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Locally Sourced Science

LSS 87: PCST 2020 – The Conference That Wasn’t

A short teaser to pique your interest

Today should be the first day of the Public Communication of Science and Technology Conference (PCST 2020), in Aberdeen, Scotland.

Sadly, it was postponed due to COVID-19. We decided to bring the spirit of the conference (that wasn’t) to you through interviews we conducted at the previous PCST conference that was held in Dunedin, New Zealand in 2018. In Dunedin, we spoke with attendees who have/had connections to the Finger Lakes region, especially to Cornell University.

Bruce Lewenstein has been on this show many times before. He is one of the founders of the PCST network. He is a Professor of Science Communication at Cornell University and the Chair of the Department of Science and Technology studies. He talked to us about the importance of the PCST network.

We also interviewed two of his former students, who are both well-established professors now: Dominique Brossard is a Professor and Chair in the Department of Life Sciences Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; and John Besley
is the Ellis N. Brandt professor of Public relations at Michigan State University.

Two other conference attendees with Cornell ties were Christine O’Connell, who at the time was a professor at Stony Brook’s Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science and School of Journalism. Since then she became the Executive Director of a nonprofit foundation called Riley’s Way. She talked to us about the workshop she has developed, that focused on women in STEM fields and bias in science communication. Christine received her bachelor’s degree at Cornell.

We also spoke to Vicki Martin about how Citizen Science fits into Public Communication. Vicki was a Research Fellow at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and is currently a Research Fellow at the Institute for Future Environments at the Queensland University of Technology.

We produced this episode because PCST had a strong impact on two Locally Sourced Science contributors, Kitty Gifford and Mark Sarvary who attended the PCST conference in 2018. They organized an international panel on bringing science communication education to the undergraduate level.

PCST 2018 Panel on Turning Undergraduates into science storytellers.

Conversations at PCST 2018 helped to flesh out ideas about a Science Communication and Public Engagement undergraduate minor that was launched at Cornell University in Spring 2020. If you are interested in Science Communication, join the Friends of Cornell University SciComm (FOCUS) LinkedIn group.

That mandatory selfie before our PCST 2018 selfie

Show Host and Producer: Mark Sarvary
Music: Joe Lewis

LSS 85: Earth Day Edition

P. madseniana (courtesy R. Wilhelm)

In today’s episode, we observe the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day by exploring soil bacteria and volcanology. We also learn about how to observe the natural world that surrounds us.

We start off with a brief history of Earth Day presented by Candice Limper.

In our feature interview, Janani Harihanan speaks with soil scientist Dr. Roland Wilhelm. They discuss the newly discovered and characterized soil bacterium Paraburkholderia madseniana, which is named after the late Cornell scientist Eugene Madsen. Dr. Wilhelm also talks about the fascinating ways that plants and soil bacteria interact with each other.

Calbuco, Chile volcano erupts on April 22, 2015 (courtesy Creative

Later on in the show, Liz Mahood presents an overview of one of Earth’s most iconic features, the volcano. She talks about some current volcano research and what scientists are learning about the causes of some eruptions.

Laurie Rubin (courtesy Stenhouse Publishers)

We also hear from local educator Laurie Rubin about the benefits of getting outside and observing the natural world.

Enfield Glen at Robert H. Treman State Park
(Creative Commons)

We close out the show with a poetry reading, in observance of National Poetry Month. Local author Jay Leeming reads “At the Falls”, from his book Miracle Atlas.

Show Producer: Esther Racoosin

Featured Interview: Janani Harihanan

Music: Joe Lewis, Blue Dot Sessions, Ben Jordan

LSS 84: Wildlife, Viruses and Pandemics

Fruit Bat (source: Alternative Path, Creative

In today’s show and in future shows, Locally Sourced Science will be covering different scientific topics relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Today, you’ll hear a feature from veterinarian and Cornell graduate student Dr. Scarlett Lee. She speaks with Dr. Steven Osofsky, a wildlife veterinarian at the Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine.  He talks about the evidence that SARS CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, came from wild species being sold in urban markets.  Osofsky then discusses why governments must put a stop to the trade and sale of wildlife species in order to conserve those species and maintain human, animal and environmental health.

Honeybee (courtesy of

Later in the show, in observance of early spring and the re-emergence of flora and fauna, you’ll hear a lively aural landscape of birds and bees.  Cornell student Ben DeMoras, who attended last summer’s workshop on applied science communication at Cornell’s Shoals Marine lab on Appledore Island, talks about some of the research being done on the Island. 

Show Producer: Esther Racoosin

Interviews: Dr. Scarlett Lee, Ben DeMoras

Music: Joe Lewis, Blue Dot Sessions, Ben Jordan

LSS 83: Women in Science III

SARS-CoV-2 Viral Particles
(Source: NIAID, Wikimedia Commons)

In the month of March, we are recognizing the contributions of women scientists to all fields of science.   This is our last edition of our special Women’s History Month episodes. Of course, LSS will continue to post interviews of women scientists in upcoming shows.

Today, you’ll hear a podcast from Cornell graduate student and Locally Sourced Science contributor, Candice Limper.  She speaks with fellow graduate student Dr. Scarlett Lee from the Department of Microbiology and Immunology in the Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine.
In this interview, Dr. Lee, who is a veterinarian, talks about what is known so far about COVID-19 disease in humans of different ages.  She discusses the disease in light of her research interest, which is the effect of age on the immune system.

Dr. Jarra Jagne

Later in the show, you’ll hear an interview of Dr. Jarra Jagne, a veterinarian and Senior Extension Associate at the Animal Health Diagnostic Lab in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University.  She specializes in avian diseases and advises poultry producers on how to avoid disease outbreaks in their flocks. Here, she talks about zoonotic diseases such as SARS-CoV-2, the cause of COVID-19, that can spread from animals to humans.

Also, in today’s show, Liz Mahood’s presents a profile of Dr. Mary Guinan, the Dean of the School of Community Health Sciences at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Show Producer: Esther Racoosin

Interviews: Candice Limper & Esther Racoosin

Profile of Dr. Mary Guinan: Liz Mahood

Music: Joe Lewis, Blu Dot Sessions, Ben Jordan