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.

Direct download: 454_Samarth_Swarup_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

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.

Direct download: 453_Nicole_Garneau_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

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.

Direct download: 452_Douglas_Futuyma_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

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.

Direct download: 451_Sunny_Wong_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

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.

Direct download: 450_Francisca_Ikuenobe_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

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.

Direct download: 449_John_Aitchison_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

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.

Direct download: 448_Madhav_Marathe_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

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.

Direct download: 447_Eurie_Hong_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

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.

Direct download: 446_Brian_Keating_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

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.

Direct download: 445_Thijs_Heus_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT





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