanisms used by T cell receptors to identify indicators of cancer within cells. David’s time outside work is spent driving his daughters to soccer and lacrosse games and watching them play. He also enjoys thought-provoking solo cycling outings.
Dr. Lisa Whitenack is an Associate Professor of Biology and Geology at Allegheny College. Her research aims to better understand how animals work from a mechanical perspective. She studies how sharks have used their teeth over 400 million years of evolution, how salamanders jump, and how stone crabs pinch. When she’s not at work, Lisa loves getting creative with various crafts such as crochet, cross-stitch, and painting. She also enjoys refereeing roller derby, hiking, and spending time with her family.
Dr. Al Robichaud is Chief Scientific Officer at Sage Therapeutics. The team at Sage Therapeutics is focused on delivering new medicines for people with central nervous system disorders, such as depression. The compounds they have developed modulate the activity of receptors in the brain that respond to specific neurotransmitters. Outside of science, Al has been an avid scuba diver for most of his life. He particularly enjoys exploring the ocean in the Caribbean with his family.
Dr. Christine Drea is the Earl D. McLean Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology, Professor in the Dept. of Biology, University Program in Ecology, and Duke Institute for Brain Sciences at Duke University. She is investigating genetic, behavioral, cognitive, sensory, and endocrine mechanisms involved in social interactions in socially complex, female-dominant animals such as hyenas, lemurs, and meerkats. Her hobbies outside of science include gardening, playing and walking with her two dogs, and traveling.
Dr. Paul Cannon is the Parkinson’s Disease Program Manager at 23andMe. He is working with patients, genetic data, and other self-report data to understand genetic mutations linked to Parkinson’s disease, risk factors, and other comorbidities in Parkinson’s disease. Paul also enjoys traveling to visit new places in countries or parts of countries that are not necessarily considered typical tourist destinations. In addition, he likes to hike, watch cricket matches, and watch Premier League Soccer games.
Dr. Cori Richards-Zawacki is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and Director of the Pymatuning Lab of Ecology at the University of Pittsburgh. Cori studies topics in ecology, evolutionary biology, behavior, and conservation in frogs. When she’s not working and doing research, Cori enjoys spending time outside with her husband and two young daughters. She likes to play soccer, hike, mountain bike, and other outdoor activities.
Dr. Jim Doherty is Chief Research Officer at Sage Therapeutics. At Sage, Jim and his colleagues are focused on developing new treatments for different brain disorders including psychiatric, neurodegenerative, and movement disorders. Outside of science, Jim enjoys traveling, seeing cool new sites, and exploring the history of different places with his wife and two kids. He also enjoys participating in a variety of team sports like golf, softball, and ultimate frisbee leagues.
Dr. Neil Solomons is Chief Medical Officer and Co-Founder of Aurinia Pharmaceuticals. Neil is developing a drug to treat lupus nephritis, a disease in which inflammation of the kidneys can cause kidney failure, need for dialysis, or kidney transplant. There are no FDA-approved therapies for this disease. Outside of research, Neil is an obsessive soccer fan, and he has avidly watched English Premier League games since he was a child. He also enjoys playing the guitar and spending time with his family.
Dr. Anne Fung is the Global Development Lead for the Port Delivery System with Ranibizumab and Lucentis at Genentech, as well as a practicing retina specialist and researcher in the San Francisco area. She is working on a tiny implant that slowly releases medicine to treat macular degeneration. Outside of science, Anne loves practicing yoga, as well as reading, listening to podcasts, and listening to audiobooks on a variety of topics including business, organizations, and psychology.
Dr. Karl Heilbron is a Scientist I in Statistical Genetics at 23andMe. He focuses on identifying genetic variants that are associated with diseases such as Parkinson’s disease. Once variants are identified, he conducts more targeted analyses to better understand the genetic basis of disease. When he’s not working, Karl enjoys staying active by playing soccer and other sports. In addition, he has been having fun staying in touch with old friends by playing Dungeons and Dragons together online.
Dr. Jennifer Wargo is an Associate Professor in the Department of Surgical Oncology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and a Stand Up To Cancer researcher. She is a physician scientist, so she splits her time between patient care and doing research to find better ways of treating cancer. When she’s not doing research or treating patients, Jennifer enjoys spending quality time with her family. Some of their favorite activities include walking, biking, hiking, and visiting the beach.
Dr. Brian Goode is a Research Scientist at the Fralin Life Science Institute at Virginia Tech, formerly the Biocomplexity Institute. Brian’s research examines how data-driven and theoretical models can be applied to the real world. His goal is to make the best models, identify the considerations needed to apply these models to reality, and determine how the models can be used to help craft interventions and policies. Lately, Brian spends his weekends with his wife repairing and preparing their sailboat.
Dr. Edith Widder is Co-Founder, CEO, and Senior Scientist at the Ocean Research & Conservation Association (ORCA), a conservation nonprofit. ORCA aims to find upstream solutions to the pollution problems that are plaguing our oceans. They use science-based approaches to determine where pollution is coming from and what can be done to stop it. When Edie isn’t doing science, she loves immersing herself in nature through hiking and kayaking. She also enjoys visiting museums, especially art museums.
Dr. Annaliesa Anderson is Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer of Bacterial Vaccines within Vaccine Research and Development at Pfizer Inc. Liesa is working to develop new vaccines that prevent infectious diseases caused by bacteria. Outside work, Liesa loves spending time at home with her husband, 16 year old son, 12 year old daughter, and their new dog. She also enjoys being outside, visiting the Jersey Shore beaches, taking exercise classes with her husband, and being a girl scout leader.
Dr. Denver Lough is President, Chief Executive Officer, and Chairman of PolarityTE, a biotech company developing methods for patients’ own cells to regenerate functionally-polarized tissues. They developed novel methods to induce regeneration across the full spectrum of tissue types by understanding the environment and interactions needed for tissues to orient, self-organize, and develop. Denver also enjoys spending time with his wife and watching his 3 children discover new things about the world.
Dr. Karen Strier is the Vilas Research Professor and Irven Devore Professor of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is improving our understanding of the biological basis of human behavior, evolution, and adaptation by studying an endangered primate, the northern muriqui, in its natural habitat. Outside of science, Karen enjoys being outside, going for walks in nature, cooking delicious multi-course meals for her friends and family, reading, and hanging out with her cats.
Dr. Eric Pop is an Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and Materials Science & Engineering at Stanford University. He is interested in applying materials with nanoscale properties to engineer better electronics such as transistors, circuits, and data storage mechanisms. Eric is also investigating ways to better manage the heat electronics generate. When he’s not working, Eric enjoys snowboarding up in the mountains of California, traveling, playing soccer, and watching soccer.
Dr. Jayshree Seth is a Corporate Scientist and Chief Science Advocate at 3M. Jayshree is developing and studying adhesives and tapes for use in industrial environments. Her goal is to create stronger, more versatile, and more sustainable products. In addition to science, Jayshree enjoys a variety of creative pursuits such as writing poetry, writing articles, and cooking a wide array of foods.
Dr. Kimberly Blackwell is Vice President of Early Phase Development and Immuno-oncology at Lilly Oncology. After 25 years of treating patients and conducting breast cancer research, Kim recently left her position in academic medicine to focus her efforts on getting new drugs to patients facing cancer. Kim’s hobbies include spending time with her family, watching her son’s baseball games, practicing yoga, meditating, skiing, and horseback riding.
Dr. Rafael Carbunaru is Vice President of Research and Development of the Neuromodulation Division of Boston Scientific Corporation. Rafael is dedicated to creating innovative medical solutions to transform the lives of patients. He is developing non-drug treatments to help patients with neurological disorders such as chronic pain and Parkinson’s disease. They are creating new devices and therapies that can modify the signals the nervous system sends that cause the symptoms of neurological disorders.
Dr. Joan Mannick is Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer of resTORbio, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company that develops novel therapeutics to treat aging-related diseases. Joan and her colleagues at resTORbio are targeting the biology of aging to treat and prevent aging-related diseases so people can be healthier longer. After a busy day at work, Joan likes to relax by working out at the gym, watching movies, and reading novels.
Dr. Stephanie Shipp is Deputy Director and Research Professor in the Social and Decision Analytics Division of the Biocomplexity Institute and Initiative at the University of Virginia. Stephanie works with social scientists and statisticians who are passionate about improving the quality of life for communities through data. They use data to inform policy-making and decision-making, working both at the scale of local communities and national projects. Stephanie develops methods and provides analyses to tell stories and answer questions using the massive amounts of data available today. When not at work, Stephanie enjoys cycling, pilates, running around with her grandchildren, and watching theatre performances with her sisters. Recently, she has also been having fun taking ballroom dancing classes with her husband. She received her B.A. Degree in Economics from Trinity College and her Ph.D. in Economics from George Washington University. Stephanie has previously held research positions at the Federal Reserve Board, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. Census Bureau, the Department of Commerce, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the IDA Science and Technology Policy Institute, and the Biocomplexity Institute of Virginia Tech. Stephanie has received numerous awards and honors over the course of her career, including the Pat Doyle American Statistical Association Service Award, the Jeanne E. Griffith mentoring Award, and the Bronze Medal of the Department of Commerce. She is also a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a Fellow of the American Statistical Association, and an elected Member of the International Statistical Institute. In our interview Stephanie shares more about her life and science.
Dr. Fulvio D'Acquisto is Professor of Immunology and Director of the Health Science Research Centre at the University of Roehampton in London. Through his research, Fulvio seeks to understand how emotion and lifestyle influence our immune response. He is investigating how different types of emotions (both positive and negative) affect our immune systems at the level of individual cell types and cellular responses. Fulvio’s hypothesis is that each emotion has a particular signature effect on a person’s immune system. Fulvio is also fascinated by psychology, psychotherapy, archetypes, and personality types. He enjoys reading and attending presentations on these subjects when he’s not working in the lab. In addition, Fulvio likes drawing to relax and explore his own creative imagination process. Fulvio attended the University of Naples “Federico II” in Italy where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Pharmaceutical Chemistry, a Master of Research degree in Experimental Pharmacology, and a Ph.D. in Experimental Pharmacology. After completing his Ph.D., Fulvio conducted postdoctoral research in molecular immunology at Yale University and subsequently conducted research at the William Harvey Research Institute of Queen Mary University of London. Fulvio was awarded a Medical Research Council New Investigator Award in 2004. Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Roehampton where he is today, Fulvio served on the faculty at Queen Mary University of London. While there, he earned a Master of Art degree in Counselling and Psychotherapy from the University of Northampton. In our interview, Fulvio shared more about his life and science.
Dr. Talithia Williams is an Associate Professor of Mathematics and Associate Dean for Research and Experiential Learning at Harvey Mudd College. In addition, Talithia is Host of the PBS Series NOVA Wonders and author of the book Power in Numbers: The Rebel Women of Mathematics. Talithia is a mathematician who does disease modeling. She has been working with the World Health Organization to create models of the rates at which groups of people develop cataracts over time. Left untreated, cataracts can cause partial or complete blindness. In the U.S., cataract surgery is quick and accessible, but this is not the case in other countries. Knowing where there is the greatest need for treatment is important for the World Health Organization as they make decisions on where to send ophthalmologists to perform surgeries. In addition to being a mathematician and researcher, Talithia is a mother of three boys, a wife of 15 years, a TV show host, an author, and a person of faith. She enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, being involved in her church, volunteering, and helping people in her community. She received a B.S. in mathematics from Spelman College, and while an undergraduate student, Talithia conducted research at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. After graduating, Talithia went on to earn a master’s degree in mathematics from Howard University, a master’s degree in statistics from Rice University, and a PhD in statistics from Rice University. Prior to joining the faculty at Harvey Mudd College, Talithia conducted research at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the NASA Johnson Space Center, and the National Security Agency. Talithia has received numerous honors and awards throughout her career, including the Mathematical Association of America’s Henry L. Alder Award for Distinguished Teaching by a Beginning College or University Mathematics Faculty Member and The Claremont Colleges Diversity Mentor Award. In our interview Talithia shares more about her life and work.
Dr. Joseph Ryan is an Assistant Professor of Biology at the Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience at the University of Florida. In the lab, Joe studies DNA from squishy marine invertebrates like ctenophores (e.g. comb jellies), cnidarians (e.g. jellyfish), tunicates (e.g. sea squirts), and sea cucumbers. His goal is to understand how different types of animals are related, how animals adapt to extreme environments, and how animals have evolved the extraordinary diversity we see today. When he’s not at work, Joe loves spending time with his family. He and his two kids (one and three years old) enjoy dancing to “Tiny Bubbles” by Don Ho and songs by the band The Clash. Joe is also a fan of singer-songwriter Slim Whitman, and he plays guitar, drums, and keyboard. Joe received his PhD in bioinformatics from Boston University. Afterwards, he was awarded a research fellowship at the National Human Genome Research Institute at the National Institutes of Health and subsequently worked as a postdoctoral scholar at Sars International Centre for Marine Molecular Biology in Bergern, Norway. In our interview Joseph shares more about his life and science.
Dr. Lisette DePillis is the Norman F. Sprague Jr. Professor of Life Sciences, Professor of Mathematics, and Chair of the Department of Mathematics at Harvey Mudd College. Lisette is an applied mathematician. She creates mathematical models or structures to help describe questions in biology. In particular, Lisette has been working on building models to improve our understanding of diseases related to the human immune system, such as cancer. Her goal is to understand the genesis and dynamics of diseases as well as to discover improved and personalized treatment approaches. In her free time, Lisette plays piano, sings, dances, and reads for fun. She also enjoys spending time playing family games, visiting new places, going to movies, trying new restaurants, and going for walks outside with her husband and three daughters. They live up against the foothills in California, so they don’t have to walk far to be immersed in nature and see lots of wildlife. She received her PhD in mathematics from the University of California Los Angeles. Lisette was Director of the Harvey Mudd College Global Clinic Program prior to being elected department chair. Lisette has been recognized for her multidisciplinary research excellence with the Maria Goeppert-Mayer Distinguished Scholar Award from the Argonne National Laboratory. She is also a HERS-CBL Clare Boothe Luce Leadership in STEM Scholar and a Fellow of the American Mathematical Society. In our interview Lisette shared more about her life and work.
Dr. Paul Steinhardt is the Albert Einstein Professor in Science, Professor in the Department of Physics, Professor in the Department of Astrophysical Sciences, and Director of the Princeton Center for Theoretical Sciences. In addition, Paul is author of the popular science book Endless Universe: Beyond the Big Bang and the recently released book The Second Kind of Impossible: The Extraordinary Quest for a New Form of Matter. Paul is a theoretical physicist whose areas of study range from the nature of particles to the origins of the universe. He uses the known laws of nature to unravel some of the many secrets of nature that remain. His goal is to understand why things are the way they are and to discover connections between seemingly unrelated phenomena. In his free time, Paul enjoys hanging out with his four kids and his grandchild. Lately, he has also become fond of attending opera performances and hiking. Paul received his B.S. in physics from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in physics from Harvard University. Afterwards, Paul was a Junior Fellow in the Harvard Society of Fellows. He served on the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania for about 17 years before joining the faculty at Princeton University. Paul has been recognized for his exceptional research as one of the recipients of the 2002 Dirac Medal from the International Centre for theoretical Physics, a recipient of the Oliver E. Buckley Prize of the American Physical Society, a recipient of the John Scott Award, and one of the recipients of the 2018 Aspen Italia Prize. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and a Member of the National Academy of Sciences. Paul was also named a Sloan Fellow, a Guggenheim Fellow, the Simons Fellow in Theoretical Physics, a Radcliffe Institute Fellow at Harvard University, a Moore Fellow at Caltech, and a Caltech Distinguished Alumnus. In our interview Paul shared more about his life and science.
Dr. Carla Finkielstein is an Associate Professor of Biological Sciences within the Biocomplexity Institute of Virginia Tech. She is also Director of the Integrated Cellular Response Laboratory at Virginia Tech, a Member of the Executive Committee of the Susan G. Komen Blue Ridge Board, and past member of the Board of Directors of the Virginia Breast Cancer Foundation. In the lab, Carla is interested in understanding the mechanisms cells use to measure time to regulate cell division. Evidence supports that people with circadian disorders have a higher incidence of cancer. Carla hypothesizes that cancer may occur when the clocks within cells don’t function properly. In these cases, the clocks may signal to the cell to divide too frequently. Carla’s goal is to understand how this process occurs so that we can fix the issue, detect the problem early to provide treatment, or prevent it from happening. Carla’s favorite hobby is cooking. She loves making new and creative dishes that bring together different colors, flavors, and taste profiles. Cooking is relaxing for her, and it’s fun to share dishes she creates with her friends and family. In addition, Carla enjoys reading a wide variety of books about history. Carla received her B.S. and Ph.D. both in Molecular Biology from the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina. Afterwards, she worked as a Research Associate at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. Carla then conducted further postdoctoral research at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center before joining the faculty at Virginia Tech. Carla has been recognized for her research accomplishments with the L. Chely Award for Best PhD Thesis, a Howard Hughes Institute Fellowship for Research, an American Heart Association Postdoctoral Fellowship, the Karin Noss Scholarship for Research Advocacy in Breast Cancer, the Susan G. Komen Award for Junior Investigators, and a National Science Foundation CAREER Award. In our interview Carla shared more about her life and science.
Dr. Todd Zankel is co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Mercaptor Discoveries, Inc., a biotech company focused on developing molecules to treat brain injury and degeneration. Todd studies chemistry and molecular biology to develop new drugs to treat diseases of the central nervous system and brain. The molecules they are working on now help reduce side effects by making drugs only active in the parts of the body they are supposed to target. When he’s not working, Todd likes to read non-science books and take his dog for walks in the hills and woods near his house. Todd received his B.A. in Chemistry from Reed College and his Ph.D. in Chemistry from Columbia University. Afterwards, he accepted a position as an NIH postdoctoral fellow at the Plant Gene Expression Center in Berkeley, California as well as the Chemistry Department of ETH in Zurich, Switzerland. Todd then worked for BioMarin Pharmaceutical for about eight years. Before co-founding Mercaptor Discoveries, Todd co-founded Raptor Pharmaceuticals in 2006, acting as Chief Scientific Officer and head of discovery research until 2016 when the company was acquired. In our interview, Todd shared more about his life and science.
Dr. Michael Fox is an Associate Professor of Neurology at the Harvard University Medical School and Director of the Laboratory for Brain Network Imaging and Modulation. In addition, Mike is Associate Director of the Berenson-Allen Center for Noninvasive Brain Stimulation, Co-Director of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Deep Brain Stimulation Program, Assistant Neuroscientist at Massachusetts General Hospital, and a practicing clinical neurologist at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. In Mike’s research, he uses wiring diagrams of the human brain to try to make sense of brain problems and help patients. In the clinic, Mike treats patients with movement disorders like tremor and Parkinson’s disease using deep brain stimulation. He also uses noninvasive brain stimulation to treat people with psychiatric conditions like depression. When Mike isn’t doing research in his lab or working with patients in the clinic, he loves spending time with his wife and two daughters. They enjoy hiking and having fun outdoors together. He received his bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from The Ohio State University, and he was awarded his MD and PhD from Washington University in St. Louis. Afterwards, Mike completed a medical internship at Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. Next, he completed his Neurology Residency and Movement Disorders Fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston before becoming a faculty member with the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School. Mike is the recipient of the inaugural Trailblazer Prize for Clinician-Scientists from the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health. In our interview, Mike tells us more about his life and science.
Dr. Janine Austin Clayton is the Associate Director for Research on Women’s Health and Director of the Office of Research on Women’s Health at the National Institutes of Health. There are 27 Institutes and Centers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Research on women’s health is being conducted across all of these Institutes, and Janine helps lead and coordinate these efforts. In addition, she champions and celebrates the exceptional work that NIH-supported researchers around the world are doing. Janine’s own research focuses on issues in women’s health and diseases of the eye. Janine has a wide variety of interests outside of science, including visiting art museums near her home in Washington DC and around the world. She also likes spending her free time hanging out with her family, listening to jazz music, playing the piano, reading the Sunday paper, and staying active through yoga, Tai Chi, and Zumba. She was awarded her undergraduate degree with honors from Johns Hopkins University and her medical degree from Howard University College of Medicine. Afterwards, Janine completed a residency in ophthalmology at the Medical College of Virginia and fellowships at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins Hospital as well as the National Eye Institute (NEI). Janine is a board-certified ophthalmologist. She served as a Clinical Investigator at NEI for a number of years, and prior to her current appointments, she was the Deputy Clinical Director of NEI. Janine has received numerous awards and honors for her exceptional work, including the Senior Achievement Award from the Board of Trustees of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, selection as a Silver Fellow by the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, the European Uveitis Patient Interest Association Clinical Uveitis Research Award, the American Medical Women’s Association Lila A. Wallis Women’s Health Award, the Wenger Award for Excellence in Public Service, and the Bernadine Healy Award for Visionary Leadership in Women’s Health. In addition, Janine was selected as an honoree for the Woman’s Day Red Dress Awards and the American Medical Association’s Dr. Nathan Davis Awards for Outstanding Government Service. In our interview, Janine speaks more about her experiences in life and science.
Dr. Joseph S. Takahashi is Professor and Chair of Neuroscience and the Loyd B. Sands Distinguished Chair in Neuroscience at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. He is also an Investigator in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Joe and his lab members are trying to better understand the biological clocks in our bodies that control our 24-hour schedules. A special set of genes within nearly all of our cells turns on and off each day to regulate a wide variety of biological functions, and Joe is studying these genes and how they contribute to our biological rhythms. When Joe isn’t at work, he enjoys playing tennis, skiing, hiking, eating delicious food, and drinking great wine. Joe received his B.A. in biology from Swarthmore College and he was awarded his Ph.D. in neuroscience from the University of Oregon in Eugene. Afterwards, he conducted postdoctoral research as a pharmacology research associate at the National Institute of Mental Health. Before moving to UT Southwestern, Joe served on the faculty of Northwestern University for 26 years. Over the course of his career, Joe has received numerous awards and honors including the Honma Prize in Biological Rhythms Research, the NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award, the Searle Scholars Award, the Bristol-Myers Squibb Unrestricted Grant in Neuroscience, the C. U. Ariens Kappers Medal, the Outstanding Scientific Achievement Award from the Sleep Research Society, the W. Alden Spencer Award in Neuroscience from Columbia University, and the Peter C. Farrell Prize in Sleep Medicine from the Harvard Medical School Division of Sleep Medicine. He has also been elected as a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a Member of the National Academy of Sciences, a Member of the National Academy of Medicine, and an Honorary Member of The Japanese Biochemical Society. In our interview, Joe shared his experiences in life and science.
Dr. Barbara Katzenback is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Waterloo. Amphibian populations are declining worldwide, and one reason for their decline is their susceptibility to diseases that are emerging in their environments. Barb studies how frogs defend themselves from diseases to stay alive, and she also investigates how the environments that frogs live in impact their ability to defend against diseases. Barb’s hobbies outside of science include engaging in a variety of physical activities like running, yoga, and hiking with her husband and two dogs. She’s also experimented with soccer, spin classes, cross country skiing, rock climbing, and inner tube water polo. Some of her other interests include pottery, art, crafting, baking, gardening, sewing, and leisure reading. Barb earned her BSc with Honors in Immunology and Infection from the University of Alberta. She received her PhD in Physiology, Cell, and Developmental Biology from the University of Alberta as well. Barb was next awarded a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Postdoctoral Fellowship to conduct research at Carleton University, followed by an NSERC Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship to conduct research at the University of Waterloo before joining the faculty there. In our interview, Barb speaks more about her experiences in life and science.
Dr. Robert A. Beardsley or "Al" is a Co-Founder and the Chief Operating Officer at Galera Therapeutics, a clinical-stage biotech company discovering and developing innovative cancer treatments. Al is interested in developing new drugs that target how oxygen is metabolized in cells. In particular, Al and the team at Galera Therapeutics are working to develop therapeutics to use with radiation therapy that will block the processes that cause damage to normal tissue while also increasing damage to the tumor. While Al is passionate about science and drug development, he also enjoys watching soccer, coaching soccer, being outdoors, and hiking in the mountains in his free time. Al received his BS in Chemical Engineering from the University of Iowa, an MBA in finance from the University of Chicago, and subsequently his PhD in Biochemical Engineering from the University of Iowa. Prior to co-founding Galera Therapeutics, Al served as CEO at Metabolic Solutions Development Corporation, CEO of Kereos, acting CEO at Metaphore Pharmaceuticals, and he has held various roles at Confluence Life Sciences, SImile Investors, bioStrategies Group, and Vector Securities International. Galera Therapeutics’ new drug Abasopasem Manganese has been designated as a “Breakthrough Therapy” by the FDA for reduction in the duration, incidence, and severity of oral mucositis induced by radiation therapy in cancer patients. Recently, Al and the team at Galera Therapeutics raised $150 million in investment for their company, which represents the largest single capital round ever raised by a life-sciences company founded in St. Louis. In this podcast interview, Al spoke with us about his experiences in life and science.
Dr. Chad Orzel is the R. Gordon Gould Associate Professor of Physics at Union College. He is also author of the popular science books How to Teach Physics to Your Dog, How to Teach Relativity to Your Dog, Eureka: Discovering Your Inner Scientist, and the soon-to-be-released book Breakfast with Einstein: The Exotic Physics of Everyday Objects. In addition, Chad regularly contributes blog articles for Forbes Magazine. Chad studies ultracold atoms to improve our understanding of atomic physics. He uses lasers to drop the temperature of samples of atoms to just millionths or billionths of a degree above absolute zero. At these very cold temperatures, the atoms are moving very slowly, and interesting quantum effects arise. Free time can be hard to find with two kids and a puppy at home, but Chad enjoys hanging out with his family, reading science fiction and fantasy books, and playing basketball during his lunch hour at work. Chad received his B.A. in Physics from Williams College and his Ph.D. in Chemical Physics from the University of Maryland. Before joining the faculty at Union College, Chad conducted postdoctoral research in the Physics Department at Yale University. In our interview, Chad shared his experiences from his life and science.
Dr. Allison Okamura is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University. She also holds a courtesy appointment in Computer science there. Research in Allison’s lab examines three different areas of robotics. The first is haptics, which involves human machine interactions through the sense of touch. The second is designing medical robots that can, for example be used to help people recover from stroke or perform surgery. A final area that Allison studies is creating soft robots that can conform to their environments. Much of Allison’s free time is spent with her husband, daughter, and son. When she’s not at work, Allison also enjoys relaxing, running, and playing ice hockey. Allison received her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, and she was awarded her M.S. and Ph.D. both in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University. Before joining the faculty at Stanford University, Allison was Professor and Vice Chair of Mechanical Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. Allison is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including being elected as a fellow for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). She has also been awarded the IEEE Technical Committee on Haptics Early Career Award, the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society Early Academic Career Award, and an NSF CAREER Award. In addition, Allison was honored as a Duca Family University Fellow in Undergraduate Education, a Robert Bosch Faculty Scholar, a Gabilan Fellow, and an Alumni Distinguished Scholar by Stanford University, as well as a Decker Faculty Scholar by Johns Hopkins University. In our interview, Allison speaks more about her experiences in life and science.
Dr. Mario Thevis is Vice President of Research, Professor, and head of the Centre for Preventive Doping Research at the German Sport University of Cologne. He is also Director of the European Monitoring Center for Emerging Doping Agents (EuMoCEDA), a forensic chemist, Editor and Chief of the journal Drug Testing and Analysis, and a Research Scientist with the Partnership for Clean Competition. Mario’s time in the lab is split between research and performance of routine doping control work. On the research side, he is developing novel means and analytical methods to test athletes for the use of banned substances and methods of doping. Substances tested for include stimulants, steroids, blood doping, and others. The routine doping control side of Mario’s work involves testing samples for banned substances and investigating positive test cases. When he’s not working in the lab, Mario enjoys spending time with his family and watching soccer matches. He received his undergraduate education in organic chemistry from RWTH Aachen University as well as in sports sciences from the German Sport University of Cologne. Mario went on to earn his PhD in biochemistry from the German Sport University of Cologne. Afterwards, Mario conducted postdoctoral research at the University of California, Los Angeles. He served as a senior researcher at the German Sport University Cologne for a few years before being appointed Professor for Preventive Doping Research there. In our interview Mario will tell us more about his life and science.
Dr. Dennis Riley is Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer at Galera Therapeutics, a clinical-stage biotech company discovering and developing innovative cancer treatments. He is also an Adjunct Professor of Chemistry at Washington University in St. Louis. Dennis and his colleagues have been developing synthetic enzymes that target undesired or toxic metabolic byproducts. One compound Dennis has developed protects healthy tissue from radiation damage during cancer treatment. When he’s not doing work, Dennis enjoys mountain biking, golfing, and amateur astronomy. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in chemistry and mathematics from Heidelberg College and his PhD in inorganic chemistry from The Ohio State University. Afterwards, Dennis conducted postdoctoral research at the University of Chicago. Dennis began his career working in research and development with Proctor and Gamble, and he spent much of his career working at Monsanto where he held the positions of Senior Science Fellow and Manager of Metal-Mediated Chemistry. He subsequently served as Vice President of Research at Metaphore Pharmaceuticals and Senior Vice-President at the start-up company Kereos before co-Founding Galera Therapeutics. Dennis is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and he has received the American Chemical Society St. Louis Section’s Chemist of the Year Award. In addition, Galera Therapeutics’ new drug GC4419 has been designated as a “Breakthrough Therapy” by the FDA for reduction in the duration, incidence, and severity of oral mucositis induced by radiation therapy in cancer patients. In this podcast interview, Dennis spoke with us about his experiences in life and science.
Dr. Kathryn (Katie) Whitehead is an Assistant Professor in Chemical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University where she also holds a courtesy appointment in Biomedical Engineering. Research in Katie’s lab group focuses on therapeutic drug delivery. Their goal is to make the process of drug delivery more efficient by sending medicine only to the specific parts of the body where they are needed. Katie is also working to create new precision medicines using RNA and DNA and to develop the drug delivery systems for these future medicines. Since she was a PhD student, Katie has been interested in gardening. She started with just a single tomato plant, and now she grows over 20 different varieties of heirloom tomatoes, as well as other vegetables, fruits, and berries. Katie received her bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Delaware and her PhD in chemical engineering from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Afterwards, she conducted postdoctoral research in the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT. Katie has received numerous awards and honors, including the DARPA Young Faculty Award, the DARPA Director’s Fellowship, the Controlled Release Society Capsugel/Pfizer Oral Drug Delivery Award, the Diabetes Technology Society Peterson Research Award, a UC Graduate Research and Education in Adaptive Biotechnology Fellowship, an NIH Ruth Kirschstein National Research Service Award Fellowship, the Kun Li Award for Excellence in Education, the Popular Science Brilliant 10 Award, and very recently the 2018 National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director’s New Innovator Award. She has also been named an MIT Technology Review Innovator Under 35 and the 2016 Young Innovator Award from Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering (CMBE). In our interview, Katie speaks more about her experiences in life and science.
Dr. Satesh Bidaisee is a Professor of Public Health and Preventative Medicine and Assistant Dean for Graduate Studies at St. George’s University in Grenada. He is also an Adjunct Professor in the Center for Global Health at Old Dominion University and a Visiting Professor at Chitkara University in India and at Kasetsart University in Thailand. Many aspects of human health are linked with conditions in our environment. Satesh’s research aims to identify and understand environmental factors that can impact human health, both positively and negatively. One of Satesh’s passions outside of science is aviation. He has been fascinated by aircraft since childhood, and for the past decade, Satesh has enjoyed flying throughout the Caribbean region as a private pilot. Satesh received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Degree (D.V.M.) from the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus, a Master’s of Science (M.S.) degree in Public Health from St. George’s University, and a Doctor of Education Degree (Ed.D.) from the University of Sheffield. Prior to joining the faculty at St. George’s University, Satesh held positions at the University of Trinidad and Tobago as well as the Ministry of Health in Trinidad and Tobago. Satesh is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Public Health, the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, the International Society on Infectious Diseases, and the Society of Biology. He is also board certified by the United States National Board of Public Health Examiners. In our interview, Satesh shared his experiences in life and science.
Dr. Philip Moriarty is a Professor of Physics in the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Nottingham. In addition, he is an avid contributor to the Sixty Symbols YouTube video project and author of the book When the Uncertainty Principle Goes to 11: Or How to Explain Quantum Physics with Heavy Metal. Philip is an enthusiastic heavy metal music fan, so he spends his free time listening to rock and other types of music. He also plays a few instruments, including guitar and Aerodrums. The work in Philip’s research group focuses on imaging and moving single atoms on different surfaces. He is a nanoscientist, and an important tool for Philip’s research is a scanning probe microscope which uses an extremely sharp probe to create images of different surfaces and to modify matter down to the level of single chemical bonds. Philip received his Ph.D. in Physical Sciences from Dublin City University, and he conducted postdoctoral research in physics at the University of Nottingham before joining the faculty there. Over the course of his career, Philip has received a number of awards and honors, including being a member of the Sixty Symbols team awarded the 2016 Kelvin Medal from the Institute of Physics for innovative and effective promotion of the public understanding of physics, and he was also a winner of the 2015 I’m a Scientist, Get Me Out of Here Terbium Zone contest. In our interview Philip shares more about his life and science.
Dr. Jamie Voyles is an Assistant Professor of Biology at the University of Nevada, Reno. Research in Jamie’s lab focuses on diseases of wildlife. This is an exciting area that spans many different subdisciplines of biology including immunology, physiology, microbiology, ecology, and evolutionary biology. With so many spectacular mountains nearby, Jamie loves spending her free time outdoors skiing, rock climbing, or mountain biking. Her adorable 6 month old puppy often accompanies her on these adventures. She received her B.A. in Zoology and Anthropology from the University of Washington, her M.S. in Integrative Physiology from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and her Ph.D. in Public Health from James Cook University in Australia. Afterwards, she conducted postdoctoral research at University of Idaho and at the University of California, Berkeley before accepting her current position. In our interview, Jamie speaks more about her experiences in life and science.
Dr. Jonathan Payne is a Professor and Chair of Geological Sciences at Stanford University. He also holds a courtesy appointment in Biology, is a Member of Stanford’s interdisciplinary biosciences institute Bio-X, and is an Affiliate of the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. Jonathan studies the history of life on Earth. He is interested in the interactions between the changes in earth’s environments and the evolution of life on earth. In particular, Jonathan focuses on large extinction events like asteroid impacts and volcanic eruptions, and how these impacted life in the oceans. When not working, Jonathan is often going to sporting events, traveling, and playing Nerf basketball in his house with his wife and two kids. He also enjoys hiking and working out at the gym. Jonathan received his B.A. in Geosciences from Williams College. Afterwards, he worked as a high school math and science teacher in Switzerland for two years before returning to graduate school. Jonathan was awarded his Ph.D. in Earth and Planetary Sciences from Harvard University, and he conducted postdoctoral research at Pennsylvania State University before joining the faculty at Stanford. Jonathan has received many awards and honors for his work, including the Stanford University Medal for excellence in advising undergraduate research, the Charles Schuchert Award from the Paleontological Society, and a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation. He has also been named a Fellow of the Geological Society of America as well as a Fellow of the Paleontological Society. In this podcast interview, Jonathan spoke with us about his experiences in life and science.
Dr. Marcia Bjornerud is Professor of Geology and the Walter Schober Professor of Environmental Studies at Lawrence University in Wisconsin. In addition, she is a writer for “Elements”, the New Yorker’s science and technology blog, and she is the author of the textbook The Blue Planet: An Introduction to Earth System Science, the popular science book Reading the Rocks: The Autobiography of the Earth, and the recently released book Timefulness: How Thinking Like a Geologist Can Help Save the World. Maria is a structural geologist who studies the deeply eroded roots of mountain belts and ancient plate boundaries to better understand the long-term effects of tectonic processes and rock deformation in Earth’s deep crust. Cross country skiing is a passion for Marcia, and she loves getting out in the winter to ski, including participating in ski marathons. Marcia is also an urban forager who enjoys making jams and preserves from wild berries and grapes that she picks. Marcia received her B.S. degree in geophysics from the University of Minnesota-Minneapolis and was awarded her M.S. and Ph.D. in structural geology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Marcia then conducted postdoctoral research at the Byrd Polar Research Center at The Ohio State University. Afterwards, Marcia worked as a contract geologist for the Geological Survey of Canada and the Norwegian Polar Institute. Before joining the faculty at Lawrence University, Marcia served on the faculty at Miami University in Ohio. She has received many awards and honors during her career, including being named a fellow of the Geological Society of America, receipt of two Fulbright Senior Scholarships, as well as being awarded the Outstanding Educator Award from the Association of Women Geoscientists. In our interview, Marcia speaks more about her experiences in life and science.
Dr. Richard Ivry is Professor of Psychology and Professor of the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute at the University of California, Berkeley. His research focuses on what makes certain individuals really good at skilled, coordinated movements. He also seeks to better understand what goes wrong in the nervous systems of people with neurological conditions that affect their ability to make skilled movements. When he’s not at work, Rich loves going hiking with his dogs at a giant canyon near his home in the East Bay area in California. He also enjoys unwinding by hiking and surfing along the coast. Rich received his B.A. in Psychology from Brown University, and he was awarded his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Psychology from the University of Oregon. Afterwards, he conducted postdoctoral research at the University of Oregon and Good Samaritan Hospital before accepting a faculty position at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Rich joined the faculty at the University of California, Berkeley in 1990. Over the course of his career, Rich has received numerous awards and honors, including being named a Fellow of the American Psychological Society as well as the Society of Experimental Psychologists. In addition, he was a recipient of the FIRST Award from the National Institutes of Health, an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship, and the Association for Psychological Science Williams James Fellow Award for his lifetime intellectual contributions to the basic science of psychology. In our interview, Rich shares more about his life and science.
Dr. Eric Kmiec is Director of the Gene Editing Institute of the Helen F. Graham Cancer and Research Institute at Christiana Care Health System. He also holds faculty appointments at the University of Delaware and the Wistar Institute. Eric and his colleagues are working to develop new ways to treat cancer by destroying the genes that cause cancer cells to be resistant to typical therapies like chemotherapy, radiation, or immunotherapy. Throughout his life, Eric has enjoyed sports. He particularly likes playing baseball and hockey, and he still plays baseball competitively in a league in Philadelphia. Eric also spends much of his time doing landscaping and yardwork. He Received his B.A. in Microbiology from Rutgers University, his M.S. in Cell Biology and Biochemistry from Southern Illinois University, and his Ph.D. in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry from the University of Florida School of Medicine. He conducted postdoctoral research at the University of Rochester before joining the faculty at the University of California, Davis in 1987. Since then, he has served on the faculty of Thomas Jefferson University, the University of Delaware, and Delaware State University. In addition, Eric founded, consulted for, and served as Vice President of Kimeragen, Inc., he was Chief Scientific Advisor for the Genomics Division of Tapestry Pharmaceuticals, was an Eminent Scholar and Director of the Marshall University Institute for Interdisciplinary Research, and also served as Co-Founder, Chief Scientific Officer, and a Board Member of OrphageniX. Eric has received numerous awards and honors over the course of his career, including receipt of the 2012 Proudford Foundation Unsung Hero Award in Sickle Cell Disease, designation as an Honorary Commander of the 436th Air Wing at Dover Air Force Base in 2013 and 2014, and also induction into the Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville Alumni Hall of Fame in 2012. Further, Eric and the team at the Gene Editing Institute were recently awarded the inaugural Life Sciences and Bio Innovation Award from the Philadelphia-Israeli Chamber of Commerce. In our interview, Eric shared his experiences in life and science.
Dr. Rebecca Wattam is a Research Associate Professor in the Network Dynamics and Simulation Science Laboratory within the Biocomplexity Institute of Virginia Tech. Rebecca is the outreach and biology lead for a bioinformatics research center that scientists use to share and analyze their data on bacteria and bacterial genomes. She is particularly interested in examining the similarities and differences between groups of bacteria. Rebecca received her B.S. and M.S. degrees from the University of New Mexico in Biology. Next, she attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she earned a joint Ph.D. degree in Entomology and Veterinary Science. Rebecca received a MacArthur Fellowship to conduct postdoctoral research at the University of Arizona in Tucson, and she completed a second postdoctoral fellowship there as well before accepting a position on the faculty at Virginia Tech. In our interview, Rebecca speaks more about her experiences in life and science.
Dr. Deepak Singh is an Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Missouri and Principal Investigator of the Magnetism and Superconductivity Research Laboratory there. Deepak’s research aims to better understand magnetism and superconductivity in new and existing materials. One of the magnetic materials they are studying has a honeycomb lattice structure that gives the material unique properties. Deepak and his lab are working to better understand the fundamental physics and mechanisms that underlie these properties, but also to investigate potential applications of this material. Deepak has a variety of interests outside of science, including playing tennis, traveling, and spending time with his family. In particular, he and his family love exploring National Parks, and the Badlands National Park is his favorite thus far. He received his PhD in condensed matter physics from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Afterwards, Deepak conducted postdoctoral research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Prior to joining the University of Missouri, Deepak worked for about 4.5 years as a Staff Scientist with a joint appointment at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Maryland, College Park. He has received several research awards at the University of Missouri, including the Research Board Award and the Physics Alumni Faculty Fellow Award. In our interview, Deepak shared some of his experiences in life and science. In our interview, Deepak shared some of his experiences in life and science.
Dr. Carmel Majidi is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. There, he also holds courtesy appointments in the Robotics Institute and in Civil and Environmental Engineering. In Carmel’s soft machines lab, they are engineering new types of materials that can be used to make machines and robots soft, flexible, and more lifelike. The goal is for these machines to move more like natural organisms. When not working, Carmel is often out engaging in physical activities including hitting the gym or walking/jogging in nearby parks and along river trails. He also enjoys the arts and travel. Carmel travels frequently for work, and he likes to block off extra time on these trips to to visit museums and cultural landmarks. Carmel received his B.S. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Cornell University and his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences from the University of California, Berkeley. He completed postdoctoral fellowships at Princeton University as well as at Harvard University before joining the faculty at Carnegie Mellon. Over the course of his career, Carmel has received numerous awards and honors, including the Young Faculty Awards from the Office of Naval Research (ONR), the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR). He has also received the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Early Career Faculty Award, as well as the George Tallman Ladd Award and Carnegie Institute of Technology Dean’s Early Career Fellowship from Carnegie Mellon University. In addition, Carmel was named a PopTech Science Fellow in 2013. In our interview Carmel discusses his experiences in life and science.
Dr. Alexandra Martiniuk is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Medicine of the School of Public Health at the University of Sydney, an Associate Professor of Epidemiology at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto, and a Senior Research Fellow at the George Institute for Global Health. Alex is an epidemiologist, and her work involves applying mathematics to answer questions in health and medicine. In particular, Alex is interested in better understanding and improving child health, global health, and the health of indigenous people. Beyond spending her time doing science, Alex loves hanging out with her husband and two young children. She often travels internationally for her work, to visit family, and to attend a variety of events. In addition, Alex enjoys the outdoors, sports, and long-distance running. Prior to pursuing a career in research, Alex worked for the Trillium Childhood Cancer Support Center. She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology and life sciences as well as her master's degree in community health from Queen’s University in Canada. Alex was awarded her Ph.D. in epidemiology and biostatistics from the University of Western Ontario. Over the course of her career, Alex has received numerous awards and honors, including Fellowships from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the National Health and Medical Research Council, the University of Sydney, and Merck. She is also the recipient of the Saturn Commitment to Excellence Award, a Rotary Paul Harris Fellowship, and the Australian Chamber of Commerce Young Outstanding Person of the Year Award. In addition, Alex was named a Canadian Institutes of Health Research Rising Star in Health Services Research. In our interview, Alex shares some of her experiences in both life and science.
Dr. Michael Levin is Professor and Vannevar Bush Endowed Chair in the Department of Biology at Tufts University. He is also Director of the Allen Discovery Center at Tufts and Director of the Tufts Center for Regenerative and Developmental Biology. In addition, Mike is a Visiting Scholar at the Wyss Institute at Harvard. Mike seeks to better understand how living things work. Specifically, he studies how cells and tissues make decisions, computations that occur in living systems, and the mechanisms that allow cells and complex structures to arise through evolution and to be created during development and regeneration. When he’s not thinking about science, Mike spends his time with his wife and kids, enjoys the outdoors, goes kayaking, and takes lots of photos of the natural world. His photo portfolio includes many striking panoramic shots and microphotography of insects. Mike received his B.S. in Computer Science and Biology from Tufts University and his Ph.D. in Genetics from Harvard University Medical School. He remained at Harvard University afterwards to conduct research in molecular embryology under a Helen Hay Whitney Foundation post-doctoral fellowship. Next, Mike joined the faculty at Harvard and also became a member of the research staff at the Forsyth Institute. During his career, Mike has received numerous honors and accolades. He was awarded a Junior Investigator Award from the Society for Physical Regulation in Biology and Medicine, the Distinguished Scholar Award from Tufts University, the Scientist of Vision Award from the International Functional Electrical Stimulation Society, and the Established Investigator Award from the American Heart Association. In our interview, Mike shares more about his life and science.
Dr. Tuomo Suntola is a co-owner and Board Member of the Finnish atomic layer deposition technology company Picosun Ltd. He is also Chairman of the Finnish Society for Natural Philosophy, Chairman of the Physics Foundations Society, and author of the books The Short History of Science, The Dynamic Universe, and Theoretical Basis of the Dynamic Universe. Most of Tuomo’s career has been spent working on a technology called atomic layer deposition (ALD). This technology is based on a saturated reaction that occurs on the surface of a material that allows the production of highly ordered material layers one atomic layer at a time. These layers are essential for the modern integrated circuits that are found in all of our electronic devices, but they are also used for various other applications including solar cells, lithium ion batteries, luxury watches, coins, and telescope mirrors. In addition to ALD technology, Tuomo is passionate about studying fundamental physics as well as the philosophy and history of science. When not thinking about technology, science, or the philosophy of science, Tuomo enjoys spending time with his family and friends, taking care of his home and garden, and having a refreshing swim in a the swimming hole near his home. He was awarded his M.S. and PhD in electrical engineering from the Helsinki University of Technology where he studied semiconductor physics. Afterwards, Tuomo worked as a Scientist at the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland for a few years before accepting a position as Chief Scientist at Instrumentarium Ltd. He subsequently served as Director of Display Division and Chief Scientist at the consumer electronics manufacturing company Lohja Ltd, Managing Director of a subsidiary of the national oil company Neste Ltd. called Microchemistry Ltd, a Research Fellow in the national energy company Fortum Corporation. After retiring from Fortum, Tuomo has continued in his roles at Picosun. Over the course of his career, Tuomo has received many awards and honors, including the 2004 European SEMI Award for pioneering atomic layer deposition techniques. He was also honored in 2018 with the Millennium Technology Prize, which is regarded as Finland’s Nobel Prize, for developing this atomic layer deposition technology. He is an elected Member of the Finnish Academy of Technology, was a Member of a World Energy Council working group from 2003-2004, and was named a Knight First Class of the Order of the Lion of Finland. In our interview, Tuomo shared more about his life and science.
Dr. Jo Dunkley is a Professor of Physics and Astrophysical Sciences at Princeton University. Jo is a cosmologist who conducts research to approximate how space behaves as a whole. This includes looking into space and taking measurements to determine how the universe began, what it’s made of, how it’s growing, and what is going to happen to it in the future. Physics and family are two of the major pieces in Jo’s life. She loves spending time with her two young daughters. Lately, her older daughter enjoys running, drawing, singing, and learning about space. Jo received her MSci with First Class Honors in Natural Sciences from the University of Cambridge and her PhD in Astrophysics from the University of Oxford. Afterwards, she conducted postdoctoral research and was subsequently a Visiting Research Fellow at Princeton University. Before joining the faculty at Princeton University, Jo served on the faculty at the University of Oxford. Over the course of her career, Jo has received numerous awards and honors including the Maxwell Medal from the Institute of Physics, the Royal Astronomical Society’s Fowler Prize in Astronomy, the Royal Society Rosalind Franklin Award, the Royal Society Wolfson Merit Award, and the Philip Leverhulme Prize from the Leverhulme Trust. She also shared the Gruber Foundation Cosmology Prize, a NASA Group Achievement Award, and most recently the Breakthrough Prize for Fundamental Physics with the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe team. In our interview, Jo speaks about some of her experiences in life and science.
Dr. Kurt Hankenson is a Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Michigan Medical School. Kurt is a veterinarian and a scientist. His research focuses on developing new treatments to improve bone healing as well as to treat bone loss conditions like osteoporosis. Outside of research, Kurt enjoys running, spending time with his wife and son, eating good food, drinking West Coast IPAs, traveling, listening to music, and reading. He received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Illinois. Afterwards, Kurt practiced equine veterinary medicine for a few years before returning to graduate school for his MS in Basic Medical Sciences from the Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine. Kurt went on to earn his PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Washington, and he remained at the University of Washington to conduct postdoctoral research before accepting a faculty position at the University of Michigan. Kurt then served on the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine for 8 years, and there he held the inaugural Dean W. Richardson Chair for Equine Research. Kurt worked briefly as a faculty member at Michigan State University before returning to the University of Michigan last year. Over the course of his career, Kurt has been awarded numerous honors including the Young Investigator Award, a John Haddad Fellowship, and also the Fuller Albright Award, all from the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research. In our interview, Kurt shared some of his experiences in life and science.
Dr. Marcie O'Malley is the Stanley C. Moore Professor of Mechanical Engineering, as well as a Professor of Computer Science and Electrical and Computer Engineering at Rice University. Marcie is also an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Departments of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Baylor College of Medicine and at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston. In addition, she is Director of the Mechatronics and Haptic Interfaces Lab at Rice University, Director of Rehabilitation Engineering at TIRR-Memorial Hermann Hospital, and co-founder of Houston Medical Robotics, Inc. The goal of Marcie’s research is to use robotic systems to maximize what people can achieve. She creates wearable and interactive robots to rehabilitate and restore function in people after spinal cord injury or stroke. Another area of Marcie’s research focuses on the use of robots for training via surgical simulations. Outside of her scientific interests, Marcie loves to travel and explore new cities. She is also a mom of eleven year old twin boys, so she spends a lot of time working on school projects, attending sporting events, going to art classes, exploring parks, and visiting museums with them. She received her B.S. in mechanical engineering from Purdue University, and she was awarded her M.S. and Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Vanderbilt University. Marcie has received recognition for her teaching and research through receipt of the George R. Brown Award for Superior Teaching at Rice University, an Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award, and an NSF CAREER Award. She has also been named a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Marcie joined us for an interview to talk about some of her experiences in life and science.
Dr. Justin Barad is the CEO of Osso VR, a virtual reality surgical training software company. Justin and the team at Osso VR are developing a surgical training platform that uses virtual reality and gaming technology to solve critical training challenges for surgeons and healthcare providers around the world. In his free time, Justin enjoys sipping on a good cup of coffee, going for a run with his dog, and playing the piano and flute. He also enjoys traveling to new places around the world and exploring the local cuisine. He received his bachelor’s degree in bioengineering and biomedical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley and was awarded his MD from the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Afterwards, Justin completed his residency in orthopedics at UCLA and his fellowship in pediatric orthopaedics at Harvard University and Boston Children’s Hospital. Justin was subsequently awarded a Biodesign Innovation Fellowship at the Stanford Byers Center for Biodesign. In addition, Justin has been an editor and contributor for over a decade to the popular medical technology news site Medgadget. In our interview, Justin told us more about his life and science.
Dr. Daniel Whiteson is a Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of California, Irvine. He is also co-author of the book We Have No Idea: A Guide to the Unknown Universe. As a particle physicist, Daniel is working to discover how the universe began and what things are made of at their most fundamental levels. When not in the lab, Daniel engages in experimental baking to create a wide variety of desserts. He’s currently perfecting his recipe for chocolate babka, a type of sweet bread. Regardless of how his kitchen experiments turn out, it’s fun to share them with his wife and two kids. Daniel received his B.S. in Physics and Computer Science from Rice University, he was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to study at the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen, and he went on to earn his PhD in Physics from the University of California, Berkeley. He conducted postdoctoral research afterwards at the University of Pennsylvania before joining the faculty at UC, Irvine. Daniel has received various awards and honors in his career, including an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship, an Outstanding Junior Investigator award from the U.S. Department of Energy, the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research from UC, Irvine, and a Webby Award in Experimental and Innovation sites for developing a smartphone app called Cosmic Rays Found in Smartphones which uses a cell phone’s camera to detect ultra high-energy cosmic rays. Daniel has also been named a Fellow of the American Physical Society. Daniel joined us for an interview to talk more about his life and science.
Dr. Lori Hosaka LaPlante is an Associate Professor of Biology at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire. Her research focuses on how and why animals use color signals during communication. In particular, Lori is interested in better understanding color signals used by female fish to communicate readiness to mate, dominance, and health status. When not at work, you can often find Lori doing yoga or playing volleyball. During the winter she plays indoor volleyball three times per week, and in the summer she plays beach volleyball three times per week. Lori also loves spending quality time with her husband, dog, and cat. She received her B.S. in marine biology from California State University, Long Beach, and she went on to receive her Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology from the University of Connecticut. In our interview, Lori shares some of her experiences in life and science.
Dr. Samarth Swarup is a Research Associate Professor working in the Network Dynamics and Simulation Science Laboratory at the Biocomplexity Institute of Virginia Tech. In the lab, Samarth studies human behavior by making computer models of people moving and interacting. These are called social simulations, and they can be used to forecast outcomes and mitigate risks in a wide variety of applications from epidemic outbreaks to disaster scenarios. In his free time, Samarth enjoys reading, watching professional basketball, and spending time with his wife and daughter. Lately, he and his daughter have been having fun learning how to play chess together. Samarth received his Bachelors of Engineering degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Bombay and his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Afterwards, Samarth conducted postdoctoral research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign before joining the faculty at Virginia Tech. Samarth was part of a team from Virginia Tech that won first prize in the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences’ Climate Change and Environmental Exposures Challenge for the Populations, Infrastructures, and Exposures Visualization tool they built. In our interview, Samarth told us more about his life and science.
Dr. Nicole Garneau is a Curator of Human Health, the Department Chair of Health Sciences, and Principal Investigator of the Genetics of Taste Laboratory at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. In addition, Nicole is Co-Founder of Beer Flavor Map and DraughtLab Brands, a company that creates accessible, affordable, and powerful sensory systems to help ensure quality and consistency of products for craft brewers. She also has her own speaking and consulting company called Dr. Nicole Garneau LLC. As a taste scientist and geneticist, Nicole is interested in understanding how the subtle differences in people’s DNA determines how we taste and choose foods. Taste is one of the main contributing factors to how we choose food, so our sense of taste can have large impacts on overall nutrition, health, and well-being. Nicole has a variety of hobbies and interests outside of science, including gardening, yoga, learning Spanish, visiting the mountains and rivers of Colorado, and enjoying the outdoors with her family. She received her B.A. in Genetics as well as Comparative Literature from Rutgers University. While in college, Nicole worked as a Research Assistant at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, an Assistant Research Scientist at PTC Therapeutics, Inc., and an In-Field Marketing Specialist for Pierce Promotions. Afterwards, Nicole attended graduate school and was awarded her PhD in Microbiology from Colorado State University. During graduate school Nicole Co-Founded the company Alexandra’s Baggage, LLC and she also completed a Technology Transfer Internship at Colorado State University. Before accepting a position at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Nicole worked on the as a consultant for MicroRx Company Promotions for CSU Ventures, Inc., and she also worked as an Investment Services Coordinator for CSU Management Corporation. In this interview, Nicole chats about some of her experiences in life and science.
Dr. Douglas Futuyma is a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at Stony Brook University. He also holds an appointment as a Research Associate at the American Museum of Natural History. Throughout his career, Douglas has been fascinated by evolution and how species adapt to their environments. Much of his research has examined the ways in which insects that eat plants have evolved (or failed to evolve) in their ability to eat different kinds of plants. Beyond his specific research area of expertise, Douglas has taught courses on evolution and evolutionary ecology, as well as served as a general spokesperson for evolution. Douglas is a passionate naturalist who loves being outdoors and expanding his knowledge of natural history. He has also been an avid birdwatcher for the past 25 years. In addition, Douglas is an opera and classical music enthusiast. Douglas received his B.S. in Conservation from Cornell University and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Zoology from the University of Michigan. After receiving his Ph.D., Douglas joined the faculty at Stony Brook University where he has worked for most of his career. He served on the faculty at the University of Michigan for a few years from 2002-2004 before returning to Stony Brook. Douglas has written one of the most popular textbooks on Evolution and has received numerous awards and honors over the course of his career. He is an elected Member of the National Academy of Sciences, as well as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was also awarded the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Fulbright Senior Scholarship, the Sewall Wright Award from the American Society of Naturalists, the Joseph Leidy Award from the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, and an Honorary Doctoral Degree from the National University of Mongolia. In our interview Douglas shared stories from his own life and science.
Dr. Sunny Wong is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Dermatology and the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology at the University of Michigan School of Medicine. Sunny’s lab studies skin biology. Skin is a complex organ that covers our entire body and is composed of different cells and systems. He is interested in understanding how skin develops and what can go wrong in skin, particularly in skin cancer. His lab is working on projects examining how basal cell carcinoma tumors form, the genetics of these tumors, and how these tumors respond to drug therapies. In addition to his passion for science, Sunny loves creative writing and reading literature. Lately, he’s also enjoyed learning more about modern art, art history, and various artists. He received his B.A. from Cornell University in Biology and his PhD in Biology from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Sunny was awarded American Cancer Society and A.P. Giannini Postdoctoral fellowships to conduct postdoctoral research at the University of California, San Francisco. Sunny is a Member of the Organogenesis Scholars and the Biological Sciences Scholars Programs at the University of Michigan as well. In our interview Sunny told us about his experiences in life and science.
Dr. Francisca Ikuenobe is a Professor of Geology and Geophysics at the Missouri University of Science and Technology. In her research, Franca studies rocks to understand the clues they can reveal about the living things, environments, and climates of the past. Franca is particularly interested in the microfossils of pollen, spores, and phytoplankton that are preserved in rock. She uses these to help determine the age of rocks and what they can tell us about the history of an area. Outside of science, Franca loves reading entertainment magazines like Vogue Magazine and watching entertainment news on TV. When Entertainment Tonight is about to start, she drops everything she’s doing to watch it. She received her B.Sc. in Geology from the University of Ife in Nigeria (now Obafemi Awolowo University). Afterwards, Francisca worked as a production geologist and subsequently a palynologist for Shell Petroleum Development Company for a year before enrolling in graduate school. She received her M.Sc. in applied geology also from the University of Ife where she next worked as an assistant lecturer. Francisca was awarded a Commonwealth Scholarship Commission Award for her Ph.D. work in Geology at Cambridge University. Following the completion of her Ph.D., Francisca joined the faculty at Missouri S&T where she is today. Francisca has received various awards and honors for her work, including being named an Honorary Global Counselor by Missouri S&T’s Office of International and Cultural Affairs, an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, an African Scientific Institute Fellow, an elected fellow of the Geological Society of America, as well as receipt of the Distinguished Service Award from Goretti Old Girls International, Inc. and receipt of the Science and Technology Award from the Nigerian People’s Forum. In addition, Francisca has been awarded the Outstanding Teaching Award, Outstanding Students Leaders’ Outstanding Student Advocate Award, the Faculty Excellence Award, Sustained Excellence in Teaching Award, and the Woman of the Year Award all from Missouri S&T. Francisca joined us for an interview to talk about some of her experiences in life and science.
Dr. John Aitchison is President and Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research, the largest independent, non-profit organization in the U.S. that is focused solely on infectious disease research. In addition, John serves as an affiliate or adjunct Professor at the University of Washington, the University of British Columbia, the University of Alberta, and the Institute for Systems Biology. John’s research investigates the systems biology related to infectious disease by using technology, computation, and high throughput biology (“-omics”) to examine molecules in complex biological systems to better understand how the system will react to a new stimulus or perturbation. Their ultimate goal is to predict how effective a drug or vaccine will be against a particular disease and to implement it with high efficiency. When he’s not in the office or the lab, John loves to be out on the water sailing and racing sailboats. He’s also a fan of playing squash, skiing, spending time with his family, and being outdoors. John received his B.Sc. degree with Honors in Biochemistry from McMaster University and his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from McMaster University as well. He then conducted postdoctoral research in the Laboratory of Cell Biology at The Rockefeller University. Next, John served on the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Alberta. Afterwards, he became a founding member at the Institute for Systems Biology where he later served as Senior Vice President and Executive Director of Integrative Biology. While working at the Institute for Systems Biology, John also began conducting research at the Center for Infectious Disease Research where he still works today. In our interview John shares his experiences in life, leadership, and science.
Dr. Madhav Marathe is a Professor of Computer Science and Director of the Network Dynamics and Simulation Science Laboratory within the Biocomplexity Institute of Virginia Tech. He is also an adjunct faculty member at Chalmers University, the Indian Institute of Public Health, and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Virginia Tech. Madhav's research focuses on understanding the general principles that govern large networks, particularly networks that have social and technical components. Madhav and his team are working to understand how networks are formed, how they grow, how they change, how they can be used to solve problems, and how to make them more resilient. They use technology, including computer science, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and other tools to address critical problems in the study of complex networks. Outside of work, Madhav treasures his time spent with family and close friends. In particular, he and his family have fun engaging in deep discussions about world events and important societal questions. Madhav also enjoys listening to or watching a great game of cricket or badminton. Madhav received his Bachelor of Technology Degree in Computer Science and Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology in Madras, and he was awarded his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Albany. Afterwards, Madhav conducted postdoctoral research working in the Computing Division group at the Los Alamos National Laboratory before coming to Virginia Tech. Over the course of his career, Madhav has received numerous awards and honors including being named the Inaugural George Michael Distinguished Scholar at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, an Association of Computing Machinery Fellow, an Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers Fellow, and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In addition, he was awarded the Distinguished Copyright achievement award from Los Alamos National Laboratory for TRANSIMS software, the University of Albany Distinguished Alumni Award, and the Award for Research Excellence at the Biocomplexity Institute of Virginia Tech. In our interview Madhav shared more about his life and science.
Dr. Eurie Hong is the Senior Director of Genomics at AncestryDNA. In her position, Eurie works on the algorithms that interpret the DNA provided in customer samples to tell people the regions of the world their ancestors may come from. She develops methods to analyze a person’s DNA and compare it to reference panels of DNA from other individuals. When she’s not at work, Eurie spends her time with her husband and six year old daughter. It’s exciting for Eurie to see her daughter trying new activities, and they recently went skiing together for the first time. In addition, Eurie enjoys cooking, eating, exploring different cuisine, and experimenting with her instant pot. She was awarded her B.S. Degree in Biological Sciences from Stanford University and her Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology from the University of Chicago. Afterwards, she worked as a Biocuration Scientist and subsequently the Head of Scientific Curation for the Saccharomyces Genome Database at Stanford University School of Medicine. Eurie has also held positions as Senior Research Scientist at Stanford University School of Medicine and Project Manager of the ENCODE Data Coordination Center at Stanford University School of Medicine before joining the team at AncestryDNA in 2015. Eurie joined us for an interview to talk about her experiences in life and science.
Dr. Brian Keating is a Professor of Physics at the University of California, San Diego. Additionally, he is the Co-Director of the Ax Center for Experimental Cosmology and Director of the Simons Observatory. Brian is also author of the book Losing the Nobel Prize: A Story of Cosmology, Ambition, and the Perils of Science’s Highest Honor. As a cosmologist, Brian studies the universe using a variety of different tools. In his research, he examines the stars, how the universe originated, and what (if anything) was present before our universe existed. Brian and his colleagues build instruments to detect the very first light in the universe by investigating an ancient heat called the cosmic microwave background radiation. This is a three degree Kelvin signal that resulted from the birth of the universe. Outside of science, Brian’s hobbies include flying airplanes and performing stand-up comedy. His interest in flight began when he was a young kid determined to become an astronaut, and he made his piloting dream come true when he earned his private pilot license in graduate school. Brian’s forrays in stand-up comedy began with an open mic session at a famous comedy club in La Jolla. He originally signed up to prepare for his TED Talk a few years ago, and since then, Brian has continued to work on his repertoire. He received his B.S. in physics from Case Western Reserve University and his Ph.D. in physics from Brown University. Brian conducted postdoctoral research at Stanford University and at the California Institute of Technology before joining the faculty at UC, San Diego. Brian and his work have earned many awards and accolades over the years. He has been named a Fellow of the American Physical Society and a UC, San Diego Hellman Faculty Fellow. In addition, Brian is the recipient of the White House Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, a National Science Foundation CAREER Award for Faculty Early Career Development, the Second Place Prize for the 2014 Buckhalter Cosmology Prize, and a UC, San Diego Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action and Diversity Award. In our interview Brian shared his stories and experiences from his life and science.
Dr. Thijs Heus is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics at Cleveland State University. Thijs’s research focuses on clouds and the impact they have on weather and climate. Some of the effects clouds can have include reflecting sunlight (which lowers temperatures) and transporting heat and moisture through the atmosphere. However, clouds remain one of the major sources of uncertainty in climate and weather predictions, partly due to their relatively small size and varying shapes. Thijs uses computer models and simulations to determine, for instance, what happens to clouds when temperatures change, and how the size of clouds impacts weather and climate. When the weather is nice, you can often find Thijs outdoors running. He also enjoys spending time with his family, cooking, and indulging in the many museums, music venues, sporting events, and restaurants in Cleveland, Ohio. He received Masters degrees in Physics as well as Meteorology and Physical Oceanography from Utrecht University in the Netherlands. Afterwards, he attended Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands where he was awarded a PhD in Applied Physics. Next, Thijs conducted postdoctoral research with the Department of Climate Services of The Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute and then at the Hans Ertel Center of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology. Thijs also worked as Researcher at the Institute of Geophysics and Meteorology at the University of Cologne before accepting his current position at Cleveland State. He has been awarded the Faculty Merit Recognition Award from Cleveland State University, as well as Undergraduate Research Awards for the work of his students. In this interview, Thijs shares more about his life and science.
Dr. Jennifer Ramp Neale is Director of Research and Conservation at the Denver Botanic Gardens. She is also an Adjunct Professor of Biology at the University of Northern Colorado and the University of Colorado Denver. The Denver Botanic Gardens is an accredited museum, a public nonprofit organization, and a research institution, so Jenny has a variety of different roles. She oversees the research conducted there, communicates their findings and the importance of science to different audiences, and works closely with land managers/owners to provide information on the local plants to help guide land management decisions. Jenny’s research focuses on applied conservation of plants, particularly rare and endangered species in Colorado. Jenny is a wife, mother, and outdoors enthusiast outside of work. She enjoys being active outdoors with her family playing soccer, skiing, camping, hiking, and generally having fun outside. Jenny’s passion for identifying plants and mushrooms is contagious, and as a result, her family has also become quite knowledgeable about the plants of Colorado. She received her B.S. in Biology from Rhodes College and her Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Colorado. Afterwards, Jenny conducted postdoctoral research in community genetics at the University of Colorado. Jenny’s previous positions include Manager of Research Programs and Associate Director of Research at the Denver Botanic Gardens, as well as Conservation Genetic Consultant with LSA Associates and Solano County Water Agency through the University of Colorado Museum. Jenny is the recipient of the 2012 Partners in Mission Recovery Champion Award as part of the Rare Plant Conservation Initiative from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. She joined us for an interview to talk about her experiences in life and science.