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BioScience Talks

BioScience Talks , published by the American Institute of Biological Sciences, is the monthly discussion podcast of the journal BioScience. AIBS is a registered US 501c3 nonprofit organization, EIN: 53-0220853.
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Now displaying: 2020
Sep 18, 2020

This episode is the next in our oral history series, In Their Own Words. These pieces chronicle the stories of scientists who have made great contributions to their fields. Each month, we will publish in the pages of BioScience, and on this podcast, the results of these conversations.  Today, we are joined by Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History, in New York City, and host of COSMOS: Possible Worlds.

Note: Both the text and audio versions have been edited for clarity and length.

 

Sep 9, 2020

The keys to conserving large mammals, such as bears, often lie in better understanding their ecophysiology. Armed with knowledge about the animals' energy needs, conservationists can encourage actions that better preserve populations and ensure that their habitats will be able to sustain them both now and as the climate continues to rapidly change. In this episode of BioScience Talks, we're joined by Dr. John Whiteman of Old Dominion University, who describes efforts to characterize metabolisms among large mammals from India to the Arctic—and the ways that this work fuels the broader scientific endeavor.

Photograph: Mike Lockhart.

 

Aug 17, 2020

This episode is the next in our oral history series, In Their Own Words. These pieces chronicle the stories of scientists who have made great contributions to their fields, particularly within the biological sciences. Each month, we will publish in the pages of BioScience, and on this podcast, the results of these conversations.  Today, we are joined by Dr. Gene E. Likens, emeritus president of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies and a distinguished professor at the University of Connecticut. He previously served as president of the American Institute of Biological Sciences.

Note: Both the text and audio versions have been edited for clarity and length.

 

Aug 12, 2020

Natural history collections are a crucial resource to many scientific endeavors, and their value has been bolstered by recently undertaken digitization efforts. However, many opportunities remain to improve collections' usability, ensure that their contributions are properly credited, and protect them from a perilous budget environment that, in many cases, threatens their long-term survival. Writing in BioScience, Sara E. Miller, Lisa N. Barrow, Sean M. Ehlman, Jessica A. Goodheart, Stephen E. Greiman, Holly L. Lutz, Tracy M. Misiewicz, Stephanie M. Smith, Milton Tan, Christopher J. Thawley, Joseph A. Cook, and Jessica E. Light provide an overview of the challenges and pose solutions. Dr. Miller joins us in this episode to discuss the article and the future of the field.

 

Jul 28, 2020

Shade from urban trees has long been understood to offer respite from the urban heat island effect, a phenomenon that can result in city centers that are 1–3 degrees Centigrade warmer than surrounding areas. Less frequently discussed, however, are the effects of tree transpiration in combination with the heterogeneous landscapes that constitute the built environment.

Writing in BioScience, Joy Winbourne and her colleagues present an overview of the current understanding of tree transpiration and its implications, as well as areas for future research. Their work, derived from tree sap flow data, reveals the complexity and feedbacks inherent in trees' and urban zones' responses to extreme heating events.

Dr. Winbourne joins us on this episode of BioScience Talks to discuss the newly published article, as well as directions for future research and the prospects for using trees to better mitigate urban heat in the face of a changing climate.

 

Jul 8, 2020

This episode is the next in our oral history series, In Their Own Words. These pieces chronicle the stories of scientists who have made great contributions to their fields, particularly within the biological sciences. Each month, we will publish in the pages of BioScience, and on this podcast, the results of these conversations.  Today, we are joined by Dr. Douglas Futuyma, professor emeritus of ecology and evolution at Stony Brook University, in Stony Brook, New York. He previously served as president of the American Institute of Biological Sciences.

Note: Both the text and audio versions have been edited for clarity and length.

 

Jun 23, 2020

The pandemic resulting from SARS-CoV-2 has had profound impacts on the conduct of scientific research and education: A large proportion of field research has ground to a halt, and research and science education were forced to move online. In light of these developments, the nation's biodiversity infrastructure—natural history collections housed in museums, herbaria, universities, and colleges, among other locations, and often available digitally—are ready to play an even larger role in enabling important scientific discoveries. Further, collections may also be instrumental in preventing or mitigating future infectious outbreaks. Two recent BioScience publications, linked below, highlight these issues.

In this episode BioScience Talks, we're joined by representatives from the collections and science education communities. Guests included John Bates, Natural Science Collections Alliance, the Field Museum of Natural History; Pam Soltis, Florida Museum of Natural History, the University of Florida; Gil Nelson, iDigBio, Florida Museum of Natural History, the University of Florida; Barbara Thiers, New York Botanical Garden; Anna Monfils, Central Michigan University, the BLUE Project; Janice Krumm, Widener University, BCEENET (Biological Collections in Ecology and Evolution Network); Liz Shea, Delaware Museum of Natural History, BCEENET; Carly Jordan, George Washington University, BCEENET; and Joseph Cook, Museum of Southwestern Biology, University of New Mexico.

 

Jun 9, 2020

Evaluating shifts in the health of dynamic ecosystems is often difficult—for instance, rivers with intermittent flows and populations with varied dispersal characteristics might look very different from one month to the next. In this episode of BioScience Talks, we're joined by Núria Cid and Thibault Datry of INRAE, in Lyon, France, who discuss their new framework for a metacommunity approach that aims to help researchers overcome these challenges.

 

May 29, 2020

This episode is the next in our oral history series, In Their Own Words. These pieces chronicle the stories of scientists who have made great contributions to their fields, particularly within the biological sciences. Each month, we will publish in the pages of BioScience, and on this podcast, the results of these conversations.  Today, we are joined by Dr. Judith Weis of Rutgers University. She previously served as president of the American Institute of Biological Sciences.

Note: Both the text and audio versions have been edited for clarity and length.

 

May 18, 2020

This episode is the next in our oral history series, In Their Own Words. These pieces chronicle the stories of scientists who have made great contributions to their fields, particularly within the biological sciences. Each month, we will publish in the pages of BioScience, and on this podcast, the results of these conversations. Today we are joined by Dr. Gregory Anderson, who is with the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Connecticut, Storrs. He previously served as president of the American Institute of Biological Sciences

Note: Both the text and audio versions have been edited for clarity and length.

 

May 13, 2020

By the end of the present century, more than 80% of humans are expected to live in urban centers. This shift away from rural and agrarian living highlights the growing importance of urban ecosystems, as well as these landscapes' implications for ecology and sustainability. 

In this episode of BioScience Talks, we're joined by Dr. Steward Pickett of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, who describes the theoretical underpinnings of the long-running Baltimore Ecosystem Study, as well as the ways in which knowledge gained from this research is translated into real-world sustainability improvements.

 

May 8, 2020

Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, efforts to provide adequate testing and healthcare have at times been stymied by shortages of medical supplies. To help address one such shortage, a team at the University of Louisville designed a novel 3D-printed swab made of a pliable resin material. 

In this episode of BioScience Talks, we're joined by Dr. Gerald Grant, who describes the process by which such tools are developed and manufactured, as well as their potential to quickly fill this and other gaps in the medical supply chain.

 

Apr 27, 2020

Despite ongoing efforts to increase diversity among STEM faculty, participation rates of faculty members of color remain lower in STEM fields than in other academic disciplines.

In this episode of BioScience Talks, we are joined by Dr. Maria Miriti, whose recent article in BioScience, The Elephant in the Room: Race and STEM Diversity, discusses these shortcomings, their causes, and some of the ways in which they may be best addressed in the future.

 

Apr 13, 2020

Public health officials have argued that thorough and accurate testing for SARS-CoV-2 is essential for gaining a foothold in the fight against the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. To date, however, a lack of reliable testing in the United States has hampered efforts to achieve a thorough understanding of the disease's abundance and spread.

In this episode of BioScience Talks, we are joined by Dr. Crystal Icenhour, CEO of Aperiomics, and Dr. Robbie Barbero, Chief Business Officer of Ceres Nanosciences. Both companies have recently ramped up efforts to improve the prospects of broad-scale testing for the novel pathogen in human patients.

Aperiomics, whose core technology uses deep shotgun metagenomic sequencing to test for tens of thousands of bacteria, virus, fungus, and parasite at once, has launched a SARS-CoV-2-specific test, with the aims of increasing test availability and delivering crucially important public health data. Ceres Nanosciences's flagship Nanotrap particle technology enables the capture, concentration, and preservation of low abundance analytes from complex biological samples. The technology is presently being tested with the SARS-CoV-2 and is expected to help in improving the accuracy of existing testing protocols.

Image credit: NIAID-RML, CC BY 2.0.

 

Apr 8, 2020

This episode is the fourth in our oral history series, In Their Own Words. These pieces chronicle the stories of scientists who have made great contributions to their fields, particularly within the biological sciences. Each month, we will publish in the pages of BioScience, and on this podcast, the results of these conversations. Today we are joined by Dr. Joel Cracraft, curator in the Department of Ornithology at the American Museum of Natural History. He previously served as president of the American Institute of Biological Sciences

Note: Both the text and audio versions have been edited for clarity and length.

 

Mar 31, 2020

In November 2019, through the collaboration of the American Institute of Biological Sciences and the American Society for Gravitational and Space Research (ASGSR), BioScience Talks was lucky enough to attend and report on ASGSR's Annual Meeting, in Denver, Colorado. We spoke with numerous presenters, students, and other participants in the meeting, who discussed research topics ranging from growing food crops in space to using novel construction materials to help keep astronauts pathogen free. In addition, we chatted with ASGSR personnel about their newly launched Fellows program and caught up with student presenters, who described taking experiments all the way from classroom brainstorming to actual work aboard the International Space Station. 

 

This year's podcast release is being released during Space Science Week 2020, which is being held virtually in light of COVID-19. Click here to learn more.

Interviewees included:

  • Kevin Sato, Immediate Past-President
  • Doug Matson, President
  • Phoebe Wall, Stanford University
  • Rylee Schauer, BioServe, Colorado University Boulder
  • Pamela Flores, BioServe, Colorado University Boulder
  • Robert Ferl, University of Florida
  • Anna-Lisa Paul, University of Florida

Learn more:

 

Mar 24, 2020

In this episode of BioScience Talks, we welcome previous guest Dan Salkeld of Colorado State University back to the show. He is joined by CSU colleague and 2016 coauthor Mike Antolin to discuss the disease ecology of animal-borne illnesses in general, as well as the present coronavirus pandemic, the outbreak's origins, and the prospects for disease surveillance to improve society's preparedness for future spillover events. Image: Felipe Esquivel Reed, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0.

 

Mar 11, 2020

This episode is the third in our new oral history series, In Their Own Words. These pieces chronicle the stories of scientists who have made great contributions to their fields, particularly within the biological sciences. Each month, we will publish in the pages of BioScience, and on this podcast, the results of these conversations. Today we are joined by Dr. Susan Stafford, professor and dean emerita at the University of Minnesota. She previously served as president of the American Institute of Biological Sciences

Note: Both the text and audio versions have been edited for clarity and length.

 

Feb 24, 2020

Worldwide declines in insect populations have sparked considerable concern. To date, however, significant research gaps exist, and many insect threats remain under-investigated and poorly understood. For instance, despite their charismatic bioluminescent displays and cultural and economic importance, the 2000-plus species of firefly beetles have yet to be the subject of a comprehensive threat analysis.

Writing in BioScience, Sara M. Lewis of Tufts University and her colleagues aim to fill the gap with a broad overview of the threats facing these diverse and charismatic species—as well as potential solutions that may lead to their preservation into the future. Lewis and colleagues catalog numerous threats, foremost among them habitat loss, followed closely by artificial light and pesticide use. The future is not bleak, however, and the authors describe considerable opportunities to improve the prospects of bioluminescent insects, including through the preservation of habitat, reduction of light pollution, lowered insecticide use, and more-sustainable tourism. Dr. Lewis and coauthors Candace Fallon and Michael Reed join us on this episode of BioScience Talks to shed light on these challenges and opportunities. Listeners are also invited to read Dr. Lewis's book on fireflies, linked below.

 

Feb 12, 2020

This episode is the third in our new oral history series, In Their Own Words. These pieces chronicle the stories of scientists who have made great contributions to their fields, particularly within the biological sciences. Each month, we will publish in the pages of BioScience, and on this podcast, the results of these conversations. Today, we are joined by Dr. Diana Wall, university distinguished professor, director of the School of Global Environmental Sustainability, and professor in the Department of Biology, at Colorado State University. She previously served as president of the American Institute of Biological Sciences.

Note: Both the text and audio versions have been edited for clarity and length.

 

Jan 30, 2020

Each year, tens of thousands of patients undergo invasive surgery to repair perforated eardrums. The surgery, called tympanoplasty, is time consuming, costly, and difficult for patients—many of whom are children. Seeing an opportunity to fill an important unmet medical need, the founders behind Virginia startup Tympanogen have developed a technology aimed at reducing the need for these challenging operations. The product, called Perf-Fix, is a light-cured hydrogel applied in a doctor's office to give the patient's own tissue a scaffold on which to heal and rebuild, circumventing the need for surgical intervention.

Co-Founder and CEO Dr. Elaine Horn-Ranney joins us on this episode of our Impact Series to discuss Perf-Fix, what it takes to run a start-up, and some of the many other potential applications for Tympanogen's technology.

 

Jan 22, 2020

Agricultural areas are often considered distinct from local ecosystems, and in many cases, such an assessment rings true. Single-crop farmlands, reliant on the liberal use of pest- and herbicides, often limit local biodiversity and species interactions. However, in other agricultural settings, robust ecosystems thrive, intermingled with crops and supporting a diversity of species.

One such acroecosystem is coffee's. On shade-coffee farms, the coffee plant is consumed by numerous pests, including the green coffee scale, coffee berry borer, and coffee rust disease. In turn, these species are regulated by a variety of natural enemies, through processes of often staggering complexity. In a major BioScience Overview article, John Vandermeer of the University of Michigan and his colleagues aim to untangle such complexities and get at the heart of pest control in the coffee system, emphasizing the intersection of ecology with "the burgeoning field of complex systems, including references to chaos, critical transitions, hysteresis, basin or boundary collision, and spatial self-organization."

Dr. Vandermeer joins us on this episode of BioScience Talks to discuss the coffee agroecosystem—and the many species and dynamics that underlie it.

 

 

Jan 8, 2020

Peer review lies at the heart of the grant selection process and, by extension, the scientific enterprise itself. To inform their decisions, funders rely on grant reviewers—most of whom volunteer their time—to evaluate numerous proposals. However, despite its massive importance to science and society, peer review itself remains inadequately studied and often poorly understood.

To shed light on this critical institution, American Institute of Biological Sciences chief scientist Stephen Gallo and his colleagues recently published the results of a major survey. It is joined by a grant review report from Publons, a company housed within Clarivate Analytics that helps researchers track their research and review outputs and works to encourage greater recognition of scientists' work.

In this episode of BioScience Talks, we are joined by Stephen Gallo and Matthew Hayes, director of Publons, who discuss the survey results and shed light on the future of peer review.

 

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