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Locally Sourced Science

LSS 105: Science Education in Colleges and Universities – Remote learning and camera use study; and a new course “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in STEM”

Kitty Gifford interviews Dr. Frank Castelli, Educational research postdoc with the Investigative Biology Teaching Laboratories at Cornell.

WordCloud using the text from recently published paper about why highered students don't turn on their cameras during Zoom classes. Provided by Frank Castelli
Word cloud created by Frank Castelli using student responses.

One of the greatest challenges in online learning is that students do not turn their cameras on and teachers speak into the void. Frank Castelli and his co-author, Mark Sarvary, studied this phenomenon and published a study in the Journal Ecology and Evolution titled  “Why Students Do Not Turn on Their Video Cameras During Online Classes and an Equitable and Inclusive Plan to Encourage Them to Do So,”

The results of the study are discussed along with a plan any instructor can use to encourage camera use:

1. Do NOT require video cameras to be turned on and do offer alternatives.

2. Explicitly encourage camera use, explain why you are doing so, and establish the norm

3. Address potential distractions and give breaks to help maintain attention.

4. Use active learning techniques to keep students engaged and promote equity.

5. Survey your students to understand their challenges.

You can also read about the study in the Cornell Chronicle:

Appearance, social norms keep students off Zoom cameras

Janani Hariharan interviews Dr. Corrie Moreau, Martha N. and John C. Moser Professor of Arthropod Biosystematics and Biodiversity at Cornell University.

Dr. Corrie Moreau

Dr. Moreau created a seminar class called Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in STEM in Fall 2020. This interview touches on her motivation to create such a class especially in the wake of the George Floyd protests of 2020, the structure of the class and her favorite moments of the class. She also shared some recommendations for other educators who might want to design similar classes at their own institutions.

Image of Mars NASA Rover Perseverance (Courtesy of SPIF)

And, to close out the show, Esther Racoosin speaks with Zoe Learner Ponterio, Manager at the Spacecraft Planetary Image Facility, also known as SPIF, located at Cornell. SPIF is hosting a watch party on Thursday, February 18 at 2:30 pm to view the landing of the Mars 2020 mission. To find out more about SPIF, visit

LSS 104: Frog diseases, one health, pandemics, invasive species

Esther Racoosin speaks with Dr. Kelly Zamudio, Professor in the Cornell Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

Type of frog affected by a pathogenic fungus
A frog species that has been affected by the emergent pathogenic chytrid fungus.

Dr. Zamudio studies how emergent pathogenic chytrid (KIT-rid) fungi species are affecting amphibian populations in the Americas.

During the interview, Zamudio talks about how the principle of One Health is essential for both guiding the preservation of amphibian biodiversity around the world, as well as protecting human health.

Candice Limper speaks with Dr. Jody Gangloff-Kaufmann who is who is a New York State Integrated Pest Management program official.

Spotted lanternfly
Spotted lanternfly. Photo credit: Ryan Parker / NYSIPM

Gangloff-Kaufmann talks about a new bug in town called the spotted lanternfly, which is an invasive plant hopper that is native to China and likely arrived in North America hidden on goods imported from Asia. While this is a beautiful bug with all its spots and colors, it is posing a problem for some businesspeople in the local area. The reason for this is because it is eating plants such as those in the vineyards and orchards, which is not so great for business. 

LSS 103: How water can affect our lives

Happy 2021! In this episode we discuss the most essential element on this planet: water.

But first, Kitty Gifford will start with her new segment: “Locally birding! From the birdfeeder to the skies. Look out and look up!” She talks about the gyrfalcon.

Gyrfalcon (source: Wikipedia)

We decided to have two different approaches. First, Aiden Mahoney interviewed Helen Cheng about living on the coast and thinking about climate change related events, such as Hurricane Sandy.

Hurricane Sandy (source: Wikipedia)

Water resources are often affected by agricultural run-off. Eric Bates takes us to a modern dairy farm to discuss what farmers are doing in the Finger Lakes to help the Cayuga Lake Watershed.

Producer: Mark Sarvary


Interviewers: Aiden Mahoney and Eric Bates

Locally birding segment: Kitty Gifford

LSS 102: Best of 2020

“Frosty sunset” by dirk kirchner [] 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:


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 (

Link to Full Show:


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:


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

Link to Full Show:


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:


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:


Some parting words.

We would like to thank WRFI Community Radio (88.1 FM in Ithaca, 91.9 FM in Watkins Glen and at 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 for more information. Or tweet at us at #flxscienceradio.

Science Out!!

Co-Producers: Esther Racoosin and Mark Sarvary

Music: Joe Lewis, Blue Dot Sessions