Health Impacts of Oil/Gas Drilling

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, Colo.
Photo credit: Ted Wood/The Story Group

Drilling’s Health Impacts (start time: 7:50): A pressing question on the minds of many Colorado residents, health experts, and others amidst a surge of oil and gas activity is this: Does living near an oil and gas well harm your health? A scientist at the forefront of exploring such questions is Dr. Lisa McKenzie, a professor of environmental epidemiology at the Colorado School of Public Health at the University of Colorado Anschutz. She is the lead author on a recently published study that examines the potential impact of nearby oil and gas drilling on childhood cancer rates. The study’s important findings were challenged by the state Health Department, whose recent assessment concludes that nearby oil and gas operations poses minimal risk to residents. Dr. McKenzie  talks with How On Earth’s Susan Moran about her study, and the complex science of risk, correlation and causation.

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

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2016 Graduation Special – Part 2

diploma-and-graduation-hatIn this follow-up episode of our “Graduation Special” we talk with three more guests graduating with science Ph.D.’s from the University of Colorado in Boulder.  They join us to talk about their thesis research, their grad school experiences, and what they have planned next:

CarleighSamson_headshotCarleigh SamsonEnvironmental Engineering Program
Topic: Modeling Relationships between Climate, Source Water Quality and Disinfection Byproduct Formation and Speciation in Treated Drinking Water

 

View More: http://americanchemicalsociety.pass.us/headshotsPatrick BarbourDepartment of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Topic: Property-Guided Synthesis of Tricyclic Indolines to Confront Antibiotic Resistance in Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus

94938Greg ThompsonDepartment of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences
Topic: Advances in a Microphysics Parameterization to Predict Supercooled Liquid Water and Application to Aircraft Icing

Host / Engineer : Shelley Schlender
Producer : Joel Parker
Executive Producer : Shelley Schlender

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2016 Graduation Special – Part 1

diploma-and-graduation-hatThe graduation season is upon us and our guests in today’s show will be graduating with science Ph.D.’s from the University of Colorado in Boulder.  They join us to talk about their thesis research, their grad school experiences, and what they have planned next:

greg_banditGreg SalvesenDepartment of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences
Topic: Rethinking Accretion Disks Around Black Holes

 

small_headshotJesse NusbaumerDepartment of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences
Topic: An Examination of Atmospheric River Moisture Transport and Hydrology Using an Isotope-enabled Climate Model

Odessa ReunionOdessa GomezEnvironmental Engineering Program
Topic: Characterizing Responses of Primary Biological Aerosols to Oxidative Atmospheric Conditions

 

Host / Producer / Engineer : Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Shelley Schlender

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Electric Car Road Trips // Renewable Energy Nation . . . in 15 Years

Tesla Superchargers - Rural Arizona

Tesla Superchargers – Rural Arizona

Electric Car Road Trips (starts 3:42): We go on a road trip with How on Earth’s Shelley Schlender to see how all-electric vehicles are exceeding “range anxiety” by driving coast to coast, all on electricity.  Along the way we talk with Boulder Nissan’s Nigel Zeid about regional plans to help more drivers “plug in” and with Hunter Lovins, head of Natural Capitalism Solutions.

courtesy Solar Praxis

courtesy Solar Praxis

Renewable Energy Nation (starts 11:53): Joel Parker talks live with NOAA scientist Alexander MacDonald and Christopher Clack, a mathematician at the University of Colorado-Boulder. They have developed a model that demonstrates how the entire U.S. can run on solar and wind power–with existing technologies, with no batteries, and at lower cost than today’s prices–within 15 years. For more information, see this video and these animations of:
U.S. Wind Power Potential
U.S. Solar Power Potential
U.S. Power Flow

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

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Using the Microbiome to Determine Time of Death

MicrobiomeUsing the Microbiome to Determine Time of Death (starts at 5:40): This week on How on Earth, we speak with Jessica Metcalf, an evolutionary biologist, who studies bacteria, specifically the microbiome. One of her research interests is using molecular biology to address basic hypotheses about the role of microbes in corpse decomposition. The time since death, or postmortem interval, also known as (PMI), is important for criminal investigations because it can lead to the identification of the deceased and validate alibis. PMI is critical to both forensic science and pop culture (e.g. TV shows Bones, CSI). Recently she co-authored a paper published in Science, describing how various species of the microbiome can be used to accurately and repeatedly determine the post-mortem interval.

Host: Beth Bennett
Producer: Beth Bennett
Engineer: Maeve Conran
Executive Producer: Joel Parker

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Grad School Science

Neuro_lab112.1.2_student-and-faculty-in-lab-e1374187050580

What is graduate school and how does it differ from the undergraduate experience?  What drives people to go through another 4…5…6…or more years of school? Today’s show features some people who might be able to tell us about the grad school experience in the sciences.  We have three grad students from the University of Colorado at Boulder:
* Joe Villanueva in the Molecular Cellular and Developmental Biology department.
* Annie Miller, in the Integrative Physiology department.
* Marcus Piquette, in the Astrophysical and Planetary Science department.
Each of them works in a lab with an advisor and is doing projects that will eventually lead to a thesis and getting a PhD, and they talk about what they do and what grad school is like.

Host: Joel Parker
Producer and Engineer: Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Beth Bennett
Additional Contributions: Beth Bennett, Susan Moran

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How the Brain Matures

The teenaged brain is wired differently than the adult.

The teenaged brain is wired differently than the adult.

Brains (starts at 4:35) This week on How on Earth we interview Professor Marie Banich, from the University of Colorado here in Boulder. Dr Banich uses cutting edge methodologies, particularly structural and functional MRI, to examine the role of the prefrontal cortex, as well as other brain regions, in executive function. Today she tells us about work that was recently funded by NIH to characterize how these systems change over the course of development.

Hosts: Beth Bennett and Joel Parker
Producer: Beth Bennett
Engineer: Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Beth Bennett

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Neurobiology of Alcohol Abuse

Raising drinking glasses to celebrate - drinking? Image courtesy of Huffington Post

Raising drinking glasses to celebrate – drinking?
Image courtesy of Huffington Post

This week on How on Earth, we speak with Dr Paula Hoffman, a neuropharmacologist – she’s scientist who studies what drugs do in the brain- who works on the genetics of alcohol and other drugs of abuse. Paula reviews the action of alcohol on different neurotransmitter systems of the brain then describes some of the genetic issues which predispose people to risk for becoming alcoholics. Finally she talks about research done in her lab which has resulted in preliminary understanding of genetic networks involved.

Host: Beth Bennett
Producer: Beth Bennett
Engineer: Maeve Conran
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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Arctic Frontiers // Wind Forecasting

Sami and reindeer in Finnmark, Norway. Photo credit: Thomas Nilsen/The Barents Observer

Sami and reindeer in Finnmark, Norway. Photo credit: Thomas Nilsen/The Barents Observer

Arctic Dispatch (starts at 2:18): There is no question that the Arctic is thawing faster than anywhere on the planet, except the western Antarctic Peninsula. But there are still so many unknowns regarding how things are actually changing in different places, and to what effect. How On Earth’s Susan Moran recently attended the Arctic Frontiers conference in Tromso, Norway. Among the scientists who discussed research on how the receding and thinning ice in the Arctic will likely affect different species was  George Hunt, a research professor of biology at the University of Washington. Aili Keskitalo, an indigenous Sami from Finnmark, Norway and president of the Sami Parliament, discussed how energy projects, including windmill parks, are negatively affecting reindeer and Sami culture. Hunt and Keskitalo discussed these issues with Moran.

Wind turbines, Photo credit: National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Wind turbines, Photo credit: National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Wind forecasting (starts at 10:40): The wind industry in the U.S. faces several hurdles, including a technical one: discovering how the wind is going to blow near the mountains. For power systems to be reliable, operators must know when to expect the blustery gusts or when to expect a still breezeless calm day.  That means they need accurate wind forecasts.  The Department of Energy has just given a substantial grant to a coalition of organizations in Colorado to help improve wind energy forecasting in mountain and valley regions. Julie Lundquist, a professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences at the University of Colorado, discusses the current and planned research with co-host Jane Palmer.

Hosts: Susan Moran, Jane Palmer
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Kendra Krueger
Executive Producer: Kendra Krueger

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Himalayan Glacial Lakes

dec20Himalayan Glacial Lakes (starts at 5:20) Some scientists conduct their experiments in a laboratory — think clean white walls, artificial lighting, A.C. and a convenient coffee pot not far away. Not so for Ulyana Horodyskyj, a graduate student at the University of Colorado. For the last few years she’s been looking at glaciers and the lakes on top of them in Nepal. Last year she spent a year looking at how pollution affects glaciers high in the Himalayan Mountains. She hoped to set up the ultimate high-altitude laboratory on the oxygen-thin slopes of Mount Everest, but a fatal accident intervened. On this edition of How on Earth, she talks about her latest research, Himalayan glaciers and what it is like to do science at the top of the world.

Hosts: Jane Palmer, Joel Parker
Producer, Engineer: Joel Parker
Executive Producers: Jane Palmer, Kendra Krueger
Additional Contributions: Beth Bennett, Shelley Schlender

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