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The Story Collider

The Story Collider

By Story Collider, Inc.

Whether we wear a lab coat or haven't seen a test tube since grade school, science is shaping all of our lives. And that means we all have science stories to tell. Every year, we host dozens of live shows all over the country, featuring all kinds of storytellers - researchers, doctors, and engineers of course, but also patients, poets, comedians, cops, and more. Some of our stories are heartbreaking, others are hilarious, but they're all true and all very personal. Welcome to The Story Collider!


Reclamation: Stories about setting something right

We all know life isn’t perfect, but sometimes we get a do-over. In this week’s episode, both of our storytellers get a chance to redeem a part of their past. Part 1: When Barbara Todd isn’t with her dad when he passes, she searches for forgiveness. Part 2: Grad student Nina Christie’s preconceived notions of the Skid Row needle exchange get turned on their head when she begins volunteering there. Barbara Todd started her American journey after relocating from British Columbia, Canada to California as a young RN over 30 years ago. The move was meant to be a one or two year adventure but after finding the love of her life, having two amazing children and continuing with an extremely rewarding career in healthcare - the adventure continues! Barb began her storytelling journey through listening to the many amazing podcasts celebrating true storytelling. She found a local live event hosted by Capital Storytelling in Sacramento and was hooked! After participating in in-person and virtual classes as well as open mic and curated events, Barb applied and was accepted to the Capital Storytelling Ambassadors program. Through this amazing opportunity, Barb has been bringing the power of true storytelling to her colleagues in healthcare ever since! Dr. Nina Christie is a newly-minted Ph.D. from the University of Southern California and is currently postdoctoral fellow at the University of New Mexico at the Center for Alcohol, Substance Use, and Addictions. Her research focuses on the intersection of social connection and substance use, with an emphasis on harm reduction and drug policy. She is passionate about positively impacting human health and wellbeing through the lens of psychology, public health, and policy. She is also a ~lover~ of all things Taylor Swift, and she enjoys baking new recipes for her friends and family. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
29/09/23·30m 45s

Mortified: Stories about embarrassing situations

In this week’s episode, both of our storytellers experience the most humbling of human experiences: being embarrassed. Part 1: Emma Yarbrough feels in control of her future after undergoing an egg retrieval operation until a burning sensation sends her for a loop. Part 2: When the doctor finds blood in Carlos Kotkin’s urine, he ends up having to undergo some deeply humiliating procedures. Emma Yarbrough is a storyteller, actor, playwright, arts administrator and silly billy from beautiful (and tiny) Eufaula, Alabama. Fans of Story Collider in Atlanta may recognize her as one of our producers and hosts. During the day, she’s the assistant director of Emory Arts at Emory University. At night, she’s a handmaiden to her cats Christopher Robin and Christopher Lloyd. Carlos Kotkin is an author, screenwriter and humorist. His dating memoir "Please God Let It Be Herpes: A Heartfelt Quest For Love And Companionship" was published in 2012 and he has also written a number of animated features, including Rio 2, Open Season: Scared Silly, The Star and the soon-to-be released Giants of La Mancha. His stories have been featured in The New York Times’ Modern Love, Reader's Digest and Sunset Magazine, even though the Sunset Magazine was whittled down from five pages to one paragraph. (They still paid him.) His stories have also been aired on The Moth, Risk and KRCW’s Unfictional podcasts. He was valedictorian of his high school, then promptly dropped out of the University of Southern California, so he never thought he’d be in a show about science, but here we are. He's not a fan of writing about himself in the third person. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
22/09/23·30m 40s

Searching: Stories about trying to find something

If you think about it, science is one big act of searching. There's always something to look for, whether it's the answer to a hypothesis or the next Goldilocks planet. In this week’s episode, both of our storytellers find themselves looking high and low. Part 1: Comedian Sam Lyons is determined to not get involved with his partner’s feral cats, until one goes missing. Part 2: In an act of desperation, Bhaskar Sompalli goes on a hunt to find free lab equipment to make his graduate school experiment work. Sam Lyons is a comedian, musician, actor, and Gilmore girls enthusiast - and not always in that order! He joined our Story Collider staff with an aversion to science, but the practice of sharing his own stories and helping other tellers with them as opened his eyes to how science is all around us, ready to embrace without strangling. You can likely catch Sam and his partner Emma feeding feral cats in an alley near you. Bhaskar Sompalli is an engineer and storyteller living in the bay area. After graduate studies in Tulsa and Chicago, he's worked on several technologies over the years; from fuel cells and batteries to semiconductors, and founded a battery startup. An optimist who is passionate about clean tech, he now works full-time on using hydrogen fuel cells and batteries to tackle climate change. He has narrated several of his personal essays on San Francisco's KQED NPR station. He is a writer whose first fiction novella Utopia Revisited 2050 is now out on Amazon as a paperback, and is currently working on his second novel. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
15/09/23·34m 21s

Food Science: Stories about things we eat

As famed Iron Chef Alton Brown once said: “Everything in food is science”. In this week’s episode, both of our storytellers discover something about themselves through the science of food. Part 1: Corn researcher Katie Murphy is scared becoming a TikToker will ruin her credibility as a serious scientist. Part 2: As a kid, Scottie Rowell gets an unpleasant surprise when they don’t wait to eat their grandmother’s pickles. Katie Murphy is a plant biologist who loves studying the inner workings of corn. She is the Director of Phenotyping and Principal Investigator at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, a non-profit research institute in St. Louis, Missouri. Her research group studies phenotyping, which means measuring the physical traits of plants. She holds a PhD in Plant Biology from UC Davis, and a Bachelor's in Chemistry from Stanford University. Katie's goal is to make a secure, sustainable food supply that can withstand future climates. She shares her research on TikTok @Real_Time_Science. Scottie Rowell is a Queer, Agender, Autistic artist based in Atlanta, GA. As a storyteller and puppeteer, Scottie’s career is focused on performances and experiments in play in non-traditional theater spaces. As owner of Teller Productions, Scottie creates tactile, immersive experiences for families using sustainable materials (all repurposed, discarded, or easily recycled). Scottie’s show Super Cello! premiered with the National Symphony Orchestra and the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in April 2022. Other clients include the Georgia Aquarium, the Alliance Theater, the Center for Puppetry Arts, and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Visuals and fun at and (Yes, Scottie made that pickle shirt for the story.) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
08/09/23·28m 45s

Break Ups: Stories about the end of a relationship

Matters of the heart aren’t usually associated with science, but in this week’s episode, both of our storytellers turn to science to cope with heartbreak. Part 1: When Anna Peterson gets dumped she takes a job with two national wildlife refuges in remote Alaska to prove to her ex he made a mistake. Part 2: When Moiya McTier’s fiancé breaks up with her weeks before their wedding, she turns to the Milky Way to heal. Anna Peterson is originally from Colorado, but has called Atlanta home for nearly 2.5 years. She obtained her PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in 2019 from the University of Tennessee, and has studied parasites and pathogens in everything from salamanders to rats to humans. In her free time, she enjoys hanging out with her dog Hank, running long distances very slowly, and discovering the city of Atlanta by bicycle. Dr. Moiya McTier is an astrophysicist, folklorist, and science communicator. After graduating as Harvard’s first student to double major in astrophysics and mythology, Moiya earned her PhD in astronomy at Columbia University. Moiya’s mission is to help people better understand the world around them through science and facts. She does that through her podcasts Exolore and Pale Blue Pod, a mythology show for PBS called Fate & Fabled, and her hit book THE MILKY WAY: An Autobiography of Our Galaxy. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
01/09/23·32m 39s

Uncharted: Stories about disability in STEM

People with disabilities are underrepresented in STEM fields, and all too often, they face isolation and ableism in academia. In this week’s episode, two stories from the recently published book Uncharted: How Scientists Navigate Their Own Health, Research, and Experiences of Bias, have been adapted for the podcast. Both of our storytellers showcase how they, as scientists with disabilities, navigate their careers. Part 1: When Skylar Bayer’s heart condition sidelines her from doing her dive research, she struggles with not feeling worthy enough as a scientist. This story was originally produced by SoundBites and aired on Maine Public Radio in 2019. Part 2: When Mpho Kgoadi loses feelings in his legs as a child, he worries he won’t be able to achieve his dreams. Skylar Bayer is a marine biologist, a storyteller, and a science communicator. She completed her Ph.D. in the secret sex lives of scallops, a subject that landed her on The Colbert Report in 2013. Since then she has dabbled in a diversity of science communication activities, all of which you can read about on her website ( She’s an alum of the D.C.-based Sea Grant Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship program. She is the co-editor with fellow MIT alum, Gabi Serrato Marks, of the book Uncharted: how scientists navigate health, research, and bias. When there isn’t a pandemic going on, she also enjoys Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, the gentle art. Follow her on Twitter @drsrbayer. Mpho Kgoadi is a PhD student at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa. He has a rare auto-immune disease called Transverse Myelitis and has been using a wheelchair for the past 15 years. He has always been fascinated by the mysteries of the cosmos, and his research focuses on the effect of dark matter in the early universe. Outside of his research, he is passionate about science outreach and making scientific knowledge accessible to people from diverse backgrounds, he loves coding and have a deep passion for tech. In his free time, he enjoys stargazing, reading science fiction novels, and playing video games. Purchase a copy of Uncharted and read more powerful first-person stories by current and former scientists with disabilities or chronic conditions. Books can be purchased here: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
25/08/23·29m 41s

Job Search: Stories about finding employment

Searching for a job in science or in another field is often a daunting task with plenty of challenges, both expected and unexpected. In this week’s episode, each of our storytellers embark on a job hunt that is anything but straightforward. Part 1: To get funding for grad school, Hakim Walker needs to pass a lie detector test. Part 2: In order to keep up the facade of living the American Dream, Xavier Bettencourt applies for a job as a science educator. Hakim Walker was born in Brooklyn, New York to a large family of Jamaican immigrants. A graduate of Brooklyn Technical High School, he studied Mathematics and Philosophy at Boston University, and was among the first in his family to attend college. He worked as an admissions officer and research assistant at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before earning his Ph.D in Mathematics from the George Washington University in 2017. Currently, Hakim is an instructor and residential advisor at Harvard University, where he teaches courses in the Department of Mathematics. He is also a faculty mentor for the Emerging Scholars Program, which supports disadvantaged Harvard students who wish to pursue careers in STEM. Among other things, Hakim enjoys traveling (especially road trips), card and board games (especially chess), and educational science channels on YouTube (especially Vsauce). He also loves writing puzzles, poetry, short stories, and dialogues. He is a two-time TEDx speaker, and he has performed and lectured at various venues and campuses around the country. For over two decades Xavier Bettencourt has been bringing laughter to the Sacramento and Bay Areas. An improviser, comedian, drag artist, storyteller and fashionista, Xavier’s true passions are bringing joy and love to others, and building and growing the queer performance spaces that are truly needed today. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
18/08/23·34m 26s

Burn Out: Stories about mental exhaustion

According to the APA Dictionary of Psychology, burnout is defined as “physical, emotional or mental exhaustion, accompanied by decreased motivation, lowered performance and negative attitudes towards oneself and others.” This is what our storytellers are experiencing in this week's episode. Part 1: During her pediatric residency, Erica Martinez finds herself struggling to feel empathy for some of her patients. Part 2: While working as a doctor in South Bronx, Karinn Glover feels overwhelmed and powerless when trying to help a patient with substance use issues. Erica Martinez is a physician finishing her last year of a three year residency training in pediatric medicine. Originally from Minnesota, she moved east for college and earned her MD from New York Medical College. She is passionate about both children’s health and physician wellness, and she enjoys knitting tiny baby hats in her spare time. After graduating from Howard University with a BA in History, Dr. Glover worked at Essence Magazine and as an Account Executive for Verizon. She followed her curiosity about medicine and ultimately attended SUNY Downstate College of Medicine and obtained an MPH from Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. Currently Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Dr. Glover teaches psychopharmacology and psychotherapy to Psychiatry and Family Medicine residents. Her career as a consultant and educator have informed her expertise in the fields of health equity, workplace mental health, and organizational success. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
11/08/23·29m 50s

Overthinking: Stories about repetitive thoughts

If you’ve ever found yourself thinking about a problem or a situation over and over again, you might be an over-thinker like our storytellers. In this week’s episode, both of our storytellers think about something too much and for too long. Part 1: Clinical psychologist Saren Seeley can’t stop obsessing about her research. Part 2: In therapy, comedian Nat Towsen realizes he’s always thinking too much. Saren H. Seeley is a postdoctoral fellow in the Psychiatry Department at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Her neuroimaging research investigates mechanisms of adaptation (or difficulty in adapting) after life-changing events – such as the death of a loved one or trauma exposure. Originally from New York, Saren completed a PhD in clinical psychology at the University of Arizona where she received an NIH F31 fellowship for her dissertation work on dynamic brain network functioning in partner-bereaved older adults. Nat Towsen is a comedian and nonfiction writer from Manhattan, New York. He has written for Esquire, Vice, CollegeHumor, and The Onion. He also works at Botnik Studios, using AI to write comedy. In pre-pandemic times, he toured the country and abroad to perform standup and work with cultural programs, teaching about comedy as a tool in activism and for addressing mental health. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
04/08/23·33m 5s

Fish Out of Water: Stories about feeling out of one's element

When life throws you into unusual or unfamiliar situations, it’s hard to feel comfortable or confident in your skills. In this week’s episode, both of our storytellers grapple with feeling like a fish out of water. Part 1: When Neeti Jain dissects her first fish in the lab, she feels like she’s not cut out to be a scientist in marine ecology. Part 2: As the new chief public health officer, Harold Cox feels out of his depth when their office receives a package with what appears to be anthrax. Neeti Jain is a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow at the Yale School of the Environment. Her research focuses on justice-centered storytelling in environmental education spaces, and she works with natural history museums to evaluate object labels and gallery content to make them more diverse, inclusive, and accessible for audiences of all backgrounds. A Los Angeles native, Neeti has been making her way across the three coasts and now spends her weekends lurking around the underwater dioramas at the American Museum. Harold Cox likes to tell stories about tiny, goofy things that have happened to him. It seems that his whole life is filled with many tiny, goofy things. He has told stories on many stages, Including Moth, Risk, Riot and Massmouth. Harold is a professor of public health at Boston University school of public health. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
28/07/23·28m 32s

Standing Your Ground: Stories about sticking up for yourself

Confrontation can be scary and speaking up for yourself takes courage. In this week’s episode, both of our storytellers find their confidence to fight for themselves. Part 1: When Luis Melo doesn’t see his name on a report that he spent nine months working on, he decides to confront his boss. Part 2: When another professor at a conference makes an inappropriate comment toward Sara Maloni, she decides to speak up. Luis Melo has been providing professional Data Science consulting services in various industries since 2003. For the past 4 years Luis has been working for the Mount Sinai Hospital System in the Psychiatry Department as a Health and Safety Quality Analyst. Luis’ experience ranges from working in research for mental health care and criminal justice to Data Analytics in nutrition, sports, entertainment and fashion. Luis earned a Master’s Degree from John Jay University of Criminal Justice in Criminal Justice and a B.A in Psychology from Mount Saint Mary College. Luis is a married father of 2 with a wonderful wife and kids that have helped yo become the person yo is today. Luis was born in Dominican Republic but grew up on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Luis enjoys calisthenics outdoor workouts and basketball as well as quality time with his family. Luis recently started yos own data science consulting and multiservice business where yo helps clients achieve their goals by applying yos skills in research, fitness, and nutrition. The focus is always on building an efficient and results-driven relationship. Luis works with yos clients to create a customized plan of action for themselves or business in order to streamline and optimize their growth. Sara Maloni is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Virginia. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Warwick in 2013. Before coming to UVa, she was a Tamarkin Assistant Professor at Brown University. She works at the intersection of geometry and low-dimensional topology. More precisely, she studies deformation spaces of geometric structures on manifolds through their geometric, topological and dynamical properties. Sara is originally from Italy and lived in the UK and France, before arriving in the US. In her free time, she loves hiking, scuba diving, travelling, reading, crafting (felting, pottery, woodworking). To listen to more stories from our UVA show check out the latest episode of HOOS in STEM. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
21/07/23·31m 48s

POV: Stories about others' point of view

July is Disability Pride month, which is all about empowerment and visibility for those with disabilities. In honor of Disability Pride month, this week’s episode features two stories from the point of view of people with disabilities. Part 1: When Julie Baker is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and told her vision might get worse, she struggles to accept she’s going blind. Part 2: Javier Torres becomes frustrated with others' responses to his neurosensorial hearing loss. Julie Baker is a Boston-based writer and producer. After competing in and winning her first Story Slam in 2017, she quickly became a storytelling addict and evangelist. She’s performed on PBS Stories From the Stage, The Moth, Now Listen Here, YouTube (@bluechakrastories), Instagram (@lazyjulie), and anywhere else where people will let her tell stories. She considers it her mission to expand the storytelling community and spread the word about how true, personal stories can change the teller and the world. Javier Torres is a jack of all trades from Puerto Rico, figuring it all out, one day at a time. Learning about what it means to express himself through improv, comedy, creative outlets and DIY sewing projects. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
14/07/23·32m 11s

Resurfacing: Stories about coming back to oneself

Whether you’re in the lab or the field, not feeling like yourself sucks. In this week’s episode, both of our storytellers find a way to feel like themselves again. Part 1: Some harsh words from Sarah Kucenas’ high school swim coach shake her confidence and she gives up her dream of being a pediatric neurosurgeon. Part 2: When Michael Herrera’s COVID turns into long COVID, he struggles to feel like himself until he starts birding. Sarah Kucenas is fascinated by the developing brain. Specifically, she and her research group study how glia act as engineers of neural development. Her long-term goal is to understand the mechanisms that mediate cellular interactions between neurons and glia and use this information to better understand how the human nervous system is initially sculpted, maintained, and behaves during disease. Sarah earned a B.Sc. in Biology from Valparaiso University in 2000 and went on to earn a Ph.D. in Pharmacological & Physiological Science from Saint Louis University with Dr. Mark Voigt in 2005. After Dr. Kucenas’ postdoctoral work with Dr. Bruce Appel at Vanderbilt University, she joined the faculty at the University of Virginia in 2009. Sarah has a 11-year-old daughter, Madelyn, 3 (VERY big) dogs, and is a life-long swimmer. Michael Herrera, PhD, is an atmospheric scientist, avid birder, and photographer. His work involves developing and implementing new methods for weather forecasting models, extending forecasts from the surface of earth all the way up to the international space station. He loves spending time outdoors, through birding, kayaking, or helping clean up the local marshes. After a prolonged battle with long COVID, he is rediscovering his curiosity and passion for everything the world has to offer. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
07/07/23·30m 17s

Extracurricular Activities: Stories about life outside of science

Extracurricular activities aren’t just to look good on college applications. In this week’s episode, both of our storytellers explore their passions outside of science. Part 1: When Kaze Wong chooses the path of physics over high jumping, he feels like he betrayed a part of himself. Part 2: Even though Micaela Martinez spent most of her life working towards becoming a professor, she still doesn’t feel comfortable in the academic world, so she secretly starts rapping. Kaze Wong is a postdoctoral research fellow studying black holes through gravitational waves with machine learning at the Flatiron Institute. He is also (trying to be) a competitive high jumper. Dr. Micaela Martinez, also known as Aela Hopeful Monster, is a Chicana scientist, songwriter, and rapper from Harlem. Her research focuses on infectious disease ecology, the study of biological rhythms, and the ecology of structural racism. She has worked as an advocate for police reform and holistic approaches to social justice in NYC. She has been a professor since 2017 and has mentored many students of color in their journey through science. Her latest endeavor includes using art, science, and imagination to teach social justice, in an effort she termed Imagine a Just City. For more on this initiative, please visit this news article and/or her website Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
30/06/23·31m 6s

Rich Tackenberg: A psychic in West Hollywood

In this week’s episode, we take a look at the mysterious and deceptive world of psychics. Part 1: Rich Tackenberg is skeptical when a psychic tells him there’s something wrong with his car. Part 2: Science journalist Katherine J. Wu interviews neuroscientists Susana Martinez-Conde and Stephen Macknik to get a better idea of how psychics, like the one from Rich Tackenberg’s story, operate. Rich Tackenberg is: a happily married gadget geek, a new homeowner, an SNL apologist, an Apple fanboy, a recent convert to tea, a dog owner, a recovering people-pleaser, a comedy nerd, an LA resident, a New York native, a snob about disposable pens, and (most importantly) a big fan of lists.  Susana Martinez-Conde and Stephen Macknik are award-winning neuroscientists and professors at the State University of New York, Downstate Medical Center. They are best known for their studies on perception, illusions, and attentional misdirection in stage magic. They produce the annual Best Illusion of the Year Contest, now in its 13th edition, and are the authors of the international bestseller Sleights of Mind: What the Neuroscience of Magic Reveals About Our Everyday Deceptions and Champions of Illusion: The Science Behind Mind-Boggling Images and Mystifying Brain Puzzles. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
23/06/23·33m 16s

Fatherhood: Stories about dads

In honor of Father’s Day, this week’s episode is an ode to all the dads out there who are doing their best. Part 1: Pediatrician Ken Haller goes off script when a father comes into the exam room with his young son. Part 2: After years of Mikala Jamison’s dad helping her with her mental health struggles, the roles are reversed when her father is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimers. Ken is a Professor of Pediatrics at the Saint Louis University School of Medicine and Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital. He serves on the boards of the Arts & Education Council of Greater St. Louis, the Saint Louis University Library Associates, and the Gateway Media Literacy Project. He has also served on the board of the Missouri Foundation for Health and as President of the St. Louis Pediatric Society; the Missouri Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics; PROMO, Missouri’s statewide LGBTQ civil rights organization; the Gateway Men’s Chorus, St. Louis’s gay men’s chorus: and GLMA, the national organization of LGBT health care professionals. He is a frequent spokesperson in local and national media on the health care needs of children and adolescents. Ken is also an accomplished actor, produced playwright, and acclaimed cabaret performer. In 2015 he was named Best St. Louis Cabaret Performer by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and he has taken his one-person shows to New York, Chicago, Denver, and San Francisco. His special interests include cultural competency, health literacy, the relationship of medicine to the arts, the effects of media on children, and the special health needs of LGBT youth. His personal mission is Healing. Mikala Jamison is the creator and producer of The Body Show, a live storytelling show that debuted at the Capital Fringe Festival in July 2022 and was a "Best of Fringe" pick by DC Theater Arts. She also publishes the blog/newsletter Body Type [] about navigating body image in today's world. Talk to her about weight lifting, cats, and the recent finale of "Better Call Saul." Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
16/06/23·30m 11s

Unpleasant Sensations: Stories about being uncomfortable

Science and the natural world offer us opportunities to experience a range of sensations -- some of them deeply unpleasant. In this week’s episode, both of our storytellers share stories about some less than pleasant moments. Part 1: While staying with host family in an unfamiliar city for a conference, Andrew Spink wakes up to find he can’t swallow. Part 2: Distracted by thoughts of his career, entomologist Ralph Washington, Jr. gets swarmed by mosquitos. Andrew Spink is a storyteller. Through his work as an author, solo-show performer, comedian, and public speaker, he curates journeys through the human experience that examine our beliefs, tickle our sense of wonder, and spur us on toward meaningful living. He lives in Seattle with his wife and two daughters, where he feels guilty for not being outdoorsy, avoids coffee while frequenting cafes, and walks his dog to fit in with the crowd. Ralph Washington, Jr. has been a devoted student of insects since his early childhood. Insects have taught him that the smallest creatures can often help answer the biggest questions. One of his favorite lessons is the reminder that although life can often be hard, at least he isn’t a termite getting paralyzed by a toxic fart. You can learn more about his work at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
09/06/23·28m 54s

Systematic Errors: Stories about failed experiments

Many factors can lead to a failed experiment -- human errors, errors in measurement, and sometimes just random errors. In this week’s episode, both of our storytellers share tales of when their experiments didn’t go as planned. Part 1: As a new science teacher, Zeke Kossover is determined to capture the attention of his students. Part 2: While on a field expedition in Kenya, Evan Wilson is tasked with the seemingly impossible job of figuring out the role of dust in wearing down herbivore teeth. Marc “Zeke” Kossover has been presenting stories as part of his physics circus shows all over the country in venues from coffee shops and music halls to the National Science Foundation and Capitol Hill. He thinks of them as magic shows, but in reverse—the secret to a magic trick is to make something simple intentionally confusing, while Zeke tries to make confusing things easy to understand. Zeke was a physics and environmental science teacher before dying and going to teacher heaven and getting a job at the Exploratorium. His main work is helping science teachers have the resources they need to be the best teachers they can be, like designing novel hands-on activities for teachers to use in their classrooms and helping new teachers find their voices in their classrooms. He believes that science education starts when students construct their own understanding of the world. Evan Wilson is an archaeologist and paleoanthropologist focused on the dawn of technology and emergence of human culture. They study the interplay between technology/culture and biology via the Stone Age archaeological record of Eastern Africa. They have done fieldwork spanning the last 3.5 million years in Kenya and Ethiopia discovering both fossils and artifacts to better understand the deep human past and our evolutionary history. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
02/06/23·31m 38s

Initiations: Stories about proving oneself

Whether it’s a new school or new job, there’s often some sort of “try out” to see if you cut the mustard. In this week’s episode, both of our storytellers share stories about their own inductions. Part 1: When Colleen McDermott signs up to be a forestry conservationist for the summer, they soon notice that none of their colleagues look like them. Part 2: On Pete McCorvey’s first deployment in the United States Navy, he is dreading the part of training where he gets pepper sprayed. Colleen McDermott, originally from Philadelphia, is a current undergraduate at Washington University in St. Louis. Studying environmental analysis and writing, Colleen loves both conservation and communications. In their spare time, they enjoy hiking, reading, and playing whatever percussion instrument is nearby.  A native of Moss Point, MS, Pete McCorvey has travel around the world as both a comedian and as a U.S. Navy Sailor. He has met many people and experience many things that has shaped and challenged his outlook on the world we live in. In his spare time, Pete enjoys reading, writing, podcasting and discovering new and historical locales in his immediate area. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
26/05/23·34m 15s

Learning: Stories from our workshops

In this week’s episode, we are highlighting two storytellers from The Story Collider's Education Program and the stories they crafted as a result of the lessons they learned throughout their workshops. Part 1: As a teenager growing up in Iran Yasamin Jodat hears about a robotics competition at the local boys' school, and she is determined to do whatever it takes to be part of it. Part 2: A third cancer diagnosis threatens to ruin JulieAnn Villa's love of running. Yasamin Jodat is currently a Senior Automation Engineer at Ginkgo Bioworks where she designs robotic systems that can run biological laboratory operations at high scales. JulieAnn Villa is a health and science communicator. She honed her skills over 20-years as a public high school teacher. Her first Story Collider workshop in 2017, sparked a new, unknown artistic side, and she has been hooked ever since. She is a Chicago Moth Story slam regular and uses her storytelling skills for good in health care, giving voice to patient experience. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
19/05/23·33m 9s

Motherhood: Stories about becoming a mom

In honor of Mother’s Day, this week we’re sharing stories about the journey to becoming a mom. Part 1: Discouraged by the medical approach to pregnancy, Julia Whitehouse decides to have a home birth. Part 2: When Nessa Goldman splits with her husband, her dream of having children by age 35 is in jeopardy. Julia Whitehouse is a writer and comedian and mother and daughter. She has written for New Yorker Daily Shouts, McSweeney’s, Splitsider, Mutha Magazine, and POPSUGAR. She hosts Manhattan’s longest running weekly storytelling open mic at The Duplex every Monday at 7 pm. She enjoys figuring out how to build things without looking up tutorials but will always look up a recipe before deciding whether or not to follow it. Nessa Goldman is a middle school math and science teacher in Sequim, Washington. She grew up in Toronto, Canada, but prefers small towns closer to the ocean and mountains. She relocated to the Pacific Northwest as soon as she graduated college and now lives at the doorstep of the Olympic National Park. The wilderness is her church and she often spends the weekends hiking and surfing. When the sun goes down, she is the host of a bi-monthly local storytelling event, the Out Loud Story Slam. Her stories have been shared on the Risk! Podcast and Story Night. You can find her online at  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
12/05/23·32m 29s

Expertise: Stories about knowledge

Experts are a dime a dozen, but true expertise is hard to come by. In this week’s episode, both of our storytellers – who shared their stories at our annual Proton Prom fundraiser this week – struggle with finding the knowledge they seek. We’re especially grateful to the Burroughs Wellcome Fund for supporting the event and making this all possible. Part 1: When Zach Weinersmith agrees to create a trivia game, he doesn’t realize how hard it is to come up with facts that are both interesting and actually true. Part 2: Concerned about his eyesight, comedian Josh Johnson desperately searches for a good doctor. Zach Weinersmith is a cartoonist, best known for making the comic strip SMBC. He co-authored the NYT bestselling pop science book Soonish, illustrated the NYT bestselling Open Borders. His work has been featured in too many places and society is the worse for it. Josh Johnson is a stand-up, Emmy-nominated writer, performer, and NAACP award-winner from Louisiana by way of Chicago. He is currently a writer on The Daily Show, and is a former writer and performer on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, where he made his late-night debut. Johnson is Comedy Central’s ‘most watched comedian ever’ with 40M+ views to date across their platforms. As a stand-up, Johnson performs at clubs, colleges, and festivals around the world. Johnson was named Comedy Central’s “Comic to Watch” in 2015, a “New Face” at the Just for Laughs comedy festival in 2016, and “New York's Funniest” in 2018. Comedy Central released Johnson’s first hour-long special #(Hashtag) in June 2021, and he taped his second hour-long special at The Bourbon Room in Los Angeles in May 2022, which is set to debut early 2023. Johnson’s self-released comedy and music mixtape album Elusive, was described by Vanyaland as “live stand-up observational humor with musical compositions. Both elements wade in and out of political and social waters between the two “arcs” of the multi-genre epic". Johnson also co-hosts two podcasts, The Josh Johnson Show (with fellow stand-up Logan Nielsen) and Hold Up (with The Daily Show colleague Dulcé Sloan). Johnson’s other credits include, CONAN (TBS), @Midnight, Kevin Hart's Hart of The City, The New Negroes, and This Week at The Comedy Cellar on Comedy Central. Johnson lives in New York and can be seen performing regularly at The Comedy Cellar. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
05/05/23·33m 17s

Skin Deep: Stories about racial disparities

In this week’s episode, both of our storytellers share stories about the problems of finding representation of diverse skin tones in science and medicine. Part 1: While preparing for a lecture, Stacy Vasquez finds a racist term on a skin slide. Part 2: While learning about Lyme disease in medical school, LaShyra Nolen isn’t satisfied when the professor can’t tell her what the rash would look like on dark skin. As a first-generation Chicano in STEM, Stacy Vasquez recognizes the importance of addressing the STEM achievement gap and creating an inclusive space that will inspire students from marginalized groups. His dissertation researched and examined the impacts of a multicultural curriculum in a traditional microbiology course. With an academic background in microbiology, he was always interested in learning how the discrete, scientific information was related to issues impacting society. Traditional microbiology courses often place heavy emphasis on rote memorization of discrete facts and focus very little on how the content relates to societal issues. The multicultural curriculum aimed to teach students about various social issues while still managing to teach the objective, scientific content. The relevant topics were intended to spark student interest in efforts to strengthen their academic performance. He has continued implementing culturally responsive teaching practices in my other sciences courses, such as Human Anatomy & Physiology. Born and raised in Southern California, LaShyra “Lash” Nolen is a writer, activist, and third-year MD/MPP dual-degree student at Harvard Medical School and Kennedy School of Government, where she is serving as student council president of her medical school class, the first black woman documented to hold this leadership position. Her work has been featured in the New England Journal of Medicine, Nature, and Teen Vogue, among others. She is the Founding Executive Director of “We Got Us,” a grassroots community empowerment project with the goal of bringing vaccine education and access to marginalized communities in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. She is a co-host of the Clinical Problem Solvers Anti-Racism in Medicine Podcast. Her work has earned her the honor of being named a Boston Celtics “Hero Among Us” and named on the Forbes “30 Under 30” in healthcare list. She is a fervent advocate for social justice and enjoys storytelling through spoken word poetry, rap, and writing. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
28/04/23·32m 16s

Against the Odds: Stories from CZI's Rare As One Project

In this week’s episode, both of our stories are from CZI's Rare As One Project. CZI’s Rare As One Project brings together rare disease patients and advocates in their quest for cures. Both of this week’s stories are from Rare As One grantees who are sharing their stories and experiences navigating diagnosis and organizing their communities to accelerate research, identify treatments, and change the course of their diseases. Part 1: After ending up in the ER for the third time, Rachel Alvarez struggles to understand what’s going on with her health. Part 2: As a young adult with muscular dystrophy, Monkol Lek refuses to give up on his ambitions. Rachel Alvarez was diagnosed at birth with an unspecified neuromuscular condition, finally confirmed in 2009 as congenital muscular dystrophy. After graduating from California Polytechnic University, she spent her early career working in healthcare finance and operations. She joined Cure CMD as a volunteer when it was founded in 2008, and then as its first employee in 2012. Rachel continues to work for and on behalf of families living with congenital muscular dystrophy, to not only support their current needs, but to help ensure treatments in the foreseeable future for this group of ultra-rare conditions. Monkol Lek is an Assistant Professor at Yale University and runs a research lab that is dedicated to the genetics of muscle diseases. He grew up in Sydney and in his 20s received a diagnosis of muscular dystrophy, which motivated him to re-train and receive a PhD at the University of Sydney. He then migrated to Boston to train in human genetics and genomic technologies before starting his own lab at Yale. During his free time he likes to randomly complain on twitter, play computer games and hang out with his three rescue dogs! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
21/04/23·35m 10s

Fear in the Lab: Stories about confronting danger

You can tell a lot about a person by how they react in the face of danger. In this week’s classic episode, both of our storytellers must find the courage to brave the perils of life and the lab. Part 1: Neuroscientist Rebecca Brachman is working late one night alone in the lab when she accidentally sticks herself with a needle full of deadly toxin. This story originally aired on December 16, 2016 in an episode titled “Deadly Mistake.” Part 2: Ali Mustafa finds that the scars of war stay with him even at his new job in the lab. This story originally aired on February 1, 2019 in an episode titled “Danger: Stories about life-threatening situations”. Rebecca Brachman is a neuroscientist, playwright, and screenwriter. She obtained her PhD at Columbia University, where she recently discovered the first drug that might prevent psychiatric disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression. Prior to that, she was a fellow at the National Institutes of Health, where she did pioneering work on how the immune system influences cognition by showing that white blood cells can act as antidepressants. She has also served as the director of NeuWrite, a national network of science-writing groups that fosters ongoing collaboration between scientists, writers, and artists. Ali Mustafa is an undergrad student for a second degree at Boise State University, in the Material Science and Engineering program, expected graduation is spring 2020. He had earned honors from the dean in Materials Science & Engineering program for the spring 2018 semester. Ali’s first bachelor degree was in chemical engineering with emphasis in chemical industries from the technological university – Baghdad, Iraq. Ali has joined the magnetic shape memory alloys research team at Boise State University, in February 2018, and he had been assigned for the crystal growth research team using Bridgman method to grow Ni Mn Ga single crystal. Ali worked in technical business development, sales, management and engineering professional with 10+ years of experience with multinational companies like HITACHI heavy machinery, and he worked in the technical engineering support office for BASF chemicals in Dubai - UAE. Ali is also a volunteer at Community Trust Partnership Program - Boise Police Department, Boise, ID (2017). Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
14/04/23·34m 16s

Observations: Stories about noticing the details

Making insightful observations is a key component of being a good scientist, or journalist, or filmmaker. Come to think of it, many careers rely on the ability to notice the details. In this week’s episode, both of our storytellers are keen observers of human and animal nature. Part 1: Documentary filmmaker Caitlin Starowicz is so focused on making her movie about endangered Mountain Gorillas a success that she fails to see what’s in front of her. Part 2: For a story on escape rooms, journalist Danny Wicentowski studies the trials, triumphs, and strategies of the players. Caitlin Starowicz is a director/producer for film and television. Her work focuses on the climate crisis, animal rights, women in STEM, and intersectional feminism. Her films have twice nominated for Best Documentary in Canada at the Canadian Screen Awards, and once for Best Documentary Director in Canada. Danny Wicentowski is a journalist and storyteller in St. Louis. Now a producer at St. Louis Public Radio, Danny worked for more than eight years as a staff writer and investigative reporter for St. Louis’ alt-weekly the Riverfront Times. In 2020, he co-produced and hosted the podcast American Skyjacker, chronicling the life and crimes of plane hijacker Martin McNally. Danny lives in Bevo Mill with a black cat and many notebooks. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
07/04/23·40m 15s

Mariah Wilson: Anything To See A Forest Elephant

In this week’s episode, we get a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to film a wildlife conservation documentary. Part 1: Documentary producer Mariah Wilson is days into making her film about the endangered Forest Elephant and still hasn’t seen one. Part 2: Science Journalist Katherine J. Wu interviews Mariah Wilson to learn more about the stars of her documentary Silent Forests. Mariah Wilson is a documentary producer and director with a focus on wildlife conservation whose work has taken her to six continents. She has worked on series for PBS, Amazon, Netflix, National Geographic, Vice, A&E, Al Jazeera, History, Mongabay, Discovery, Animal Planet, and more. Her 2019 feature documentary SILENT FORESTS is about the fight to save forest elephants from ivory trafficking in Africa’s Congo Basin. It screened at Santa Barbara, Big Sky (Finalist – Feature Competition), Brooklyn Film Festival (Spirit Award), Jackson Wild WWD (Winner – Stories of Hope) and is a One World Media Award Winner. Mariah’s other producing credits include MADINA’S DREAM (SXSW, Telluride Mountainfilm), MARY JANES (Woodstock, Mill Valley), END OF THE LINE (DOC NYC), and most recently the Amazon Studios film WILDCAT (Sundance Doc Fund, Telluride, AFI, IDFA, National Board of Review Top 5 Documentaries of 2022) Mariah is passionate about illuminating the myriad intersections between humans and animals, and celebrating those dedicated to protecting wildlife. She is a proud Jackson Wild Summit Fellow (2021) and Explorer’s Club Fellow. More at: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
31/03/23·30m 19s

Road Not Taken: Stories about what could have been

In science it’s completely normal to wonder what would happen if you altered one variable or another – that’s what you do when you test a hypothesis – but when it comes to the choices we make in our lives, there will always be unanswered questions. In this week’s episode, both our storytellers share stories about their lives' fork-in-the-road moments. Part 1: As a child who loves biology and has Caribbean immigrant parents, Calvin Cato feels pressure to become a doctor. Part 2: Shane Hanlon can’t help but compare his life choices to those of his hometown best friend. Calvin S. Cato got his comedic start with the Wesleyan University stand-up comedy troupe Punchline and then transferred his unique brand of humor to New York City in 2006. He has performed all across the United States and has even crossed the border into Canada. His television appearances include the Game Show Network, Oxygen’s My Crazy Love, National Geographic’s Brain Games, and an unaired pilot for Vice Media called Emergency Black Meeting. In 2017, Calvin was named one of Time Out New York’s Queer Comics of Color to Watch Out For. His comedy has been featured in numerous festivals including San Francisco Sketchfest, Austin’s Out of Bounds Comedy Festival, Brooklyn Pride, Gotham Storytelling Festival, FlameCon, and the Women in Comedy Festival. In addition, you may have heard him overshare on popular podcasts including Keith and The Girl, The Beige Philip Show, RISK!, Guys We F*cked, Las Culturistas, Tinder Tales or the video game themed podcast he co-produced called the Playable Characters Podcast (featured in AV Club and Splitsider). Most recently, Calvin was published in Kweendom, an anthology of essays by queer comedians and entertainers. Published in early 2021, the book is available on Amazon and other online book retailers. Shane M Hanlon, PhD, Executive Producer and co-host of the American Geophysical Union’s podcast Third Pod from the Sun. A conservation biologist turned science communicator, he is also Manager of AGU’s Sharing Science program where he teaches fellow scientists how to communicate effectively. He is also a Senior Producer with the The Story Collider. He is also a Senior Producer with the science storytelling organization The Story Collider and instructor at the University of Pittsburgh’s Pymatuning Laboratory of Ecology and he takes a few weeks each summer to get back out in the field and catch frogs. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
24/03/23·30m 15s

Lies: Stories about playing along

There’s a ton of reasons to lie, but experts have found that lies are most beneficial when they’re not selfish. In this week’s episode, both our storytellers do their best to play along for the sake of others. Part 1: While working as a camp counsellor at a camp for children with chronic and life-threatening illnesses, Gabe Mollica is determined to keep his promise to one of the campers. Part 2: Collette Micks finds herself going along with her mom’s absurd plan to act like her father isn’t dying of cancer. Gabe Mollica is a comedian and writer living in Astoria, Queens. He’s performed his critically acclaimed hour “Solo,” a show about friendship, at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the Winnipeg Fringe Festival, Manhattan’s prestigious 59east59th street theatre, and cities across the globe including New York, Dallas, and Dublin, Ireland. His Off-Broadway show "Solo: a show about friendship" reopens for a 3rd extension on March 23rd at 9pm at the Soho Playhouse. He has appeared on The Moth Radio Hour on NPR, BBC Radio 4, and wrote for the 2020 and 2019 New York Video Game Awards with the writers of the Daily Show with Trevor Noah. He performs nightly in New York City. Collette Micks is an actor, storyteller and corporate trainer. She studied theatre in Paris at Ecole Jacques Lecog and performed in theatre, film and television (Naturally Sadie, The Kennedy's, Murdoch Mysteries). Collette has been offering an extremely successful Storytelling Course at The Second City Training Center in Toronto for several years. Collette continues to tell True Stories Live on stage for several Storytelling Shows in Toronto such as The Story Collider, Confabulation, But That's Another Story and Raw Storytelling among others. Check out her storytelling blog Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
17/03/23·35m 8s

Community: Stories about finding a place to belong

Finding community within science can be a challenge. In this week’s episode, both of our storytellers struggle with feeling out of place in science. Part 1: After his mentor and chemistry teacher uncle is murdered, André Isaacs feels adrift. Part 2: Engineer Joey Jefferson doesn’t feel like he belongs in science as a black bisexual man. A native of Jamaica, André Isaacs moved to the US to attend the College of the Holy Cross where he received his B.A. in Chemistry in 2005. He received his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in 2011 and then worked as a post-doctoral researcher at the University of California, Berkeley. In 2012, Andre accepted a tenure-track position at the College of the Holy Cross. In 2018, Andre was promoted to the rank of Associate Professor with tenure. In addition to teaching courses in Organic Chemistry, Andre conducts research utilizing copper-mediated organic transformations. He is one of the members of Outfront - the college's LGBTQ faculty and staff alliance and serves as faculty advisor to a number of campus student groups. Joey Jefferson is a flight systems engineer at JPL operating the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) and NEOWISE spacecrafts. Prior to his current position, he worked with NASA and foreign space agencies conceptualizing, negotiating, implementing and monitoring their antenna strategies over the Deep Space Network. An international award winning pianist, as well as singer and clarinetist, music will always be near and dear to his heart. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
10/03/23·27m 13s

Dogs: Stories about our furry friends

In this week’s episode, both of our storytellers share tales of man’s best friend, more scientifically known as canines. Part 1: Dog trainer Chris Brown needs to up his skills when he adopts a former bait dog named Terror. Part 2: David Crabb has to make some tough decisions when his dog, Charlie, starts having seizures. Chris Brown was born and raised in Detroit, MI. He's always had an affinity for animals, but especially for dogs. Chris spent most of his early childhood sneaking into neighbors' yard to play with their dogs, and gravitated toward the dogs that all the adults and other children were afraid of. In turn, those same dogs became Chris' protectors. Chris' grandfather nurtured the growing passion and began teaching him how to groom desired behaviors even in tiny puppies, and Chris' uncle introduced him to his first protection dog, a Rottweiler/Dobermann mix that showed just how well trained a dog could be. It was invigorating. Dog training became a hobby that persisted into adulthood, and eventually grew into a successful business. Chris' dog training business is now based in Dallas, and he has partnered with a local rescue where he educates both fosters and adopters. Chris and his wife Kay share their home with three lively (former) street dogs, Ellie, Rogue, and Terror. David Crabb is a writer, actor and storyteller in Los Angeles. He’s a member of The Groundlings Sunday Company and author of the memoir Bad Kid, based on his New York Times Critics’ Pick solo show of the same name. David is a host of The Moth and RISK! LA. He's a professor of autobiographical storytelling at Occidental College and has directed & taught storytelling in the US, Australia, Ireland and Canada. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
03/03/23·35m 2s

Katie Moriarty: The Mystical Wolverine

In this week’s episode, we learn all about the largest land-dwelling species of the family Mustelidae, the wolverine, and why they’re so special. Part 1: During her first research project in the Sierra Nevada mountains, Katie Moriarty thinks she might have spotted the impossible: a wolverine. Part 2: Science Journalist Katherine J. Wu interviews wildlife ecologist Katie Moriarty to find out more about these mystical wolverines. Dr. Katie Moriarty is a forest wildlife ecologist. Throughout her career, Katie has studied elusive, forest dependent species such as pollinators, mammals, and birds. She is considered a leading expert on the Pacific marten, a small mammal in the weasel family. She currently works as a senior research scientist with the National Council for Air and Stream Improvement, Inc. (NCASI) where her research focuses on balancing the needs of sensitive wildlife species and biodiversity, with the goal of conservation within managed forest landscapes. Moriarty received Associate degrees from Sierra Community College, a bachelors from Humboldt State University, and her master’s and PhD from Oregon State University. Dr. Moriarty is active within The Wildlife Society, International Martes Working Group, and the IUCN Small Carnivore Group, working towards small carnivore conservation. Katie currently resides in Corvallis, Oregon with her family. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
24/02/23·29m 46s

Discovery: Stories about uncovering something new

In this week’s classic Story Collider episode, both our stories are about the thrill of exploration and discovering something new. Part 1: Ecologist Cylita Guy finds unexpected adventure when she studies bats in the field. Part 2: Maija Niemisto is a director of education on the Clearwater, America’s environmental flagship. But when a stranger comes to the side of the ship, it heralds a discovery about her city and herself. Cylita Guy is a PhD candidate and ACM SIGHPC/Intel Computational and Data Science Fellow in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Toronto. Broadly interested in zoonotic diseases and their wildlife reservoirs, Cylita’s research focuses on bats and their pathogens. Using both field surveys and computational methods she is investigating why bats seem to be good at carrying viruses that they sometimes share with humans, but rarely get sick from themselves. When not in the field catching bats or at her computer analyzing data, Cylita looks to help others foster their own sense of curiosity and discovery about the natural world. In conjunction with the High Park Nature Centre Cylita has started a Junior Bat Biologist program to engage young, future scientists. She also works as a Host at the Ontario Science Centre, educating the public about diverse scientific topics. Finally, Cylita’s hilarious field exploits are featured in a general audience book titled Fieldwork Fail: The Messy Side of Science! In her down time, you can find your friendly neighborhood batgirl chasing her next big outdoor adventure. Cylita's story originally aired on The Story Collider's podcast on November 24, 2017, in an episode titled "The Bats and the Bees: Stories about winged wildlife." Maija was born to a family of musicians in the heartland, far from the sea. Minnesota was her first hailing port. School, university and adventures took her to Finland, Wisconsin and Lebanon. After receiving her B.A. in International Relations and Environmental studies, she followed the smell of sweet salt air and ran away to see the sea aboard her 28-foot sloop. In 2008, the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater appeared on the horizon and she jumped at the chance to combine her interests in music, sailing, teaching, science, water ecology, environmental advocacy and pumping the bilge. Maija's story originally aired on The Story Collider's podcast on January 29, 2012, in an episode titled "A Step Off the Boat." Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
17/02/23·32m 15s

In the Name of Love: Stories about the romantic side of science

While it might not have been until the 1940s that social scientists came up with tools to measure love, it is a lot more scientific than you might think. In this week’s episode, both our storytellers look at their relationships through a scientific lens. Part 1: Lauren Silverman finds herself drawing parallels between her relationship and steelhead trout. Part 2: During the pandemic, Grant Bowen is torn between his ailing grandmother and his immunocompromised girlfriend. Lauren Silverman is Head of Programming at Gimlet Media. She’s helped manage teams and run shows such as StartUp, Conviction and How to Save a Planet. Before joining Gimlet, Lauren covered health, science and technology for NPR, Marketplace, and KERA in Dallas. You can find her writing in outlets such as The Atlantic, The Cut and National Geographic. You can see her art, including a painting of steelhead trout, at As a storyteller, Grant has been seen at The Moth, Nights of Our Lives, The Adam Wade from NH Show, Happy Hour Story Hour, Gems (Cluster Ring Edition), Comedy Hub Live, and How Was It? He co-produces Awkward Teenage Years, an award-winning monthly storytelling show focused on stories from middle school and high school years. His solo show, A Public Private Prayer, has played in multiple theatre festivals across NYC and is seeking opportunities nationwide. Select acting credits include Angelina Ballerina (Vital Theatre Company, NY); Godspell (Infinity Theatre Company, MD); Yearning for Peace (Articulate Theatre Company); Miss Nelson is Missing! (Two Beans/Theatreworks USA); & Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Snow Camp Outdoor Theatre, NC). Grant has also written a full-length play, Late Night Odyssey, which received a staged reading at the 2018 Broadway Bound Theatre Festival. His one act play, Lay Down My Sword and Shield, received a full production from Articulate Theatre Company. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
10/02/23·27m 37s

Extra Mile: Stories about going over and above

If you've thought that you've ever gone above what is expected in your life, you haven't heard this week's stories. In this week’s episode, both our storytellers give new meaning to going the extra mile. Part 1: Jack Walsh exaggerates the severity of his brain tumor to get out of buying a timeshare. Part 2: Laura Fukumoto goes above and beyond trying to make a special mushroom dish from her grandmother’s childhood. Jack Walsh is an award-winning educational television producer as well as a writer, performer, storyteller, and synthesizer mess-around-with-er. He lives in Decatur, GA, with his wife, two daughters, and his pandemic puppy, Trish. Laura Fukumoto graduated with a BFA from the University of British Columbia and has worked in so-called Vancouver for more than a decade, wearing many hats to survive. More recent hats include fabric wizard, poet, costume designer, playwright, and graduate of Simon Fraser University’s Writer’s Studio. Recent poetry performances include Diasporic Dynasty, Queer Arts Festival, and Powell Street Festival, as well as a small tour of her co-written play “Mending Circle”. She writes about her Japanese-Canadian heritage, queer joy, and hopes to more fully explore her love of mycology. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
03/02/23·35m 48s

Volunteered: Stories about unwanted jobs

In this week’s episode, both of our storytellers share times where they got stuck with jobs they never signed up for. Part 1: Ted Olds finds himself an unwilling participant in his son’s school assignment to look after an electronic baby doll. Part 2: Cadré Francis is less than thrilled when finds out he’s been volunteered to do demonstrations at a STEM camp. Ted Olds is a mechanical engineer and patent lawyer. He has worked on protecting technologies as wide ranging as Pratt and Whitney's geared aircraft engine to the Rainbow Loom. He also tells stories around the country. He has appeared on Story Collider and its podcast before. Ted has won the Moth Story Slams 20 across eight cities. Cadré Francis is a Ph.D. student in Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) at Boise State University. He has earned degrees in the biological and chemical sciences and enjoys studying MSE due to its interdisciplinary nature. Outside of work, he enjoys learning about history and playing sports. He hopes to pursue a career in research and development where he can contribute to more sustainable science while driving innovation.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
27/01/23·27m 23s

Evolution: Stories about our changing relationship with science

In this week’s episode, both of our storytellers explore their ever changing relationships with science over the course of their lives. Part 1: All throughout his life, Chris Wade has a love-hate relationship with science, with very little love. Part 2: After Caroline Hu’s parents make her choose between art and science at age 17, she struggles with her choice. Chris Wade is a native Washingtonian and a retired police officer. He is married to his best friend and adores his children. Chris enjoys storytelling, laughter, traveling and good food. He is a Johns Hopkins University graduate and currently works in community outreach. One of his favorite quotes is, "Tell me the facts and I'll learn. Tell me the truth and I'll believe. But tell me a story and it will live in heart forever." Caroline Hu studied the evolution of animal behavior at Harvard University. She has lived in the Midwest, California, and China, but like the salmon, is now back in the Boston area where she was born. She also draws comics inspired by other living things–from pitcher plants to those toads that carry their eggs in their back. Her dream project is to create a graphic novel inspired by her scientific training. A copy of its first chapter, which she self-published, is in the Library of Congress. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
20/01/23·23m 47s

Misinterpretation: Stories about misreading the situation

To err is human, even if you’re a scientist. In this week’s episode, both storytellers share moments about a time when they got things a bit wrong. Part 1: As a newly minted postdoc, Eric Jankowski has the perfect solution for helping his mentees. Part 2: Science journalist Eric Boodman gets in a little too deep on an assignment about a senior care home. Eric Jankowski is an associate professor in the Micron School of Materials Science and Engineering at Boise State University, where he helps students use computers to engineer new materials. He loves bicycles and hates leaf blowers. Eric Boodman is a reporter for STAT whose work has also appeared in The Atlantic, Undark, and The New York Times Magazine. He's written about entomologists who specialize in fictional infestations, unscientific infant death investigations, and mysterious appearances of exotic arachnids in a Nazi air-raid shelter, and his features have won a number of awards, including the Evert Clark/Seth Payne Award for young science journalists, the American Society of Magazine Editors "Next" Award for journalists under 30, and the New America Award for public service coverage of immigrant communities. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
13/01/23·26m 44s

Trial and Error: Stories about problem solving

The new year is the time to try something new and in this week’s episode, both our storytellers approach their scientific problems in the most science-y way possible – through trial and error. It’s also how Story Collider is going to approach this year as we make a few small changes to the podcast. We can only hope to be as successful as our storytellers in our experiments. Happy New Year! Part 1: Computational biologist Francis Windram is determined to figure out how to make spider webs glow in the dark. Part 2: Avian ecologist Emily Williams refuses to be outwitted by a bird. Francis Windram is a PhD student and Imperial College London, working on computational approaches to extracting spider web traits. He is also a musician, poet, climber, and ex-chef, and generally spends his time being a little too enthusiastic about the minutia of life. His passion for education and outreach has led him to teach sciencey things both in the UK and USA, and he believes strongly that in sharing knowledge through humour and candid cautionary tales we can learn to treat ourselves with more kindness, love, and respect than we otherwise would. Emily Williams is a scientist and PhD student at Georgetown University, where she is studying the migration of a common but overlooked bird, the American Robin. Emily is passionate about outreach and the accessibility of science, and is a fierce defender of the small, underestimated, and undervalued. While she is a Florida native, Emily has done her best to dissociate herself from all Florida man tropes foremost by loving cold and dark places that have topography. Before moving to DC she lived the last five years in Alaska, where she worked as an avian ecologist for the National Park Service at Denali National Park and Preserve. When she isn’t dreaming of a winter wonderland, Emily can be found reading, baking, hiking, and finding new donut places to try.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
06/01/23·30m 19s

Sport Science: Stories about the athletic side of science

In this week’s episode, both our storytellers share stories about the science-y side of sports and physical recreation. Part 1: Daniel Engber risks derailing his PhD by constant daydreaming, until his neuroscience research gives him an idea that will revolutionize the NBA. Part 2: Doomed to be the waterboy after tearing his ACL, engineering student Baratunde Cola is determined to make it back to his college's football team. Daniel Engber is a columnist for and Popular Science, and a regular contributor to the New York Times Magazine. He has appeared on Radiolab, All Things Considered and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and received the National Academies of Science Communication Award in 2012 and the Sex-Positive Journalism Award in 2008. His work has been anthologized in The Best of Technology Writing and The Best of Slate. Bara Cola is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science at Georgia Tech, and founder and president of Carbice Nanotechnologies, Inc. He researches thermal transport and energy conversion in nanostructured materials, and is actively involved in the commercialization of his work, currently to cool electronics better. His work in nanotechnology, energy, and outreach to high school art and science teachers and students has been recognized with awards from President Obama and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He played college football when he was younger. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
30/12/22·35m 18s

The Road to Science: Stories about winding paths to science

The journey to science is rarely straightforward and clear cut. In this week’s episode, both our storytellers share their tales of how they came to science. Part 1: With her truck stuck in the mud in the Serengeti, Aerin Jacob learns three important lessons. Part 2: At four years old, Daniel Miller became one of the youngest people in the state of Texas ever to testify in court -- against his own mother, for sexual assault. As an adult, he struggles for stability, but finds hope in physics. (Warning: this story contains disturbing and potentially triggering events.) Aerin Jacob is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Victoria and a Wilburforce Fellow in Conservation Science Fellow. Trained as an ecologist, she works to develop management strategies that incorporate local, Indigenous, and scientific knowledge to achieve conservation objectives while maintaining human well-being. She works with First Nations communities in British Columbia to study the environmental and socioeconomic outcomes of marine management in the Great Bear Rainforest. Aerin is also a member of the Sustainable Canada Dialogues, a network of scholars developing viable, science-based policy options to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and guide sustainable development in Canada. Her previous work includes studies of land-use change, restoration ecology, and animal behaviour in East Africa and western North America. Aerin earned her PhD at McGill University and her BSc at the University of British Columbia. Daniel R. Miller is a Ph.D. student and research assistant at the MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research. Using large telescopes in the Chilean Andes to observe our Universe as it was 12 billion years ago along with state-of-the-art high performance computer simulations, he works at the intersection of observational and theoretical astrophysics on subjects including cosmology, cosmic structure, and reionization. He also spent several years doing research in plasma physics and controlled nuclear fusion on the MIT Alcator C-Mod experimental tokamak reactor. When not thinking strictly about physics, he may be found in the Future of Life Institute working on potential existential risks including climate change, nuclear proliferation, and artificial intelligence. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
23/12/22·37m 55s

Flora: Stories from the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology

Without plants, we wouldn’t have air to breathe, and we also wouldn’t have these great stories inspired by the leafy green vegetation. This week’s episode, produced in partnership with The Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, features two stories from scientists of the cutting-edge research institute at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign who had plants impact their life and science. Part 1: While everyone around Anthony Digrado is impressed with his plant PhD research, he isn’t sure if he actually knows what he’s doing. Part 2: Scientist Jessica Brinkworth turns to gardening in the midst of a burnout. Anthony Digrado got his Ph.D. in Belgium where he studied the impact of the environment (such as high temperature and dry spells) on the vegetation in a grassland. He now works as a postdoc at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. Jessica Brinkworth is an assistant professor and evolutionary immunologist in the Department of Anthropology. She directs the Evolutionary Immunology and Genomics laboratory at UIUC. Her research program revolves around a basic question “why do we get sick?” Her work demonstrates profound differences between humans and closely related primates often used as medical models in power and specificity of immune responses to severe infections, and as well as how chronic social stress alters immune function. Since the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 her lab has worked with Illinois agricultural workers, focusing on the effects of labour environment on immune function and disease susceptibility. Prior to and during part of her academic career, Brinkworth was a policy analyst in health risk management and later biologic drug regulations for Health Canada. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
16/12/22·33m 3s

Body Image: Stories about physical appearance

In this week’s episode, both our stories are about how we see our bodies and the often complex relationship we have with them. Part 1: With the looming possibility of a double mastectomy, Connie Henderson considers her options for reconstruction. Part 2: Growing up Dhruti Shah struggles to accept her dark body hair. Connie Henderson lives in Vancouver, Washington where she practices law with her husband Paul and son Jordan. Her practice focuses on representing people who have been injured as a result of medical negligence, which is probably the only reason she is alive today. Dhruti Shah is an award-winning journalist and freelance wordsmith. She's been a local newspaper chief reporter, a BBC journalist, a social storytelling specialist and a lot more. She's worked and studied across the UK, in the US and in Thailand. Her debut book Bear Markets and Beyond: A Bestiary of Business Terms won Short Business Book of the Year at the 2021 Business Book Awards. She's had her poetry and short stories published in various collections. She is also an independent consultant, an accredited relational dynamics coach and has a background in OSINT investigations. She has four global fellowships, including an Ochberg Fellowship with the Dart Centre for Journalism and Trauma. She's a Trustee for the charity The John Schofield Trust and an Advisor to the Museum of Colour. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
09/12/22·31m 54s

All-Star: Stories from our All-Star Slam challengers

In the lead up to our special Story Collider All-Star Slam on December 6, 2022, we’re featuring two past stories from our challengers on this week’s episode. If their old stories are this good, we can only imagine how awesome they’re gonna be competing for the title of Ultimate Science Storyteller. You won’t want to miss this online event! Register for free here. Part 1: A college course forces John Rennie to confront a furious rat, and himself. Part 2: As a kid, comedian Gastor Almonte seeks answers about some of the scientific terms he hears around school. John has worked as a science editor, writer and lecturer for more than 30 years. Currently, he is deputy editor at Quanta Magazine. During his time as editor in chief at Scientific American, between 1994 and 2009, the magazine received two National Magazine Awards. He co-created and hosted the 2013 series Hacking the Planet on The Weather Channel. Since 2009, he has been on the faculty of the Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program in New York University’s graduate journalism school. John is @tvjrennie Gastor Almonte is a stand-up comedian and storyteller from Brooklyn, NY. He's appeared on Comedy Central's This Is Not Happening, Risk! podcast and the Story Collider Podcast. Timeout magazine named him one of your "New Comedy Obsessions." He's been featured on the New York Comedy Festival, The People's Impov Theater's SoloCom and Cinderblock Comedy Festival. His new album, Immigrant Made, was released in March 2019. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
02/12/22·38m 59s

Unlikely Paths: Stories from the Institute for Genomic Biology

There’s rarely an expected path in science. This week’s episode, produced in partnership with The Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, features two stories from scientists of their cutting-edge research institute at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign who took unexpected journeys to get where they are today. Part 1: After a troubling personal experience with the health care system, Heng Ji decides to try to fix it. Part 2: When Brendan Harley is diagnosed with leukaemia in high school, it changes everything. Heng Ji is a professor at Computer Science Department, and an affiliated faculty member at Electrical and Computer Engineering Department of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is also an Amazon Scholar. She received her B.A. and M. A. in Computational Linguistics from Tsinghua University, and her M.S. and Ph.D. in Computer Science from New York University. Her research interests focus on Natural Language Processing, especially on Multimedia Multilingual Information Extraction, Knowledge Base Population and Knowledge-driven Generation. She was selected as "Young Scientist" and a member of the Global Future Council on the Future of Computing by the World Economic Forum in 2016 and 2017. She was named as part of Women Leaders of Conversational AI (Class of 2023) by Project Voice. The awards she received include "AI's 10 to Watch" Award by IEEE Intelligent Systems in 2013, NSF CAREER award in 2009, PACLIC2012 Best paper runner-up, "Best of ICDM2013" paper award, "Best of SDM2013" paper award, ACL2018 Best Demo paper nomination, ACL2020 Best Demo Paper Award, NAACL2021 Best Demo Paper Award, Google Research Award in 2009 and 2014, IBM Watson Faculty Award in 2012 and 2014 and Bosch Research Award in 2014-2018. She was invited by the Secretary of the U.S. Air Force and AFRL to join Air Force Data Analytics Expert Panel to inform the Air Force Strategy 2030. She is the lead of many multi-institution projects and tasks, including the U.S. ARL projects on information fusion and knowledge networks construction, DARPA DEFT Tinker Bell team and DARPA KAIROS RESIN team. She has coordinated the NIST TAC Knowledge Base Population task since 2010. She was the associate editor for IEEE/ACM Transaction on Audio, Speech, and Language Processing, and served as the Program Committee Co-Chair of many conferences including NAACL-HLT2018 and AACL-IJCNLP2022. She is elected as the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics (NAACL) secretary 2020-2023. Her research has been widely supported by the U.S. government agencies (DARPA, ARL, IARPA, NSF, AFRL, DHS) and industry (Amazon, Google, Facebook, Bosch, IBM, Disney). Heng Ji is supported by NSF AI Institute on Molecule Synthesis, and collaborating with Prof. Marty Burke at Chemistry Department at UIUC and Prof. Kyunghyun Cho at New York University and Genetech on using AI for drug discovery. Dr. Brendan Harley is a Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research group develops biomaterial that can be implanted in the body to regenerate musculoskeletal tissues or that can be used outside the body as tissue models to study biological events linked to endometrium, brain cancer, and stem cell behavior. He’s a distance runner who dreams of (eventually) running ultramarathons. Follow him @Prof_Harley and Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
25/11/22·26m 59s

Borders: Stories about divisions

In this week’s episode, both our storytellers explore the divisions and limits that influence how we understand and operate in the world and in science. Part 1: César Nufio's childhood experience as a Guatamalan immigrant shapes his life in science. Part 2: Seeking acceptance as a child of Kurdish immigrants in Denmark, Cansu Karabiyik decides to become a scientist. César Nufio is a scientist and educator who is passionate about understanding the natural world and working to increase diversity and inclusion in the sciences. He is currently a multimedia content developer at HHMI’s BioInteractive where he works with artists, educators, filmmakers, and scientists to help engage and inspire students. Previously, he taught tropical biology courses for the Organization for Tropical Studies and explored the effect of climate change on insects in the Rocky Mountains while working at the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History. Coming to this country as an undocumented child and experiencing the generosity given by so many during his journey has impacted his commitment to giving back and his Latin American identity. Cansu Karabiyik is a neuroscientist at Columbia University. She was born in Denmark to Kurdish immigrants. In 2013, she moved to California for her studies in Biomedical Science and decided to never go back. She moved instead to Portugal to conduct the research for her Master thesis focusing on neuroprotection during stroke. In 2021, she completed her PhD at University of Cambridge in the UK focusing on neurodegeneration and has since been in NYC, where she spends her days in the lab researching molecular mechanisms of neuropsychiatric diseases and her evenings doing comedy across the city. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
18/11/22·32m 29s

Pain: Stories about unpleasant physical sensations

Pain is really weird, scientifically speaking. It’s not just a message from injured tissues to be accepted at face value, but a complex experience that can be influenced by your brain. In this week’s episode, both our storytellers explore the aches, pains, and discomfort that come with life. Part 1: While Renee Joshua-Porter is in labor, she starts feeling a horrible stabbing pain in her back. Part 2: Despite being in excruciating pain, Gretchen Douma worries getting a knee replacement will ruin her blossoming acting career. Renee Joshua-Porter is a multi faceted performing artist, Counselor and Chaplain. She is the Founder of The Burning Bush Family Foundation Inc., whose mission is to provide educational and recreational programs through the arts. A first generation American born to Panamanian parents, she grew up listening to and sharing stories. Renee is grateful for meeting Tracey Segarra who first showcased her storytelling on New York stages. Renee is married with three adult children and a dog named Beau. Gretchen Douma is a stage, screen, and voice actor who has been working in theater for more years than she’ll usually admit to. She has performed in Seattle, the Twin Cities, NYC, England, and, on Zoom (thank you, COVID). Also a playwright, Gretchen has several short works and two full-length plays under her belt. The most recent, Ashes, Ashes, We All Fall Down, is a dark comedy about the ghosts and memories that just won’t leave us alone. Her most terrifying out-of-body experience was doing stand-up at Seattle's Comedy Underground. For years a huge fan of storytelling, Gretchen has only recently jumped into this world as a storyteller herself. It has been thrilling so far. She loves dark chocolate, murder mysteries, and escaping to her backyard garden in North Seattle (where she lives with her wife, Nina, and their two miniature Australian Labradoodles). Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
11/11/22·31m 0s

Gross Science: Stories about the yucky parts of science

Science isn’t always pretty. In fact, more often than not it’s kinda disgusting. In this week’s episode, both our storytellers share stories of the less glamorous side of science. Part 1: In order to score extra credit in her high school anatomy class, Amy Segal embarks on a journey to build a cat skeleton. Part 2: Dave Coyle goes on a smelly mission to find the endangered American burying beetle for his undergraduate project. Amy Segal works in finance by day but by night finds herself drawn to storytelling shows on the Lower East Side. She is a Moth Story Slam winner, has been featured on The Story Collider podcast and is the proud recipient of 200 one-dollar bills from a One Up! storytelling competition. She is developing a one-person show, the beginnings of which she performed at the MarshStream International SoloFest in 2020 and 2022. Dr. Dave Coyle is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Conservation at Clemson University. His Extension Forestry program focuses on forest and tree health and invasive species management in natural and managed landscapes across the Southeast. Dave’s research program focuses on the biology and management invasive plants and insects. Dave completed his B.A. in Biology at Luther College, a M.S. in Entomology and Forestry at Iowa State University, and a PhD in Entomology at the University of Wisconsin. Dave is Past-President of the North American Invasive Species Management Association, is on the South Carolina Invasive Species Advisory Committee, and the Advisory Committee for the South Carolina Exotic Plant Pest Council. Dave lives near Athens, GA. He is married to an amazing woman and they have two young boys. He grew up on a farm in Harmony, MN, and spent most of his time in the woods. He was an active member of the Carimona Cruisers 4-H club and once had a pet cow named Kari. Together, then won a trophy at the 1986 Fillmore County Fair. He still loves cows but thinks horses are shifty. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
04/11/22·28m 58s

Expect the Unexpected: Stories about unforeseen circumstances

Often, the hypotheses scientists make at the start of an experiment turn out to be correct. But sometimes, the results end up as something completely unpredictable. In this week’s episode, both our storytellers share stories about a time where they didn’t see it coming. Part 1: While shooting a TV show about the brain, producer Esther Stone gets the opportunity to interview a notorious serial killer. Part 2: As someone who’s seen every single episode of Mayday, Sara Mazrouei considers herself an expert in all the ways you can die on a plane until she takes a flight to Australia. Esther Stone is a London transplant who fell in love with New York. Switching continents sparked a career change from IT to TV. Now, she is a producer with a wide range of credits including a documentary, The Brain, Mysteries at the Museum, and the ever-popular wedding staple – Say Yes to the Dress. Her work has brought her into contact with royalty, neuroscientists, psychopaths, and lots of white dresses. Sara Mazrouei is a planetary scientist, an educational developer, and a science communicator with a passion for sharing the wonders of the universe with the public. Her PhD research focused on the recent bombardment history of the Moon and links to future sample-return missions. Her work has been featured in many media such as the New York Times and National Geographic. Sara is also passionate about increasing the status of women in STEM as well as equity, diversity and meaningful inclusion. Sara uses storytelling, examples including the Story Collider and TEDx Downsview Women, as a method for sharing her authentic experiences and making science more accessible. She is currently an Educational Developer at Toronto Metropolitan University's Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
28/10/22·29m 16s

Childhood Dreams: Stories about youthful aspirations

When you’re a kid, anything seems possible, whether it’s becoming an astronaut or a princess, or even convincing your parents to get you that puppy. In this week’s episode, both our storytellers set themselves some lofty goals when they were young. Part 1: On the top bunk in her childhood bedroom, Kayla Hernandez makes plans to escape her home life and become a scientist. Part 2: As a teenager, Marc Abbott dreams of finding a wife and having kids, but a case of testicular torsion could ruin it all. Kayla Hernandez is an electrical engineer at Brookhaven National Laboratory's Collider Accelerator department. You can find her mentoring students, advocating for women's issues in STEM, and on Habitat for Humanity build sites across Long Island. Marc L Abbott is a Brooklyn based author, actor and storyteller. His horror short stories are featured in numerous anthologies including the Bram Stoker Nominated horror anthology New York State of Fright, Hell’s Heart and Hell’s Mall and most recently Even in the Grave. He is the co-author of Hell at Brooklyn Tea and Hell at the Way Station, the two-time African American Literary Award-winning horror anthology. He is a Moth Story Slam and Grand Slam Storyteller winner and one of the hosts for the podcast Beef, Wine and Shenanigans. Find out more about him at  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
21/10/22·36m 10s

Calling: Stories about one's vocation

Sometimes a job is just a way to make a living, but for our storytellers it is much more than that. In this week’s episode, our stories are about the undeniable draw to a career. Part 1: When pediatric oncologist Sam Blackman gets called for a consult by the obstetrics department, he’s convinced they have the wrong number. Part 2: After 25 years of teaching, Matthew Dicks questions whether or not he should still be a teacher. Sam Blackman is a physician-scientist and pediatric oncologist. He's the founder and chief medical officer of Day One Biopharmaceuticals, a company focused on drug development for childhood cancers. He's an avid storyteller, baker of bread, and recently returned from a trek to Everest Base Camp. Sam lives on Orcas Island with his wife and daughter. Matthew Dicks is the internationally bestselling author of the novels Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend, Something Missing and Unexpectedly, Milo, The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs, Twenty-one Truths About Love, The Other Mother, and the nonfiction title Storyworthy: Engage, Teach, Persuade, and Change Your Life Through the Art of Storytelling. His novels have been translated into more than 25 languages worldwide. He is an advice columnist for Slate magazine and the humor columnist for Seasons magazine. When not hunched over a computer screen, he fills his days as an elementary school teacher, storyteller, blogger, wedding DJ, minister, and storytelling and speaking consultant. He has been teaching for 21 years and is a former West Hartford Teacher of the Year and a finalist for Connecticut Teacher of the Year. Matthew is a record 56-time Moth StorySLAM champion and 9-time GrandSLAM champion whose stories have been featured on their nationally syndicated Moth Radio Hour and their weekly podcast. He has performed for audiences around the globe. Matthew is also the founder and creative director of Speak Up, a Hartford-based storytelling organization that produces shows throughout New England. He teaches storytelling and public speaking throughout the world to individuals, corporations, school districts, hospitals, universities, and more. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
14/10/22·35m 3s

Blending In: Stories about trying to belong

In this week’s episode, both of our storytellers are scientists struggling to feel like they belong -- in and out of science. Part 1: Neuroscientist Pardeep Singh feels more than out of place when he ends up as a contestant on The Bachelorette. Part 2: When Thiago Arzua comes to the United States from Brazil to study science he doesn’t know how to fit in. Pardeep Singh is a neuroscientist, podcaster, Brooklynite and the first Indian-American to ever get a rose on The Bachelorette. Born and raised in Curitiba, Brazil, Thiago Arzua is now a postdoc at Columbia University. There, he studies how trauma can pass through multiple generations. Outside the lab, he helped create Black In Neuro, a non-profit organization aiming to diversify the neurosciences by celebrating and empowering Black scholars. He's also a triathlete and in the small amount of time remaining he paints. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
07/10/22·29m 35s

Healing Power of Nature: Stories about finding peace outside

Being in nature can have a powerful effect on our body and mind. It’s like a tonic for our well-being. Research has found that it reduces blood pressure, stabilizes our heart rate, and decreases the production of stress hormones. In this week’s episode, both our storytellers discover just how therapeutic nature can be. Part 1: Geography and Environmental Sciences Professor John Aubert is having a hard time connecting to his now teenage daughter. Part 2: Sarah Luchini may be in over her head, literally, as she tries to cross a river while hiking on the Appalachian Trail. John Aubert is a Professor of Geography and Environmental Sciences at American River College in Sacramento, CA. After realizing that his family and friends were finally getting tired of hearing his stories, he was ecstatic to discover that he could tell them to strangers! He has taken the stage at numerous Moth Story Slams and has been a featured storyteller for Capital Storytelling, Story Collider, Six Feet Apart Productions, and Artists Standing Strong Together. In addition to storytelling, John’s other interests include movies, hiking, fly fishing, and volunteering in his community. Sarah Luchini is Marketing Specialist at Schoodic Institute at Acadia National Park. She is responsible for coordinating the Institute's internal and external marketing efforts to grow awareness and engagement, as well as developing and implementing marketing plans in support of the organization’s mission to inspire science, learning, and community for a changing world. Prior to joining Schoodic Institute, Luchini worked as Lead Graphic Designer at Downeast Graphics & Printing, a print and graphics studio where she worked seamlessly in print and web-based design. Luchini holds a Bachelors of Fine Art degree from Lesley University College of Art & Design, with a background in fine art and art history. Her work has been shown in exhibitions throughout Maine, Boston, and Florence, Italy, and she has worked in art galleries in Massachusetts and along the Maine coast. Born and raised in Ellsworth, Maine, Sarah has a passion for outdoor recreation and exploring her local landscapes. In her free time, Sarah enjoys being out on the trails hiking and biking, or paddleboarding at home with her cat, Murray (yes, Murray always wears a life vest!). Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
30/09/22·26m 23s

Overachieving: Stories about going above and beyond

This week we’re being the opposite of overachievers and re-running some classic Story Collider stories. In this week’s episode, both our storytellers are dedicated to going the extra mile for science. Part 1: As a new, super competitive, graduate student Aditi Nadkarni thinks she has the perfect way to impress her advisor and labmates ... until one night it spirals a tiny bit out of control. This story originally aired on July 28, 2013. Part 2: While completing a community service requirement in high school, comedian Wyatt Cenac puts a drunk driving simulation to the test. This story originally aired on September 10, 2016. Dr Aditi Nadkarni is a biomedical scientist, market research and business strategy consultant, artist and storyteller who is passionate about science awareness, human and civil rights, access to education and bridging disparities in healthcare. Wyatt Cenac is a comedian and a former correspondent on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.” He has also released multiple standup specials, most recently on Netflix, and appeared on film and TV. He regularly hosts a standup evening in Brooklyn called “Night Train with Wyatt Cenac.” Follow him on Twitter @wyattcenac. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
23/09/22·35m 29s

Unconventional Friendships: Stories about unlikely pairs

Science is filled with weird and wonderful bonds, like Bubbles the African Elephant and Bella the Black Labrador or potassium and argon. In this week’s classic episode, both our storytellers share stories of times when they made an unexpected connection. Part 1: Journalist Jon Ronson is excited when he hears about some 'sentient' robots, but when he goes to interview them he finds both less and more than he ever expected. This story originally aired on March 10, 2013. Part 2: When The Colbert Report calls about her research, marine biologist Skylar Bayer finds an unexpected collaborator and friend in the fisherman helping her get scallops. Skylar Bayer (she/her/hers) is a marine ecologist, storyteller, and science communicator who lives in Alaska. Her scientific research focuses on marine ecology, bivalves, aquaculture, and extension. She completed her Ph.D. in the secret sex lives of scallops, a subject that landed her on The Colbert Report in 2013. She is an alum of the Sea Grant Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship and has been a producer for The Story Collider since 2014. She is a co-editor of the upcoming anthology of personal stories from scientists with disabilities and medical conditions, Uncharted: how scientists navigate, health, research, and bis, soon to be published by Columbia University Press. This story originally aired on April 12, 2019 in an episode titled “Limelight.” Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
16/09/22·33m 59s

Strength in Numbers: Stories from Latasha Wright

In this week’s episode, we have not one, but two stories from Story Collider’s board member Latasha Wright. This is her fourth story featured on our podcast and her fifth story she’s told for The Story Collider! Part 1: Biologist Latasha Wright is at work one day when she suddenly begins to experience intense pain. Part 2: Just before she leaves for her dream opportunity to teach marine science on the Red Sea, Latasha Wright gets a call that puts her plans in jeopardy. This story originally aired on February 22, 2019 in an episode titled “Inspiration.” Latasha Wright received her Ph.D. from NYU Langone Medical Center in Cell and Molecular Biology. After her studies, she went on to continue her scientific training at Johns Hopkins University and Weill Cornell Medical Center. She has co­authored numerous publications and presented her work at international and national conferences. In 2011, she joined the crew of the BioBus, a mobile science lab dedicated to bringing hands­ on science and inspiration to students from all socioeconomic backgrounds. The BioBus creates a setting that fosters innovation and creativity. Students are encouraged to ask questions, formulate hypotheses, and design experiments. Through the BioBus, Latasha was able to share her love of science with a new generation of potential scientists. Everyday that she spends teaching students about science in this transformative environment helps her remember that science is fun. She loves sharing the journey of discovery with students of all ages. In 2014, the BioBus team launched an immersive, un­intimidating laboratory space called the BioBase, a community laboratory model. At the BioBase students are encouraged to explore their scientific potential through in­-depth programming and hands­-on experimentation. Latasha has lead the efforts in establishing this community laboratory model, and hopes to build on its success in other communities. The efforts of the BioBus’ team to promote science education to all communities in New York City has been recognized by numerous news outlets, including the WNYC science radio program Hypothesis. Additionally, Latasha has been featured as NY1’s New Yorker of the Week. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
09/09/22·39m 32s

Phobias: Stories about fears

If someone tells you they’re not afraid of anything, they’re a liar. As the wise Nelson Mandela once said: "The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear." In this week’s episode, both our storytellers face their fears, no matter how irrational. Part 1: Steve Whyte decides to try exposure therapy to overcome his fear of germs. Steve Whyte thought he had it all figured out until he left the womb. He was Elf #2 in the Old Greenwich Elementary School production of Twas The Night Before Christmas. Later, lured by the prospect of big money, Steve joined the improv world, and can be seen at the Magnet Theater in Chelsea. For money he edits video, and for fun he plays the drums. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
02/09/22·21m 45s

Out of Place: Stories about feeling like an outsider

Not to get too emo and Simple Plan lyrics on you, but have you ever felt out of place? Like somehow you just don't belong and no one understands you? Well, you’re not alone. In this week’s episode, both our storytellers share stories of a time when they felt like the odd person out in science and in life. Part 1: Kevin Allison’s ADHD diagnosis sheds new light on why he always feels like he’s left out of the loop. Part 2: Diana Li feels isolated while studying squid in Mexico. For photos, transcripts, and more information on our storytellers, see our website here. We want to hear from you! Share your thoughts in our Podcast Audience Survey 2022. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
26/08/22·32m 51s

Anomaly: Stories about rare diseases

It's almost unbelievable that a change in something as small as a cell or a gene can lead to such big consequences. In this week’s episode, our stories are about rare childhood illnesses from different perspectives. Part 1: As a kid, Lauren Soares can’t understand why her parents are making such a big deal out her brain tumour. Part 2: Gerry Downes sees his research in a new light when his daughter is diagnosed with a rare genetic disease. Lauren Soares is an artist and musician based in Brooklyn, New York. Lauren creates ethereal dark pop music under her artist name, laur. She recently directed and produced a music video for her new single 'hades' and is gearing up to release her debut album in the fall of 2022. While not working on art, Lauren directs her energy toward helping artists and organizations achieve their business goals through digital media, storytelling, and strategic planning. She has a BFA in Fine Arts and Writing. Gerry Downes is an Associate Professor in Biology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He received a BS in Biology from Johnson C Smith University, a PhD in Neuroscience from Washington University, and postdoctoral training from the University of Pennsylvania. His laboratory studies tiny fish to investigate how genes and brains control movement. He is passionate about science teaching and outreach, as well as shifting perceptions on who can be a scientist. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
19/08/22·29m 59s

Taken Seriously: Stories about wanting respect

While some people can fake it 'til they make it, others find that being taken seriously is a challenge, no matter what they do. In this week’s episode, both our storytellers share stories about trying to get the respect they deserve. Part 1: Adam Ruben desperately wants to be seen as more than a junior scientist in his lab. Part 2: When Larissa Zhou says she wants to make better food for outer space, no one takes her seriously. Adam Ruben is a writer, comedian, and molecular biologist. He has appeared on the Food Network, Netflix, the Travel Channel, the Weather Channel, and currently hosts "What on Earth?" and "Ancient Unexplained Files" on the Science Channel and "Inventions that Changed History" on Discovery Plus, as well as writing for the Emmy-nominated PBS Kids show "Elinor Wonders Why." Adam writes the monthly humor column "Experimental Error" in the AAAS journal Science Careers and is the author of two books: Surviving Your Stupid, Stupid Decision to Go to Grad School (Random House, 2010) and Pinball Wizards: Jackpots, Drains, and the Cult of the Silver Ball (Chicago Review Press, 2017). Learn more at Larissa Zhou is a PhD student at Harvard University, where she develops food technologies for low-resource environments. She loves to rock climb and cook. She's invested in building communities and transforming mentees into leaders, both in academia and on the mountain. Learn more at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
12/08/22·32m 31s

Story Collider En Español: Historias científicas en español

En el episodio de esta semana, nuestros dos narradores comparten historias reales y personales sobre la ciencia en español. Parte 1: Ro Moran nos cuenta de un tiempo cuando él se hizo cargo de la vida de un animal y los corazones de sus compañeros de clase. Parte 2: En su primer semestre de ser profesora, Ana Maria Porras les enseña has sus estudiantes que es ser realmente poderosa y humilde. Ro is an award-winning chicken wing eater with a penchant for storytelling. His credits include Prose of Pie, Tiny Tales, and other open mic shows. He is most celebrated for his groundbreaking guitar/comedy duo with his daughter. They’ve since broken up due to ‘creative differences’ . Billboard Magazine has referred to Ro Moran as “Who?!” When Ro isn’t telling tall tales, he is a social justice warrior for a national human rights non profit. Dr. Ana Maria Porras is a biomedical engineer who studies the human gut microbiome. She uses biomaterials to study how both good and bad microbes in our intestines affect our health. And she also crochets them! She currently works as a Cornell Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow and is always finding new ways to engage with the public in the U.S. and Latin America using her crocheted microbes. She got her BS at the University of Texas at Austin and a PhD at the University of Wisconsin. She loves to bake, dance, read, watch tv, and, above all, eat ice cream. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
05/08/22·35m 19s

Anxiety: Stories about feelings of worry

As the great Greek philosopher Epictetus said: “Man is not worried by real problems so much as by his imagined anxieties about real problems”. It’s comforting to know that even in ancient Greece anxiety was a thing. In this week’s episode, both storytellers share stories of a time where their fears got the better of them. Part 1: When biologist Melina Giakoumis can’t find a single sea star she starts to worry she’s not cut out to be a scientist. Part 2: One question from a conference attendee sends math teacher Nancy Buck into panic spiral. Melina Giakoumis is a PhD candidate in Biology at the City University of New York. She uses genomics, field surveys and ecological modeling to study marine invertebrates in the Atlantic Ocean. In particular, Melina is interested in the population dynamics of sea stars in the North Atlantic and their impact on the coastal community. Before starting her PhD, Melina was a research technician in the genomics lab of the American Museum of Natural History in New York, where she sequenced the DNA of a huge variety of species, from bacteria to whales. Melina has spent lots of time poking around in the tide pools of New England, and hopes her research can be used for the conservation of these ecosystems. Melina currently lives in Philadelphia with her husband and two dachshunds. Nancy Buck currently teaches in a 6 - 12 school in Brooklyn. She is also a Master Teacher in the Math for America program. She believes that math is a beautiful and creative subject that allows people to understand the world around them. She works hard to create safe spaces so that all educators can see that both they and their students are mathematicians. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
29/07/22·26m 52s

Good Intentions: Stories about meaning well

In this week’s episode, both our storytellers set out to do the right thing, but you know what they say about good intentions. Part 1: During the pandemic, science journalist Maddie Bender signs up to be a contact tracer. Part 2: Veterinarian Leslie Brooks decides to make an exception to the rules for one pet owner. Maddie Bender is an innovation reporter at The Daily Beast and a science journalist whose work has appeared in STAT, Scientific American, VICE, Smithsonian Magazine, and other outlets. She holds an MPH from the Yale School of Public Health in microbial disease epidemiology and lives in Boston with her cat, Maisy. Leslie Brooks is a veterinarian by formal training. She is a writer, humanitarian, and advocate by informal experience. Her goals as a veterinarian are to contribute to improving human relationships through enhancing the human-animal bond and promoting the concept of One Health. She worked as a “cat and dog doctor” for a decade, including volunteering much of her time working with individuals experiencing homelessness or crisis who have pets. She is currently a Science and Technology Policy Fellow at the US Agency for International Development, where she is using her transferable skills as a veterinarian in the policy realm and a humanitarian context. A goal of hers is to talk more openly about mistakes and failures to change the narrative of how we view success. She lives in the DC-metro area with her husband and 5-year-old son, Mehdi. She loves to paint abstractly, bike around the city, being an amateur photographer, and dancing. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
22/07/22·27m 22s

Anticipation: Stories about expectations

In this week’s episode, both our storytellers will have you on the edge of your seat, shivering with anti…….ci……….PATION as they share stories of high stakes scientific events. Part 1: Science journalist Nicholas St. Fleur spends two years preparing for what is to be an epic solar eclipse. Part 2: Chemical engineer Jason Raines finds himself leading the underdog team in a high school underwater robotics competition. Nicholas St. Fleur is a science reporter at STAT covering racial health disparities and host of the podcast Color Code. He is also an associate editorial director of events creating virtual and in-person live journalism events. He joined STAT through a Knight-Wallace Reporting Fellowship in 2020 to cover the intersection of race, health, and the life sciences during the Covid-19 pandemic. He won the 2021 Evert Clark/Seth Payne Award for Young Science Journalists. Before joining STAT he wrote for The New York Times about archaeology, paleontology, space and other curiosities of the cosmos. Jason Raines is a staunch chemical engineer turned accidental STEM innovator. For nearly two decades, he has brought a hands-on, experiential approach to STEM education as a teacher, administrator, mentor and coach to students and educators across the country. As a passionate advocate of the school-to-STEM pipeline, his goals are to raise the awareness students, particularly those from underrepresented areas, have to the vast potential STEM fields have to offer, while helping to remove the barriers that prevent students from experiencing STEM. He currently is the Director of STEM Innovation, & Partnerships at Graham Moore Education Design Consultants. He lives in Atlanta, GA and loves his wife, Anji, three daughters, Cami, Evi and Dele, and son Ryan. He loves sandwiches and hates mosquitoes. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
15/07/22·36m 10s

Healing: Stories about getting better

In this week’s episode, both our storytellers share tales of getting back on their feet, both literally and figuratively. Part 1: After Natalia Reagan gives up on her dreams of being a scientist, a devastating accident changes everything. Part 2: As Jaclyn Siegel researches eating disorders she struggles with her own. Natalia Reagan is an anthropologist, primatologist, comedian, science communicator, host, actress, producer, podcaster, professor, writer, and monkey chasing weirdo. She was a comedy writer and correspondent on Neil deGrasse Tyson’s StarTalk, regular host of the StarTalk All-Stars podcast, a science correspondent on Thrillist’s Daily Hit, a skeptic on Travel Channel’s Paranormal Caught on Camera, and she was the co-host on Spike TV’s 10 Million Dollar Bigfoot Bounty. Natalia was also a writer and host for Discovery’s DNews, Seeker, and TestTube as well as an animal expert on Nat Geo Wild’s Everything You Didn’t Know about Animals. For her master’s fieldwork, she conducted a survey of the Azuero spider monkey in rural Panama. She has also published chapters in the Wiley Encyclopedia of Primatology (including “The Copulatory Postures of Nonhuman Primates”), ACS’s Hollywood Chemistry, and Congreso de Antropología Panameña. After grad school, Natalia began producing science comedy videos covering such titillating topics as the evolution of boobs, butts, balls, and Bigfoot. Her passion includes combining science and comedy to spread science literacy while inducing spit takes. She currently lives a pants-optional lifestyle in LA and teaches biological anthropology at Cal State Dominguez Hills. Jaclyn Siegel, PhD, is a postdoctoral research scholar at San Diego State University, where she works as the project director of the PRIDE Body Project, an NIH-funded eating disorders prevention program for sexual minority men. Jaclyn holds a PhD in social psychology from the University of Western Ontario. Her research focuses on body image, gender, and sexuality, primarily as they relate to everyday life, including the workplace and romantic relationships. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
08/07/22·39m 5s

Bodies: Stories about anatomy

The human body is fascinating and sometimes kinda gross. In this week’s episode both our storytellers are sharing tales of their blood, flesh, and bones. Part 1: When Rachel Gross winds up with a chronic vaginal infection she refuses to believe her new favorite IUD is the culprit. Part 2: Bryan Berlin discovers a mysterious bump on his butt but is too self-conscious to get it checked out. Rachel E. Gross is a science and health reporter who writes for The New York Times, Scientific American, and the BBC. She is the author of the 2022 book Vagina Obscura: An Anatomical Voyage, a New York Times' editors choice that Kirkus Reviews called "an eye-opening biological journey." Before that, she was a 2018-19 Knight Science Journalism fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the digital science editor of Smithsonian Magazine, where she launched a column about unsung women in the history of science. When not expounding on the mindblowing science of vaginas and vulvas, you can find her vegan baking, roller skating, or punning onstage. Follow her at @rachelegross. Bryan Berlin is a comedian and storyteller living in Brooklyn. He's a Moth StorySLAM winner and the creator and host of Love Hurts, a podcast where guests share stories of the tough relationships in their lives. When he's not telling stories, he's teaching video and photography to high school students. Follow him everywhere @berlination and find more info at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
01/07/22·33m 9s

Tenacity: Stories about perseverance

As the great Rocky Balboa once said about life: “it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it.” But in this week’s episode, both our storytellers share stories of their strength of will and persistence to keep going despite the scientific challenges. Part 1: Coral reef conservationist Emily Darling is at loss when a journalist asks her if she still has hope for coral reefs. Part 2: James Gordon readies himself for another one of his daughter’s heart surgeries. Dr Emily Darling is a coral reef scientist at the Wildlife Conservation Society and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Toronto. Her research has won international awards and been featured on National Geographic, Forbes International, CNN, and PBS Nature. She is passionate about the importance of underwater science and works closely with scientists around the world to measure the impact of coral reef conservation. In her spare time, she is (still) learning to sail. James Gordon is an international award winning author and poet, champion storyteller, and acclaimed actor. James can be seen on Chicago Med as Kent Taylor, Detective Smiley on Amazon's The G, and PA Flanders in Background Extras. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
24/06/22·37m 34s

Father's Day: Stories about dads

In honor of Father’s Day, this week’s episode features stories about dads. Also in honor of Father’s Day, here’s one of our favorite science Dad jokes : What did the biologist wear to impress his date? Designer genes. Part 1: While Nadia Osman is growing up, her father is determined to get her to pursue a career in STEM. Part 2: Josh Silberg finds a new appreciation for his dad’s embarrassing antics when he’s forced to be an aquarium mascot. Nadia Osman is a comedy writer, performer, and daughter of an Egyptian Muslim immigrant. She's written for Million Volt studios, BET, the UCB theatre, Reductress, CollegeHumor, and more. Nadia created Depressed, a web series about anxiety and depression that was a Staff Pick on Vimeo and Vulture. She also co-hosts the podcast Why Do You Know That? with Steve Szlaga. Josh Silberg is a scientist, science communicator, Ogden Nash fan, and easily distracted by odd animals. For his day job, he helps researchers at the Hakai Institute share their coastal science. He moonlights as a producer for The Story Collider in Vancouver. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
17/06/22·31m 12s

Prom Night: Stories from Proton Prom

In this week’s episode we’re sharing some of the stories from our second annual fundraiser Proton Prom. Part 1: Comedian Josh Gondelman is terrified when he gets a call that his father doesn’t remember there’s an ongoing pandemic. Part 2: Growing up Ken Ono dreams of being anything but a mathematician. Part 3: As a teenager, Eric Jankowski is inspired when he meets his science heroes. Josh Gondelman is a writer and comedian who incubated in Boston before moving to New York City, where he currently lives and works as the head writer and an executive producer for Desus & Mero on Showtime. Previously, he spent five years at Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, first as a web producer and then as a staff writer where he earned four Emmy Awards, two Peabody Awards, and three WGA Awards. In 2016, Josh made his late night standup debut on Conan (TBS), and he has also performed on Late Night With Seth Meyers (NBC) and The Late Late Show with James Corden (CBS). Gondelman is also the author of the essay collection Nice Try: Stories of Best Intentions and Mixed Results published September 2019 by Harper Perennial. And as of 2019, he has become a regular panelist on NPR mainstay Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me. In Spring 2020, Gondelman launched his own podcast Make My Day, a comedy game show. And he was the co-creator of the popular Modern Seinfeld Twitter account. Josh’s most recent album Dancing On a Weeknight came out in 2019 on Blonde Medicine Records. (His prior album Physical Whisper debuted in March of 2016 at #1 on the iTunes comedy charts (as well as #4 on the Billboard comedy chart). Offstage, Gondelman is also the co-author (along with Joe Berkowitz) of the book You Blew It, published October 2015 by Plume. In the past, Josh has written for Fuse TV’s Billy On The Street. His writing has also appeared in prestigious publications such as McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, New York Magazine, and The New Yorker. Additionally, Josh has performed at the Rooftop Comedy Festival in Aspen, CO, and headlined at the Laugh Your Asheville Off Festival in Asheville, NC. More recently he has appeared in the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival, the Bridgetown Comedy Festival, and SF Sketchfest. His debut standup comedy CD, Everything’s The Best was released in November of 2011 by Rooftop Comedy Productions. Ken Ono is the Thomas Jefferson Professor of Mathematics at the University of Virginia and the Chair of Mathematics at the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has published over 200 research articles in number theory. Professor Ono has received many awards for his research, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Packard Fellowship and a Sloan Fellowship. He was awarded a Presidential Early Career Award for Science and Engineering (PECASE) by Bill Clinton in 2000, and he was named the National Science Foundation's Distinguished Teaching Scholar in 2005. He was an associate producer of the 2016 Hollywood film The Man Who Knew Infinity, which starred Jeremy Irons and Dev Patel. Earlier this year he put his math skills to work in a Super Bowl week commercial for Miller Lite beer. Eric Jankowski is an associate professor in the Micron School of Materials Science and Engineering at Boise State University as well as Story Collider’s Board President. He earned a PhD in chemical engineering at the University of Michigan where he also got pretty into bicycles, storytelling, and playing go. Eric's research leverages high performance computing to engineer new materials for sustainable energy production. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
10/06/22·48m 13s

Mysteries: Stories about enigmas

Usually mysteries are reserved for true crime podcasts and cop shows, but in this week’s episode, both our storytellers delve deep into a scientific puzzle in search of answers. Part 1: Sabrina Imbler encounters strange blobs in the ocean and becomes obsessed with figuring out what they are. Part 2: While visiting a new eye doctor, Derek Traub wonders if his Duane Syndrome and uneven vision are somehow connected. Sabrina Imbler is a writer based in Brooklyn. They are currently a staff writer at Defector Media on the creature beat. Their work has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, and Catapult, among others. Their chapbook Dyke (geology) came out with Black Lawrence Press, and their first book, an essay collection about sea creatures called How Far the Light Reaches, will be published on December 6, 2022 with Little, Brown. Derek Traub is a writer and storyteller currently living in—and frequently writing about—Los Angeles. For the last decade, he has worked as a writer for the LA Phil, where he recently wrote a book and recorded a podcast series about the Hollywood Bowl’s first century. Both can be found at Follow him on IG @froznla. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
03/06/22·29m 28s

Becoming: Stories about growing into yourself

In this week’s episode, both our storytellers strive to realize their full, authentic selves in science. Part 1: After being bullied for his sexuality as a kid, Scott Taylor hesitates to bring his full self to his identity as a scientist. Part 2: Kamryn Parker’s high school history teacher unwittingly influences her scientific journey. Scott Taylor is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado Boulder where he leads the Taylor Lab on hybridization, speciation, and natural history ( He joined the faculty after completing a Ph.D. in ecological genetics from Queen’s University and pursuing postdoctoral training at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Research in his group is focused on using natural hybrid zones and recent radiations to understand the genetic bases of traits involved in reproductive isolation, population divergence, and speciation, and the impacts of anthropogenic change, including climate change, on species distributions, interactions, and evolution. His lab primarily studies birds. Scott grew up on the shore of Lake Huron in Ontario, Canada. He is fascinated by natural history and the intersections between art and science, and is committed to inclusion and diversity initiatives. Kamryn Parker is currently a graduate student at Boise State University pursuing her Master's in Computer Science with a Data Science concentration. She graduated from Boise State in 2021 with a Bachelor's Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with emphases in Data Science, Computer Science, and Applied Math. She currently works as a graduate research assistant focusing on both election and privacy research. Kamryn is passionate about data science and how you can use data to solve the complex problems of today's world. In her free time, Kamryn enjoys being a trivia night enthusiast, cheering on her favorite sports teams, and watching Marvel movies. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
27/05/22·31m 14s

Obsession: Stories about scientific fixations

Science has a way of inspiring obsession. In this week’s episode, both our storytellers spiral deep into a personal all-consuming preoccupation. Part 1: Curtis Chou becomes dogmatic in his quest to correct a person’s incorrect fact on the internet. Part 2: Richard Cardillo is determined to uncover a priest’s secret to keeping a thriving cactus collection. Curtis Chou is a science communicator, puzzle enthusiast, and all-around adventure seeker. Curtis’s preferred bubble tea order is half-sweet strawberry milk tea with pearls and less ice. Richard Cardillo is a six-time Moth StorySLAM winner who's appeared on The Moth Radio Hour and the Moth podcast. He is featured on The Best of RISK! #12 podcast. He’s performed at Story Collider, RISK!, Yum's the Word, PBS Stories From The Stage, and Big Irv’s Storytelling Show. Rich is a passionate bread baker and, yes, has gone to that quirky (scary?) place of naming his 16-year-old sourdough starter.  Rich is also a 25-year resident of NYC's Lower East Side and has been an educator for over three decades on two continents and in three languages. He's instructed on all levels from preschool to graduate programs, considering himself still more of a learner than a teacher....but always a storyteller! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
20/05/22·31m 20s

Proton Prom: Stories from our Proton Prom storytellers

In anticipation of our upcoming Proton Prom, this week we’re re-airing the first Story Collider stories from two of the storytellers who will be performing at the event. Part 1: When Aparna Nancherla's science fair project goes awry, she and her fellow students make some unethical choices. Part 2: After a reluctant start, mathematician Ken Ono makes an unexpected discovery. Aparna Nancherla is a comedian and general silly billy. Her sense of humor is dry, existential, and absurd, with notes of uncalled-for whimsy. Think a wine you didn’t order. You can watch Aparna as Grace the belabored HR rep on the Comedy Central show, Corporate or hear her as the voice of Hollyhock on Bojack Horseman. She also has a half-hour special on the second season of The Standups on Netflix, as well as appearances on Late Night with Stephen Colbert on CBS and Two Dope Queens on HBO. Other acting credits include A Simple Favor, Crashing, High Maintenance, Master of None, and Inside Amy Schumer. Aparna was also named one of “The 50 Funniest People Right Now” by Rolling Stone. She also co-hosted the 2018 Women’s March Rally in NYC. In 2019, she was in a Super Bowl commercial with Michael Bublé for sparkling water neé seltzer. In 2016, she released her debut album, Just Putting It Out There, on Tig Notaro’s label, Bentzen Ball Records, and recorded a half hour special for Comedy Central. On Monday nights, she co-hosts Butterboy at Littlefield in Park Slope, Brooklyn at 8 p.m. with genius treasures Jo Firestone and Maeve Higgins. Ken Ono is the Thomas Jefferson Professor of Mathematics at the University of Virginia and the Chair of Mathematics at the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has published over 200 research articles in number theory. Professor Ono has received many awards for his research, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Packard Fellowship and a Sloan Fellowship. He was awarded a Presidential Early Career Award for Science and Engineering (PECASE) by Bill Clinton in 2000, and he was named the National Science Foundation's Distinguished Teaching Scholar in 2005. He was an associate producer of the 2016 Hollywood film The Man Who Knew Infinity, which starred Jeremy Irons and Dev Patel. Earlier this year he put his math skills to work in a Super Bowl week commercial for Miller Lite beer. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
13/05/22·35m 35s

DNA: Stories about genetics

It’s almost magical how a combination of just A, C, T, and G entirely determine who we are. In this week’s episode both our storytellers look at how their genes impact their lives. Part 1: Kristen Williams unexpectedly finds herself attending a family reunion after taking a DNA test. Part 2: After several miscarriages, Joanne O’Meara turns to genetic testing for answers. Kristen Williams is a Navy veteran and a Senior Business Manager. She loves storytelling because it allows her to relive the most impactful moments in her life, from her deep south upbringing, military life, and professional experience. She lives in Seattle with her cat, Cami. Joanne O’Meara grew up in Toronto but moved away at the age of 19 to go to McMaster University. After traveling around for a few years, she and her husband put down roots in Fergus, Ontario. They both work in the Physics Department at the University of Guelph, while raising two amazing young women. When she’s not teaching or learning about teaching, she’s outside enjoying nature, on snowshoes, in a kayak, or just sitting in the sunshine with a good book. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
06/05/22·29m 41s

Fitting In: Stories about belonging

In this week’s episode both our storytellers struggle to find their place. Part 1: Heather Galindo studies her lab mates in hopes of understanding what it means to be a scientist. Part 2: When Rob Ulrich leaves their small town to study science, they keep waiting to feel like they belong somewhere. Heather Galindo has long combined her loves for marine science and storytelling by earning college degrees in both Oceanography and English Literature, plus working at a science communication non-profit organization for five years. While earning her PhD at Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station, she also spent a lot of time alone in the field talking to barnacles. As an Associate Teaching Professor in STEM at the University of Washington Bothell, she currently teaches courses in marine biology, evolution, environmental science, and scientific writing. Other than marine science, her passions include social justice, environmental sustainability, and baked goods. Rob is a scientist at UCLA who studies how living things make their hard parts: cystoliths, coral, shells, etc. Rob is also the Associate Director of the Reclaiming STEM Institute, Co-Founder of Queer & Trans in STEM (fka Queers in STEM), a writing consultant, and a writer. For their research and advocacy, Rob currently holds fellowships with the National Science Foundation and the Center for Diverse Leadership in Science, and they have been invited to speak on the popular podcasts, including Ologies, Talk Nerdy, ExoLore, and at meetings for the American Geophysical Union, the Dr. Lucy Jones Center for Science and Society, the Geologic Society of America, the California Academy of Sciences, and the New York Academy of Sciences. To avoid answering the question “What do you want to do after your Ph.D.?”, they hide in their apartment and cook and bake, or outside by hiking and going to the beach. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
29/04/22·30m 16s

Near Death Experiences: Stories about close calls

It’s not often people have a brush with death, but in this week’s episode both our storytellers are sharing stories about their near misses. Part 1: When Abraham Norfleet’s dad asks him to clean an underwater pump on their family farm, he tries to do it one breath. Part 2: Hana Schank wakes up in a hospital and has no idea how she got there. Abraham Norfleet is a writer, multi-disciplinary artist, and comedian. Back when he was still trying to be respectable he worked as a commercial artist in advertising, often working triple shifts putting the sparkle on a diamond or the steam on a steak under looming deadlines and immense pressure, just to earn a “high salary.” Now he performs internationally* and is a regular on the award-winning web series Goodstein. *did an open mic in Canada once. Hana Schank is an author, designer, and technologist. She is a Senior Advisor for Public Interest Technology at New America, a think tank in Washington DC, where she works to improve how government serves the American people via technology and human centered design. In addition to her research and design work, Schank is the author of three nonfiction books and a Kindle Single. Her most recent book, POWER TO THE PUBLIC, received praise from Pres. Obama, who called it "worth a read for anyone who cares about making change happen." Hana lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. with her husband and two children, where she hopes to write more books that Pres. Obama enjoys. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
22/04/22·36m 44s

Passing the Test: Stories about making the grade

In this week’s episode, both our storytellers are assessed and evaluated in ways they never expected. Part 1: During a visit to her doctor, comedian Angel Yau finds herself answering “always” to every question on the mental health evaluation. Part 2: Scientist Valerie Bentivegna doesn’t know what to do when her PhD supervisors tell her that her thesis isn’t good enough. Angel Yau is a comedian, storyteller, actor, and filmmaker from Queens, New York. She started her comedy career (unintentionally) in high school when she ran for school council. From then she knew how to laugh at herself. She founded "Asian American Film Thing", and "Shoes off, Mouth off." Both events showcases AAPI storytellers and creators. She is also proudly in the musical comedy group, AzN PoP! Angel's festival-winning stop-motion animations are where she explores her childhood in comedic but heartfelt ways dealing with solitude, rejection, and alienation. Angel was recently featured in a BBC short documentary on being a comedian dealing with mental health. If you ask Valerie Bentivegna to describe herself in three words, she would say: tall, nerdy, and clumsy (not in that order). She has a Ph.D. in Life Sciences from the University of Dundee and currently works as a Science and Medical Writer at Cognition Studio in Seattle. She enjoys diving deep into the science, translating the complex into the engaging, and bringing in authenticity and the occasional bit of humor. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
15/04/22·28m 58s

Grief: Stories about dealing with loss

In this week's episode, our storytellers' lives and careers in science are shaped by a great loss in their lives. Part 1: When neuroscientist Macayla Donegan's partner is diagnosed with brain cancer, she's forced to make some tough decisions. Part 2: When Anant Paravatsu struggles in school, his mother comes to his rescue. Macayla Donegan is a recovering academic neuroscientist who just lost their spouse to brain cancer, and lost a career she had worked a long time for at the same time. She has a really cute dog if you need a pick me up after that bummer of a sentence. Anant Paravastu holds bachelor's (MIT, 1998) and Ph.D. degrees (UC Berkeley, 2004) in chemical engineering. His Ph.D. research with Jeffrey Reimer focused on using lasers to control nuclear spin polarization in the semiconductor GaAs. From 2004 to 2007, he worked as a postdoc at the Laboratory of Chemical Physics at NIH with Robert Tycko, where he learned to apply nuclear magnetic resonance to structural biology. Paravastu's early structural biology work focused on amyloid fibrils of the Alzheimer's β-amyloid peptide. He was part of the team and community that showed that amyloid fibril formation is a complex phenomenon: individual peptides exhibit multiple aggregation pathways capable of producing distinct aggregated structures. Between 2008 and 2015, Paravastu worked as an assistant professor at Florida State University and the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory. Presently, his laboratory at Georgia Tech pursues three general lines of inquiry: 1) structural analysis of rationally designed peptides and peptide analogs that assemble into nanostructured materials, 2) nonfibrillar aggregates of the Alzheimer's amyloid-β peptide, and 3) aggregation due to misfolding of proteins driven away from their natural folds. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
08/04/22·42m 7s

On the Spectrum: Stories about being neurodivergent

In this week’s episode, both our storytellers share their experience with the autism spectrum. This episode is in honor of World Autism Awareness Day, April 2, which hopes to further people’s understanding and acceptance of autistic people. Part 1: Neuroscientist B. Blair Braden is confused as to why her neighbour doesn’t pick up on any of her social cues. Part 2: For her entire life Behavioral Neuroscientist Susan Rapley doesn’t understand why she can’t fit in. B. Blair Braden received her doctorate in Behavioral Neuroscience, Psychology from Arizona State University (ASU). She completed her Neuroimaging/Neuropsychologoy Post-Doctoral Fellowship at Barrow Neurological Institute, St. Joseph's Hospital in Phoenix. She is an Assistant Professor of Speech and Hearing Science and Director of the Autism and Brain Aging Laboratory at ASU. Susan has a PhD in Psychological Neuroscience, then applied it to community science education and engagement. Throw in a healthy interest in leadership for social change, mix over maternity leave, then pour into disability equity for the NZ public service. Susan is currently advising in the establishment of NZ's new Ministry of Disabled People. Storytelling turns out to be at the heart of it all. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
01/04/22·28m 17s

Science of Gender: Stories outside the binary

In honor of International Transgender Visibility Day on March 31 this week’s episode celebrates storytellers who are transgender and gender nonconforming. Part 1: Comedian Riley Silverman attempts to use science to change the course of puberty. Part 2: Comedian Ang Buxton explores the differences in gender expectations from the football field to the middle school cafeteria. Riley Silverman is a writer, comedian, and professional geek. An author of Star Wars books, Riley is also a contributing writer for Nerdist and Fandom, the award-winning sci-fi podcast, Bubble, and SYFY's Forgotten Women of Genre limited podcast series. As an actress she appeared in the STARZ series Take My Wife as Regan, in the comedy horror film Too Late, and as the voice of Zelda in the vampire series Port Saga. She has rolled dice on numerous actual-play Dungeons and Dragons and roleplaying shows, including in the role of Braga for the official tabletop adaptation of Rat Queens. Her comedy album Intimate Apparel was a #1 bestseller. She lives in Los Angeles, California, and she is certain that her lightsaber would have a white kyber crystal. Ang Buxton (they/them) is a nonbinary comedian, DJ and teacher from Springfield, MA. Ang has headlined comedy shows all around New England and beyond, and has DJ'd for events like Northampton Pride. Ang is a Teach for America alum and is dedicated to educational equity, and views their work as a comedian as queer activism. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
25/03/22·33m 7s

Diabetes Awareness: Stories about dealing with diabetes

In this week’s episode both our storytellers are sharing their experience with diabetes. More than 34.2 million Americans have diabetes, however, many people don’t know about the disease or that they even have it. This episode is to raise awareness for American Diabetes Association Alert Day, which is on March 22 this year. Part 1: Diabetes runs in Michele Carlo’s family and she’s determined not wind up like them. Part 2: Comedian Gastor Almonte comes to terms with his new diabetes diagnosis. Michele Carlo is a native New Yorker, a Nuyorican, a natural redhead, and remembers when a slice of pizza (and the NYC subway) cost 50 cents. As a storyteller, she has performed across the U.S., including Joe’s Pub, RISK! live shows and podcast, and the MOTH’s Mainstage in NYC; and has appeared on NPR (“Latino USA”) and PBS (“Latino Americans of NY & NJ,” “Stories from the Stage”). She is also the author of the NYC-set memoir “Fish Out of Agua: My life on neither side of the (subway) tracks” and a sometime actor. For more on Michele: Gastor Almonte is a stand-up comedian and storyteller from Brooklyn, NY. He's appeared on Comedy Central's This Is Not Happening, Risk! podcast and the Story Collider Podcast. Timeout magazine named him one of your "New Comedy Obsessions." He's been featured on the New York Comedy Festival, The People's Impov Theater's SoloCom and Cinderblock Comedy Festival. His new album, Immigrant Made, was released in March 2019. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
18/03/22·34m 7s

Pi Day: Stories about a very specific number

In honor of Pi Day on March 14, this week’s episode features two stories about how a particular number has impacted the live’s of the storytellers. Part 1: Math teacher Theodore Chao goes all out for Pi Day at his school. Part 2: Debbie Char learns what a flash point is while cooking a meal for her date. Theodore Chao is an associate professor of mathematics education at The Ohio State University. He who loves using video and storytelling to get kids to share about how they really do math, not what someone told them they need to do. He is a former filmmaker, startup founder, and middle school teacher who now spends his time supporting teachers, writing articles, and using research funds to show that kids hold tremendous math power. Debbie Char is grateful that along with silver hair, aging has offered opportunities to do what she loves. She gets to teach math at St. Louis Community College at Forest Park, sing with an LGBTQ chorus called CHARIS, share her love of books with preschoolers as a Ready Reader, cook suet for birds and meals for people in homeless shelters, bike in Forest Park, tend a tiny garden, explore the city with her husband and rescue mutt, play with her two grandbabies, and go to bed early. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
11/03/22·25m 47s

The Miracle of Life: Stories about birth

In this week’s episode both our storytellers share their experience of that beautiful and magical moment when new life is brought into this world. Part 1: Ed Pritchard inadvertently becomes a leatherback turtle midwife during his first field job. Part 2: Science reporter Ari Daniel's life is influenced by his remarkable grandmother. A native of South Florida, Ed Pritchard has fostered a love for the marine environment since an early age. Ed holds a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science from the University of Florida and a master’s degree in Marine Conservation from the University of Miami. As an Interpretive Programs Lead at Miami-Dade County’s Eco Division, Ed develops and leads immersive citizen engagement programs that promote awareness and foster stewardship of our local environment, with an emphasis placed on our marine and coastal resources. Ed’s ultimate goal is to use effective science communication and education initiatives to inspire the next generation of ocean stewards. Ari Daniel has always been enchanted by the natural world. As a kid, he packed his Wildlife Treasury box full of species cards. As a graduate student, Ari trained gray seal pups (Halichoerus grypus) and helped tag wild killer whales (Orcinus orca). These days, as a science reporter and producer for National Public Radio, NOVA and other outlets, he works with a species he’s better equipped to understand — Homo sapiens. Ari has reported on science topics across five continents and is a co-recipient of the AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Gold Award for audio. In the fifth grade, Ari won the “Most Contagious Smile” award. Find him on Instagram at @mesoplodon_ Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
04/03/22·31m 45s

Work: Stories about science as a job

In this week’s episode both our storytellers give us a glimpse into how they make a living in science. Part 1: After a gruelling residency shift, Natalia Khosla starts questioning how medical students are trained. Part 2: Mateus F. Carneiro doesn’t know what to do when his paycheck still hasn’t show up three months into his new research job. Natalia Khosla, who also goes by Neha, is an artist, dancer, medical student, and radical intersectional feminist whose activism, research, and art is focused on the legacies of colonialism-capitalism and the mental and physical effects of chronic discrimination. In her effort to break down the silos between scientific research and art-entertainment, storyteller feels like the best umbrella unifier. She is passionate about art for radical change telling the stories of the groups whose experiences have been historically portrayed as monolithic and unworthy of exploration. She is interested in stories as spaces and moments that welcome validated rage, platonic intimacy, community building, and radical joy. Dr Mateus F. Carneiro is a particle physicist and science communicator. Currently working as a Postdoctoral Researcher with neutrino experimental detection, at the Brookhaven National laboratory. Neutrinos are the tiniest and most elusive of fundamental particles, around 500 trillion neutrinos from the Sun just passed through your body while you read this sentence. They are everywhere but almost impossible to catch, the work is worth as neutrinos may hold some of the most well kept secrets of nature. When not using neutrinos to understand atomic nuclear structures, Mateus have a passion for science education and communication. Their work is heavily focused on inclusion of underrepresented communities and the use of unorthodox methods of communication. As a queer immigrant scientist in the US, Mateus fights to shed light in the structural problems of academia and to question the stereotypes around who is and who get to be a scientist. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
25/02/22·34m 14s

Unconventional Methods: Stories about finding a different way

Wasn’t it Einstein who said: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”? In this week’s episode both our storytellers aren’t in danger of falling prey to Einstein’s version of insanity; they definitely try something new. Part 1: A neurological condition makes Adam Selbst a prime target for muggers but things get weird when he tries to stop one. Part 2: Cassandra Quave learns there’s more than one way into medicine. Adam Selbst is a writer and graphic designer from Williamsburg, Brooklyn. He hosts the monthly Big Irv’s Storytelling Roadshow and has been performing around NYC for the last 10 years. Adam lives in a bodega art collective with 64 other people and in his spare time he enjoys being slowly poisoned by an ancient, weird mold in his shower and throwing elaborate dinner parties. Cassandra Quave, PhD, is the herbarium curator and an associate professor of dermatology and human health at Emory University. Dr. Quave is a fellow of The Explorers Club, a former president of the Society for Economic Botany, and a recipient of the Emory Williams Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award and Charles B. Heiser, Jr. Mentor Award. She is the cocreator and host of Foodie Pharmacology, a podcast dedicated to exploring the links between food and medicine. A leader in the field of medical botany, she has authored more than 100 scientific publications and has been featured in The New York Times Magazine and BBC Science Focus, as well as on PBS, NPR, and National Geographic TV. Dr. Quave is author of a science memoir The Plant Hunter: A Scientist’s Quest for Nature’s Next Medicines. She lives in Atlanta in a full and energetic house with her husband, four children, dog, mini-pig and many houseplants. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
18/02/22·29m 54s

In & Out of Love With Science: Stories about relationships with STEM

When you’re in love with science, it can be as messy and complex as any type of romantic relationship. In this week’s episode both our storytellers grapple with their complicated feelings for their discipline. Oh also, Happy Valentine’s Day! Part 1: Gregory Gedman wonders if he made the right choice in pursuing a career in research. Part 2: After selling all of her old math books, Gioia De Cari vows to never look back. Gregory Gedman studies the genetics of vocal imitation in songbirds and humans to provide insights on the evolution of spoken language. He received his Ph.D. from The Rockefeller University last year, and is continuing his research as a postdoctoral fellow at UCLA, where he strives to be an inclusive mentor and educator. Greg hopes that by sharing his story he can help empower students to rise above their feelings of imposter syndrome and be successful in academia and beyond.  The multifaceted Gioia De Cari is a transformative artist and "recovering mathematician" who has made significant contributions in theater and classical music through her focus on the synergy between science and the arts. She is creator of the critically-acclaimed award-winning play "Truth Values," which has been embraced as a conversation catalyst on important issues of unconscious bias in science, technology, engineering and mathematics throughout the United States. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
11/02/22·31m 9s

Representation: Stories about diversity in STEM

In this week’s episode, both our storytellers examine the importance of diversity and representation in science – and not just in their research sample. Part 1: While serving on diversity panel, biologist Latasha Wright is asked if representation in STEM matters, prompting her to reflect on her experiences. Part 2: Leah Clyburn's childhood experiences with nature – and with bigotry – come together to inform her career in environmentalism. Latasha Wright, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer, received her Ph.D. from NYU Langone Medical Center in cell and molecular biology. She continued her scientific training at Johns Hopkins University and Weill Cornell Medical Center. She has co-authored numerous publications, presented her work at international and national conferences. BioBus enables Latasha to share her love of science with a new generation of scientists. Latasha spearheaded the creation of the first BioBase community lab, the BioBus internship program, and our Harlem expansion. Everyday that Latasha spends teaching students about science in this transformative environment helps her remember that science is fun. She loves sharing the journey of discovery with students of all ages. Leah Clyburn has been organizing in Missouri for almost 10 years now. Starting in Reproductive Justice through a faithful lens, to School to Prison Pipeline and Statewide Policy initiatives, to now Environmental Justice/ Climate Change. She believes that a call out is an invitation to be called into authentic and transformational relationships in order to obtain Environmental Justice for All. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
04/02/22·46m 39s

Validity: Stories about finding validation

In this week’s episode, both our storytellers are seeking what all scientists are looking for: validity. If you want to check the reliability of this episode though, we suggest listening to it more than once. Part 1: Adrian Demeritte struggles to find a reason to stay in science after he loses his biggest inspiration. Part 2: After years of a chronic disorder make Becky Feldman feel like she’ll be single forever, she finds acceptance from an unusual source. Adrian Demeritte is a fourth year PhD graduate student at Emory University from Nassau, Bahamas. His research focuses on combatting fungal and antibiotic resistance, and he hopes to continue his work to help bolster the chemical industry in the Caribbean one day. In his free time he enjoys writing, hiking and experiencing whatever hidden gems Atlanta's melting pot of cultures has to offer. Becky Feldman is a writer, performer, and podcast host. Originally from New Jersey, she is an alum of the UCB Theatre and the Ruby LA. In addition to being a staff writer on children's animated shows, her TV appearances include "Community", "Broad City", and "Brooklyn 99". This story is an excerpt from her solo storytelling show "Tight: Sexy Stories About Pelvic Pain", which debuted in January 2020. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
28/01/22·30m 21s

Paradigm Shift: Stories about the moment when everything changes

In this week’s episode, both our storytellers experience something that irrevocably alters their lives. Part 1: Carl Zimmer learns he has a lot in common with bats hibernating in an abandoned mine. Part 2: In the midst of a big move, a global pandemic, and social unrest, neuroscientist Aya Osman finds her purpose. Carl Zimmer is a columnist for the New York Times, where he has been covering Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic. He is also the author of 14 books about science, including Life's Edge: The Search For What It Means To Be Alive. Aya Osman is a UK trained neuroscientist currently studying the connection between the gut and the brain (the gut-brain axis) in a range of neuropsychiatric conditions including addiction and autism at Icahn School of Medicine in New York. Before embarking on her PhD and subsequent postdoctoral research Journey, she completed an MSc in Toxicology and worked for the governmental body Public Health England. Dr. Osman is also an international fashion model who harnesses her unique skill set gained from a public facing role as a model as well as extensive scientific training to communicate important scientific findings to the public in a manageable and understandable format across multiple media platforms, with a particular focus on scientific topics relevant to the Black community. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
21/01/22·35m 28s

BUGS: Stories about creepy crawlies

In this week’s episode, both of our storytellers had to deal with some minibeasts, AKA insects, and surprisingly neither of them moved or burned the whole house down to vanquish them. (Sorry, spoilers!) Part 1: While doing field work in the Belize jungle, Rachel Mann Smith learns how to handle an Alien-style bug. Part 2: A case of lice makes Rachel Mans McKenny question her competence as a mother. Rachel Mann Smith is a doctor, epidemiologist, poet and parent trying to make it all work in the middle of the chaos. A Californian by nature and birth, she thinks Atlanta is both too hot and too cold, but she has learned to love the fall foliage. Rachel Mans McKenny is a writer and mom from the Midwest. Her work has been published in The New York Times, Washington Post, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, and other outlets, and her debut novel, The Butterfly Effect, is the 2022 All- Iowa Reads selection (and is very buggy). You can find her on twitter @rmmckenny. A version of her story appeared in the Washington Post in 2020: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
14/01/22·28m 58s

Going Out: Stories about what makes the world scary

This week, both of our storytellers are sharing stories about something that is pretty relatable at the moment — the challenges of leaving the house. Part 1: As she goes blind due to a progressive eye disease, M. Leona Godin must learn how to navigate the world with a cane. Part 2: A frightening encounter with police that leaves teenage Roque Rodriguez traumatized. M. Leona Godin is a writer, performer, educator, and the author of There Plant Eyes: A Personal and Cultural history of Blindness (Pantheon, 2021). Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Electric Literature, Playboy, O Magazine, Catapult, and other print and online publications. She produced two plays: “The Star of Happiness” about Helen Keller’s time performing in vaudeville, and “The Spectator and the Blind Man,” about the invention of braille. Godin holds a PhD in English, and besides her many years teaching literature and humanities courses at NYU, she has lectured on art, accessibility, technology, and disability at such places as Tandon School of Engineering, Rice University, Baylor College of Medicine, and the American Printing House for the Blind. Her online magazine exploring the arts and sciences of smell and taste, Aromatica Poetica, publishes writing and art from around the world. Roque (Pronounced: ROW-Keh), the son of Dominican-American immigrants is a 500-hour trained Yoga teacher. Roque is a proud co-founder of Suryaside Yoga in Queens, NY. When he’s not teaching the Suryaside community and mentoring his new teacher trainees, he is dedicated to spreading love and yoga to underserved and under-resourced communities through programs and partnerships such as, Liberation Prison Yoga which provides yoga and meditation to incarcerated people and his I Can Breathe Yoga program which offers teacher training scholarships to BIPOCs who want to bring yoga to their community. He is an advocate for prison abolition and community organizing. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
07/01/22·34m 54s

A Magical Night: Stories about moments when science was magic

In this week’s episode, both of our storytellers experience a magical night that changes everything. Here’s hoping that we all have a similarly magical night tonight, on New Year’s Eve! Part 1: Growing up in Pakistan, Salman Hameed falls in love with the mysteries of the universe when he stumbles upon Carl Sagan’s Cosmos. Part 2: As Zuri Sullivan pursues her dream of becoming an immunologist at Harvard, she begins to worry that she’s being “weeded out.” Salman Hameed is Charles Taylor Chair and Associate Professor of Integrated Science and Humanities at Hampshire College, Amherst, MA. He holds a Ph.D. in astronomy from New Mexico State University at Las Cruces and a B.S. in physics and astronomy from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. His research interests have now moved in a sociological direction, and today his primary research focuses on understanding the reception of science in Muslim societies and how Muslims view the relationship between science & religion. He is also actively engaged in science communication and is the founder and CEO of Kainaat Studios that produces astronomy content in Urdu for audience in Pakistan. He has a YouTube channel for Urdu videos and a weekly astronomy segment in English for a radio station in Western Massachusetts. His classes focus on issues related to science, religion & society, and his favorite class is titled, “Aliens: Close Encounters of a Multidisciplinary Kind”. Zuri Sullivan is an immunologist and a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Harvard University, where she studies how the immune system influences animal behavior. She hails from the DMV (DC, Maryland, and Virginia) and is fascinated by how the immune system helps animals adapt to different environments. Outside the lab, Zuri is passionate about increasing access to STEM careers for folks of all genders and ethnic backgrounds and sharing her science with the public. She loves spin class, sparkling rosé, and bragging about the fact that she shares a birthday with Beyoncé. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
31/12/21·33m 37s

A Little Help: Stories about needing support

In this week’s episode, both of our storytellers are looking for a little help. Part 1: Jitesh Jaggi keeps his struggle with trichotillomania a secret, until one day his wife catches him in the act. Part 2: When Devan Sandiford finally decides to seek therapy, he finds it more difficult than expected. Jitesh Jaggi is a recent immigrant from India, currently living in Chicago. He ended his career in Finance one day when he lost all his data that he forgot to save on an Excel sheet, and realized that he just didn't care. That tipping point led to him becoming a writer and he is currently working on a book of essays. He is a two-time Moth StorySlam winner and a producer for the Story Collider. He loves writing bios because he can refer to himself in the third person. Jitesh can be easily bribed with books and chocolates. Devan Sandiford is the Program Manager of Community Engagement at The Moth. Born and raised in a small town in Southern California, Devan spent his childhood and young adult years keeping his personal stories hidden from almost everyone. Then feeling a voice within him longing to be heard, he moved to Brooklyn, New York to push himself out of his comfort zone and find his voice. Devan is now a published writer and award-winning storyteller. His stories have been featured in the Washington Post, The Moth Podcast, Writing Class Radio, Speak Up Storytelling, The Womanity Project, and many other outlets. Devan is also the founder of Unreeling Storytelling—a Brooklyn-based organization dedicated to finding people who are quietly waiting to speak and yet urgently needing to be heard. To experience more of Devan’s unfolding collection of stories visit his website at and keep an eye out for his upcoming memoir—currently titled—Human, Like You. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
24/12/21·28m 29s

Respect: Stories about demanding to be seen

This week, we present two stories about respect in science — how we get it and how we keep it. Part 1: Meisa Salaita’s brand-new PhD in chemistry isn’t much help as she prepares to teach ninth-grade physics. Part 2: Early in her career, astronomer Jackie Faherty’s work is stunned when a senior researcher eviscerates her work at a conference. Meisa Salaita has made it her mission to help others see and appreciate the beauty of science by making it a part of everyday cultural experiences. Through her work founding and directing the non-profit Science ATL, she spends her days bringing people together through the wonder of science by creating public science events like the Atlanta Science Festival. Meisa also writes, has produced radio stories, and hosted TV shows — all in the name of science. In addition to her work with Science ATL, Meisa is a producer for The Story Collider, a science storytelling podcast. Meisa has a Ph.D. in chemistry from Northwestern, and has been named by the Atlanta Business Chronicle as one of their "Women Who Mean Business" and by Atlanta Magazine as one of their "Women Making a Mark". Jackie Faherty is a senior scientist and senior education manager at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH). Her research group entitled “Brown Dwarfs in New York City (BDNYC)” is at the forefront of low mass star, brown dwarf and giant exoplanet characterization studies. She is also co-founder of the successful citizen science project called “Backyard Worlds: Planet 9” which has involved over 150,000 volunteers in searches for previously missed cold components of the nearby solar neighborhood. Dr. Faherty has over 100 peer-reviewed papers in Astrophysical journals and has won numerous awards or grants from private and national foundations such as NASA and the NSF. She is also a regular science communicator having consulted on stories that ran in the NY Times, the Wall Street journal, NPR, and on national television. In her position at AMNH, Faherty strives to create more opportunities for underrepresented minorities to enter STEM through unique outreach endeavors.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
17/12/21·31m 9s

Human Reproduction: Stories about how we learn about sex

In this week’s episode, we share two stories about adventures in sex education. Part 1: Kate Willet is frustrated by the gaps of information in her abstinence-based sex ed class. Part 2: Sex ed instructor Charlie Blake fields an unexpected question from a student. Kate Willett is a comedian, actress, and writer whose raunchy feminist storytelling is both smart and relatable. Her 15 minute special premiered on Netflix’s “Comedy Lineup” in August 2018. She was recently a correspondent for the JIM JEFFERIES SHOW at Politicon 2017. She’s been featured on Viceland’s FLOPHOUSE and her appearance on Comedy Central’s THIS IS NOT HAPPENING was on Splitsider’s list of “2016’s Best Late Night Standup Sets.” In the past, she toured with Margaret Cho nationally and internationally and has featured with comedians like Kyle Kinane, Jen Kirkman, Ali Wong, Dana Gould, and Greg Behrendt. She has appeared in the Just for Laughs Montreal Comedy Festival, Limestone Comedy Festival, High Plains, Big Sky Festival, Bridgetown Comedy Festival, San Francisco Sketchfest (5 years in a row), and most recently Laughing Skull. Earlier this year she was a “Comic to Watch” at the LA RIOT festival. Dr. Charlie Blake is an interdisciplinary scientist currently teaching at Webster University and Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville. Their research has focused on a variety of topics from the behavioral ecology of fish, to environmental justice and community-based research through citizen science. They are also an artist, a singer and banjolele player, and founder of a nonprofit working on transgender housing instability. Charlie is also a producer of Story Collider St. Louis. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
10/12/21·30m 0s

Looking the Part: Stories about what a scientist looks like

This week we present two stories of people who struggled fitting in. Part 1: After switching majors to anthropology, Edith Gonzalez struggles to dress like an archaeologist. Part 2: At seven years old, Brianna A. Baker gets confronted with some uncomfortable realities of being the only Black girl in her class. Edith Gonzalez is an Assistant Professor of Archaeology at University of Buffalo, studying bio-prospecting and experimental agriculture in the 18th-century, English-speaking Caribbean. She, like many archaeologists, has a slight obsession with LotR, loves 70's disco-dancing, is committed to seeing LeVar Burton become the permanent host of Jeopardy! Brianna A. Baker (she/her/hers) is a second-year doctoral student in the Counseling Psychology Ph.D. program at Columbia University. Born and raised in North Carolina, she graduated from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with an undergraduate degree in Psychology and African American Community Health and Resilience. Currently, she is a Health Equity Strategist at Takeda Pharmaceuticals where she uses her expertise to promote community engagement and diversify clinical research. Her research interests include sociopolitical determinants of mental health, positive Black youth development, and ameliorating sociohistorical racial trauma through community-focused program development.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
03/12/21·38m 36s

Becoming a Scientist: Stories about what it means to be a scientist

This week, we present two stories about the path to becoming a scientist and what makes a scientist a scientist. Part 1: Andrea Jones-Rooy quits her job as a scientist in order to become a scientist. Part 2: While studying flying foxes in Indonesia, Susan Tsang gets caught in a rainstorm that changes her relationship to field work. Andrea Jones-Rooy is a scientist, comedian, and circus performer. She's a professor of data science at NYU, where she also directs their undergraduate program in data science. When she's not doing that, she's regaling audiences around NYC, the world, and the Internet with her Opinions in the form of standup comedy. When she's not doing either of those things, she's hanging from some kind of aerial apparatus (usually, but not exclusively, a trapeze) and/or holding something that is on fire. When she's not doing ANY of those things, she's either hosting her podcast Majoring in Everything, losing to her mother on Words with Friends, or eating Dr. Cow's raw vegan nut cheese. Dr. Susan Tsang works as a private consultant through her company Biodiversitas Global LLC, and continues to conduct research through her Research Associate affiliations with the American Museum of Natural History and the National Museum of the Philippines. She provides subject matter expertise on and creates programs and activities to address illegal wildlife trade, disease ecology, and other global sustainable development challenges. As a researcher, her primary interest is in the evolution and biogeography of Southeast Asian flying foxes, the world's largest bats, which has led her to working with some of the most threatened yet poorly known bat species in the world. Along with her Southeast Asian colleagues, she has carried out conservation work both at the community and transnational levels, with some of her ongoing projects in Indonesia focused on local empowerment for reducing bat hunting. She also serves on the steering committee of the Southeast Asian Bat Conservation Research Unit and the Global Union of Bat Diversity Networks to address larger capacity building and assessment/policy needs and has been appointed as a member of the IUCN Bat Specialist Group and the Global Bat Taxonomy Working Group. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
26/11/21·29m 0s

Not Alone: Stories from CZI's Rare As One Project

This week, both of our storytellers are navigating rare disease diagnoses and the feelings of fear, uncertainty, and loneliness that can often come along with them. This episode was produced in partnership with the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’s Rare As One Project, which brings together rare disease patient advocates from all over the world, uniting them in their quest for cures and working to lift up their efforts by offering new tools, grants programs, and capacity-building support and training. (For more stories like these, you can also check out the previous episode The Story Collider produced with Rare As One in 2019, as well as our Rare Disease playlist.) Part 1: After her child is finally diagnosed with Hermansky-Pudlak Syndome, Donna Appell set off on a mission to make sure other parents have the information she didn’t. Part 2: Feeling unmoored after she’s diagnosed with LFS, Jenn Perry attends a patient conference that changes her life. Donna Appell is the mother of two children and her oldest child has Hermansky-Pudlak Syndrome (HPS). Feeling desperate in her attempts to find help, she founded The HPS Network in 1992. Ms. Appell was appointed to the American Thoracic Society’s (ATS) Public Advisory Roundtable and has received The ATS Public Service Award and the “Presidential Commendation”. For her work in Puerto Rico, she received the inaugural recognition from the ATS, “Innovations in Health Equality Award”. She was employed for 22 years as a RN in a Critical Care Open Heart ICU. In 2013, Appell and her daughter were chosen as one of 30 Heroes to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Orphan Drug Act by the Office of Orphan Product Development at the FDA and the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). In 2019, Appell was honored to be awarded a Rare Impact Award from NORD. Jenn Perry is the President of the Li-Fraumeni Syndrome Association. She is a wife and mom of 2 girls ages 28 and 18. As a LFS patient myself Jenn is relentless in the supporting the LFS community in multiple ways. Jenn loves her horse, and competition partner, Maximus. In addition to riding, she has worked as a business consultant in the QSR industry, and she currently co-owns a Gymnastic & sports facility. Gymnastic was her first love, and she enjoy judging competitive gym at all levels. It is her honor to have the opportunity to speak in front of everyone today, as bringing awareness to this syndrome is so needed, in order to find the cure. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
19/11/21·36m 57s

Inspiring: Stories about telling #MyScienceStory

Please note: this episode’s stories contain discussion of suicide and mental illness. This week, we present two stories about the people in our lives who inspired us not only to love science, but to find our place and reach our full potential within it. With this episode, we also kick off our end-of-year fundraising campaign! Find out more here. If there’s someone who inspired your science story, you can honor them with a donation to The Story Collider in their name. Part 1: On her first day as a music therapist, Jude Treder-Wolff realizes the job isn’t what she expected. Part 2: After witnessing tragedy as a child, Mani-Jade Garcia stops speaking. Jude Treder-Wolff has been featured on PBS Stories From The Stage, RISK! live show and podcast, Mortified, Generation Women, Mistakes Were Made, Now You’re Talking, The Armando Diaz Experience at The Magnet Theater, StoryFest at The Peoples Improv Theater, The Liar Show, Story Exchange, and many others in the New York City area, Story District in Washington, DC, and Ex Fabula in Milwaukee, WI. She believes in the power of story to build community and is host/creator of (mostly) TRUE THINGS, a game wrapped in a storytelling show, which was the first Long Island-based storytelling show. It was performed monthly at The Performing Arts Studio in Port Jefferson from 2014 until the shutdown – including a teen edition - and expanded to include shows at Industry in Huntington, NY and The Dolphin Bookshop in Port Washington. From 2016-2018 co-facilitated a teen storytelling program for rural teens in southeast Iowa, is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Music Therapist, and improviser. Mani-Jade Garcia, or MJ (they/them) is a Black-Indigenous-Latinx two-spirit abolitionist, science communicator, artist, and certified holistic yoga teacher exploring the relationship between indigenous healing practices and mental health. Mani-Jade works as an educator for the Racial Trauma Center at Genesee Valley Psychology and as a community-based researcher/evaluator with Social Insights Research). Mani-Jade is currently completing their doctorate in Clinical Psychology. They are co-founder of Black In Mental Health (Twitter/IG: @BlackInMH), Black In Data (Twitter: @BlkInData) and founder/director of Refuge Workgroup (Twitter: @RefugeWorkgroup) a movement dedicated to bringing safety, accountability, and healing to academic and professional spaces. Contact Mani-Jade at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
12/11/21·35m 1s

Apprentices: Stories about mentors who shaped us

In this week's stories, both of our storytellers are apprentices to mentors who have profound impacts on how they see the world, though in very different ways. Part 1: Fresh out of college, Stephanie Keep is hired to be the assistant to legendary evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould. Part 2: At age fourteen, Fabrizzio Subia begins assisting a local dentist in treating undocumented patients. Stephanie Keep was trained as a paleobiologist at Wellesley College and Harvard University. Opting to leave research behind, she now resides comfortably in the center of a Venn diagram that includes science education, academia, and communication. She is a co-founder of a BiteScis, a spin-off organization of ComSciCon that brings together educators and researchers to develop misconception-focused lesson plans for high school students that are rooted in current research. Outside of BiteScis, Stephanie works on state-level science assessments and does work for nonprofit groups that produce free high-quality stuff for teachers. This year, she also finally crossed off the last item on her science education to-do list and started teaching science as part of the Science for Scientists program. Stephanie loves farm animals, hates olives, can’t spell the word “resources,” and will do pretty much anything to get references to whales, cephalopods, and xenarthrans into the stuff she writes. Fabrizzio Subia is a Chicago based multidisciplinary artist. An Ecuadorian immigrant, his work touches on themes of migration, family, and identity through the mediums of storytelling, poetry, collaborative and individual performance, and visual art. He earned his BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2020, and has exhibited work across Chicago, including 6018 North Gallery and SAIC's SITE Galleries. He is a member of Chicago's P.O. Box Collective, and co-founder of Tortas y Talento Open Mic. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
05/11/21·29m 59s

What Now?: Stories about coping after loss

This week we present two stories of people who had to figure out how to continue life after loss. Part 1: Lawrence Green wakes up in a hospital room to find that he’s sustained devastating injuries in a motorcycle accident. Part 2: After tragedy strikes her family, Camille Adams Jones must find a way to confront her own trauma. Lawrence Green joined the United States Army as a Wheeled Vehicle Mechanic in 2008. During his time served, he was stationed in South Korea, then Fort Hood, TX and eventually deployed to Iraq for about a year before being honorably discharged in 2012. Post-service, Lawrence used his mechanic experience to work as a Heavy Equipment Technician before his life changed forever on March 29, 2015. Determined to find a renewed purpose after his injuries, he connected with Adaptive Training Foundation while still very atrophied and with a wound vac on his left limb. He began participating in a few classes over a 2-year period of time and enjoyed it so much he eventually became a volunteer trainer at ATF. Lawrence is now pursuing his personal training certification to continue his love of fitness. Through ATF, he fell in love with Para Ice Hockey and joined the Dallas Stars Sled Hockey Team. He has big goals set for himself and hopes to make the Paralympic team in 2022. Dr. Camille Adams Jones, LMSW, CEAP, PMP, is a recognized psychotherapist in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Dr. Jones earned her doctoral degree from the University of Southern California where she focused on family dynamics and trends with a special emphasis on Divorce Trauma in school aged youth. This author and organizational behavior scientist oversees a flagship Federal Occupational Health and Work/life balance program where she has become a standout corporate cultural transformation advisor and advocate for wellness in the workplace via Employee Assistance Programming. Dr. Jones is also a celebrated private practitioner for couples, hosting relationship restoration retreats and family rebuilding symposiums. Lastly, she works as a Parent Coordinator and Custody Evaluator in partnership with Washington, DC and the state of Maryland court systems. In her free time she is a mother of three of the best modes of inspiration a person can ask for. Together with her husband Jerome, the two launched a real estate investment firm that has flourished since its inception in 2017. Most recently Dr. Jones has added the title of farmer to her credentials, purchasing over 88 acres of farmland to build a wellness retreat with specific intent of exposing health, care, and restoration to all.   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
29/10/21·41m 35s

Hazards: Stories about encountering danger in the field

Part 1: In his early twenties, Jonathan Feakins goes above and beyond for his job as a West Nile virus mosquito technician Part 2: While working as a coral reef biologist in Panama in 1989, Nancy Knowlton and her young daughter are taken into the custody of the Panamanian military when the U.S. invades. Jonathan Feakins is just some nerd who has tried to spend his life wandering strange places, reading obscure books, doing weird science, petting adorable animals, fighting the good fight, and having wonderful friends. He somehow has a species of earthworm named after him, and once got kicked out of an all-you-can-eat restaurant (for eating all he could eat). He first learned the power of a good story from his grandmother, as she regaled him with tales about her childhood pet crocodile (whose name was Baby), or about the time she (accidentally) cleared out a biker bar with a Swazi bible student named Enoch. You can learn more about his questionable life choices at Nancy Knowlton has been a scientist with the Smithsonian since 1984 and is now a scientist emerita, first in Panama and most recently at the National Museum of Natural History in DC. She’s also been a professor at Yale and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, where she founded the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation. Her work on coral reefs has taken her literally around the world, and she has spent so much time underwater that she long ago lost count of the hours. She has been a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the author of Citizens of the Sea, and was the Editor-in-Chief of the Ocean Portal website. Despite the glut of bad news these days, you can find her @seacitizens talking about #OceanOptimism and #EarthOptimism. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
22/10/21·28m 25s

Beauty of Science: Stories from Grow by Ginkgo

Beauty is often considered a superficial quality, but it has tremendous power over us. This week’s episode, produced in partnership with Grow by Ginkgo, features two stories adapted from Grow's 2020 print issue on Beauty. To read more, head over to Part 1: When Sudeep Agarwala becomes a synthetic biologist, he rediscovers a tradition from his childhood. Part 2: Jasmina Aganovic’s passion for science leads her to an unexpected place. Sudeep Agarwala is a yeast geneticist and synthetic biologist at Ginkgo Bioworks. His writing about biology has appeared in the Washington Post and Grow Magazine. Jasmina Aganovic is a cosmetics industry professional passionate about translating innovation into meaningful brands that have an opportunity to connect with a broader audience. Her previous company, Mother Dirt, included a line of products focused on the skin microbiome. Now, Jasmina is working with the powerful Ginkgo Foundry to see what we can learn from biology and can harness through microbes for use in the personal care industry. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
15/10/21·28m 44s

Stories of COVID-19: Uncertain Future

This week, we conclude our final Stories of COVID-19 series with two stories about the lasting impacts of the pandemic. Both of these stories ask: Where do we go from here? Part 1: Months after Howard Lieberman contracts COVID-19 on a business trip in March 2020, he continues to suffer from symptoms of the virus. Part 2: When Monica Hickson drops off her fiancé, who has been suffering from shortness of breath, at the hospital, she doesn’t know it’s the last time she’ll see him alive. Nationally known storyteller Howard Lieberman moved from Brooklyn to bucolic but shockingly Republican Stillwater MN in 1990. His jaded yet surprisingly tender performance style has made him a favorite on the national and, thanks to Zoom, global storytelling scene. Howard is a member of the Board of Directors of the National Storytelling Network. Monica Hickson is a trainer, higher education educator, an instructional designer, and a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion facilitator with more than 20 years experience. She works for the University of Michigan as an instructional designer and DEI educator. She is a proud graduate of both Wayne State University as well as Central Michigan University where she obtained both a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and a Master’s Degree in Education. Monica loved to dance, listen to music, travel the Caribbean, and watch television until, that is, her fiancé died of Covid-19 in is her story. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
08/10/21·30m 54s

Stories of COVID-19: Balance

This week, we bring you two stories about the struggle to find balance during the COVID-19 pandemic, whether it’s as a scientist, a mother, or all of the above. Part 1: Psychiatrist Xiaosi Gu studies COVID-19’s impact on mental health, just as her own begins to deteriorate. Part 2: Stacey Bader Curry’s family and career are thriving — until the pandemic throws it all into chaos. Dr. Xiaosi Gu is one of the foremost researchers in the area of computational psychiatry. Her research examines the neural and computational mechanisms underlying human beliefs, decision making, and social interaction in both health and disease, through a synthesis of neuroscience, cognitive science, and behavioral economics approaches. After receiving a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Economics from Peking University in Beijing, Dr. Gu moved to New York City to pursue a Ph.D. in Neuroscience at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Dr. Gu then completed her postdoctoral training in computational psychiatry at Virginia Tech and the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, University College London (UCL). During her time in London, she founded the world’s first computational psychiatry course at UCL. Before re-joining Mount Sinai, Dr. Gu held faculty positions at the University of Texas, Dallas and UT Southwestern Medical Center. She is currently an Assistant Professor in Psychiatry and Neuroscience, and a Principal Investigator at the Friedman Brain Institute and the Addiction Institute at Mount Sinai. Stacey Bader Curry is a writer and storyteller who lives in Maine. She is an 8-time Moth Slam winner, including a Grand Slam, and has performed on PBS' Stories From the Stage, and many podcasts. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
01/10/21·32m 46s

Stories of COVID-19: Pandemic Love Stories

In our fourth installment of this series, love conquers all, even the obstacles presented by COVID-19. Part 1: Having planned to tie the knot in April 2020, Jared Waters finds himself separated from his fiancée by COVID lockdown instead. Part 2: The pandemic prompts Jamie Brickhouse and his partner of thirty years to consider getting married for the first time. Jared Waters is Stand-up Comedian residing in New York City. He hails from Brunssum, The Netherlands. Jared gained his stand up legs in Tampa, Florida. His hard work and consistency with the ability to work clean and edgy has led him to be one of the most impressive Up and Coming comedians in the New York. When Jared is in between jokes, the future of this great nation is residing on his shoulders as Kindergarten teacher and host of the Podcast “One Man, One Tree, and a Hill” Called “a natural raconteur” by the Washington Post, Jamie Brickhouse is the New York Times published author of Dangerous When Wet: A Memoir of Booze, Sex, and My Mother, and he’s appeared on PBS-TV’s Stories from the Stage, The Moth Podcast, Risk! Podcast, Story Collider Podcast, and recorded voice-overs for the legendary cartoon Beavis and Butthead. He is a four-time Moth StorySLAM champion, National Storytelling Network Grand Slam winner, and his daily #storiesinheels TikTok videos have over two million views. Jamie tours two award-winning solo shows, Dangerous When Wet, and I Favor My Daddy. His new show, Stories in Heels: Tall Tales of the Women Who Changed My Life debuts at the Gotham Storytelling Festival in New York City, November, 2021. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
24/09/21·30m 39s

Stories of COVID-19: Under the Same Roof

This week, we bring you two stories about negotiating life under the same roof during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Part 1: When Gail Thomas moves in with her family during the pandemic, tensions brew between sisters. Part 2: The pandemic brings Wendy Bredhold and her ex-husband back together under the same roof for Thanksgiving. Gail is a writer/actor/storytelling coach and lawyer living in NYC. Her voiceover credits include John Cameron Mitchell’s Anthem: Homunculus, Angelo Rules, David Letterman, and Beavis and Butthead. Her short comedy, My BFF won audience favorite at New Filmmakers. As a speechwriter for over 30-world class events including the Tribeca Film Festival, her words have been uttered by Oscar winners and fancy people with great clothes. But none of that matters now, we’re in a pandemic. Gail is out walking her dog. Wendy Bredhold works for climate and environmental justice representing the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign in Indiana and Kentucky. She lives in Evansville, Indiana with her daughter Beatrice Rose and cats, Pearl and Pinky. She loves dancing to live music, reading, writing and rabble-rousing. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
17/09/21·30m 9s

Stories of COVID-19: Fear

This week, in our final Stories of COVID-19 series, we bring you stories about managing the fear the pandemic introduced into our lives. Part 1: A disagreement about COVID-19 precautions drives a wedge between Archy Jamjun and his partner. Part 2: Julie Grace Immink tries to hide her fear from her young son when her husband is hospitalized for COVID-19. Archy Jamjun is the curator of Outspoken LGBTQ Stories at Sidetrack. He is a two time winner of The Moth Grand Slam, a guncle, and has been published by BarrelHouse and The Coachella Review. Julie Grace Immink is a photojournalist based in Milwaukee. She works on documentary projects about the human condition. Her working-class upbringing has inspired her work to focus on the socio-economic landscape of subcultures and communities. You can also find her kayaking the wilds of the Midwest or talking to strangers (the stranger the better). See her work at: or on Instagram @FORMandGROOVE Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
10/09/21·28m 7s

Stories of COVID-19: Before and After

This week, we introduce our third and final Stories of COVID-19 series, which will be airing for six weeks. We’ve decided to begin this series in the same way that we started our original Stories of COVID-19 series back in November 2020 — with New York City nurse Harvey Katz. Part 1: Harvey, a brand-new nurse, is thrust into the hectic environment of a Brooklyn ICU at the onset of the pandemic. Part 2: In spring 2021, New York City nurse Harvey Katz begins to reckon with the trauma he’s experienced in the past year. This story originally aired in November 2020, in the debut episode of our first Stories of COVID-19 series. Harvey Katz is a nurse living and working in Brooklyn, NY and one of the hosts and creators of Take Two Storytelling - a monthly storytelling show and podcast. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
03/09/21·33m 37s

Human Nature: Roots

For the final episode of our Human Nature series, we, appropriately, go back to our roots. Part 1: After a dangerous incident, Kalā Holiday begins to question his work as a tour guide in his ancestral land of Hawai’i. Part 2: Jeremy Richardson must reconcile his roots in coal country with his identity as a climate scientist. Kalā Holiday is a lineal descendant of the original native inhabitants and caretakers of Pu'uhonua o Honaunau, a temple that was (and still is) a place of refuge. He actively participates in ceremonies and rituals involving the ancient religious sites of his ancestors in hopes of maintaining and preserving the practice for future generations. As a guide, Kalā has shared his home and heritage with hundreds of visitors from around the world using tourism as a platform to demonstrate to outsiders that his home is far more than just pineapples, Elvis Presley, and coconut bras. Hailing from a third-generation coal mining family in West Virginia, and with more than ten years of experience in climate and energy issues, Jeremy Richardson focuses on federal climate and energy policy development, specializing in the economics of energy—particularly coal and nuclear power—and writes and speaks passionately about the need for a just transition for the coalfields. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
27/08/21·30m 30s

Human Nature: Stories about Humility

In this week’s installment of Human Nature, our storytellers find humility in the natural world. Part 1: After working in the Everglades, ecologist Stephen Smith expects his new gig in Cape Cod to be a piece of cake until one winter day in the sand dunes. Part 2: Henrique Bravo plans to travel the world in search of 30 endangered species, but after he departs on his journey, he begins to wonder if he has bit off more than he can chew. Stephen Smith is a Plant Ecologist at the Cape Cod National Seashore, with expertise in plant physiology and plant community ecology. Stephen received a B.S. degree from Florida State University and a M.S and Ph.D. from the University of Miami. After spending 5 years working on the restoration of the Florida Everglades, he assumed his current position with the National Park Service in 2002. Stephen's current activities are focused on understanding the dynamics of spatial and temporal variability within plant communities in all the different ecosystems within the Seashore. Henrique Bravo is a PhD student from Portugal based in the Netherlands, studying the symbiotic relationship between tiny Caribbean (gall) crabs and corals. In his spare time he likes to be in the water, on a squash/tennis court, reading a good book that might change his life, looking for endangered species, or traveling a bit. He is currently collating the adventures from his Pan-American trip into a book. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
20/08/21·31m 9s

Human Nature: Stories of Resilience

In this week’s installment of our Human Nature series, two storytellers find resilience on the high seas. Part 1: Tragedy strikes suddenly while Lindsay Cooper is in the field studying right whales. Part 2: Rachel Cassandra dreams of a life on the sea, but her captain makes unwelcome advances. Lindsay Cooper is an operations professional who started out as a whale biologist. She spent years following endangered North Atlantic right whales up and down the U.S. east coast. Now she takes her three kids to visit the Smithsonian’s Sant Ocean Hall in DC, where they can view one of her photographs in the right whale exhibit. She will always have a deep passion for conservation science and science outreach. Lindsay loves working behind the scenes to help Story Collider manage day -to-day operations. Besides hanging out with her kids, Lindsay takes time to volunteer for the local swim team and elementary school PTA. She loves coffee, pajamas, and dancing, and once a year you can find her performing with the famous Olney, MD Hip Hop Mamas. Rachel Cassandra is a journalist and essayist, working in print and radio. She lives with her snake, Squeeze, in Oakland, California. You can find her work at This story was adapted from a piece that Rachel wrote for Narratively, here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
13/08/21·36m 6s

Human Nature: Stories about Hope

This week, our Human Nature series continues with stories of hope — something that can sometimes be hard to find when it comes to our relationship with the planet. Part 1: A U.S. customs agent asks Canadian climate scientist Simon Donner an unexpected question. Part 2: As a child, Victoria Gee becomes determined to rescue the wildlife in her neighborhood. Simon Donner is an interdisciplinary climate scientist and professor in the Department of Geography at the University of British Columbia, where he teaches and conducts research at the intersection of climate change science and policy. He is also the director of the UBC Ocean Leaders program, and holds appointments in UBC’s Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries and UBC's Atmospheric Sciences Program. He is currently a lead author on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Sixth Assessment Report and a member of Canadian government's Net-Zero Advisory Body. As a nature enthusiast, Victoria studied Environmental Biology for her undergraduate degree at the University of Guelph. For the past 7 years Victoria has worked at the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto where she fosters curiosity within visitors and develops her science communication skills. As a digital education producer, Victoria recently worked for The Land Between charity creating online curriculum for students about Ontario turtles and the importance of their habitats. Victoria will be going back to school this year to complete a post-graduate program in Environmental Visual Communication to continue her passion for sharing nature through media with others. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
06/08/21·32m 36s

Human Nature: Stories about Perspective

This week, as our Human Nature series continues, we’re sharing two stories from scientists whose experiences in the field changed their perspectives. Part 1: As a young ecologist in Brazil's Mata Atlantica rainforest, Lauren Eckert struggles to find the monkeys she’s looking for. Part 2: As a marine biologist, Dyhia Belhabib was trained to view fishers as predators, but then she makes an unexpected connection at the port of Bejaia. Lauren Eckert is a settler and Conservation Scientist currently based in Powell River, BC (Tla'amin and Coast Salish territory). She is a Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Victoria, a Raincoast Conservation Fellow, Vanier Scholar, National Geographic Explorer, peanut butter aficionada, and adventure enthusiast. Dr. Dyhia Belhabib is a Principal Investigator of Fisheries at Ecotrust Canada, Vancouver, and the Founder of Her work integrates notions of adjacency, fairness, and accountability relating to the global oceans and fisheries, databases on sea crimes and their impacts on small-scale communities in the world, and engagement with stakeholders to implement research findings in policy. She is a two times TEDxer, and is the Chief Scientific Officer at Shackleton Research Trusts meant to empower under-represented students of Science. Mobilizing interdisciplinary research, she combines a complexion of expertise and disciplines, and ‘hard data’ with nuanced understanding of the economic and political landscapes of the countries she works on. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
30/07/21·31m 43s

Human Nature: Courage

In this week’s installation of our Human Nature series, we’re sharing stories about times the natural world forces us to draw on our courage. Part 1: Dorothy Tovar faces her fear of nature when she embarks on a month-long safari trip in Botswana's Okavango Delta. Part 2: Caving with her research team in South Africa's Cradle of Humankind, Nompumelelo Hlophe finds herself in a tight spot. Dorothy Tovar is a Ph.D. Candidate studying Microbiology and Immunology at Stanford University. Her research investigates antiviral immune responses in bats to understand their remarkable ability to host viruses that are deadly to humans, like Ebola, without getting sick themselves. Dorothy is also an Ambassador for the American Association for the Advancement of Science IF/THEN Initiative. This role has given her a national platform to inspire girls and underrepresented minorities in STEM. Through IF/THEN Dorothy has worked with CBS, The United Nations Foundation, Seventeen Magazine, Girl Scouts of the USA, and Reddit. Nompumelelo Hlophe is a third-year biological anthropology PhD student at Texas A&M University. She was born in South Africa and moved to the U.S. in August 2016 to pursue her master’s at Georgia Southern University. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Information Science degree in 2015 and also became an exploration technician/caver, looking for new fossil sites in the Cradle of Humankind in South Africa. After completing her PhD studies, Nompumelelo plans to go into academia or research and hopefully have an opportunity to recruit young South Africans to get into the field of anthropology. As always, find photos and transcripts from our stories at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
23/07/21·29m 6s

Human Nature: Stories About Confidence

This week, we present two more stories in our Human Nature series, this time about the nature of earning our stripes. Part 1: An opportunity to chase a snake in Borneo gives Kasia Majewski a chance to find one in the most unexpected place. Part 2: Burying bones in her backyard for her archeology studies puts Edith Gonzalez becomes an eccentric neighbor. Kasia Majewski is a science communicator, environmental biologist, herpetologist, entomologist and general lover of "ologies". Originally from Saskatoon, she has spent the last 6 years working and undertaking research in Vancouver, Japan, Wales, Malaysia, and most recently England, before returning to be with her family in Ottawa mid-pandemic. While she has many animal related stories from her time at Vancouver Aquarium, Science World, the JET Programme, and Manchester Museum, some of the ones that she recalls most fondly are from her masters research in Malaysian Borneo, where she studied the prey associated with Asian water monitor lizards. Dr. Edith Gonzalez is an historical anthropologist studying bioprospecting in the 18th-century, English-speaking, Caribbean. With four graduate degrees, she struggles to write anything shorter than the average peer-reviewed journal article. She has a deep love of LotR and finds logic so comforting, she is often referred to as "The Puerto-Rican Mr. Spock." As always, find photos and transcripts from our stories at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
16/07/21·33m 37s

Human Nature: Coming of Age Stories

Our new series, “Human Nature,” begins today! Over the next seven weeks, we’ll share stories centered around our relationship with the natural world. In today’s episode, we’ll explore how our storytellers’ experiences with nature — for good or for bad — helped them grow into the adults they are now.  Part 1: Longing to explore nature, a tumultuous trip to her grandparents’ farm sets Johana Goyes Vallejos on a path looking for the biologist inside her. Part 2: Under pressure to fit in at summer camp, Misha Gajewski signs up for a canoe trip that she’s not ready for. Johana Goyes Vallejos is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Missouri. She graduated with a B.Sc. in Biology in Colombia and received her Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Connecticut. Her research has taken her to many tropical forests across the world, including Panama, Costa Rica, Guyana, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam. At the University of Missouri, Dr. Goyes Vallejos continues her research on mating behavior and parental care strategies using frogs with elaborate parental behaviors as study systems. Misha Gajewski is a freelance journalist, educator, and a senior producer for the Story Collider podcast. Her work has appeared on Vice, Forbes, CTV news, and BBC, among others. As always, find photos and transcripts from our stories at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
09/07/21·27m 41s

Incarceration: Stories about science and prison

This week, we’re presenting two stories about incarceration, and its intersections with science. Part 1: Looking to make an impact with science, Beverly Naigles and her fellow graduate students decide to teach a science class for incarcerated men at a nearby jail. Part 2: Incarcerated for robbery at the age of 21, Khalil Cumberbatch learns about the neuroscience of brain development after his release and begins to question how the system handles younger offenders. Beverly Naigles is a PhD student in quantitative biology at UC San Diego, originally from rural Connecticut. Her research focuses on how seemingly-identical cells can respond differently to external signals. In addition to her research, she enjoys doing science-related art and making science accessible to the general public. For fun, she likes to hike, run, swim, and bake. Khalil Cumberbatch is a nationally recognized formerly incarcerated advocate for criminal justice and deportation policy reform. Currently, he is the director of strategic partnerships for the Council on Criminal Justice. Previously, he served as Chief Strategist at New Yorkers United for Justice and as Associate Vice President of Policy at Fortune Society. Pardoned by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2014, Khalil earned a Master's Degree in Social Work from CUNY Lehman College, where he was awarded the Urban Justice Award for his work with underserved and marginalized communities. Khalil is also a lecturer at Columbia University. See also: Sean Bearden’s story, which appeared on our podcast in 2020: Sean Bearden has never been interested in education, but when he's incarcerated at the age of 19, he finds a passion for physics. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
02/07/21·35m 28s

Women in Science: Stories from women's scientific careers

This week, we’re sharing two stories that were recorded before the pandemic, but that we’ve actually never shared on the podcast before. Both are from women in science, as our title suggests, and each one will bring us in to a different career journey in science. Part 1: While working at a whale research station in northern Maine, Brenna Sowder receives an unexpected visit from a celebrity. Part 2: Raised in a very traditional Cuban family with very little money, Catalina Martinez has to fight for her place in science. Brenna Sowder is a writer and nonprofit communications professional. She has spent much of her life on boats looking for whales, first as the daughter of a marine biologist, later as a research assistant in the Bay of Fundy, and now with her family on their sailing adventures. In addition to telling mission-driven stories for nonprofits, she has worked as an environmental educator and freelance journalist. These days, she divides her time between writing and raising two small humans. She is currently working on a memoir, and she also writes essays about how to be an observer of nature and her evolving definition of an adventurous life. She lives in mid-coast Maine with her family. Catalina Martinez is Regional Program Manager for NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research (OER) at the University of Rhode Island. She spent many years sailing on research vessels as Expedition Coordinator for OER, and currently spends most of her time managing partnerships at URI, and working as regional liaison for the program. She also consistently seeks to increase representation of underrepresented scholars and women in STEM, and helps to increase potential for life success for individuals born to challenging circumstances. In recognition of this work, she was honored by the YWCA as one of their 2015 Women of Achievement in Rhode Island for promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity. She also received the 2016 NOAA Oceanic and Atmospheric Research EEO/Diversity Award for Exemplary Service for dedication to improving the representation of women and minorities in STEM. Most recently, Catalina was awarded the 2019 Women of Color in STEM Diversity Leadership in Government Award for leading the way for a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive Federal workforce. Help us plan our return to live events by participating in our survey! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
25/06/21·33m 32s

Trapped: Stories about being stuck

Today, we’re bring you two stories about feeling trapped -- whether it’s at the border, or in the aftermath of an acid spill. Both of these stories were recorded live at our recent Proton Prom event on June 3. Part 1: When Kimberly Chao begins her internship, she doesn’t expect to end up covered in acid! Part 2: When Saad Sarwana is detained at the airport after Sept. 11, he tries to prove that he’s a physicist. Kimberly Chao is a walrus. Or rather, she is known to play with her food and make a walrus face. Professionally, she manages investment portfolios and teaches financial literacy. Kimberly was also the champion of Story Collider’s first Super Collider science storytelling competition, and you can find her original story here. Saad Sarwana is a physicist and stand-up comedian. As a physicist he works in superconductor and microwave electronics and is the author of over 40 peer reviewed publications and the inventor behind two US patents. As a comedian he has been doing standup and Improvisational comedy for over 20 years, and even won a Moth StorySlam. For 6 years and over 100 episodes Saad was on the Science Channel TV show “Outrageous Acts of Science”. He is also the creator and host of the 'Science Fiction and Fantasy Spelling Bee'. He has told several stories previously for Story Collider. Please take our short reopening survey here: We appreciate your input! Your feedback will help us plan our gradual return to in-person shows. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
18/06/21·26m 5s

Celebrating 11 Years: Our Founder's Favorites

Story Collider co-founder Ben Lillie joins us on the podcast today to discuss some of his favorite stories from the past 11 years, and also share one of his own. Part 1: Immunologist Sarah Schlesinger must try to save her mentor's life with his own work in cellular immunity. Other stories that Ben highlighted in this episode: Saad Sarwana, Anna Rothschild, Rachel Yehuda. Part 2: A teacher’s social experiment lands fifth-grade Ben Lillie in an ethical dilemma. Find out more about Caveat, Ben's theater in New York City, here: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
04/06/21·51m 29s

Celebrating 11 Years: The Proton Prom

This week, in anticipation of our first annual Proton Prom on Thursday, June 3, we’re sharing stories from two of our featured storytellers! Champion storyteller Steve Zimmer and physicist and comedian Saad Sarwana have both appeared on our podcast in years past. Part 1: Against the odds, animal-loving kid Steve Zimmer attempts to rescue tadpoles in jeopardy. Steve Zimmer is a member of The Story Collider board. He has a PhD in Economics/Applied Math, is ABD in Biochemistry, spent 6 years working in an immunology lab, and has severe ADD. Steve quit storytelling in 2016 after winning a then-record 26 Moth story slams, and a still-record 7 GrandSLAMs. This is his first time back. Steve has just finished the manuscript of a black-comedy mystery called Murder at the Moth. This story originally aired on our podcast in 2014. Part 2: Saad Sarwana tries to juggle careers in physics and comedy. Saad Sarwana is a Physicist and Stand-up Comedian. As a physicist he works in superconductor electronics and is the author of over 40 peer reviewed publications and the inventor behind two US patents. As a comedian he has been doing standup and Improvisational comedy for over 20 years, and even won a Moth StorySlam. For 6 years and over 100 episodes Saad was on the Science Channel TV show “Outrageous Acts of Science”. He is also the creator and host of the 'Science Fiction and Fantasy Spelling Bee'. Previously he has told Physics and Math inspired stories for The Story Collider. He lives in Westchester County, NY with his wife and kids. This story originally aired on our podcast in 2018. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
28/05/21·28m 23s

Celebrating 11 Years: Highlights from Our Online Shows

This week, our host, Erin Barker, is joined on the podcast by the hosts of our online live shows, Gastor Almonte and Paula Croxson, to introduce two fan-favorite stories from the past year of Story Collider’s online live shows. Part 1: Just as she’s doubting her identity as a scientist, Johana Goyes Vallejos is asked to give a presentation about her work to high school students. Part 2: Growing up, Sam loves learning about biology from his scientist mother until one day, when he asks her, “Can you change if you're a boy or a girl?” Dr. Johana Goyes Vallejos is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Missouri. She graduated with a B.Sc. in Biology in Colombia and received her Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Connecticut. Her research has taken her to many tropical forests across the world, including Panama, Costa Rica, Guyana, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam. At the University of Missouri, Dr. Goyes Vallejos continues her research on mating behavior and parental care strategies using frogs with elaborate parental behaviors as study systems. Sam Long is a Chinese-American-Canadian trans man and a high school science teacher. He is a co-founder of and the Colorado Transgender/Non-binary Educators Network. As always, find photos and transcripts of our stories at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
21/05/21·33m 16s

Celebrating 11 Years: Our Favorite Stories from Years Past

In celebration of The Story Collider's 11th birthday, we’re sharing two of our most loved stories from years past. Next week, tune in for two more stories that were highlights from this past year of online shows! Part 1: Lou Serico’s childhood dream of being a scientist is tested by working in a herpes lab for his PhD. Lou’s story originally aired in 2011. Part 2: When Guizella Rocabado leaves her home in Bolivia to pursue her education in the United States, her plan hits an unexpected snag. Guizella’s story originally aired in 2019. An update to her bio: Guizella earned her PhD in chemistry this year, and will be starting a tenure-track Assistant Professor of Chemistry position at Southern Utah University in fall 2021! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
14/05/21·37m 55s

Stories of COVID-19: Neighbors

In the final installment of this new five-part series of Stories of COVID-19, we present two stories that explore what it means to be a neighbor, or part of a community, during the pandemic. Part 1: Feeling more and more isolated as the pandemic continues, Brooklynite Adam Selbst finds purpose in a mutual aid project. Part 2: Separated from her own beloved Persian grandmother during the pandemic, Sarvin Esmaelli stumbles on an opportunity to help someone else’s. Adam Selbst is a writer and graphic designer from Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Prior to the lockdown he hosted the monthly Big Irv’s Storytelling Roadshow and has been performing around NYC for the last 10 years. Adam lives in a bodega art collective with 64 other people and in his spare time enjoys being slowly poisoned by an ancient, weird mold in his shower and playing charades with his roommates. Sarvin Esmaeili is a theatre artist, writer, activist, and storyteller. She is a recipient of the 2019 BC Arts Council Scholarship. Sarvin is a co-creator/performer of Can We Fix It? (Studio 58) and One of a Kind (Vancouver International Children's Festival). She recently created her one woman show: The Songs of Silent Singers. In 2020, she directed a virtual play, Papa Records Everything for The National Theatre School's Art Apart festival. In May, Sarvin will be part of the Arts Club’s LEAP Playwriting Intensive. Sarvin is a recent graduate of Studio 58. As always, find transcripts and photos of all of our stories on our website at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
07/05/21·30m 42s

Stories of COVID-19: Masks

This week’s episode is all about masks -- the many varied reasons we have for wearing them, the uncertainty many of us felt around them in the early days of the pandemic, and most of all, the very real and intense emotion that often surrounds them. Part 1: In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sean Wellington is reluctant to wear a mask at first — until he discovers an unconventional reason to. Part 2: Dealing with mask-resistant patients prompts pediatrician Ken Haller to reflect on his experience with a past pandemic, and how it has shaped his approach. Sean Wellington lives in Chapel Hill, NC but is at heart a New Yorker, where he grew up. He has been teaching in classrooms and performing on stages for more than two decades (on five different continents!) Last year he founded GRIT: True Stories that Matter, which produces weekly events, ongoing workshops and a weekly podcast by the same name. When he is not immersed in story, he enjoys Cuban salsa dancing and tries to finally learn the damned piano. Ken Haller, MD, is a Professor of Pediatrics at the Saint Louis University School of Medicine and SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center. He is Past President of the Missouri Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and he has served on the board of the Missouri Foundation for Health. He currently serves on the Arts and Education Council of Greater St. Louis where he helped to create the new Arts and Healing Initiative to fund arts and medical organizations that utilize the arts to promote health and healing. He is also a writer, actor, and cabaret artist who has performed in cities including New York, San Francisco, Denver, and Chicago, and Ken has twice been named Best St. Louis Cabaret Artist by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He appears regularly in local and national media to advocate for child health, LGBTQ health issues, and the arts, and his special interests include expanding health care for marginalized communities, ameliorating toxic stress in children, and educating the medical community and the general public about cultural competency, health literacy, vaccine hesitancy, the relationship of medicine to the arts, the effects of media on children, and the special health needs of LGBTQ youth. As always, find transcripts and photos from our stories at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
30/04/21·27m 13s

Stories of COVID-19: Separation

During the past year, we’ve all been separated from our normal lives, from our workplaces and colleagues, and worst of all, from the people we love. In this week’s episode, we’re sharing two stories on the theme of separation. Part 1: When Nestor Gomez is separated from his mother during the pandemic, it brings back painful memories of a different kind of separation. Part 2: Sharon Chandar feels helpless when she find out there’s been a COVID-19 outbreak at her elderly mother’s nursing home. Nestor “the Boss” Gomez was born in Guatemala and came to Chicago undocumented in the mid 80’. He told his first story at a Moth story slam to get over the stuttering that plagued his childhood, and since then he has won 57 Moth Slams and 3 Grand slams. Nestor also created, hosts, produces and curates his own storytelling show 80 Minutes Around the World, which features the stories of immigrants and refugees from different parts of the world, as well as their descendants and allies, in hopes of providing a better understanding of the realities, struggles and dreams related to the Immigrant experience. 80 Minutes Around the World is also available as a Podcast. Nestor also published a collection of stories detailing his experiences driving for ride sharing title “Your Driver Has Arrived.” To listen and subscribe to the podcast, to buy his book and to learn more about Nestor, visit his website Sharon Chandar proudly works for a Canadian Aerospace company in Ontario. She spent many years advocating for changes to policies and procedures in the healthcare industry for Alzheimer’s Disease. She is a Reiki certified healer who practices yoga and meditation and spends her time in nature. Sharon has two grown girls that live with their partners, a 7-month-old grand-baby and a 4-year-old Morkie puppy named Kitty. As always, find photos and transcripts of our stories at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
23/04/21·28m 52s

Stories of COVID-19: Teachers

Few professions outside of medicine and research have played as pivotal of a role in the events of the past year as teachers have. In today’s episode, we’ll hear two stories — one from a Chicago Public Schools teacher and another from a New York Public Schools teacher — about how the challenges and triumphs they’ve experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. Part 1: Jenny DeLessio-Parson has always prided herself on being a super teacher — until the challenges of remote teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic begin to add up. Part 2: As the COVID-19 pandemic progresses, Amanda Geduld begins to feel that she and her fellow teachers aren’t receiving the support and respect they need to do their jobs. Jenny DeLessio-Parson was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. After studying Public Policy in college, she worked in various roles serving Chicago students and families before returning to school to become a teacher. Jenny has been an educator with Chicago Public Schools for 8 years and currently serves as a middle school Social Studies teacher and staff delegate to the Chicago Teachers Union. She was introduced to storytelling through Lily Be, which later led her to become co-host of The Stoop, a Chicago-based storytelling show. Amanda Geduld received her B.A. from Dartmouth College in English Literature and Women's and Gender Studies. She went on to study English education at Boston University where she received her M.Ed. Now serving as an 11th and 12th grade ELA teacher in the Bronx, she is deeply passionate about approaching education reform through a social justice lens. Her writing has been featured in The Washington Post and CNN. As always, find photos and transcripts at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
16/04/21·35m 59s

Stories of COVID-19: On the Job

This week, we begin sharing Stories of COVID-19 once again, starting with stories about the ways COVID-19 has impacted our working lives. Part 1: When a bug gets stuck in her ear while she’s in the field tagging alligators, Laura Kojima isn’t sure how to get it out without putting herself and her work at risk due to COVID-19. Part 2: When she finds herself unemployed at the start of the pandemic, Shashi Mostafa takes a job working in a factory that produces medical equipment. Laura Kojima is a graduate student with the University of Georgia looking at the consumption risk associated with alligator movement off of the Department of Energy's Savannah River Site, a former nuclear reactor plant that has reservoirs that are occupied by alligators that is connected to a river where public hunting occurs. Shashi Mostafa is a conceptual artist who makes fictional narratives that humanize the overlooked. As a director, screenwriter and photographer, her goal is to instigate social change with her films and photo series. Exploring the dark parts of humanity, she creates pieces that brew empathy, challenge oppression, and project power. In addition, she is a social media content creator and host for Waste-Ed, a sustainability channel, and In the Now, a kindness and social justice channel. Both exist across various online platforms, but she mainly makes videos for TikTok and Instagram. As always, find photos and transcripts of our stories at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
09/04/21·36m 7s

Two Sides Mini-Series, Part 3: On Time

In this last installment of our “Two Sides” series, we’ll hear stories from a brother and sister, Susan Kay Maller and Dan Boyd. Despite being born 18 years apart, Susan and Dan have similar memories of growing up with their mother — though how they dealt with these situations couldn’t be more different. Part 1: Looking back on her childhood, Susan Kay Maller tries to understand her mother’s behavior. Part 2: Forced to walk home from school after his mother forgets to pick him up again, Dan Boyd struggles with feelings of frustration. Dan Boyd is the founder of Story Luck, a nonprofit organization with a mission to educate people on the art of storytelling. He invites you to attend his latest creative endeavor, Workshop Workshop, an interactive online show that teaches 5L1K storytelling strategies. His older sister, Susan Kay Maller, is a permanent cast member, in addition to being a mother and accountant. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
26/03/21·25m 57s

Two Sides Mini-Series, Part 2: My Heroes

This week's episode is part two of a special three-part mini-series centered around stories about mental health, told from two different perspectives. This mini-series is guest hosted and produced by Story Collider senior producer Misha Gajewski. In this episode, both stories are from the same storyteller, EMT and special service teacher Jenice Matias, and they show just how life altering one diagnosis can be. Part 1: Jenice Matias wakes up in a psychiatric ward with no recollection of how she got there. Part 2: While coming to terms with her diagnosis, Jenice Matias finds a new appreciation for her life. As always, find photos and transcripts for all of our stories at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
19/03/21·28m 28s

Two Sides Mini-Series, Part 1: Two Apartments

This week is the start of a very special three-part mini-series centered around stories about mental health, told from two different perspectives. This mini-series is guest hosted and produced by Story Collider senior producer Misha Gajewski. The first episode of this series features a story told by a couple, chemist Xavier Jordan Retana and editor Brittany Lundberg. After moving into separate apartments during the pandemic, Xavier and Brittany each find themselves navigating their mental health and coping with a new sense of independence. As always, find photos and transcripts for all of our stories at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
12/03/21·26m 33s

BONUS: Migration

In today’s bonus episode, we bring you two stories on the theme of migration. Part 1: Ornithologist Dai Shizuka finds himself relating to an unusual bird that sings in more than one dialect. Part 2: When Nestor Gomez takes his child to be vaccinated, it brings up fearful memories from his own childhood. As always, find transcripts, photos, and more information about our storytellers at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
26/02/21·21m 16s

BONUS: Champions

This week, we’re sharing a very special bonus episode while we’re between series! This episode is titled “Champions,” because our storytellers today are just that. Our first storyteller, Kimberly Chao, was the winner of our Super Collider science story slam in December, and our second storyteller, marine biologist Catherine Macdonald, told our most popular story of 2020. Part 1: Kimberly Chao’s blind date suddenly and inexplicably loses his vision. Part 2: As a 21-year-old, Catherine Macdonald is hired as a “shark expert” at an aquarium, and soon becomes concerned about one of her charges. As always, find transcripts and photos from our stories at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
12/02/21·21m 27s

Stories of COVID-19: Love, Part 2

In Part 2 of this episode, we’re sharing two more stories about the powerful love that has sustained us throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. As always, find transcripts and photos from these stories on our website. First, we’ll hear from journalist and Story Collider senior producer Misha Gajewski. In her story, Misha takes her father to his chemo appointment early in the pandemic, and reckons with their shifting roles. And then, the final story of this Stories of COVID-19 series, from infectious disease researcher Youssef Saklawi! When Youssef’s research team launches a COVID-19 study, he becomes immersed in his work — and begins to feel attached to the patients he sees only through glass. We hope you enjoyed our first Stories of COVID-19 series! Over the next few months, we’ll be airing biweekly bonus episodes featuring stories on other topics, but we’re hard at work on our next Stories of COVID-19 series. If you would like to pitch a story for inclusion, see our Submissions page. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
01/02/21·22m 20s

Stories of COVID-19: Love, Part 1

Throughout the tragic events of the past few months -- and despite the tragic events still to come -- love still perseveres and flourishes. From an unlikely pandemic wedding to the bond formed between researcher and patient, this episode will examine the powerful love that sustains us during this time. Our first story is from Melanie Hamlett, a Moth-slam-winning storyteller and writer currently based in France. After a life of proud singlehood, Melanie considers settling down during the pandemic. (Just a warning -- this story is a bit "R-rated"!) As always, find photos and transcripts of all of our stories on our website. After Melanie’s story, our host speaks with Joanne Davila, professor of psychology at Stony Brook University, about how the pandemic is affecting relationships. Stay tuned for Part 2 of this episode on Monday! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
29/01/21·37m 12s

Stories of COVID-19: Clarity, Part 2

In part 2 of Clarity, we’re sharing two more stories about the ways the pandemic has brought our lives into sharper focus. In our first story, comedian Freddy G realizes just how much he relies on his wife’s support when she gets stuck in another state due to COVID-19 restrictions. Our second story is from Trey Kay, host and producer of the Us & Them podcast. In his story, Trey navigates the contrasting pandemic responses in his home of New York and his home state of West Virginia. As always, find photos and transcripts of all of our stories on our website. Stay tuned for our final episode of the Stories of COVID-19 series, airing on Friday and Monday! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
25/01/21·30m 39s

Stories of COVID-19: Clarity, Part 1

The starkness and suddenness of the pandemic has forced many of us to stop and reconsider our lifestyles. In this episode, our storytellers will share tales of how their priorities and values have come into focus since lockdown began. Our first story is from award-winning standup comedian and Story Collider senior producer Gastor Almonte. In his story, Gastor is forced to confront his health issues when he almost dies from undiagnosed diabetes at the start of the pandemic. Find photos and transcripts from all of our stories on our website. After Gastor’s story, our host speaks with Mati Hlatshwayo Davis, who told a story in our Decisions episode. As you may remember, Mati is an infectious disease doctor who researches the impact of COVID-19 on marginalized communities. In this interview, Mati discusses the ways the pandemic has brought clarity to conversations about structural racism in medicine. Stay tuned for Part 2 of this episode on Monday! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
22/01/21·39m 3s

Stories of COVID-19: Community, Part 2

In Part 2 of this episode, we have THREE more stories about how our storytellers are finding community during the pandemic. Don't forget, you can find transcripts and photos from all of our stories on our website. Our first story is from Adam Wade, author of the bestselling Audible Original You Ought to Know Adam Wade. In his story, Adam prepares to celebrate his birthday alone during the pandemic. Our second story comes to us from one of our online story slams! In this story, Amy Segal forms an attachment to a crow she sees on her daily walks during lockdown. Our final story of “Community,” is from Eve Alvarez, a doula, mom, and social entrepreneur. Overwhelmed with responsibilities during the pandemic, Eve Alvarez seizes the opportunity to march for black lives with her teenage son. Stay tuned for our next episode, “Clarity,” on Friday! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
18/01/21·36m 8s

Stories of COVID-19: Community, Part 1

Right now, while we can’t safely gather together, it can be difficult to feel part of a community. When most of our interactions are through a computer screen, it’s tough to support and inspire each other, celebrate special occasions, and discover new experiences together. But our stories in this episode will explore the ways in which our storytellers managed to do just that. Our first story is from Emily Levesque, an award-winning astrophysicist and a professor at the University of Washington in Seattle. As telescopes around the world shut down due to the pandemic, Emily longs for the shared experience of gazing up at the sky with others. (Find images and transcripts of all of our stories on our website.) After Emily’s story, our host speaks with clinical psychologist and affective neuroscientist Aaron Heller about how new and diverse experiences (or a lack there of!) affect our mental health. Stay tuned for THREE more stories about Community in Part 2 on Monday! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
15/01/21·40m 33s

Stories of COVID-19: Home, Part 2

In Part 2 of “Home,” we’ll share two more stories about how storytellers are adapting their home lives during social distancing. Our first story is from Chicago-based storyteller and Story Collider producer Lily Be. In her story, Lily Be decides she needs company during the pandemic -- in the form of a bearded dragon. In our second story, Tazmin Uddin develops a new appreciation for having her big family all under one roof during the pandemic. As always, find photos and transcripts on our website: Stay tuned for our next episode, "Community," on Friday! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
11/01/21·23m 54s

Stories of COVID-19: Home, Part 1

Over the past few months, our homes have become workplaces, schools, and the backdrop for the majority of our lives. In this episode, our storytellers consider how to adjust to being stuck at home. Our first story is from psychologist (and Story Collider board member!) Ali Mattu. Cooped up with his young outdoor-kid daughter, indoor-kid Ali decides they should venture out into the wild together. Find transcripts and photos from all of our stories on our website. After Ali’s story, our host speaks with Yi-Ling Liu, a journalist based in China, about how families in China have changed post-COVID-19. Stay tuned for Part 2 of “Home” on Monday! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
08/01/21·35m 24s

BONUS: "Except Me" by Sam Long

We’re taking a break from our Stories of COVID-19 series until Jan. 8. But in the meantime, we have a fan-favorite story from one of our online live shows to share with you! Today’s story is from Sam Long, a high school science teacher in Colorado and the co-founder of and the Colorado Transgender/Nonbinary Educators Network. Growing up, Sam loves learning about biology from his scientist mother. But their relationship starts to change after he asks her, “Can you change if you're a boy or a girl?” Sam’s story was originally told at one of our online live shows in November (“The Real Me”). To access recordings of all of our past online live shows, become one of our Patreon subscribers. Find out more about future online live shows here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
28/12/20·14m 9s

Stories of COVID-19: Generations, Part 2

In Part 2 of this episode, we’ll share two more stories about the impact of COVID-19 across generations. Our first story is from two storytellers — science communicator Ian Haydon and his mother, retired writer and editor Judy Stokes. Their story begins when Ian calls his mother in March and reveals that he will be participating in a Phase 1 COVID-19 vaccine trial. Our second story is from Krishna Pakala, assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering at Boise State University. In his story, Krishna also receives a fateful phone call — from his family back home in India, telling him that his father has been diagnosed with COVID-19. Find transcripts and photos from all of our stories here: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
21/12/20·30m 21s

Stories of COVID-19: Generations, Part 1

Each generation is experiencing the pandemic differently. For some, the trauma of the 1918 pandemic still echoes. Others worry about how to balance their own health and responsibilities with concerns about the health of their parents or children. In this episode, we’ll share stories about the impact of COVID-19 across generations. Our first story is from Mary Sue Kitchen, who was director of the Fairfax County Health Department Laboratory in Virginia for seventeen years from 1995-2012. In Mary Sue’s story, her grandmother's experience of the 1918 pandemic inspires and informs her career in public health. (Find transcripts and photos for each of our stories here: After Mary Sue’s story, our host speaks with Marta Hanson, associate professor of the history of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, about how we’ve responded to pandemics of the past. Stay tuned for two more stories on Monday! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
18/12/20·34m 21s

Stories of COVID-19: Connection, Part 2

In Part 2 of Connections, we share two more stories about finding new ways to connect during the pandemic. Our first story is from psychologist Shreya Varma, who is based in New Delhi, India. In her story, Shreya struggles to connect with her patients in the same way when she's treating them over web video. Our second story is from storyteller and comedian Ivy Eisenberg. When Ivy's father enters hospice during the pandemic, her family must find a new way to come together to say goodbye. Transcripts and photos are available at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
14/12/20·27m 34s

Stories of COVID-19: Connections, Part 1

Note: Apologies for the glitch yesterday! This is an updated version. By necessity, the pandemic is changing the way that we communicate with each other, and the way we care for each other. In these stories, our storytellers find unexpected ways to connect, despite social distancing. Our first story is from computational biologist and Story Collider board member C. Brandon Ogbunu. In his story, Brandon begins to see his friends in a new light after communicating with them through a screen. Find transcripts and photos at After Brandon’s story, our host interviews neuroscientist Daniela Schiller about her research into social interaction during COVID-19. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
12/12/20·34m 41s

Stories of COVID-19: Decisions, Part 2

In Part 2 of Decisions, we’re sharing two more stories of difficult choices, one from a physician and another from the director of a public health laboratory. In our first story, medical doctor Matifadza Hlatshwayo Davis must make a difficult decision about whether to work home while pregnant during the pandemic. In our final story of this episode, Myra Kunas takes on the significant task of directing the Minnesota Public Health Lab in May -- a task that becomes even more complicated after the tragic murder of George Floyd, when protests and riots take over the streets surrounding her lab. Find transcripts and photos for these stories on our website: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
07/12/20·31m 53s

Stories of COVID-19: Decisions, Part 1

In the midst of a pandemic, almost every decision feels high stakes, and impossibly complicated. This episode will explore the difficult decisions our storytellers have made, to care for each other and themselves. Our first story is from labor and delivery nurse Amelia Reeves. When tragedy strikes in the maternity ward, Amelia has to decide whether or not to bend the rules. (Find transcripts and photos on our website.) After Amelia’s story, our host interviews University of Pennsylvania Professor of Law and Psychology Tess Wilkinson-Ryan, to explore the psychology behind making decisions in a pandemic. Stay tuned for Part 2 of this episode on Monday! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
04/12/20·34m 19s

Stories of COVID-19: Adaptation, Part 2

In part two of this episode, we’ll hear two more stories about adapting to a new normal. Our first story is from bestselling author and champion storyteller Matthew Dicks. When life becomes monotonous during quarantine, Matthew searches for a new experience. In our second story, veterinarian Lauren Adelman struggles to connect with her patients' families due to her clinic’s COVID-19 restrictions. Find transcripts and photos at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
30/11/20·26m 25s

Stories of COVID-19: Adaptation, Part 1

The pandemic has forced us all to adapt in various ways, for the sake of our physical or mental health. The stories in this week’s episode will focus on the ways in which our storytellers have forged new lives and routines for themselves. Our first story is from Fiona Calvert, Story Collider UK producer and science communication officer at Alzheimer's Research UK. Fiona has worked hard to manage her obsessive compulsive disorder, but when the pandemic begins, suddenly triggers are everywhere. After Fiona’s story, our host interviews psychologist Dr. Kevin Chapman about how we can adapt to protect our mental health during this time. Stay tuned for two more stories on Monday, from bestselling author Matthew Dicks and veterinarian Lauren Adelman! And see our website for transcripts and photos for all of our stories! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
27/11/20·32m 48s

Stories of COVID-19: Cooperation, Part 2

In part 2 of this episode, we’ll explore the theme of cooperation further with two more stories, from a volunteer and an organizer. Our first story is from neuroscientist (and Story Collider senior producer!) Paula Croxson. Longing for connection, Paula decides to volunteer at a local hospital, despite her anxiety about the risks. In our second story, organizer Kiani Conley-Wilson struggles to figure out how she can effect change during the pandemic. Find transcripts and photos on our website. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
23/11/20·32m 12s

Stories of COVID-19: Cooperation, Part 1

In this episode, we explore the ways in which we’re working together to help one another and get things done, despite the significant obstacles and social-distancing restrictions presented by COVID-19. Today, in part one of this episode, we’ll hear a story from Brazilian biologist Diana Bertuol Garcia. In this story, Diana and her research group are alone in the Patagonian fjords when they receive word of the pandemic and must find their way home. After Diana’s story, our host interviews Athena Aktipis, professor of psychology at Arizona State University, and co-Director of The Human Generosity Project, about her research into how we’re cooperating during the pandemic. Find transcripts and photos at And stay tuned for part 2 of “Cooperation” on Monday, Nov. 23! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
20/11/20·31m 24s

Stories of COVID-19: Contact, Part 2

In part 2 of our first episode, we share two more stories on the theme of Contact. In our first story, Tracey Segarra is laid off from her corporate job during the pandemic, but finds a new calling as a contact tracer. In our second story, writer and performer Jennifer Joy begins developing symptoms of COVID-19 in early March. See for transcripts and photos! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
16/11/20·33m 28s

Stories of COVID-19: Contact, Part 1

Our series begins in New York City, the center of the early days of the pandemic, with a story from Harvey Katz, one of the hosts and creators of Take Two Storytelling. In this story, Harvey, a brand-new nurse, is thrust into the hectic environment of a Brooklyn ICU at the onset of the pandemic. (Find a transcript and photos at Harvey’s story is followed by an interview with social scientist Kasley Killam, on the impact of the loss of physical contact due to the pandemic. Stay tuned for Part 2 of this episode on Monday, Nov. 16! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
13/11/20·31m 33s

TRAILER: Stories of COVID-19

Introducing our brand-new upcoming series, Stories of COVID-19! Stay tuned for our first episode on Nov. 13, and find out more here: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
06/11/20·3m 26s

A Special Announcement

A quick announcement from the Story Collider team about changes coming to our podcast! On Friday, November 13th, we will launch our new series, The Stories of COVID-19, featuring stories from doctors, nurses, researchers, volunteers, activists, comedians, journalists, and more! Find out more: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
30/10/20·6m 16s

Epidemic Response Part 2: Stories about past epidemics

This week we present two more stories from our back catalog about people who experienced epidemics of the past. Part 1: Journalist Erika Check Hayden travels to Sierra Leone and sees Ebola up close and personal for the first time. Part 2: Richard Cardillo escapes his problems by joining a Catholic mission in Peru, where he becomes a community health organizer. Erika Check Hayden is an award-winning San Francisco-based science, health, and technology reporter. She writes for the science journal Nature, and on a freelance basis for a variety of publications. She is the incoming director of the University of California, Santa Cruz, Science Communication Program. Find her at or on Twitter @Erika_Check. Richard Cardillo is a 25 year resident of the Lower East Side been an educator for over three decades on two continents and in two languages. He's instructed on all levels from preschool to graduate programs, considering himself still more of a learner than a teacher....but always a storyteller! Rich is a three-time Moth StorySLAM winner and has also participated in three Moth GrandSLAMS . Rich is a passionate bread baker and, yes, has gone to that quirky (scary?) place of naming his 16-year-old sourdough starter. He tries to bake up a new story with every loaf that emerges from his tiny apartment oven. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
23/10/20·29m 37s

Epidemic Response Part 1: Stories about past epidemics

This week we present two stories from our back catalog of people having to handle previous epidemics. Part 1: As a pediatrician in the 1980s, Ken Haller comes across a disturbing X-ray. Part 2: On her first day working in the White House under President Obama, microbiologist Jo Handelsman receives some bad news. Ken is a Professor of Pediatrics at the Saint Louis University School of Medicine and Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital. He serves on the boards of the Arts & Education Council of Greater St. Louis, the Saint Louis University Library Associates, and the Gateway Media Literacy Project. He has also served on the board of the Missouri Foundation for Health and as President of the St. Louis Pediatric Society; the Missouri Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics; PROMO, Missouri’s statewide LGBTQ civil rights organization; the Gateway Men’s Chorus, St. Louis’s gay men’s chorus: and GLMA, the national organization of LGBT health care professionals. He is a frequent spokesperson in local and national media on the health care needs of children and adolescents. Ken is also an accomplished actor, produced playwright, and acclaimed cabaret performer. In 2015 he was named Best St. Louis Cabaret Performer by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and he has taken his one-person shows to New York, Chicago, Denver, and San Francisco. His special interests include cultural competency, health literacy, the relationship of medicine to the arts, the effects of media on children, and the special health needs of LGBT youth. His personal mission is Healing. Dr. Jo Handelsman is currently the Director of the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as well as a Vilas Research Professor and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor. Previously, she served President Obama for three years as the Associate Director for Science in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). She received her Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Molecular Biology and has served on the faculties of UW-Madison and Yale University. Dr. Handelsman has authored over 200 papers, 30 editorials and 5 books. She is responsible for groundbreaking studies in microbiology and gender in science. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
16/10/20·37m 40s

Spiraling: Stories of losing control

This week we present two stories of people who spiraled out of control in their minds. Part 1: Computer vision researcher Virginie Uhlmann struggles to send an important email. Part 2: After a panic attack, Shane Saunderson questions the role of technology in his life. Virginie Uhlmann is fascinated by life sciences but feels more comfortable surrounded by equations and code than by pipettes. With her research group at the EMBL-EBI, she thus develops mathematical tools and algorithms to analyse biological images. Besides science, her true loves are mountains and birds. Shane Saunderson received a B.Eng. in mechanical engineering from McGill University in 2005 and a M.B.A. in technology and innovation from Ryerson University in 2011. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate studying social Human-Robot Interaction under Prof. Goldie Nejat within the Autonomous Systems and Biomechatronics Laboratory (ASBLab) in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at the University of Toronto. Shane holds a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship and is a Junior Fellow with Massey College. His research focuses on psychological influence caused by robots during social interactions with particular interest in topics such as persuasion, trust, and leadership. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
09/10/20·30m 31s

Ocean Discovery: Stories about what we discover at sea

This week we present two stories from people who had encounters with ocean animals. Part 1: Stuck in the lab with buckets of jellyfish, Shreya Yadav must rethink why she's studying what she's studying in the first place. Part 2: Underwater photographer Keith Ellenbogen comes face to face with an animal he wasn't expecting. Shreya Yadav is a PhD candidate at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, at the University of Hawaii. She studies how corals recover from major climatic disturbances. She is also interested in marine historical ecology and the socio-cultural aspects of fishing. Keith Ellenbogen is a celebrated photographer working with conservation-based organizations to showcase the visual complexity of underwater environments. He is an Assistant Professor of Photography at SUNY/FIT; Visiting Artist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Sr. Fellow, International League of Conservation; Fellow, The Explorers Club; Affiliate Partner, Mission Blue - A Sylvia Earle Alliance; the recipient of Hollings Ocean Awareness Award and a TED Residency. See Keith’s work at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
02/10/20·27m 21s

Strangers: Stories about the people we don't know

This week we present two stories from people who had experiences with strangers. Part 1: Even though he's an excellent student, and later a doctor, Dale Okorodudu finds that strangers perceive him differently. Part 2: Laura Bulk, who has been partially blind since she was a baby, struggles with strangers' attempts to "help." Dr. Dale Okorodudu was raised in League City, Texas just outside of Houston. He completed both his undergraduate and medical training at the University of Missouri then relocated to Durham, North Carolina were he did his Internal Medicine residency training at Duke University Medical Center. Following his time at Duke, Dr. Okorodudu returned to Texas and completed his Pulmonary & Critical Care Fellowship here at UT Southwestern Medical Center. His clinical practice is at the Dallas VA Medical Center. Dr. Okorodudu has a passion addressing healthcare disparities which he has done via promoting diversity in the medical workforce. He is the founder of DiverseMedicine Inc. and Black Men In White Coats. Dr. Okorodudu is also the author of multiple books including How to Raise a Doctor and the Doc 2 Doc children series. What he enjoys most is spending time with his wife, 3 children, and church family. Laura Yvonne Bulk (@LYBOT) is a friend, learner, woman, teacher, disabled person, occupational therapist, Christian, artist, scholar, advocate, and activist. Her work focuses on enhancing understanding across and within diversity, and promoting human flourishing. As a public scholar, Laura aims to benefit the wider community and the academic and clinical communities, making purposeful social contributions and employing innovative forms of collaborative scholarship. She works in the areas of quality of life in palliative care; belonging in academia; being blind; inclusion of disabled people in healthcare professions; and the use of creative methods (including research-based theatre and audio theatre) and cross-sectoral partnerships to do research for the public good. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
25/09/20·27m 13s

A Little Luck: Stories about needing luck to get by

This week we present two stories from people who needed a little luck to get by. Part 1: Studying Marine Biology in Florida, Philadelphian Kory Evans feels like a fish out of water... while fishing. Part 2: Carla Katz finds out she has a brain aneurysm while getting screened for a kidney transplant. Kory Evans is an evolutionary biologist broadly interested in the development, evolution and ecology of phenotypic diversity. His research integrates developmental biology, biomechanics, phylogenetic comparative methods, and ecology to understand how phenotypes develop, evolve, and interact with their respective environments across multiple time scales and how intrinsic (development) and extrinsic (environment) mechanisms influence patterns of phenotypic diversity. Carla Katz is a Jersey born and bred storyteller, comic, and actor living in Hoboken. Her solo show, ANGELINA, debuted at the SOLOCOM 2019 Comedy Festival at the Peoples Improv Theater. Her earlier solo show, BODY PARTS, sold out at the SOLOCOM 2017. She is a Moth StorySLAM Champion and has performed widely in New York, including at the Comedy Cellar, the Fat Black Pussycat, Story Collider, The Liar Show, The AWFNH Show at the Kraine Theatre, NYC's Secrets and Lies, Generation Women, and Funny Over Fifty at Caveat-NYC, The Barrow Group Restorative Stories, Sideshow Goshko and a wide a variety of shows at the Magnet Theater and the Tank. She has also performed across New Jersey, including in Hoboken's On The Waterfront Storytelling Series, Word of Mouth Storytelling by the Bucks Country Playhouse in Lambertville, and This Really Happened at the Hopewell Theatre. Carla is co-producer with Adam Wade of the Hoboken-based On the Waterfront Storytelling Series. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
18/09/20·24m 36s

Childhood Experiments: Stories about being scientists before we were ready

This week we present two stories from people who decided to experiment with science when they were still teenagers. Part 1: In high school, Saad Sarwana decides to go from nerd to bad boy with a prank that he learned in chemistry class. Part 2: As a college student, Andrew Akira Hansen loves chemistry so much that he takes his experiments out of the lab and into the parking lot... and the shower... and anywhere else he could. Saad Sarwana is a Physicist and Stand-up Comedian. As a physicist he works in superconductor electronics and is the author of over 40 peer reviewed publications and the inventor behind two US patents. As a comedian he has been doing standup and Improvisational comedy for over 20 years, and even won a Moth StorySlam. For 6 years and over 100 episodes Saad was on the Science Channel TV show “Outrageous Acts of Science”. He is also the creator and host of the 'Science Fiction and Fantasy Spelling Bee'. Previously he has told Physics and Math inspired stories for the StoryCollider. This chemistry inspired story completes the Trilogy! He lives in Westchester County, NY with his wife and kids. Andrew Akira Hansen is an external chemist and a boy who finds himself falling more and more deeply in love with the natural world as he survives each day. Chemistry is the language he’s learned to love it with. After finishing his bachelor's degree at Knox College he messed around in Southern Illinois University Edwardsville's master's program for chemistry. From there, he’s worked a variety of chemistry-adjacent jobs he never imagined he’d find himself in, including space camp instructor, beer scientist and slime master (not all official titles). His path in chemistry has been winding, and he can't wait to see where it takes him. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
11/09/20·29m 52s

Family: Stories about the people we hold dearest

This week we present two stories from people who were confronted with what it means to lose family. Part 1: After leaving class early, Sonia Zárate gets a startling phone call about her daughter. Part 2: An indoor kid at heart, Sam Dingman goes on a hike anyways and ends up making a shocking discovery. Sonia Zárate is a proud Chicanx from SoCal. She is a mother and grandmother, Dodger-fan, trained plant molecular biologist and champion for diversity, equity and inclusion in STEM. As President for the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) and a Program Officer for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute she is living the dream at the intersection of STEM and Culture. When she is not working to make the scientific enterprise excellent by making it more inclusive, she enjoys traveling, running, facetime calls with her family and playing crazy 8’s. You can reach her on Twitter @sonia__zarate. Sam Dingman is the creator and host of Family Ghosts, a storytelling podcast about familial myths and legends which has been hailed as a critic's choice by The New York Times, The LA Times, and NPR. Sam is a winner of the Moth Grand Slam, and his stories have been featured on The Moth Radio Hour, Benjamen Walker's Theory of Everything, and Risk!. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
04/09/20·29m 20s

Research: Stories about becoming a part of the process

This week we present stories from people who found themselves in sticky situations in the midst of doing research. Part 1: Erik Vance's first job reporting on scientific research doesn't smell as much like success as it smells like manure. Part 2: Liz Neeley observes hypnosis from the inside when she becomes the subject of the experiment. Erik Vance is an award-winning science journalist based in Boulder, CO who works as an editor for the NY Times. Before becoming a writer he was, at turns, a biologist, a rock climbing guide, an environmental consultant, and an environmental educator. He graduated in 2006 from UC Santa Cruz science writing program and became a freelancer as soon as possible. His work focuses on the human element of science — the people who do it, those who benefit from it, and those who do not. He has written for The New York Times, Nature, Scientific American, Harper’s, National Geographic, and a number of other local and national outlets. His first book, Suggestible You, is about how the mind and body continually twist and shape our realities. While researching the book he was poked, prodded, burned, electrocuted, hypnotized and even cursed by a witchdoctor, all in the name of science. Liz Neeley is the Executive Director of The Story Collider, and the cohost of our weekly podcast. She is not a naturally gifted storyteller, but came into the field the hard way: reading research papers on narrative and science communication. She started her career as a marine biologist, and her first job was to support community-based projects in Fiji and Papua New Guinea. Learning first-hand that science belongs to everyone changed everything. She misses the ocean these days, but loves getting to think about all different kinds of science now. Her biggest challenge is turning down new projects. Find her on twitter at @LizNeeley. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
28/08/20·28m 53s

Coincidences: Stories about looking for a chance encounter

This week we present two stories from people who found the improbable. Part 1: Part 2: As a national park ranger, native South Floridian Gary Bremen has spent the past 33 years telling the stories of the places and people that have shaped this nation. He has visited 254 of the 419 national parks, and now recognizes how much his encounters with lightning storms, bears, drag queens and grieving parents in these magnificent places have helped shape the person he is. He lives in an urban oasis filled with native plants in the little town of Wilton Manors with his best friend, traveling buddy and husband Roger and their cats Oliver, Elliott, and Amelia. Dawn J. Fraser is a storyteller, public speaker and a nationally acclaimed communications coach based out of San Jose, California. She is the Creator/ Host of ‘Barbershop Stories’, which features storytellers performing true tales in barbershops and salons around NYC, and the Founder/ CEO of Fraser’s Edge, LLC, which offers programs for businesses, nonprofits, and college students the opportunity to develop their leadership potential through storytelling. Dawn currently serves as a Lead Instructor with The Moth and was featured amongst some of the nation’s top change makers at TED@NYC. She loves being a twin, a Trinidadian, and tweetable @dawnjfraser. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
21/08/20·28m 8s

Animal Rescue: Stories about animals who need our help

This week we present two stories from people who got called into action to save an animal they didn’t know they’d be called to save. Part 1: While running an errand, Andrea Azarian happens upon a lost horse that needs her help. Part 2: Left in charge of the farm for the first time, Gwynne Hogan panics when a goat goes into labor. Andrea Azarian has an undergraduate degree in Public Administration and Political Science from UW-LaCrosse. She completed her teacher certification and Master’s degree in Education at Alverno College. Andrea taught English, Math, Reading, and Family and Consumer Education in grades 5-8 in Milwaukee Public Schools before coming to UWM. She has been at UWM as an Academic Advisor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction for twelve years. Her time outside of work is spent traveling with her friends and family laughing and being present in the moment. Gwynne Hogan is a reporter and producer in the WNYC newsroom who seems to keep ending up covering disease and communities from measles to COVID-19. She's also a proud assistant on Story Collider podcast production team and is excited to make her virtual storytelling debut with the show. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
14/08/20·33m 35s

Challenges: Stories about challenges we didn't know we needed to face

This week we present two stories from people who experienced challenges in their travels. Part 1: Transporting virginal fruit flies from Houston to Honolulu proves to be no easy task for Patricia Savant. Part 2: When a storm rocks the cruise ship where he works, Mike Funergy worries about how the elderly passengers will handle it. Dr. Patricia Shaw Savant has a Ph.D. In Counseling Psychology and Behavioral Medicine from North Texas State University (1986) and a Masters of Arts in psychophysiology from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. She currently has a private practice in psychotherapy in Clayton, MO. She practices under the name Patricia Shaw, Ph.D. With Phoenix Psychological Group, Inc. Dr. Shaw also provides counseling and support at music festivals as part of Harm reduction and Medical services. At the time of her story she was an undergraduate at the University of Houston in biology and chemistry. Mike Funergy first discovered his love for storytelling while wandering the markets of Morocco and watching old storytellers captivate the crowd. Upon returning to Canada he discovered the Toronto Storytelling Festival and found a new appreciation for folklore and mythology, and especially loves tales from the Jewish tradition. He now tells stories at the Vancouver Story Slam, and has made it to the finals for the past 2 years. Mike has studied Expressive Arts Therapy, and currently works for a non-profit organization helping adults with developmental disabilities discover what they want to do in their lives. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
07/08/20·35m 25s

Scientists in Love: Stories about the fantasies

This week we present two stories from people for whom science and love were interconnected. Part 1: When Saurin Choksi starts dating a neuroscientist, it challenges his assumptions about gender roles. Part 2: Wendy Suzuki's trajectory as a neuroscientist is forever altered by a passionate love affair in Paris. A proud member of the Writers Guild of America, he wrote on staff for the Facebook / Refinery 29 talk show, “After After Party.” He’s also worked with the good people at Comedy Central on a number of their digital sketches. Choksi won The Boston Comedy Fest and his stand up has been featured on Laughs on Fox TV and Sirius/XM radio. He's performed at numerous comedy festivals--Limestone, Bridgetown, and SF Sketch are among his favorites. Choksi also hosted a television show on Fuse called "White Guy Talk Show" where he talked about pop culture and wore suits he couldn't afford. He created internet videos for and is a proud alumni of Chicago's Lincoln Lodge. Choksi produces and hosts two acclaimed live stand up showcases in Brooklyn: Comedians You Should Know NYC and Brown Privilege Comedy. He is a 2020 Sesame Workshop Writer's Room fellow. Choksi relaxes by sewing, crafting, and making stuff. He loves his wife, his family, and 4 of his friends. He thinks you should be nice to yourself and is impressed by your power. Dr. Wendy A. Suzuki is a Professor of Neural Science and Psychology in the Center for Neural Science at New York University. She received her undergraduate degree in physiology and human anatomy at the University of California, Berkeley in 1987 studying with Prof. Marion C. Diamond, a leader in the field of brain plasticity. She went on to earn her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from U.C. San Diego in 1993 and completed apost-doctoral fellowship at the National Institutes of Health before accepting her faculty position at New York University in 1998. Her major research interest continues to be brain plasticity. She is best known for her extensive work studying areas in the brain critical for our ability to form and retain new long-term memories. More recently her work has focused on understanding how aerobic exercise can be used to improve learning, memory and higher cognitive abilities in humans. Wendy is passionate about teaching (see her courses), about exercise (intenSati), and about supporting and mentoring up and coming scientists. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
31/07/20·34m 29s

Shame: Stories about the judgment of others

This week we present two stories from people who felt shamed by a diagnosis. Part 1: Jamie Brickhouse's HIV-positive status becomes a point of tension at the dentist's office. Part 2: Diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder as a child, Anders Lee struggles with this identity as an adult preparing to donate sperm. Called “a natural raconteur” by the Washington Post, Jamie Brickhouse is the New York Times published author of Dangerous When Wet: A Memoir of Booze, Sex, and My Mother, and he’s appeared on PBS-TV’s Stories from the Stage, The Moth Podcast, Risk! Podcast, Story Collider Podcast, and recorded voice-overs for the legendary cartoon Beavis and Butthead. He is a four-time Moth StorySLAM champion, National Storytelling Network Grand Slam winner, and Literary Death Match champ. Jamie tours two award-winning solo shows, Dangerous When Wet, based on his critically-acclaimed memoir, and I Favor My Daddy, based on his forthcoming memoir. A fixture on the New York storytelling circuit, he has appeared on stages across the country and in Mexico and Canada. Jamie’s personal essays have been published in the New York Times, International Herald Tribune, Washington Post, Daily Beast, Salon, Out, Huffington Post, and POZ. Friend him on Facebook, follow him on Instagram, Twitter and YouTube @jamiebrickhouse, and visit Anders Lee is a DC based comedian and writer featured on TV's Redacted Tonight and the podcast Pod Damn America. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
24/07/20·30m 4s

Help from Family Part 2: Stories about taking care of relatives

This week we present two stories from people for whom science and their family crossed paths. Part 1: After her mom's version of the sex talk confuses her, Khadija Aweis is determined to make sure her little brother has clarity. Part 2: When Leesha Maliakal takes on an ambitious research project designing an app for marathon spectators, her supportive dad tries to help. Khadija Aweis is a Health Administration graduate student at the University of Washington. Indecisive by nature, Khadija has had the pleasure of bouncing around in several healthcare settings before landing on supporting the business needs of healthcare organizations with a desire to push forth strategic needs through an equitable lens. Khadija hails from the DMV metro area and is a Cancer through and through. She loves spending time with her makeshift Seattle family and going on internet research spirals inspired by late-night anxieties. Leesha is a Ph.D. student in the Technology and Social Behavior program at Northwestern. Inspired by the family and communities that raised her, she now explores systems that improve the ways in which we reflect, practice, learn, grow, and support one another in our communities. Read more about her work at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
17/07/20·34m 26s

Help from Family Part 1: Stories about complicated relationships

This week we present stories about two people who had to navigate the complicated process of helping their family when they were needed most. Part 1: When his mother is diagnosed with breast cancer, Ian Anthony has to take care of her, even though she didn't always do the best job of taking care of him. Ian Anthony works as a public defender in Howard county, Maryland where he represents indigent defendants. With a background in theater and a passion for storytelling, he fights to make sure the truth of his clients’ stories gets told. Ian is a proud graduate of Columbia University (B.A.), Maryland Carey Law (J.D.), and the Trial Lawyer's College. Part 2: Determined to make it on her own, Yaihara Fortis Santiago leaves her home in Puerto Rico for grad school, but her father still wants to protect her. Yaihara Fortis Santiago grew up in the mountains of Puerto Rico where she felt in love with science. After completing her bachelors in Biology at the University of Puerto Rico, she moved to New England to pursue her PhD in Neuroscience at Brandeis University. Her time at Brandeis made her realized that she wanted to use her science training to have an impact on Higher Education. In 2012, as part of her AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellowship, she worked at the Nationals Science Foundation (NSF). Her work at the NSF gave her the foundation to launch a career training scientists at the intersection of policy, communication, diversity, inclusion and equity. Currently, she is the Associate Director for Postdoctoral Affairs and Trainee Diversity Initiatives at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Furthermore, in 2020 she was selected as a fellow for the Women inPower network. She loves big city living, but she is the happiest at her family’s farm, traveling with friends, telling stories and dancing salsa. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
10/07/20·32m 30s

Out on my Own: Stories about going away from home

This week we present two stories from people who found adventure when on their own. Part 1: Shawn Hercules is a successful gospel radio deejay in Barbados, but he dreams of a different kind of life in science. Part 2: Emma Young feels ready for her first real job in science, surveying northern spotted owls, until she encounters some unexpected fears. Shawn Hercules is currently a Biology Ph.D. candidate at McMaster University. He investigates the epidemiology and genetics of an aggressive form of breast cancer disproportionately affecting women of African ancestry. After moving to Canada from the island of Barbados, Shawn quickly got involved with Let’s Talk Science and communicating science via social media (@shawnhercules) and most recently co-produced and participated in the first ever "Science is a Drag” show presenting science in drag! Emma Young is a Knauss Marine Policy Fellow with the US Fish and Wildlife Service in Washington, DC. She moonlights as a PhD candidate and science communicator at the University of Missouri - Saint Louis, where she studies avian malaria. She enjoys hoarding plants and shouting about how much she loves science, and she is the founder of Science Distilled, a bi-monthly science happy hour in St. Louis. She tweets @emyoung90. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
03/07/20·36m 0s

Navigating Whiteness: Stories from Black educators

This week we present two stories from Black people who were dealing with the ramifications of our racist systems. Part 1: As a science teacher, Mamoudou N'Diaye was supposed to have all the answers, but he struggles to explain being Black in the USA. Part 2: Rhonda Key fights to be taken seriously by her white co-workers and students when she gets a job at a middle school. Mamoudou N'Diaye is a Mauritanian American comic, writer, filmmaker, activist, DJ, and former teacher. N'Diaye has been a correspondent for digital media companies Mic and Seeker, a creative comedy consultant for social justice nonprofits Color of Change, Hip Hop Caucus, The Center for Cultural Power, and The Center for Media and Social Impact, and a winner of 2019's Yes And Laughter Lab for his pilot, Franklin. He has written and appeared in the Comedy Central Original They Follow, written for Refinery29's After After Party, and is in post-production for the webseries Bodegaverse with Karen Sepulveda. N'Diaye is developing By Us, For Us, a late-night sketch/talk show centering Black voices, for Color for Change and Flyovers, a half-hour dramedy about being Black in the rural Midwest. N’Diaye holds a degree in cognitive behavioral neuroscience from the College of Wooster. Rhonda M. Key has served as a teacher and administrator in suburban, rural, and urban school districts throughout her career. Currently, she serves as Assistant Superintendent of Jennings School District. Under her purview as the former Principal/Director of Secondary Education-Community Partnerships, Jennings Senior High School achieved 100% graduation and job placements for the past three years. In 2014, Dr. Key was named one of Five Women to Make a Difference in the Decatur/Macon County area of Illinois. In March 2019 she was named Principal of the Year by the St. Louis Association of Secondary School Principals. Dr. Key is also the co-owner and founder of Key/Ming Educational Design LLC, educational consultant and co-author of articles regarding Urban Education. Dr. Key earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Lincoln University, and she completed her educational specialist and doctorate from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
26/06/20·30m 53s

Saving Dad: Stories about fathers who needed a helping hand

This week we present two stories about people who sprung to action to help a dad. Part 1: To cheer up her ailing father, Victoria Ruiz decides to smuggle a turtle into his hospital room. Part 2: Stacey Bader Curry finally meets a nice guy -- the only catch is, he needs a liver. Dr. Victoria Ruiz is an Assistant Professor in Biology at St. Francis College and Adjunct Assistant Professor at NYU Langone medical center. She obtained her PhD in Pathobiology from Brown University, and she completed her postdoctoral work at New York University Langone Medical Center. Her primary research focuses on the effects of environmental perturbations of microbial communities on host immunity. In addition to research, she is passionate about increasing equity and inclusion in STEM and developing new and innovative pedagogical strategies to improve learning outcomes for undergraduate students interested in pursuing STEM fields. Stacey Bader Curry has a BA in art history and political science from Rutgers University. Naturally, she began her career by selling laboratory equipment at Weill Cornell Medical College. She now sells apartments but can still get you a good deal on a centrifuge. Stacey is also a writer and storyteller and has appeared on PBS’ Stories From the Stage, Yum’s the Word with Mo Rocca, and has won several Moth slams, including a Grand Slam. Stacey lives in Manhattan with her four children, husband, a dog named Pip, and cases of powder-free nitrile gloves. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
19/06/20·33m 0s

Rebirth: Stories about recovering from pain

This week we present two stories from people who lost loved ones and had to rebuild themselves. Part 1: Massih Moayedi survives cancer, but the recovery throws his life off track. Part 2: After his 20-year-old daughter dies suddenly, Paul Battista has to relearn what his role in life is. Neuroscientist Massih Moayedi studies pain, a job that raises eyebrows at parties and sometimes prompts the confused response: "What kind of paint?" His research actually focuses on understanding how pain is processed in healthy individuals, and where the differences lie for those with chronic pain. He is now an assistant professor at the University of Toronto's Faculty of Dentistry, and Co-Director of the Centre for Multimodal Sensorimotor and Pain Research, but his path to pain research was a personal one. Paul Battista holds Bachelor and Masters degrees from the University of Waterloo and leads the financial services practice for EY Canada. In the wake of the tragic loss of his daughter in 2017 as a result of a flawed diagnostic protocol, he founded the Leah Battista Foundation ( dedicated to carrying out work that was destined to become Leah’s life legacy had she lived. To that end, her Foundation is dedicated to improving, enriching and empowering the lives of youth and the disadvantaged through health and education, the arts and social entrepreneurship. To learn more about Leah’s kind and generous spirit and to consider supporting the Foundation that has been created in order to continue to help carry on her work, please visit and follow the Foundation on Instagram at and on Facebook at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
12/06/20·32m 1s

BONUS EPISODE: Bias: A story about institutional racism

This week we present a story from our back-catalogue that speaks to this current moment in time. As a medical school student Roger Mitchell Jr. sees a patient that makes him reflect on violence and police in the Black community. Dr. Roger Mitchell Jr. is the Chief Medical Examiner of Washington, DC and is uniquely positioned to understand the social determinants that lead to the violence affecting our most vulnerable communities. He has a great interest in Violence as a public health issue. He is board certified in Anatomic and Forensic Pathology by the American Board of Pathology. Dr. Mitchell is also a licensed minister serving as a mentor in his local community. He often shares how drugs and violence have shaped his own life. He is a husband to his wife of 17 years and a father to his three children. Dr. Mitchell has pledged his professional career and personal time to the service of others. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
11/06/20·14m 11s

Memories: Stories about memories left unformed

This week we share two stories from people whose understanding of the use of memory was challenged. Part 1: Padraic Stanley gets a fresh start when his abusive father gets diagnosed with Alzheimer's dementia. Part 2: After meeting a man with a rare memory disorder, Paul Aflalo reconsiders his own memories. Padraic Stanley is a social worker living in Chicago, IL. He currently works as a program coordinator for health promotion programs in the Rush University Medical Center Department of Social Work & Community Health. He is also the chair of Rush’s Immigrant Health Working Group, which oversees Rush’s immigrant health and welcoming healthcare initiatives. Up until recently, Padraic was also a registry inpatient case manager at Mercy Hospital and Medical Center on the weekends. He is a graduate of the Loyola University Chicago School of Social Work, where he completed the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship and completed a clinical practicum at Heartland Human Care Services and the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. Currently, he is on the associate board for Erie Neighborhood House, a member of the National Schweitzer Fellowship Alumni Leadership Committee, and is on the executive board of the International Association of Social Work with Groups. Paul Aflalo is a storyteller and documentary producer. He creates narrative-driven pieces for film, radio and podcasts. His work has been featured on CBC Radio, SiriusXM, and presented at film festivals around the world, including the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam. Paul has shared stories across Canada, in Europe and the UK. Paul is the Artistic Director of Replay Storytelling, an all-true storytelling show in Canada, and is also the Creative Director of the Aphantasia Network. In 2020 in response to the global pandemic, he founded the world’s first 24-hour True Storytelling Festival, bringing people together from all corners of the globe, to share personal true stories from lived experience. His focus is to help others share the stories that need to be told. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
29/05/20·26m 15s

Impressions: Stories about our relationships to data

This week we present two stories from people who used technology to understand their relationships. Part 1: Digital consultant Phong Tran navigates his relationship through various digital platforms. Part 2: Fed up with feeling lonely, Sufian Zhemukhov embarks on a data driven analysis of his own unlikability. Phong Tran is a Creative Technologist at a digital consultancy. He works on websites and applications in both roles as a designer and a developer. As someone with a preference to dabble and a short attention span, he works on art projects in various mediums. The projects tend to ask questions about our relationship to our digital selves, and overall how that changes how we see each other. Also, at other times it's just about food Phong ate. A collection of his design can be found at, and a collection of other things will be at his Instagram account, @phonghtran. Sufian Zhemukhov is an award-winning author and performer. He received the 2020 J. J. Reneaux Emerging Artist Award, from the National Storytelling Network, "to a storyteller of major and unique performing talent." He is The 2019 Moth Champion and winner at the 2018 Story Slam at the National Storytelling Festival. Sufian’s recent solo show, Flirting Like an American, received critical acclaim in Washington, DC and Rochester, NY. Sufian's stories are based on his personal experience as a first-generation immigrant and professor of international affairs at George Washington University that might be much funnier than you would expect. His recent book, Mass Religious Ritual and Intergroup Tolerance, won the 2019 Best Book Award at the International Studies Association. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
22/05/20·27m 16s

Celebrating 10 Years: Our favorite stories

This week we present four of our favorite stories of all time. Part 1: Neuroscientist David Carmel tests his own understanding of the brain when his own father suffers a stroke. Part 2: Ralph Bouquet goes off script during a psychology research study with uncomfortable and revealing consequences. Part 3: Feeling isolated in her new job as a particle accelerator operator at Fermilab, Cindy Joe finds comfort in the friendship of her unconventional pet. Part 4: To discover why some survivors of trauma experience PTSD and some don't, scientist Rachel Yehuda must convince a community of Holocaust survivors to let her study them. David Carmel grew up reading Oliver Sacks and loving the weird stories of what goes wrong in people's brains, so he became a neuroscientist. He spends his days trying to figure out how the brain creates consciousness, and his nights trying to remember why he ever thought he could accomplish this. He is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Psychology at Victoria University of Wellington. Ralph Bouquet is the Director of Education and Outreach for NOVA, the PBS science documentary series produced by WGBH in Boston. At NOVA, Ralph’s team supports science educators through the creation of free classroom resources and finds creative ways to engage new audiences for NOVA’s broadcast and digital productions through science communication events around the country. Before NOVA, Ralph taught high school biology and chemistry in Philadelphia and then spent some time in ed-tech at a Boston-based startup. Ralph received his B.A. from Harvard University, and studied secondary science methods and urban education while completing his M.Ed. at UPenn. Cindy Joe is an engineering physicist at Fermilab, America’s particle physics and accelerator laboratory. She got her bachelor’s degree in physics and became a licensed senior nuclear reactor operator at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. After starting at Fermilab, she worked as a particle accelerator operator for seven years before taking her current role with several experiments studying neutrinos, tiny particles that might hold the answers to some of the universe’s biggest mysteries. Cindy is a frequent and deeply passionate contributor to Fermilab’s educational outreach programs and has spoken to audiences from elementary school students to members of Congress. Rachel Yehuda is a professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Director of the Mental Health Patient Care Center at the James J. Peters Bronx Veterans Affairs hospital. Her research on PTSD has included both human populations and animal models, neuroendocrinology, neuronal stimulations studies with human stem cells, and genomic and molecular biological studies of trauma. She has recently established a Center for Psychedelic Psychotherapy and Trauma at Mount Sinai. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
15/05/20·1h 7m

Becoming Mom: Stories about wanting to mother

This week we present two stories from two women who struggled to adopt. Part 1: Inspired by her work as a parental behavior researcher, Bianca Jones Marlin and her husband decide to become foster parents. Part 2: Raised by white adoptive parents, Kim Evey seeks out motherhood as a way to connect with her Asian identity. Dr. Bianca Jones Marlin is a neuroscientist and postdoctoral researcher at Columbia University in the laboratory of Nobel Laureate Dr. Richard Axel, where she investigates transgenerational epigenetic inheritance, or how traumatic experiences in parents affect the brain structure of their offspring. She holds a PhD in neuroscience from New York University, and dual bachelor degrees from St. John’s University, in biology and adolescent education. As a graduate student, her research focused on the vital bond between parent and child, and studied the use of neurochemicals, such as the “love drug” oxytocin, as a treatment to strengthen fragile and broken parent-child relationships. Dr. Marlin’s research has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, Scientific American, and Discover Magazine’s “100 Top Stories of 2015.” Dr. Marlin aims to utilize neurobiology and the science of learning to better inform both the scientific and educational community on how positive experiences dictate brain health, academic performance, and social well being. Kim Evey is a Los Angeles-based actress and stand up comedian who has been writing and performing comedy for over three decades. She began her comedy career in Seattle as a founding member of the critically acclaimed long-form improv group Kings' Elephant Theater and as a guest cast member on the Emmy-winning sketch comedy show "Almost Live." In LA, Kim has studied at The Groundlings and Improv Olympic and taught sketch comedy writing at ACME Comedy Theater. She has appeared in numerous commercials and TV shows, written for children's animation, created and starred in the Sony produced web series "Gorgeous Tiny Chicken Machine Show" and produced the trailblazing series "The Guild," a web show so successful that it was actually put on display in The Smithsonian American History Museum. She currently performs stand up at venues all over Los Angeles and her online clips have garnered over seven million views. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
08/05/20·32m 18s

Something's Not Right: Stories about needing to figure things out

This week we present two stories from people who needed to decipher themselves. Part 1: After some unfortunate night-time incidents, Keith Mellnick realizes he needs to better understand his sleepwalking before it starts causing even more problems. Part 2: Avneet Johal is excited to start his first year at university, but strange thoughts and behaviors keep getting in the way. Keith Mellnick is a freelance photographer whose past work in the Middle East, Central Asia, and East Africa has been highlighted by National Geographic Books, the Atlantic, and his brother's refrigerator. Based in Washington, DC, he currently works primarily with organized labor and progressive causes throughout the US. In addition to photography and storytelling, he enjoys any opportunity to escape into the woods--far from politics, Photoshop, and oppressive DC heat indexes. Avneet Johal is an award-winning storyteller based in Vancouver, BC with expertise in communication and leadership. He previously managed housing programs for the Canadian Mental Health Association and has worked on a series of successful political campaigns. A Canadian representative at the United Nations, he follows global affairs and also enjoys sports, languages, and (good) rap music. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Los Altos Institute and is honoured to work with a team of talented undergraduate students at the University of British Columbia – a team which he thanks for encouraging him to share his stories with a wider audience. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
01/05/20·39m 57s

When I Was a Scientist: Stories about an earlier life

This week we present two stories from people who used to be scientists. Part 1: Despite loving science, Ivan Decker's first exposure to field work doesn't go as planned. Part 2: Nathan Min tries to pursue a 'respectable' scientific career, but finds himself relating to the mice he studies. Originally from Vancouver, Ivan Decker is a stand-up comedian that now makes his home in Los Angeles California. He has been featured on CBC, CTV, TBS and many other media outlets as part of shows such as: The Debaters, Just for Laughs, CONAN and he has a half hour special on NETFLIX. In 2018, Ivan was also the first Canadian to win a JUNO award for comedy album of the year since the award was given to Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas for the soundtrack to the movie strange brew in 1984. Nathan Min is a TV writer, actor, and stand-up based in New York City. He recently wrote for Adult Swim’s “Joe Pera Talks with You.” Previously, “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.” He started performing stand up comedy as a freshman at Johns Hopkins University and went on to win the DC Improv’s Funniest College Stand Up competition at the end of his senior year. After college, he began studying at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York where he has since written for several house sketch teams. In 2014, he was selected as a finalist for the Andy Kaufman Award. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
24/04/20·29m 36s

Unprepared: Stories about unprepared parents

This week we present two stories from people who found themselves without the tools they needed. Part 1: When Jack Walsh finds out his first child will be born in just a few days, he panics. Part 2: After experiencing hearing loss, Jeannie Gaffigan receives the startling news that she has a brain tumor. Jack Walsh is an Emmy-winning television producer, a generally engaging storyteller, a halfway-decent writer, and the world’s worst guitar player. He has performed at the Moth, the Atlanta Science Festival, DragonCon, and, strangely, a Yom Kippur service. A native of Canton, NC, he now lives in Decatur, GA, with his wife and two daughters. Jeannie Gaffigan is a director, producer and comedy writer. She co-wrote seven comedy specials with her husband Jim Gaffigan, the last 5 of which received Grammy nominations. Jeannie was the head writer and executive producer of the critically acclaimed THE JIM GAFFIGAN SHOW, and collaborated with Jim on the two New York Times Bestsellers, DAD IS FAT and FOOD A LOVE STORY. Jeannie’s own book, WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU PEARS, debuted on the New York Times Bestsellers List. Jeannie, with the help of her two eldest children and some other crazy moms, created THE IMAGINE SOCIETY, INC., a not for profit organization that connects youth-led service groups. Most impressively, she grew a tumor on her brain stem roughly the size of pear. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
17/04/20·42m 59s

Revelations: Stories about big reveals

This week we present two stories from people who learned something about their childhood later in life. Part 1: Growing up in the fifties and sixties, Jenice Matias senses there's more to her mother's occupation than she understands. Part 2: D.B. Firstman has always known their body is different, but at the age of thirty, they make a discovery that changes everything. Jenice Matias is a dancer, singer, actress, comedy writer, and storyteller. Her story on the Guys We Fucked podcast has been listened to over a quarter of a million times, and she performs storytelling all over New York City. She is currently revamping her solo show “Pussinomics: a comedy” a political satire on the selling and marketing of the female persona. You can learn more about Jenice Matias on her website D.B. Firstman is a lifelong New Yorker born and raised in Queens. A career-long civil servant, they are a data analyst for the City of New York, crunching numbers in Excel and SPSS. A lifelong baseball fan, they have had their work published on ESPN.COM and, as well as in the SABR Baseball Research Journal. Their first book: “Hall of Name: Baseball’s Most Magnificent Monikers from ‘The Only Nolan’ to ‘Van Lingle Mungo’ and More” is available on Amazon and local indy bookstores. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
10/04/20·42m 11s

Emergency: Stories about urgent situations

This week we present two stories from people who deal with emergencies. Part 1: As a first-generation pre-med student with no financial aid, Brooke Dolecheck takes a job as a 911 operator to support herself. Part 2: Flight paramedic Marc Doll must transport a child to St. Louis for his last chance at a heart transplant. Brooke Dolecheck graduated from Boise State University in 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts in Multidisciplinary Studies with an emphasis in Leadership and Human Relations. She's now an undergraduate academic advisor at Boise State University in the program which she graduated from. She works with students who, like herself, have found alternative pathways to pursuing a degree when the traditional route didn't work. She's an advocate for her students - creating unique degree plans that meet the needs of students' goals and the demands of the workforce. Marc Doll is the EMS Bureau Chief of the City of St. Charles Fire Department and a 26-year veteran of Emergency Medical Services. Marc has flown world wide to transport those in dire medical need from remote Russia to Carbondale, IL. He’s spent a total of 15 years in the high adrenaline atmosphere as a flight paramedic for both repatriation and children. For a change of pace, he has spent 22 years as a firefighter. While working two full time jobs, he finished his bachelor's degree in EMS Management from Missouri Southern State University with honors and is planning on continuing at Maryville University to acquire his nursing degree starting in the fall of 2020. His hobbies include beer making, practicing his banjo, and spending time with his wife, daughter (who is a nurse), two sons, and two dogs. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
03/04/20·36m 13s

Asking for Help: Stories about needing assistance

This week we present two stories from people who didn’t ask for help until it was too late. Part 1: Determined to fit in as a PhD student, Aparna Agarwal decides she'll never ask for help -- even if it means fitting in to much smaller gloves. Part 2: On a snorkeling trip of his dreams, Jesse Hildebrand doesn’t want to admit he has no idea what he’s doing. Aparna Agarwal is a graduate student in Dr. Deepa Agashe’s lab at the National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore, India, by day, and a random thoughts compiler whenever inspiration strikes her. Currently, she is trying to understand adaptation and the role of microbes in that process using the red flour beetle. She is, on an average day, clueless but curious and trying to find answers. In that quest, she loves to travel in person, as well as through the magic of books, articles, blogs, conversations and in general, stories. She enjoys using these stories to help her share and build her science. Jesse Hildebrand is the VP of Education for Exploring By The Seat of Your Pants, a digital education non-profit that connects scientists and explorers with kids ( He's also the founder of Canada's Science Literacy Week ( and a fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society ( Jesse suffers from an excess of personality, watches too many Blue Jays games for his own good, and can enter into a spirited debate on the merits of the Marvel films. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
27/03/20·31m 37s

Desperate Times: Stories about resorting to desperate measures

This week we present two stories from people who were at the end of their rope. Part 1: After donating her kidney to a friend, Leah Waters struggles to get back to normal. Part 2: When the coral colonies of her childhood experience a bleaching event, Native Hawaiian coral biologist Narrissa Spies must face her greatest fear to protect them. Leah Waters is a multiplatform editor at The Dallas Morning News and also advises journalism programs at Frisco Heritage High School. Waters received her M.A. in Journalism from University of North Texas’ Mayborn School of Journalism in 2017. She also majored in journalism at Angelo State University in 2010, where she was the campus newspaper’s editor-in-chief. Waters currently serves as the Texas Association of Journalism Educators’ State Director and as a vice president of the Association of Texas Photography Instructors. She is a first amendment advocate and testified this session in support of a bill that would restore student press rights in Texas. Narrissa Spies is a Native Hawaiian scientist who was born and raised on the island of Hawaii. She received her bachelor and master’s degrees from the University of Hawaii at Hilo, and is in the process of completing her PhD this semester at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She has previously worked as a researcher, curriculum developer, and educator, and has a passion for marine conservation. In her current position she is on a team that manages ecological services on Oahu, Kauai, American Samoa, and Papahanaumokuakea. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
20/03/20·41m 20s

Math Class: Stories about adventures in math education

This week we present two stories from the math classroom. Part 1: High school math whiz Tori Ball has always hoped a boy would fall in love with her mind, but when it finally happens, she's not sure how she feels. Part 2: High achieving, but superstitious college student Maryam Zaringhalam’s entire system collapses when she misses a calculus test. Tori Ball is a high school math teacher in Rockville, Maryland. She spends her days taking derivatives, graphing parabolas, and making young people giggle when she says the word "asymptote." Back when she was a high school student in Rockville, Maryland, Tori's antics on the morning announcements earned her the nickname "Tori with the Story" - a moniker that remains appropriate to this day. Tori has shared stories on stage in DC with Story District, the Moth, and Perfect Liar's Club - and is excited for her Story Collider debut! Maryam is a molecular biologist who traded in her pipettes for the world of science policy and advocacy. She comes to D.C. from the concrete jungles of New York, where she received her PhD from The Rockefeller University. She co-hosts the science policy podcast Science Soapbox, and her words have appeared in Slate, Scientific American, and Quartz. Her cat is named Tesla, after Nikola and not Elon Musk's car. For insights like this and more, follow her on Twitter @webmz_ Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
13/03/20·32m 27s

Barriers: Stories about what stood in our way

This week we present two stories from people who were faced with barriers to their education. Part 1: Eager to succeed in her Physical Chemistry class, Shaniece Mosley is thrown off by a professor's attempt at a compliment. Part 2: Lelemia Irvine struggles to get through his PhD program as he's constantly told that his identity as a Native Hawaiian is incompatible with academia. Shaniece Mosley has been a teacher for eight years, and currently teaches chemistry, AP Chemistry, and science research at Midwood High School in Brooklyn. After attending Northeastern University and SUNYAlbany, where she received a B.S. in Chemistry, she attended Pace University where she earned an M.S. in Secondary Science Education. A former New York City Teaching Fellow, Shaniece is now an MƒA Master Teacher. She enjoys spending free time with her husband Dan and their 2 year old son Greyson. Lelemia Irvine, PhD, EIT, is kupukaaina, a lineal descendant from the aboriginal families that sprouted out of the land of Waiʻanae, Oʻahu. Dr. Irvine is an Assistant Professor of Physics at the University of Hawaiʻi at West Oʻahu. He is now at his dream job as a professor but the road to get there was not a breeze. Dr. Irvine is the first Kāne Kanaka ʻŌiwi (Native Hawaiian male) to earn a PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering program at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa in 2019. In his doctoral research, he studied the physics of stormwater within a bioswale using predictive and computational approaches. As far as we know, presently there are less than 10 Native Hawaiians with a PhD in any engineering discipline in the world. Dr. Irvine is a self-described Rain Farmer, a term he coined, when his father, who has dementia, ask him “boy, what you studying in school?”. As a rain farmer, he seeks to connect sky to aquifer thru the physics of fluids and indigenous engineering ways of knowing. Dr. Irvine shares his personal journey as an empowerment tool for others to co-navigate and constellate the village of higher education systems. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
06/03/20·38m 32s

Leap of Faith: Stories about finding and losing faith

This week we share two stories from people who were confronted with their faith. Part 1: Feeling like a loser after he fails to graduate on time with his degree in materials science, Len Kruger accepts a dinner invitation from a cult. Part 2: After young Jehovah's Witness Emmanuel Garcia loses his faith, he finds a new purpose at a neuroscience conference. Len Kruger is a writer and storyteller. He recently retired from the Congressional Research Service at the Library of Congress, where he was a Specialist in Science and Technology Policy. Len has performed stories on stage with local storytelling groups such as Story District, the Moth, and Better Said Than Done. His short fiction has appeared in numerous publications including Zoetrope All-Story, The Barcelona Review, and Gargoyle. He has Bachelor of Applied Science and Bachelor of Arts degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland. Emmanuel (Mani) Garcia is an Indigenous-Black-Latino psychological scientist-practitioner; passionate science communicator; sign language interpreter; group fitness instructor; certified holistic yoga teacher; statistics educator; filmmaker; artist; writer; musician; and cult survivor living in Queens NYC. While completing his PhD in Clinical Psychology at CUNY-John Jay, Mani is focused on developing his recently launched wellness capacity-building movement #Joy4L. His mission with #Joy4L is to increase joy in the lives of all minoritized people by increasing their access to high quality wellness resources. You can follow Mani at:; Instagram: @bodyweightfun; Twitter: @manigarcianyc. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
28/02/20·35m 33s

A Whole New World: Stories about having to take on the challenge of a whole new existence

This week we present two stories of people having to navigate a new world. Part 1: Sean Bearden has never been interested in education, but when he's incarcerated at the age of 19, he finds a passion for physics. Part 2: When Victoria Manning decides to get a cochlear implant, she fears losing her identity as a deaf person. Sean Bearden is a Ph. D. candidate in Physics at UC San Diego, researching the application and development of memcomputing systems, a novel computing paradigm. Identifying as a nontraditional student, Sean went from dropping out of high school to receiving the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship. To alleviate the stress that is inevitably coupled with graduate research, he enjoys training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at the P5 Academy in San Diego. Visit to learn more. Raised in Lower Hutt and Deaf since age four, Victoria Manning’s first career was in psychology but her strong sense of social justice and experience in the USA saw her gravitate towards advocacy roles. Victoria led a 5 year long human rights complaint that resulted in the establishment of a telephone relay service enabling deaf, hard-of-hearing and speech impaired people to access the telephone. She co-chaired the Government’s Disability Strategy review reference group and was the inaugural chairperson of the Government’s New Zealand Sign Language Board. One of Victoria’s career highlights was being chosen to represent disabled New Zealanders at the United Nations for New Zealand’s first reporting on its progress on implementing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. She was given a Queen’s Service Award for her services to the deaf and disabled communities in 2015. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
21/02/20·44m 19s

Sex Ed: Stories about the education of sexuality

Vote for your favorite Story Collider story of all time here: This week we present two stories from people who navigated the joys of sex in surprising ways. Part 1: When Eva Bloom struggles to have an orgasm, she turns to research. Part 2: Dasha Kelly Hamilton thinks of a creative way to teach her daughters about sex. Eva Bloom (she/her) is a sexuality educator and researcher. She is the creator of the inclusive, anti-oppressive, and evidence-based sex-ed web series for youth “What’s My Body Doing”, which has garnered over 1 million views. She holds a Masters of Science with her thesis focusing on sexuality and technology, with interests in self-compassion and bisexuality. She has spoken at the Guelph Sexuality Conference among others and is a winner of a Planned Parenthood Toronto’s Choice Award (2017) for excellence in sexuality education. Dasha Kelly Hamilton is a writer, performance artist and creative change agent. Through responsive and respectful intentionality, Dasha leverages the creative process to facilitate critical dialogues around human and social wellness. Dasha delivers her engagement sessions to campuses, classrooms, correctional institutions, association conferences, social service agencies, municipal departments and team retreats. Her nonprofit, Still Waters Collective, has curated poetry programming and spoken word events in the region for almost 20 years. The work has impacting more than 13,000 youth, provided professional development to more than 100 young people and created platforms for thousands of voices to be honored and heard. Dasha has written for national, regional and local magazines; produced three collections of poetry; recorded four spoken word CDs; and published two novels. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University and has taught writing courses at Mount Mary University, Alverno College and UW-Milwaukee. Dasha served as an Arts Envoy for the U.S. Embassy to teach, perform and facilitate community building initiatives in Botswana and the island of Mauritius. A former Artist of the Year for the City of Milwaukee, Dasha was recently named the city’s 11th Poet Laureate. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
14/02/20·32m 26s

Love and Technology: Stories about the technology that alters our lives

Vote for your favorite Story Collider story of all time here: This week we present stories from people who navigated our changing relationship to technology. Part 1: As a kid, Samy Kamkar discovers his superpower -- hacking. Part 2: When Jordan Bush's father-in-law-to-be is diagnosed with cancer shortly before her wedding, she finds a creative way to help him attend. Samy Kamkar is a cofounder of Openpath, security researcher, and huge nerd. His open source hardware and software highlight the insecurities in everyday technologies, such as weaponizing a children's toy to unlock cars, designing clandestine wireless keyboard sniffers hidden into mobile phone chargers, and building drones that wirelessly hijack and control swarms of other drones. His work has been cited by the NSA, triggered hearings on Capitol Hill, and has been the basis for security advancements across vehicles, smartphones, and other technologies. Jordan is finishing up her dissertation in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Tennessee Knoxville. Her research focuses on when and where lizards fight over territories. She asks that you not confuse her obsession with lizards as a general interest in all reptiles - she does not like snakes, keep your snakes to yourself. After graduating, she has a real goal of becoming a professor at a liberal arts college, and a secret goal of becoming a science journalist and children's book author. She currently lives in Knoxville, TN with her wonderful husband, two babies, and two dogs. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
07/02/20·35m 14s

Mothers and Sons: Stories about the love between mothers and sons

This week we present two stories from mothers who learned valuable lessons from the sons they birthed. Part 1: Avi Caspe and his mother, Ariel Detzer, reckon with what the label of "autism" means for their family. Part 2: When Paulette Steeves' son is given 2 years to live, she searches for a way to keep him alive. Dr. Ariel Detzer is a psychologist in Seattle, Washington, with a practice focused on neurodiversity. She believes that creating a better world for neurodiverse people comes about both through therapeutic support for clients themselves, and through educating clients, families, and surrounding educational and institutional stakeholders. Don't just help the client, change the whole system--this is the social model of disability. To challenge the complex pattern-loving part of her brain, she sings with the Seattle Early Music Guild a capella choir, Sine Nomine. Avi Caspe was a high school senior when he recorded this story. He began his autistic activism in sixth grade with a school social justice project on the lack of educator preparation for teaching autistic inclusion students. He made his first academic presentation to the national Association for Autistic Community Conference in 2014, sharing a presentation on how autistic middle schoolers process information in unique ways when under stress, which may in turn impact the way they process bullying experiences, as well as school discipline. Avi is now a freshman at Bellevue College in Washington, where he plans to major in Computer Science. He enjoys improving his standing on Rubik's Cube scores at World Cubing Association events. Paulette Steeves was born in Whitehorse Yukon Territories and grew up in Lillooet, British Columbia, Canada. She is an Indigenous archaeologist with a focus on the Pleistocene history of the Western Hemisphere. In her research Steeves argues that Indigenous peoples were present in the Western Hemisphere as early as 60,000 years ago, and possibly much earlier. She has created a data base of hundreds of archaeology sites in both North and South America that date from 250,000 to 12,000 years before present, which challenges the Clovis First dogma of a post 12,000 year before present initial migrations to the Americas. Dr. Steeves received her BA in Anthropology, Honors Cum Laude from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, and completed a two-year internship with the Quapaw Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) program during her undergraduate studies. In 2008 Dr. Steeves was awarded the Clifford D. Clark fellowship to attend graduate studies at Binghamton University in New York State. Dr. Steeves dissertation Decolonizing Indigenous Histories: Pleistocene Archaeology Sites of the Western Hemisphere is the first dissertation framed in Indigenous Method and Theory in Anthropology within the United States. In 2011 and 2012 she worked with the Denver Museum of Nature and Science to carry out studies in the Great Plains on mammoth sites which contained evidence of human technology on the mammoth bone, thus showing that humans were present in Nebraska over 18,000 years ago. In 2019 she started a new research project focused on creating sacred Indigenous regenerative soils to address food insecurity in the North. Dr. Steeves has taught Anthropology courses with a focus on Native American and First Nations histories and studies, and decolonization of academia and knowledge production at many universities. She is currently an Assistant Professor in History at Algoma University and is a nominee for a Canada Research Chair in Indigenous History Healing and Reconciliation. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
31/01/20·38m 42s

Code of Ethics: Stories about doing the right thing

This week we present two stories of people struggling with what the “right” thing to do is. Part 1: Catherine Macdonald always wanted to study sharks, but her first time tagging them in the field doesn't go as planned. Part 2: When Michelle Tong visits home after her first semester of medical school, a stranger presents an ethical dilemma. Dr. Catherine Macdonald is co-founder and Director of Field School (, a marine science training and education company dedicated to constantly improving field research practices while teaching students to perform hands-on research with sharks. She is also a part-time Lecturer in Marine Conservation Biology at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. Company website: Personal website: Michelle Tong is a second-year medical student from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She has been published in the Margins and Glass, among other literary journals, and reads for the Bellevue Literary Review. This past summer, she won first prize in the Michael E. DeBakey Medical Student Poetry Awards and received a fellowship from Brooklyn Poets. She teaches poetry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and lives in East Harlem. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
24/01/20·30m 7s

Identity Crisis: Stories about what makes us who we are

This week we present two stories about people struggling with their identity. Part 1: When science journalist Katherine Wu interviews a scientist about a new facial recognition algorithm, the conversation turns more personal than she expected. Part 2: Hurricane Katrina gives Mary Annaise Heglar a new perspective on both her grandfather and home state. Katherine J. Wu is a Boston-based science journalist and storyteller whose writing has appeared in Smithsonian magazine, Scientific American, NOVA Next, and more. She's also a senior producer for The Story Collider. In 2018, she earned a Ph.D. in microbiology and immunobiology from Harvard University, where she studied how bacteria deal with stress so she could one day learn to do the same. She can spell "tacocat" backwards. Mary Annaise Heglar is a climate justice essayist and communications professional based in New York City. Her writing has been published in Vox, Dame Magazine, Zora, and Inverse. She writes regularly on Medium and rants almost daily on Twitter. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
17/01/20·30m 34s

Hypothesis: Stories about having a question that needs answering

This week we present two stories from people who had hypotheses. Part 1: Teaching sixth grade science becomes much more difficult when Xochitl Garcia's students start hypothesizing that fire is alive. Part 2: When journalist John Rennie is assigned to cover an entomological society event where insects are served as food, he sees an opportunity to face his fear of bugs. Xochitl Garcia is the K-12 education program manager at Science Friday, where she focuses on supporting the inspiring efforts of educators (of all types) to engage students in science, engineering, math, and the arts. She is a former NYC school teacher, who specializes in sifting through random piles of junk that she insists are "treasures," to figure out cool ways for learners to explore scientific phenomena. You can find her making a mess in the name of science education at the Science Friday office, her house, with other get the picture. Update: Xochitl welcomed her baby (not fire) into the world on 1/1/2020. John has worked as a science editor, writer and lecturer for more than 30 years. Currently, he is deputy editor at Quanta Magazine. During his time as editor in chief at Scientific American, between 1994 and 2009, the magazine received two National Magazine Awards. He co-created and hosted the 2013 series Hacking the Planet on The Weather Channel. Since 2009, he has been on the faculty of the Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program in New York University’s graduate journalism school. John is @tvjrennie and Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
10/01/20·36m 0s

Leaving Home: Stories about having to leave in order to find home

This week we present two stories of people who had to leave home to find a new home. Part 1: When Ph.D student Ali Mattu's girlfriend tells him she is moving to New York City, he has to make some tough decisions about where home is. Part 2: Arlo Pérez Esquivel struggles to define his boundaries with his father while he is pursuing his education in another country. Ali Mattu is a cognitive behavioral therapist who helps kids and adults with anxiety disorders. Through YouTube, Dr. Mattu teaches a global audience how to use psychological science to achieve their goals. He’s created over 100 videos for his YouTube channel, The Psych Show, which have been seen over 1,400,00 million times. He has been interviewed by the New York Times, appeared on Buzzfeed, MTV, CBS, NBC, PBS, and has the honor of being referenced, and not made fun of, on HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Dr. Mattu is a licensed clinical psychologist and was an assistant professor at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York City. He presently serves on the Board of Directors of The Story Collider and creates curriculum for the Pop Culture Hero Coalition. He has served in a variety of leadership roles within the American Psychological Association. Arlo Pérez Esquivel was raised in Mexico until the age of 16, when he left for the United States. There, he moved across multiple states, and lived in the homes of different friends and relatives in order to finish his education. During this constant movement, Arlo developed a passion for street photography. His work attempts to investigate the “sense of place” by capturing people, their environment, and the relationship between the two. He is now a Digital Associate Producer for NOVA on PBS, currently working on a ten-part digital series on how life and science are done in Antarctica. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
03/01/20·36m 9s

Shoot for the Stars: Stories about people who look to the night sky for inspiration

This week we share two stories of people who were inspired by heroes of space. Part 1: After watching a documentary about the moon landing, Kate Downey comes away with a love of all things Buzz Aldrin. Part 2: Richard French gets the call to work for NASA, fulfilling a dream that started with his professor Carl Sagan. Kate makes you fall in love with things you thought were boring. As the co-founder and Creative Director of Caveat, she heads up a team creating live shows that make you a little bit smarter and a little bit drunker. Previously, she directed Shakespeare and opera with the Public Theater and New York City Opera, and helped build Museum Hack, a renegade tour company at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. If you've seen any scientifically inaccurate whale illustrations from the 17th century, please alert her @wrongwhale on IG and TW. Richard French is former Chair of the Astronomy Department at Wellesley College and is a founding science team member of NASA's Cassini Mission to Saturn. He uses the Hubble Space Telescope and telescopes around the world to observe the rings and atmospheres of planets, and particularly enjoys introducing self-proclaimed “non-scientists” to the wonders of the Universe. He chose the life of an astronomer over that of an opera singer, but still loves music and the allied arts. Dick enjoys mountaineering, paddling, bicycling, photographing his travels around the world, and encouraging others to read “Moby Dick.” Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
27/12/19·36m 50s

Dating by the Numbers: Stories about the romantic side of numbers

This week we present two stories from people who found an intersection between numbers and their sex life. Part 1: When online dating isn't working out for him, Tristan Attwood decides to analyze the data himself. Part 2: In search of a deal, Gastor Almonte ends up with an unmanageable number of condoms. Tristan Attwood works as a business analyst for the airline industry. Originally from the Portland, Oregon, area, Tristan relocated to DC more than a decade ago after serving as a field organizer for a Senate campaign. Having been "unschooled" as a child, Tristan attended Linfield College in Oregon in the early 2000s but did not technically receive a high school diploma until getting his GED from the District of Columbia in 2015. He spends his free time renovating his DC townhouse, playing dungeons and dragons, and apologizing for the airline industry. He resides in DC with his wife, Jessica, and newborn baby Roland Tiberius. Gastor Almonte is a stand-up comedian and storyteller from Brooklyn, NY. He's appeared on Comedy Central's This Is Not Happening, Risk! podcast and the Story Collider Podcast. Timeout magazine named him one of your "New Comedy Obsessions." He's been featured on the New York Comedy Festival, The People's Impov Theater's SoloCom and Cinderblock Comedy Festival. His new album, Immigrant Made, was released in March 2019. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
20/12/19·34m 24s

A Scientist is Born: Stories that cross generations

This week we present two stories that give us insight into the birth and life of a scientist. Part 1: As a 16-year-old, Lily Be gets an unexpected education on the reproductive system. Part 2: Xavier Jordan discovers the party side of science at his first scientific conference. Lily Be started sharing stories in Chicago by accident in 2010. She never had a want to express herself artistically. This is not something she ever planned on doing. Lily is from the westside of Chicago, born and raised where she's spent most of her days raising her son. Storytelling fell into her lap one day and she's gone on to do crazy amazing wonderful things with it. From winning story competitions that would inspire and oftentimes usher more Latinos and marginalized people to tell their stories, to teaching people from all walks of life to share theirs, Lily has not stopped giving back to the artform that changed and saved her life. Lily produces The Stoop and Story Collider, is an editorial assistant for Story News magazine, and account manager for GoLucky Studios. She teaches storytelling all over the city both in person and online, is writing a book, and hosting a myriad of community and storytelling events. She's half magic, half amazing, and 100% real. Xavier Jordan is a University of Illinois graduate in chemistry and molecular and cellular biology. He is currently applying for microbiology research positions in Chicago. He's been telling stories for a long time and is glad to be part of the scene again. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
13/12/19·34m 57s

Justice: Stories about righteous determination

This week we present two stories from people who stood up against a system eager to tear them down. Part 1: After a car crash alters Emily Winn's life forever, she must relive the trauma when she testifies in a deposition. Part 2: Black geneticist C. Brandon Ogbunu contemplates the role race has played in his academic career after he gets confronted by the police. Emily Winn is a NSF Graduate Research Fellow and PhD candidate in the Division of Applied Mathematics at Brown University. Before Brown, Emily completed an AB in Mathematics at the College of the Holy Cross and spent a year in the Visiting Students Programme at St. Edmund Hall at the University of Oxford. Her research interests lie at the intersection of statistics, topological data analysis, and information theory; her current work applies theory from those fields to genomic data. Outside of school, you'll find her erging in the gym, screaming at the Red Sox game on TV, or binging the latest Netflix comedy specials. Follow her on Twitter, @EmilyTWinn13 C. Brandon Ogbunu is an Assistant Professor at Brown University. His research focuses on evolutionary genetics and the ecology of disease. A New York City native, Brandon enjoys film, hip-hop, jazz and science fiction. He's an ex-very mediocre light heavy weight boxer, and slightly less mediocre experimental virologist. He has higher hopes for humanity than he does the New York Knicks. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram @big_data_kane. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
06/12/19·35m 27s

BONUS: Behind the Scenes, Episode 1: Stage Fright

A sneak peek at our new BONUS podcast for Patreon supporters! Today's episode is the first of our Behind the Scenes series. Liz and Erin are joined by Dr. Ali Mattu to discuss the TERROR of stage fright -- and how to overcome it. For more bonus episodes like this one, join our Patreon community: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
03/12/19·36m 4s

Thankful: Stories about gratitude

This week we present two stories from people who owe a debt of gratitude to somebody for their entrance into the science community. Part 1: A chance meeting with a stranger on an airplane has a huge impact on Melanie Knight's life. Part 2: Joshua Adams-Miller has never seen college in his future, until he receives encouragement from an unexpected source. Melanie Knight is CEO and Co-Founder of Ocean to Eye Level Consulting which supports coastal communities around the world open public marine education centres. Melanie is also the founder and past Executive Director of the Petty Harbour Mini Aquarium, a non-profit education centre in Newfoundland. Melanie had the opportunity to share her story of ‘bringing the ocean to eye level on the TEDx stage in Vancouver, November 2014. Melanie graduated from Memorial University of Newfoundland with a BSc. in Biology and a minor in Business. For the past 10 years, Melanie has been working with the largest and the smallest aquariums in Canada fostering curiosity for the underwater world. Melanie worked at the Vancouver Aquarium as a marine educator and manager of volunteers. Melanie has since been recognized for her work environmental work with the Petty Harbour Mini Aquarium becoming a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographic Society, receiving the Newfoundland and Labrador Environmental Award, TechGirls Portraits of Strength and the Canadian Network of Environmental Educators Award in 2014. She lives in Vancouver with her husband and K9. Joshua Adams-Miller was born in 1989, in Sun Valley Idaho, to a family that has been in Idaho since 1873. He grew up in SE Boise under the care of his mother, who provided him more opportunities than anyone could ask for. However, he developed a sense of independence very early. Whether he was riding the city bus alone at 10 years old to get home from summer school programs or organizing large groups of friend to sneak out in the middle of the night, he’s always had a curious mind, and it wasn't beyond him to break the rules if it meant he got to learn something. He has always loved music and learned the viola and saxophone in school and self taught himself the piano and guitar. In his teens, he was sent to a jazz camp on a scholarship to hone his skills on the piano. Over his life, his curiosities have drawn him to the sciences repeatedly but by no means was it a clear path that brought him to his studies at Boise State as a Material Science Engineering Major. Like a sunrise, slowly illuminating the horizon, he realized that the best way for him to contribute to the future he wants to see was to bring to the world the materials that will make it possible. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
29/11/19·37m 4s

Outsiders: Stories about seeing things from the outside

This week we present stories from two scientists who were confronted with their status as an “outsider.” Part 1: After getting hit by a car, Ph.D. student Reyhaneh Maktoufi must navigate the recovery and paperwork as an immigrant from Iran. Part 2: When scientist Danielle Lee travels to Tanzania to study pouched rats, she finds she's more of an outsider than she'd expected. Reyhaneh is a Ph.D. candidate in Media, Technology, and Society at Northwestern University. Her main fields of interest are science communication, curiosity, and public engagement with scientists. She is a visiting researcher at the Adler Planetarium, where she studies science communication and facilitates workshops on communication skills. Before starting a Ph.D., Rey has been working as a health communication facilitator and campaign manager in Tehran, Iran. She also produces comics and videos about science and the science of science communication. In her free time, Rey enjoys staring at a wall and making up stories in her head or play bad ukulele and scare off birds while singing high pitch. Danielle N. Lee is an outreach scientist who studies animal behavior and behavioral ecology. She studies the behaviors of mice and rats in the Metro St. Louis area and the natural history of African giant pouched rats. Lee was selected as a 2015 TED Fellow and was named as one of EBONY Magazine’s Power 100 and a White House Champion of Change in STEM Diversity and Access. Her current science outreach efforts emphasize engagement with broader audiences via science communication. In 2013, Lee helped found the National Science & Technology News Service, a media literacy initiative to bring more science news to African-American audiences and promote science news source diversity in mainstream media. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
22/11/19·43m 38s

Wild: Stories about humans and animals coexisting

This week we present stories from two people finding their boundaries with the wild world of animals. Part 1: Adam Selbst competes with tigers for the attention of his mother. Part 2: Weighed down by the burden of leadership as she supervises the construction of a telescope, Erika Hamden finds comfort in an unlikely spot. Adam Selbst is a writer and graphic designer from Williamsburg, Brooklyn. He hosts the monthly Big Irv’s Storytelling Roadshow and has been performing around NYC for the last 8 years. Adam lives in a bodega art collective with 64 other people and in his spare time he enjoys being slowly poisoned by an ancient, weird mold in his shower and throwing elaborate dinner parties. Erika Hamden is a Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Arizona. She develops UV detector technology, builds telescopes, and observes galaxies and hydrogen all over the universe. Her last project was a UV telescope that flew on a high altitude balloon. She is currently leading a team working on a proposal for a UV space telescope. When she isn't building or thinking about telescopes, she has a serious yoga practice, is learning to fly a plane, and loves hiking in the desert around Tucson. Before she went to grad school, Erika worked as a chef for a year. She is still really into eating. Erika is interested in sharing stories about how hardware gets built and the very human personalities that are behind scientific discoveries. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
15/11/19·32m 59s

Late Diagnosis: Stories about being diagnosed as an adult

This week we present two stories about people who discovered a diagnosis late in life. Part 1: As a child, TC Waisman is told that she is on the autism spectrum, but her mother refuses to accept the diagnosis. Part 2: Growing up, Craig Fay develops strategies to hide how terrible he is at math. Since 1998, TC has worked with leaders in large organizations to enhance their personal leadership capacity and make transformational changes to their leadership practice. Coaching and training leaders and public speaking about adaptive leadership for over 20 years, TC has learned to support her clients’ development using organizational best practices and evidence-based research. TC is an ICF certified coach, holds a Masters degree in Leadership & Training, and is currently undertaking her doctoral degree in leadership in a post-secondary context. Inspired by her late autism diagnosis at 48 years old, her research focuses on how higher education leaders, faculty, and staff can enhance services and outcomes for autistic students in higher learning. Since beginning her research two years ago, TC has co-founded a not-for-profit society for neurodiverse individuals, spoken on autism related topics, published an academic literature review on 'autism and the implications for higher learning', and was recently appointed as an editorial board member of the new scientific journal Autism in Adulthood. TC is now a doctoral candidate and is in the midst of her research. TC is of Indigenous Fijian and Nepalese origin and moved to Vancouver in 1976 where she lives with Dean her partner of 30 years. TC is a proud mother to her fiercely funny 23 year old daughter Sunshine and is the author of the book 75 Traits of Great Leaders. TC is on target to complete her doctoral degree in 2020. Craig Fay is a Toronto based engineer turned stand up comedian with a “keen insight that allows him to take subjects familiar to everyone and turn them into something new and laughable” (Exclaim). He has appeared on CBC’s Laugh Out Loud, performed at the world famous Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal and is co-host of "The Villain Was Right" podcast, which recently won a Canadian Podcasting Award for Outstanding Debut For a Series. Craig’s debut comedy album “Helicopter Rich” was praised as “observational and self-reflective…worth playing multiple times over” (Exclaim) and is available now on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon and Spotify. You can follow Craig on Twitter For (@CraigFayComedy), like him on Facebook (/CraigFayComedy), or sign up for his email newsletter at Or just Google him. You’ll probably just Google him. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
08/11/19·28m 53s

Crushes: Stories about scientists in love

This week we present two stories from scientists searching for that special someone. Part 1: Zoology student Devon Kodzis's strategy of attracting boys with fun animal facts proves difficult. Part 2: Away from her boyfriend for grad school, Meisa Salaita starts to fall for a chemistry classmate who's her complete opposite. Devon Kodzis has a degree in biological sciences and professional experience in teaching, animal training, and education outreach, and science program design. She is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Biological Sciences. Her passions include reading about food, and shouting at the Antiques Roadshow with her cat. Meisa Salaita is enamored with the beauty of science. Through her work founding and directing the Atlanta Science Festival and as a producer for the Story Collider, she spends her days trying to convince everyone else to fall in love with science as well. To that end, Meisa also writes, has produced radio stories, and hosted tv shows - all in the name of science. Meisa has a Ph.D. in chemistry, has birthed two humans, and has a bizarre level of enthusiasm for shoehorns. If she had the stamina and talent, she’d be dancing hip-hop 24/7. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
01/11/19·35m 51s

Cursed: Stories about superstitions

This week we present two stories from people who let science lead them down a rabbit hole of curses. Part 1: Science journalist Erik Vance decides to get cursed by a witch doctor for science. Part 2: After taking a rock from Mauna Loa, volcanologist Jess Phoenix starts to worry that her offering to the volcano goddess Pele was not enough. Erik Vance is an award-winning science journalist based in Baltimore. Before becoming a writer he was, at turns, a biologist, a rock climbing guide, an environmental consultant, and an environmental educator. He graduated in 2006 from UC Santa Cruz science writing program and became a freelancer as soon as possible. His work focuses on the human element of science — the people who do it, those who benefit from it, and those who do not. He has written for The New York Times, Nature, Scientific American, Harper’s, National Geographic, and a number of other local and national outlets. His first book, Suggestible You, is about how the mind and body continually twist and shape our realities. While researching the book he was poked, prodded, burned, electrocuted, hypnotized and even cursed by a witchdoctor, all in the name of science. Jess Phoenix is Executive Director and co-founder of environmental scientific research organization Blueprint Earth. She is a volcanologist, an extreme explorer, and former candidate for United States Congress. She has been chased by narco-traffickers in Mexico, dodged armed thieves in remote Peru, raced horses across Mongolia, worked on the world’s largest volcano in Hawaii, piloted the Jason2 submersible on an undersea volcano, and explored deep in the Australian Outback. Jess believes science should be accessible to everyone, and that creative possibility is limitless. Jess is a Fellow in The Explorers Club and the Royal Geographical Society, a featured scientist on the Discovery and Science Channels, an invited TEDx speaker, and she has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, in Wired, Fast Company, on National Public Radio, on CNN, NBC, and has written for the BBC. She is the host of the podcast Catstrophe! ( and has a book coming out in Spring 2020 with Timber Press called Miss Adventure: My Life as a Geologist, Explorer, and Professional Risk-Taker. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
25/10/19·37m 18s

Leadership: Stories about responsibility

This week we present two stories from people who had to become leaders whether they liked it or not. Part 1: Eager to show off their new job testing water quality, Prof.Ound takes their friends out on a boat for the first time. Prof.Ound is a Bronx-born and raised spoken word artist, actor, writer, educator and environmentalist. Prof.Ound’s creative work is notable for its Afrocentric emphasis on audience participation and conveying moral/ethical lessons. Merging these aesthetic values into their ecological restoration work and background, Prof.Ound has been developing and workshopping a culturally responsive arts-based outdoor education pedagogy. Prof.Ound strives to ensure the full participation and autonomous leadership of marginalized communities in environmental movements. Note from the Artistic Director: When this episode originally ran, it featured a second story, from neuroscientist and MeToo STEM founder BethAnn McLaughlin. In light of reports about this individual's conduct, we have chosen to remove her story from this episode. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
18/10/19·17m 9s

Silence: Stories about finding our voices

This week we present two stories about the sounds that silence can take on. Part 1: Kambri Crews attempts to smuggle a gift into prison for her father, who is deaf. Part 2: As Kristine Lycke enters kindergarten, her mother starts treatment for a mysterious illness. Kambri Crews once lived with her deaf parents in a tin shed in Montgomery, Texas. She now owns and operates the performance venue Q.E.D. in Astoria, Queens. Kambri is also a renowned storyteller and the author of the critically acclaimed and New York Times best selling memoir Burn Down the Ground (Random House). She has performed on The Moth (MainStage & radio), Women of Letters, Risk! and Mortified. In 2014, Kambri opened QED, a performance venue meets community and learning center. With over 100 events per month ranging from comedy, storytelling and music to classes like embroidery, cartooning and writing, there is something for everyone. Since its opening, QED has been featured on The Jim Gaffigan Show, NY1, The New York and LA Times and countless other media outlets. Performers have included the super famous like Leslie Jones, Kate McKinnon, Janeane Garofalo, to the first-time performer and everyone in between. Also a public speaker, Kambri has given speeches for Girls, Inc., University of Texas, Texas Book Festival, University of Oregon, SXSW (South by Southwest), DeafHope, and many other schools, colleges, book festivals, and events. Kristine Lycke is a Daughter, Mother, Survivor, Warrior. She holds an Honors B.S. Degree in Applied Psychology from Farmingdale State College, which she received – along with the 2017 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence- just 3 years after completing treatment for Stage III Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (breast cancer). Cancer has always been a part of Kristine’s life, having lost her mother to the disease when she was only 8 years old. Wanting to give back to the facility that saved her life, Kristine works as a Patient Care Coordinator at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. When she is not working, Kristine enjoys spending time with her wife and learning far more about My Little Pony than she ever thought possible from their 6 year old daughter. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
11/10/19·34m 31s

My First Science: Stories about early experiences with science

This week we present two stories from people telling the first time