About Joel Parker


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Joel Parker has written 77 articles so far, you can find them below.


Nature and Health

Photo: Jennifer Miller

Photo: Jennifer Miller

Nature is good for you.
It can be a walk in the woods that helps to calm your nervous system and spark novel ideas, or a wilderness retreat that helps to reduce symptoms of PTSD or ADHD.  But little is actually understood about how nature offers healing effects. What are the mechanisms? How much nature is enough, and to do what? And how enduring are the effects?  “Nature” isn’t only limited to places like Yellowstone or Rocky Mountain National Park.  Nature abounds in some cities, as well.  City parks, tree-lined neighborhoods, your own garden – these are slices of nature that can have huge benefits to your physical and mental health.  However, many cities and neighborhoods that lack a healthy tree canopy, and produce a lot of air pollution from vehicle traffic are plagued by high rates of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity, among other illnesses, among residents.  At a time when humans around the globe are migrating to cities at rates never seen before, it is critical that cities increasingly become part of the solution, not just a major culprit behind environmental degradation and human disease.

Today’s show is the first in a series we’ll offer on the connections between nature and human health. It’s called “Nature Rx.”

Our three guests today are working in the nexus between environmental conservation and human health, to make cities part of the solution:

  • Dr. Ted Smith, director of the Center of Healthy Air, Water and Soil, at the University of Louisville’s Envirome Institute.
  • Christopher Hawkins, Urban Conservation Program Manager at The Nature Conservancy.
  • Janette Heung, principal and owner of JWG Global, a management consulting and research think tank in Colorado focusing on environmental conservation and public health.

Read more in the Colorado Outdoor Rx report and the UN Environment Programme report on air pollution.

Hosts: Susan Moran, Joel Parker
Producer and Engineer: Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Susan Moran
Contributors: Beth Bennett, Shelley Schlender

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Dogs for Diabetics

Dogs4Diabetics Founder Mark RueffenachtDogs have an incredible sense of smell – it’s so good, people can train dogs to sniff our everything from illegal drugs and explosives to lost people and even computer “thumbnail” drives, that maybe someone is trying to sneak into a high security building so they can sneak out information.  So how about dogs sniffing for something life-saving, such as a dangerous drop in blood sugars for an insulin-injecting diabetic? For a healthy person, the amount of sugar in the entire bloodstream at anytime is roughly 1 teaspoon. One teaspoon of sugar in around 5 liters of blood. That’s it.  For most people, the body’s own insulin production keeps blood sugars in a relatively healthy range, with the pancreas adjusting insulin levels in miniscule amounts to keep blood sugars in balance. For a diabetic who injects insulin, the injection itself can end up putting too much or too little insulin into the body, and this is especially dangerous when it forces blood sugar levels to go far lower than they normally would.  Modern technology is reducing the risk, somewhat, through continuous blood glucose monitoring devices. But even these have a lag time, and since sometimes a diabetics blood sugar levels can change dramatically in just 30 minutes, there’s still risk. But now, there are new “blood sugar monitors”. They don’t require batteries. They’re very friendly, they have incredible noses, and they even come equipped with wagging tails.  In today’s edition of How on Earth, we talk about “Dogs for Diabetics”.

For more information, visit these links:
https://dogs4diabetics.com
https://www.virtahealth.com/team
https://www.facebook.com/groups/BoulderDiabetes
https://www.meetup.com/Boulder-Low-Carb-Diabetes-Meetup

Host, Producer, Engineer: Joel Parker
Contributions by: Shelley Schlender
Executive Producer: Beth Bennett

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Science of Psychedelics

How to Change Your Mind PollanWe present another part of our interview with Michael Pollan about his book “How to Change Your Mind:  What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression and Transcendence”.  It is an investigation into the medical and scientific revolution taking place around psychedelic drugs, and the spellbinding story of his own life-changing psychedelic experiences.  Books like “How to Change our Mind” are starting to “alter the state” of awareness about modalities that are outside the conventional box of standard medical treatments for mental health problems.  And there are other ways this wave of new awareness is heading into our communities.

will-bio-photoWe also talk with Boulder Psychiatrist Dr. Will Van Derveer, who leads the Integrative Psychiatry Institute.  They will hold a professional conference this October 19-21 in Boulder. Their goal is to educate more health practitioners about how body imbalances, such as gut challenges and mold infections, along with undiagnosed trauma often underlie much of what leads people to seek psychiatric health.  One of the modalities that will be discussed at this professional conference is psychedelics.

Hosts: Shelley Schlender, Joel Parker
Producer / Engineer: Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Joel Parker

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Chasing New Horizons – full extended interview

51m+Ih4C2FL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_Here we provide the full interview by How on Earth’s Joel Parker of planetary scientists Dr. Alan Stern (Southwest Research Institute) and Dr. David Grinspoon (Planetary Science Institute), about their new book: “Chasing New Horizons: Inside the Epic First Mission to Pluto“. Their book describes the the story of Pluto and NASA’s New Horizons mission, bringing the reader backstage to hear the details and meet the personalities behind building, launching, and flying this audacious mission.

Excerpts of this interview were first broadcast on KGNU on May 15th and May 22nd.

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2018 Graduation Special (part 2)

diploma-and-graduation-hatWith graduation season is upon us, today’s edition of How on Earth is the second of a two-part annual “Graduation Special”. Our guests in the studio today are scientists who will receive their Ph.D. in a STEM-related field.  They talk about their thesis research, their grad school experiences, and what they have planned next.

bio_HyunJooOhHyunJoo Oh – CU Boulder, ATLAS Institute
Topic: Computational Design Tools and Techniques for Paper Mechatronics

 

 

Nathan ParrishNathan Parrish – CU Boulder, Department of Aerospace Engineering Sciences
Topic: Low Thrust Optimization in Cislunar and Translunar Space

 

Diana Perry Diana Perry – Stockholm University, Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences
Topic: Swedish Seagrass Ecosystems in a Changing Climate: Coastal Connectivity and Global Change Sensitivity

 

Host / Producer / Engineer : Joel Parker

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2018 Graduation Special (part 1)

diploma-and-graduation-hatWith graduation season is upon us, today’s edition of How on Earth is the first of a two-part annual “Graduation Special”. Our guests in the studio today are scientists who will receive their Ph.D. in a STEM-related field.  They talk about their thesis research, their grad school experiences, and what they have planned next.

Head Shot at Down HouseOliver Paine – CU Boulder, Department of Anthropology
Topic:
 Exploring C4 Plant Foods: The Nutritional and Mechanical Properties of African Savanna Vegetation

 

Diba Mani - Informal HeadshotDiba Mani – CU Boulder, Department of Integrative Physiology
Topic: Adjustments in Motor Unit Activity and Mobility Induced by Electrical Nerve Stimulation in Young and Older Adults

 

JN_headshotJohn Nardini – CU Boulder, Department of Applied Mathematics
Topic: 
Partial Differential Equation Models of Collective Migration during Wound Healing

 

Host / Producer / Engineer : Joel Parker

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Enlightenment Now

Book coverYou may be among many who wistfully harken back to the “golden days” of the past. For some people the past does look rosier, or perhaps the present looks grim, but, according to Steven Pinker, a Harvard University cognitive psychologist, that “golden age” of the past is a reflection of faulty memory.

We — most people in the world, anyway — are actually far better off than we were decades and surely centuries ago. That’s based on many metrics of progress, including literacy, safety, gender equality, lower poverty, and many more. Pinker presents in his new book an abundance of data as evidence of such progress. This progress, he argues, is rooted in the ideals of the Enlightenment some 250 years ago.

Pinker’s book is called “Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress.” Last week we played a couple of segments of an interview that How On Earth host Susan Moran and KGNU journalist Joel Edelstein conducted with Dr. Pinker. In today’s feature, we play that interview in full.

Hosts: Joel Parker
Producer: Shelley Schlender
Engineer: Joel Parker
Contributors: Tom Yulsman, Shelley Schlender
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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The Starmus Festival

news-placeholder-Starmus-e1517313691450Woodstock.  Lallapalooza. Lilith Fair.  Coachella.  Burning Man.  All famous music and art festivals.  What about…science festivals?  Perhaps a festival with all the “rock stars” of science and space exploration, and while you’re at it, throw in a few music rock stars as well?  Well, that describes the Starmus Festival.  Starmus is the brain child of Dr. Garik Israelian, an astrophysicist who led the team that found the first observational evidence that supernova explosions are responsible for the formation of stellar mass black holes. We talk with Dr. Israelian about the past, present, and future of Starmus.

Hosts: Joel Parker, Susan Moran
Producer and Engineer: Joel Parker
Contributor: Tom Yulsman
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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Science on Tap

24991528_1121359964633876_8235555632401660665_nBoulder, Colorado has a rich culture of science, as the home for serveral prestigious national laboratories, a thriving technology industry, the flagship campus of the University of Colorado and various joint ventures between them.  As a science enthusiast, where might you go to find a community of like minded people? Must you work in a lab? Teach at a university? Enroll as a student?   Well now Boulder has Science On Tap, a monthly opportunity for science enthusiasts and beer lovers to come together and discover the latest and greatest research in science and technology that is happening along the Front Range.  With us in the studio is Chelsea Thompson who was instrumental in bringing Science On Tap to Boulder.

Hosts: Chip Grandits, Joel Parker
Producer: Chip Grandits
Engineer: Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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2017 Look Back – 2018 Look Forward

2017For this end-of-the-year/start-of-the-year  How on Earth show, we look back to 2017 with clips from some of our features from the past year: selections about tracking methane leaks, ketogenic diets, using MDMA to treat PTSD, gravitational waves, the solar eclipse, space missions, and the politicization of science.  Those are just a few of the topics we covered in 2017, which also included: the continuation of the Our Microbes, Ourselves series, global warming and climate change, research about aging, mutant proteins, how humans have altered nature, future technologies, nuclear tests and the Van Allen belts, biofuels, extinctions following an asteroid impact, monorails, life expectancy in America,  observing stellar occultations by objects in the distant solar system, space shields for satellites, virtual colonoscopies, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), chronic fatigue syndrome, protecting pollinators, testing our drinking water, cancer, the Long Now foundation, citizen science, fracking, and more!

Hosts: Joel Parker, Susan Moran
Producer, Engineer: Joel Parker
Additional Contributions: Beth Bennett, Shelley Schlender
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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