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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City Nature Challenge BioBlitz Citizen Science enhanced with iNaturalist

Boulder City Nature ChallengeAttention all Nature Lovers and Amateur Naturalists, Friday April 27th kicks of the City Nature Challenge, where Boulder will compete with 65 cities throughout the world to identify the most species within their area over a 4 day period. It’s a competition to identify biodiversity powered by the enthusiasm of citizen scientists. Chip Grandits speaks with Dave Sutherland and Melanie Hill two members of the Wild Boulder Team, which is organizing the City Nature Challenge for Boulder.

Citizen science is enhanced with iNaturalist a crowd sourcing platform developed by the California Academy of Sciences with applications for you smartphone which can help you can tap into a global network of amateurs and experts to help identify what species that thing is which you can never quite identify.

Host: Chip Grandits

Producer: Chip Grandits

Engineer: Chip Grandits

Additional contributions: Joel Parker

Executive Producer: Joel Parker

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Cancer Biology // Oil&Gas Health Impacts

Today’s show offers two feature interviews:
Adaptive Oncogenesis-978-0-674-98596-4-frontcoverNew Theory of How Cancer Evolves Inside Us (start time: 0:58): It is commonly known that cancer afflicts old people more than youth. Conventional wisdom has held we get cancer with age largely because we accumulate lots of genetic mutations over many years, and it’s the mutations that cause cancer. Our guest, Dr. James DeGregori,  deputy director of the University of Colorado Cancer Center, discusses with host Susan Moran his new theory–one that challenges conventional wisdom–about why and how we get cancer. In his new book, called Adaptive Oncogenesis: A New Understanding of How Cancer Evolves Inside Us, DeGregori argues that cancer is as much a disease of evolution as it is of mutation. Mutated cells outcompete healthy ones in the ecosystem of the body’s tissues. Dr. DeGregori is a professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.

A well site next to Silver Creek elementary school in Thorton, Colo. Photo credit: Ted Wood/The Story Group

A well site next to Silver Creek elementary school in Thorton. Photo credit: Ted Wood/The Story Group

Studying Health Impacts of Oil&Gas Wells (start time: 12:54) Many people living all along the Front Range are familiar with the sights and smells of oil rigs operating in fields near their homes and schools.  State regulators argue  that this convergence of people and oil rigs is safe. But many nearby residents and scientists are concerned about the potential health impacts of these drilling operations so close to residential neighborhoods and schools. Our guest, Dr. Lisa McKenzie, is the lead author on a new study that adds some critical evidence to back concerns of residents. It found that for people living within 500 feet of a well, the risk of their getting cancer over the course of their lifetime is eight times higher than the upper acceptable levels established by the federal EPA. Dr. McKenzie is an assistant research professor at the Colorado School of Public Health at the University of Colorado Anshutz Campus. She discusses the study and its implications with hosts Daniel Glick and Susan Moran. (Here is our interview with Dr. McKenzie a year ago about a related study.)

Hosts: Daniel Glick, Susan Moran
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Maeve Conran
Executive Producer: Joel Parker

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Astrobiology and the Anthropocene

http://www.adamfrankscience.com/

Astrophysicist Adam Frank.

As part of the Conference of World Affairs, which is being held this week at the campus of the University of Colorado, Boulder, we are speaking today with astrophysicist Adam Frank. Frank is a professor at the University of Rochester, where he studies the final stages of evolution for stars like the sun. He is also the author of an upcoming book, “Light of the Stars: Alien Worlds and the Fate of the Earth”, which will be published in June of this year. We spoke with Frank about ideas from this new book, including how the science of astrobiology can provide insights into how humanity can address planetary scale challenges like climate change.

Host: Alejandro Soto
Producer: Alejandro Soto
Engineer: Maeve Conran
Executive Producer: Joel Parker

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Geoengineering the Climate

Image credit: Daily Sun

Image credit: Daily Sun

Hacking the Planet (start time: 10:24):
It’s tough to wrap one’s mind around just how monumental and consequential the problem of climate change is. So dire that scientist and engineers for years have been exploring ways to “hack” the planet–to manipulate the global climate system enough to significantly reduce planet-warming gases or increase the Earth’s ability to reflect solar radiation. This audacious scheme, called geoengineering, only exists because many scientists think that human behavioral change, industry regulations, international treaties and national legislation, have not done enough — can not do enough – to keep us from careening toward climate catastrophe.
Our guests today have given this huge challenge a lot of thought and some research. 
Dr. Lisa Dilling is an associate professor of Environmental Studies at CU Boulder and a fellow at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, or CIRESDr. David Fahey is a physicist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA.  He directs the Chemical Sciences Division at NOAA’s Earth System Research Lab in Boulder.

Some relevant materials on geoengineering:
2017 study on public perception of climate change;
2015 National Research Council committee evaluation of proposed climate-intervention tchniques.

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

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MDMA for PTSD – Extended Interview with Karen, PTSD Survivor

Karen - MDMA for PTSD Study Participant

Karen – MDMA for PTSD Study Participant

This is an exended interview with a survivor of treatment resistant post traumatic stress disorder, also known as PTSD.  Karen says she is cured of her PTSD now, thanks to a treatment that includes lots of psychotherapy, plus three times when she took a dose of the psychoactive chemical, MDMA.  MDMA is classed as a federally illegal drug.  However the FDA has approved the drug for use in clinical trials of an intense psychotherapy protocol that includes MDMA.  Now here’s Karen’s story.

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MDMA for PTSD – Extended Interview with Marcella Ot’Alora – Principal Investigator

Boulder Psychiatrist Will Vanderveer

Principal Investigator for Boulder MDMA for PTSD study, Psychotherapist Marcella Ot’Alora

This is an extended interview with Marcella Ot’alora.  Ot’alora is a Boulder psychotherapist, and the principal investigator for the Boulder branch of the FDA approved, nationwide studies of using MDMA in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, also known as PTSD.  MDMA is classed as a federally illegal drug.  However the FDA has approved the drug for use in clinical trials of an intense psychotherapy protocol that includes MDMA.  Now here’s more detail, from Marcella Ot’alora.

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MDMA for PTSD – Psychiatrist Will Vanderveer

Boulder Psychiatrist Will Vanderveer

Boulder Psychiatrist Will Vanderveer

In the years ahead, doctors across the U.S. might be prescribing a currently illegal drug as therapy for the hard-to-treat condition known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  The new “medicine” would be MDMA, an ingredient in the party drug ecstasy.  The treatment is showing success for many of the study participants (go here for an extended interview with a study participant named Karen).  The lead funder of these FDA approved studies is the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, also known as MAPS (go here for more about MAPS, plus how to enroll or learn about the studies). 

The Principal Investigator for the Boulder studies is psychotherapist Marcella Ot’Alora (go here for an extended interview with Ot’Alora.)  On Ot’Alora’s team is Boulder psychiatrist Will Vanderveer  How on Earth’s Shelley Schlender shares this in-depth interview with psychiatrist Will Vanderveer.  

Host: Alejandro Soto
Producer: Alejandro Soto
Engineer: Chip Grandits
Contributors: Shelley Schlender
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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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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Enlightenment Now // Pledge Drive Teaser

Book coverToday’s pledge-drive show features parts of our recent interview with Steven Pinker.
Enlightenment Now: If you think the world, including the U.S., is falling apart, that the ideal of progress is as quaint as riding to work on a horse and carriage, you’re hardly alone. But you’re wrong, argues  Harvard University cognitive scientist Steven Pinker in his new book. It’s called Enlightenment Now: A Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress. As he shows in many copious charts and graphs from studies and national statistics, most people are living longer, healthier, safer, freer, and happier lives. And while our problems are formidable, the solutions, Pinker claims, lie in the Enlightenment ideal of using reason and science. Provocative? Yes. Pollyannaish? No, says Pinker. Today’s show features two sections of a recent interview that How On Earth host Susan Moran and KGNU host Joel Edelstein conducted with Pinker.

We will play the full interview on our March 20th science show. Meanwhile, Pinker will discuss and sign his book at two events on the Front Range on Saturday, March 17. He will be at Tattered Cover Book Store in Denver (2526 Colfax Ave.) at 4:00 p.m. Then he’ll speak at 7:00 p.m. at Unity of Boulder Church (2855 Folsom St.) Check with Boulder Book Store about tickets.

Hosts: Joel Edelstein, Susan Moran
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Joel Edelstein
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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