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

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.

Direct download: 444_Jennifer_Ramp_Neale_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

Dr. Chris Barrett is Executive Director and Professor at the Biocomplexity Institute of Virginia Tech, as well as a Professor in the Department of Computer Science at Virginia Tech. Chris lives on a small farm in the Blue Ridge area of Virginia, and the they daily chores keep him quite busy. He also enjoys playing guitar and riding his motorcycle in his free time. At the Biocomplexity Institute, Chris and his colleagues are using computational methods to better understand our very complicated, interdependent, and multiscale world. They are studying how information is created, transmitted, and manipulated in living systems. Their goal is to take these large, multiscale, massively-interacting systems that have billions of interacting pieces and bring it into a state where people can begin to understand and make sense of them. Chris received a M.S. in Engineering Science and a Ph.D. in Bioinformation Systems from the California Institute of Technology. He also earned a U.S. Navy Aerospace Experimental Psychology Post PhD certification. Before coming to Virginia Tech, Chris led a research group at the Naval Air Development Center, and he later led the Basic and Applied Simulation Science Group at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Chris has received many awards and honors throughout his career, including Distinguished Service Awards from the U.S. Navy, Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Alliance for Transportation Research, and the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. He was also named a Jubilee Professor in Computer Science and Engineering at Chalmers University in Gothenburg, Sweden. In our interview Chris tells us more about his life and science.

Direct download: 433_Chris_Barrett_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

Dr. Bruce Beehler is an ornithologist and Research Associate in the Bird Division of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History. Bruce spends much of his free time outside and immersed in nature. He enjoys playing tennis, going for hikes, and kayaking, as well as watching wildlife at the feeders outside his home. Writing scientific books is a big part of Bruce’s current work. He and two colleagues have begun planning for a comprehensive synthesis of all the available data for a particular mountain in New Guinea. This rich dataset on one location, will serve as a benchmark for future research studies. In terms of field work, Bruce is now solely focused on the birds of the boreal conifer forests of the U.S. and Canada. He is interested in understanding how the permanent resident birds survive in these forests year round. Bruce completed his undergraduate studies in American Civilization at Williams College and received his Masters and PhD degrees in Biology from Princeton University where he studied behavioral ecology of the birds of paradise. Afterwards, Bruce worked for ten years at the Smithsonian’s Natural Museum of Natural history. Before returning to the Museum in 2014, Bruce worked for Conservation International, the Wildlife Conservation Society, the U.S. Department of State, Counterpart International, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Bruce is a Fellow of the American Ornithologists Union, and he is the author of eleven books including a field guide and a taxonomic checklist of Birds of New Guinea and the recently released book North on the Wing. In our interview, Bruce shared some of his fantastic stories about life and science.

Direct download: 442_Bruce_Beehler_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

Dr. Michele Koons is a Curator of Archaeology at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. When Michele’s not at work, she spends her time hanging out with her husband and one year old son. Some of her favorite activities include skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, cooking dinner with friends, and playing games like Trivial Pursuit and Settlers of Catan. As an archaeologist, Michele’s research involves studying people from the past using all of the clues they left behind. It’s like putting together a big puzzle to understand what people in previous civilizations did and how they did it. She was awarded her B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Pittsburgh, her M.A. in Anthropology from the University of Denver, and her Ph.D. in Anthropology from Harvard University. Afterwards, Michele worked as a Post-doctoral Research Fellow in Anthropology at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science before accepting her current position as curator there. Michele joined us for an interview to talk about some of her experiences in life and science.

Direct download: 441_Michele_Koons_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT



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