Dr. Jessica Hebert is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine at the Oregon Health & Science University. She earned a Ph.D. in Biology from Portland State in 2018. When not sciencing, Dr. Hebert is an international, award-winning public science communicator and an Science Communication Fellow at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.
Jessica got turned onto science watching Star Trek: Voyager with her father — along with reading the works of scifi author Robert Heinlein. While she pondered becoming a physician, she quickly realized her passion is biomedical research. We chatted about her Ph.D. work on the human placenta, and it was fascinating. She also shared some important details of preeclampsia. Jessica does science communication at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry and is a member of the folk band, The PDX Broadsides. This is a wide-ranging, energetic, exciting interview.
Steve Silberman is an award-winning science writer, award-winning book author, public speaker, TED talk speaker, sometime record album producer, and a life-long Mac user. His writing on science, culture, and literature has been collected in a number of major anthologies including The Best American Science Writing of the Year and The Best Business Stories of the Year.
Early in his life, Steve fell in love with science fiction, especially the works of Ray Bradbury. Later, he studied under poet Allen Ginsberg and learned about both effective research and the power of language. We chatted about his early writing at Wired and The Well, and that led him to discover the deeper story of autism. The result was a major, influential article at Wired, then his important, award-winning book NeuroTribes .
The Elephant Queen is one of the best Nature stories you will ever watch. John gives it a 10 out of 10.
How about some wholesome news for once? Recently, botanists in Hawaii used a drone to find a flower they thought was extinct: Hibiscadelphus woodii.
During the expedition that led to the rediscovery of H. woodii, Wood and Nyberg had hiked hundreds of feet down the Kalalau Valley cliffs, but the difficult terrain prevented them from going any further.
It was then that Nyberg deployed the drone, flying it further down the cliffs, toward the sea, to take a closer look at a specific area of interest. Able to get within a meter or two of the sheer cliff face, he was able to confirm the continued existence of H. woodii.
I’ve used iNaturalist for a couple years and think it’s a great tool. Two features that help the app stand out from competitors are 1: The machine learning it uses. Once you take a picture, it can automatically suggest what species you’re looking at. 2: With every photo you upload and tag with location and other metadata, you’re contributing to real science. iNaturalist shares data with scientific data repositories like the Global Biodiversity Information Facility.
The app is a joint initiative between The California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society and works sort of like a Shazam for Nature in that it lets you snap a shot of something you come across and instantly get an answer for what that planet, animal, or bug might be.
Dr. Kiki Sanford is a neurophysiologist, a popular science communicator and creator of This Week in Science (TWIS) podcast and radio show. This is her fourth appearance here. In this episode, we chat about some some very interesting recent topics on TWIS. 1) Researchers showed that mini human brains implanted into mouse brains survived and functionally integrated into the host tissue. 2) Magnetoreception in birds is possible thanks to a protein in their eyes. They may actually have a heads-up display in their eyes for the Earth’s magnetic field. 3) Amazon’s announcement of its Vesta family robot project. 4) A new, non-invasive patch is being developed to allow diabetics to monitor their gluscose levels. Kiki has a special way of inspiring us to learn about science, so don’t miss BGM’s most popular guest.
Maryn McKenna is a science journalist and author. In her previous appearance here, she described how she launched her career in investigative journalism and, eventually, she landed with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution covering the CDC. In time, Maryn became an expert in the over-use of antibiotics with animals and humans, and that has led to her latest book, Big Chicken: The Incredible Story of How Antibiotics Created Modern Agriculture and Changed the Way the World Eats. Maryn told me about how antibiotics fed to farm animals seemed like a really good idea in the 1950s. Later, bacteria became resistant to these antibiotics—with disastrous consequence for humans. Early on, Europe understood the scope of the problem, but the U.S. did not. This is a great (and scary) work of science investigative journalism.
Apple has a no-longer secret team working on monitoring blood sugar through Apple Watch. CNBC scooped the story, citing three unnamed sources who said Apple’s efforts were originally envisioned by Steve Jobs.