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LSS 102: Best of 2020

“Frosty sunset” by dirk kirchner [www.unforgiven-art.de] is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Welcome to the final LSS episode of 2020!

Many of our listeners may be glad to say good bye to this difficult and trying year. However, Locally Sourced Science wishes to end the year on an optimistic note, by featuring clips of some of our favorite stories from the past year, and looking forward to communicating more great science stories in 2021.

Laurie Rubin (photo courtesy of L. Rubin)

Starting off the show, we recall Esther Racoosin’s interview in April of Laurie Rubin, a local educator who teaches students and the general public about how to observe, record and appreciate nature. With this interview, we also urge our listeners to get outside and enjoy the natural world in the coming year.

Link to Full show: https://locallysourcedscience.org/2020/04/28/lss-85-earth-day-edition/

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Dr. Ana Maria Porras (photo courtesy of Dr. Porras)

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we discovered that it is incredibly important to use social media to communicate new science developments. Also, scientists strove to stay in touch with the general public in order to encourage them to learn more about important scientific topics.

One science communicator who remains very active on social media is Dr. Ana Maria Porras, a postdoctoral fellow in the Cornell University Department of Biomedical Engineering. She works in the fields of tissue engineering and the human gut microbiome. Porras posts information about microbiology in both English and Spanish on her two Instagram accounts, #MicrobeMonday and #MicroMartes. Here, we presented a segment of Smaranda Sandu’s interview of Dr. Porras, that aired initially on Sandu’s podcast, Tidbits of Research (https://www.listennotes.com/podcasts/tidbits-of-research/episode-2-ana-maria-porras-qKtrs8Z_CRd/)

Link to Full Show: https://locallysourcedscience.org/2020/08/18/lss-93-research-amid-covid-19/

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Dr. Avery August (photo courtesy of Dr. August)

The year 2020 was a watershed year of increased recognition of the #Black Lives Matter movement. People all around the world came out to protest the continuing mistreatment of Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC), calling for anti-racist reforms.

LSS began a series of interviews, highlighting the significant scientific contributions of BIPOC scientists. In July, LSS contributor Dr. Scarlett Lee interviewed Dr. Avery August, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs at Cornell University. He is also the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor and Professor of Immunology in the College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. August talked about his current research, and his endeavor to increase the diversity of faculty at Cornell.

Link to Full Show: https://locallysourcedscience.org/2020/07/07/lss-90-highlighting-immunology-research-by-cornell-poc/

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Water20.tif by NRCS Montana is licensed under CC PDM 1.0

.During this year, LSS also featured citizen science projects. In August, LSS contributor Liz Mahood interviewed Nathaniel Launer of the Community Science Institute (CSI) about how citizens are taking water samples in local streams. Launer spoke about how the contributions of citizen scientists are helping CSI track contaminants in local waterways. To learn more about this project, visit http://www.communityscience.org/volunteer/synoptic-sampling/.

Link to Full Show: https://locallysourcedscience.org/2020/08/04/lss-92-citizen-science-amidst-the-covid-19-pandemic/

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Dr. Alison Stout with friend (photo courtesy of Dr. Stout)

Even before the initial cases of COVID-19 caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus began spreading around the world, scientists jumped into action, sequencing the genetic code of the virus, trying to understand the biology of its transmission and attempting to characterize the disease that it causes. Certainly those investigations will be proceeding for years to come.

LSS contributors interviewed a number of local scientists who are studying the virus and its disease. For our November show, LSS contributor Candice Limper interviewed Dr. Alison Stout, a veterinarian and Ph.D. student at the Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine. They discussed her studies of feline coronaviruses.

Link to the full show: https://locallysourcedscience.org/2020/11/24/lss-100-how-humans-perceive-the-risk-of-contracting-covid-19-feline-coronaviruses/

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Dr. Chelsea Specht (photo courtesy of Dr. Specht)

To close out the show, we would like to add that in 2020, we also highlighted the important research contributions of female scientists. In March, Women’s History Month, we featured an interview of Dr. Chelsea Specht, Cornell University, the Barbara McClintock Professor of Plant Biology at the School of Integrative Plant Science, Plant Biology Section. She is also the curator at the L.H. Bailey Hortorium.

This interview was conducted by Rosemary Glos, who, upon her graduation in 2020 was named as a Merrill Presidential Scholar. LSS is pleased to have been able to feature her interview of Dr. Specht.

Link to Full Show: https://locallysourcedscience.org/2020/03/03/lss-81-women-in-science-i/

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Some parting words.

We would like to thank WRFI Community Radio (88.1 FM in Ithaca, 91.9 FM in Watkins Glen and at http://www.wrfi.org) for broadcasting our shows.

We also acknowledge this year’s Locally Sourced Science contributors (in no particular order): Mark Sarvary, Kitty Gifford, Esther Racoosin, Candice Limper, Liz Mahood, Scarlett Lee, Janani Harihanan, Smaranda Sandu, Patricia Waldron, Jeff Pea, Rosemary Glos, Ben DeMoras, Alejandro Schmieder, Vivian Lee, Zach Bellido.

Don’t forget that you can also be a contributor! Please contact us at locallysourcedscience@gmail.com for more information. Or tweet at us at #flxscienceradio.

Science Out!!

Co-Producers: Esther Racoosin and Mark Sarvary

Music: Joe Lewis, Blue Dot Sessions

LSS 101: Developing a New SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine; Expression of Host Cell Genes That Modulate SARS-CoV-2 Entry

In today’s episode, we continue our series of interviews with scientists who have decided to use their expertise in their respective fields to help further research into the biology of SARS CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

First off, you’ll hear Esther Racoosin’s interview of Dr. Matthew DeLisa, a Professor of Engineering at Cornell University.  For 4 years, his laboratory has been using bacterial Outer Membrane Vesicle (OMV) technology to develop a universal influenza vaccine. Recently, DeLisa’s lab has been using that to design a vaccine for SARS-CoV-2.

To learn more about Dr. DeLisa’s research, visit https://www.delisaresearchgroup.com/

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In today’s second interview, Esther speaks with Dr. Cedric Feschotte, Professor in the Cornell Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics.  Researchers in Dr. Feschotte’s lab study how mobile DNA elements, such as transposons and endogenous viruses move around in genomes. 

Following the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, he and post-doctoral fellow Dr. Manu Singh and Dr. Vikas Bansal of the Max Planck Institute in Tubingen, Germany, began study studying host cell expression of genes called SCARFs.  That acronym stands for SARS CoV-2 and Coronavirus-Associated Receptors and factors.   SCARFs include cellular factors both facilitating and restricting viral entry.

To learn more about SCARFs, visit https://cells.ucsc.edu/?ds=scarface

To find out more about research in Dr. Feschotte’s lab, visit http://blogs.cornell.edu/feschottelab/


Producer: Liz Mahood

Associate Producer: Esther Racoosin

Interviews of Dr. Matt DeLisa and Dr. Cedric Feschotte: Esther Racoosin

Music: Joe Lewis; Blue Dot Sessions

LSS 100: How Humans Perceive the Risk of Contracting COVID-19; Feline Coronaviruses

MTA Deploys PPE Vending Machines Across Subway System
(photo courtesy of Creative Commons; MTA Photos; CC by 2.0)

In today’s episode, we explore how people perceive the risk of contracting COVID-19. We also discuss how humans can avoid passing COVID-19 to their beloved cat companions.

First off, you’ll hear Candice Limper’s interview of Cornell Professor Dr. Katherine McComas. She is a Professor of Communications in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and studies how people communicate about health, science, and environmental risks.

Dr. Alison Stout (photo courtesy of Dr. Stout)

In the second half of today’s show, you’ll hear Candice Limper’s interview of Dr Alison Stout, a veterinarian who is pursuing her Ph.D. in Virology. She is a student in Dr. Gary Whittaker’s lab in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine. In the interview, Dr. Stout talks about her research on feline coronaviruses and how humans can avoid passing SARS CoV-2 to their pets.


Producer: Liz Mahood

Associate Producer: Esther Racoosin

Interviews of Dr. McComas and Dr. Stout: Candice Limper

Music: Blue Dot Sessions

LSS 99: Lowering the Carbon Footprint of Mining Rare Earth Metals; Learning about and Finding Solutions to Climate Change

In today’s episode, we hear about a new technology that can lower the carbon footprint of an energy-intensive mining procedure. We also learn about the causes of climate change, and why the development of new technologies that keep carbon in the earth are so important.

To start off, Janani Hariharan interviews Dr. Buz Barstow from the Cornell Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering. Barstow talks about his research project that uses bacteria to extract rare earth elements in a clean, sustainable way. In this segment, you’ll hear about what rare earth elements are, why they’re important to us, what the current problems are in mining these minerals, and how Dr. Barstow’s team is working to solve some of these problems.

In our second interview, Esther Racoosin speaks with Dr. Ingrid Zabel, Climate Change Education Manager at the Paleontological Research Institution in Ithaca. Dr. Zabel discusses the new exhibit at the Museum of the Earth (MOE) in Ithaca, “Changing Climate: Our Future, Our Choices”. A virtual version of the exhibit is currently on display at the MOE website, https://www.museumoftheearth.org/exhibit/changing-climate. The live version of the exhibit will open at the museum in late November. To make a reservation to visit the museum, go to this link: https://www.museumoftheearth.org/visit/plan-your-visit.


Producer: Liz Mahood

Interview of Dr. Buz Barstow: Janani Harihanan

Interview of Dr. Ingrid Zabel: Esther Racoosin

Music: Joe Lewis; Blue Dot Sessions