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Locally Sourced Science

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

LSS98: Effect of Urbanization on Evolution of Squirrel Coat Color; Science Communication Workshops

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In today’s show, we speak with Dr. Brad Cosentino, Associate Professor of Biology at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York.

He is the lead researcher on a grant from the National Science Foundation to study how urbanization may affect the evolution of coat color in the Eastern Gray Squirrel.

Listeners can learn more about the grant by visiting this link: https://www2.hws.edu/hws-awarded-nsf-grant-on-evolution-in-cities/.

Citizen scientists (yes, that’s you) can take part in the study by visiting http://www.squirrelmapper.org

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Jason Chang and attendees of ComSciCon-SciWri2019
(photo courtesy of Jason Chang)

In the second part of the show, Candice Limper covers a recent virtual science writing conference held specifically for graduate students and post doctoral fellows who would like to learn more about science communication. She spoke with Jason Chang, a graduate student in the Cornell Meinig School of Biomedical Engineering, about the event, called ComSciCon-SciWri2020.

To learn more about the Com Sci Con, the Communicating Science workshop for Graduate Students, visit: https://comscicon.com/comscicon-sciwri-2020

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Show Producer: Esther Racoosin

Host: Jeff Pea

Interview of Dr. Brad Cosentino: Esther Racoosin

Interview of Jason Chang: Candice Limper

Music: Joe Lewis; Blue Dot Sessions