The Story Collider

The Story Collider

By: The Story Collider

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4.5 (466 ratings)

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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!

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In today's episode, we bring you two stories about attraction, from the neuroscience of prairie voles to a physics love story. Part 1: Neuroscientist Wendy Suzuki is surprised when an acting exercise challenges her beliefs about love and attaction. Part 2: Two physicists, Neer Asherie and Deborah Berebichez, find love after thirteen years. Wendy Suzuki, Ph.D. is a Professor of Neural Science and psychology at New York University.  She received her undergraduate degree from U.C. Berkeley and her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from U.C. San Diego.  She completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the National Institutes of Health before starting her faculty position in the Center for Neural Science at New York University in 1998.  Wendy is a recipient of numerous grants and awards for her research including the Lindsley Prize from the Society for Neuroscience, the prestigious Troland Research award from the National Academy of Sciences and NYU’s Golden Dozen Teaching award. Her research has focused on understanding the patterns of brain activity underlying long-term memory and understanding how aerobic exercise affects mood, learning, memory and cognitive abilities. Her first book “Healthy Brain Happy Life” came out in paperback in March of 2016 and is an international bestseller.  Neer Asherie is a professor of physics and biology at Yeshiva University. He received a B.A. and M.A. in natural sciences (physical) from Cambridge University and a Ph.D. in physics from MIT. He was awarded grants from the National Science Foundation to support his research on the self-assembly of globular proteins. His articles have appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Physical Review Letters, and Crystal Growth and Design. In addition to his scientific publications, Neer has authored a novel and several short plays. You can find his previous Story Collider story here. Deborah Berebichez is the Chief Data Scientist at Metis, a Ph.D. physicist and a Discovery Channel TV host. She is the first Mexican woman to graduate with a physics Ph.D. from Stanford University. Dr. Berebichez is the co-host of Discovery Channel’s Outrageous Acts of Science TV show (2012 – present) where she uses her physics background to explain the science behind extraordinary engineering feats. She also appears as an expert on the Travel Chanel, NOVA, CNN, FOX, MSNBC and numerous international media outlets. Deborah’s passion is to empower young people to learn science and to improve the state of STEM education in the world and her work in science outreach has been widely recognized. She is a John C. Whitehead Fellow at the Foreign Policy Association and a recipient of the Top Latina Tech Blogger award by the Association of Latinos in Social Media LATISM. Currently at Metis she leads the creation and growth of exceptional data science training opportunities. You can find Deborah's previous Story Collider story here.

Maryam Zaringhalam's scheme to cheat her way into the smart class makes clear a huge flaw in the education system. Maryam Zaringhalam is a molecular biologist and graduate student at The Rockefeller University. In the lab, Maryam tinkers with parasites and computers to understand how small changes to our genetic building blocks can affect how we look and function. When she's not doing science, Maryam runs ArtLab, a series that pairs scientists with artists, and podcasts with Science Soapbox, exploring science and policy.

Recent Episodes

This week, we’re presenting two stories about times when science got personal and research started to hit home.Part 1: After years of suffering, Phillip Comella discovers the cause of his “excessive bathroom breaks” while working on his thesis in biomedical science.Part 2: Neuroscientist Kelley Remole begins suffering from mysterious and paralyzing headaches.Phillip Comella is pursuing a PhD in Biomedical Sciences at The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. His research includes machine learning and genetics in an effort to better diagnosis patients and simulate disease. Phillip has a passion for translating technology and tales from science to the public.  Kelley Remole, PhD, is the senior director of scientific programs at Columbia University's Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute. She worked previously at the American Museum of Natural History and has consulted on a number of projects, including Neurodome, a planetarium show about the brain. She has been nationally recognized for her science outreach work and has been featured on local and national television.   

This week, we’re presenting two stories about pivotal moments in science when everything suddenly becomes clear.Part 1: When puppeteer Raymond Carr gets the opportunity of a lifetime, to work on a big-budget show about the evolution of dinosaurs, he worries about how his creationist parents will react.Part 2: A trip to the Kennedy Space Center reminds Wade Roush of what originally inspired him to pursue science journalism.  Raymond Carr is a Jim Henson Company trained puppeteer who has been performing for more than 15 years. He has traveled to every major city in North America and parts of Europe working on multi-million dollar productions. He is skilled in state of the art animatronics, Muppet-style puppetry, motion capture digital puppetry, and traditional theatrical puppetry. Raymond is one of the main characters for the Jim Henson Company's new show, Splash and Bubbles on PBS Kids.  Some of Raymond's other credits include: Nick Jr's Lazytown, Walking with Dinosaurs The Arena Spectacular Tour, various projects for Cartoon Network & Adult Swim, The Center for Puppetry Art, The National Black Arts Festival, and Bento Box Entertainment  He also performs improv with The Jim Henson Company's live show Puppet Up Uncensored.  Wade Roush is the host and producer of Soonish—a tech-and-culture podcast with the motto “The future is shaped by technology, but technology is shaped by us”—and co-founder of the Hub & Spoke audio collective. He’s a longtime science and technology journalist who trained in the history of science and technology at Harvard and MIT and has worked for Science, MIT Technology Review, Xconomy, and other publications. In 2014-15 he was acting director MIT’s Knight Science Journalism program. Wade’s puppy Gryphon thinks his master spends too much time speaking into microphones, but he mostly naps through it.  

This week, in honor of the start of the holiday season, we're presenting stories about parents — and the ways our relationships with them intersect with science.Part 1: As a kid, Dan Souza finds it hard to appreciate his mother’s nursing expertise until he sees it in action after a series of fateful incidents.Part 2: When Michaella Thornton shares her struggles with infertility with her bachelor farmer father, his response stuns her.Dan Souza is Editor in Chief of Cook’s Illustrated and a cast member of the Emmy-Award Winning television show America’s Test Kitchen. Dan is the kitchen editor of the New York Times bestseller “The Science of Good Cooking” (2012) and James Beard Award-nominated “Cook’s Science” (2016). He is a regular contributor to The Splendid Table radio program, and his personal stories have been featured on the Peabody Award-winning The Moth Radio Hour. After graduating first in his class from the Culinary Institute of America, Dan cooked in restaurants in Boston, New York, and Hungary before finding his true calling: helping home cooks succeed in the kitchen.  Michaella A. Thornton's essays and flash prose have appeared in New South, The Southeast Review, The New Territory Magazine, Midwestern Gothic, and a University of Missouri Press anthology, Words Matter: Writing to Make a Difference (2016). She is also a staff writer for The Common Reader, "a journal of the essay," at Washington University in St. Louis. She loves her almost two-year-old daughter Lucinda, all the cannoli, Hall & Oates, and Jo Ann Beard.

It’s that time of year — application season. So this week, we’re presenting two stories about the (literal and figurative) struggle to be accepted.Part 1: The only thing standing in the way of Jennifer Landa’s dreams of studying art in college is her grade in chemistry.Part 2: When she’s accepted into the conversation fellowship of her dreams in Washington, DC, Emi Okikawa must break the news to her family that she’s leaving their home in Hawaii.Jennifer Landa is an actress, host, and crafter. Her work and YouTube videos have been featured on sites such as BuzzFeed, Craft Magazine, Huffington Post, LEGO.com, and more. As an actress she’s appeared in various commercials over the years and on tv shows like ABC’s Better Off Ted and MTV’s Awkward. As a host, she has appeared on Collider’s Jedi Council, Fusion’s Star Wars: A New Gaming Era, OraTV’s Dweebcast, and more. Currently, she cohosts ForceCenter, a Star Wars podcast dedicated to celebrating all things in that galaxy far, far, away. Jennifer is also a DIY contributor for the official Star Wars blog on StarWars.com. She sometimes goes by the nickname of “Landa Calrissian” and if you haven’t guess by now, Jennifer is really into Star Wars.Emi Okikawa grew up surrounded by the beauty of the Hawaiian Islands. Her childhood spent exploring tidepools, snorkeling over the reef, and hiking in the mountains led her to fall in love with the natural world as a young child. She is also a child of the Asian-American diaspora, and has spent much of her time peering into the chasm between her hyphenated existence. Most of her work draws inspiration from the sacrifices, struggles and triumphs of her family’s intergenerational search for “home.” She's a former RAY Fellow from Ocean Conservancy where she focused on highlighting the stories of communities of color leading the environmental justice movement. Currently, she is the Digital Comms Fellow at the Washington State Sierra Club. You can follow her on Twitter @EmiOkikawa.

In this week’s episode, we’re presenting two stories about the science of pregnancy.Part 1: An expert in oxytocin, the hormone released during birth,  Bianca Jones Marlin is determined to have a natural birth — even as the hours of labor add up…Part 2:  Science writer Veronika Meduna thought she never wanted to have children, but in her late thirties, she changes her mind. Bianca Jones Marlin is a neuroscientist and postdoctoral researcher at Columbia University. 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, with Dr. Robert Froemke, Dr. Marlin examined how the brain adapts to care for a newborn and how a baby’s cry can control adult behavior. 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 is currently a postdoctoral fellow 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. Her research has been featured in Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, Scientific America and Discover Magazine’s “100 Top Stories of 2015.” She is the recipient of the 2016 Society for Neuroscience Donald B. Lindsley Award, which recognizes the most outstanding PhD thesis in the general area of behavioral neuroscience and was named a STAT Wunderkind in 2017. She is currently a Junior Fellow in the prestigious Simons Society of Fellows. A native New Yorker, Dr. Marlin lives in Manhattan with her scientist husband, Joseph, their daughter, Sage, and their cat Santiago Ramon y Cajal, who is named after the famed neuroanatomist. Her website is www.biancajonesmarlin.comVeronika Meduna was born in the Czech Republic but has lived in New Zealand for 25 years. She is an award-winning journalist and author with two decades of experience in radio, print and digital storytelling. She has previously produced and hosted a weekly science programme for RNZ, written seven books, and contributed to local and international media including The NZ Listener, NZ Geographic, New Scientist and Deutsche Welle. She is currently the NZ Editor of The Conversation, a global not-for-profit media organisation. Veronika works with academics and researchers to publish evidence-based analysis and news.

This week, we’re presenting stories about our relationships with our bodies, in all their shapes and sizes.Part 1: Born without a right pectoral muscle due to Poland syndrome, John Trumbo has always felt defective, but then he discovers a possible solution.Part 2: Growing up tall and suffering from psoriasis, Emma Yarbrough struggles with feeling conspicuous — but then she discovers there’s more to her unusual height than she’d thought.John Trumbo is a senior healthcare writer with a bachelor’s in communications and a concentration in journalism from James Madison University. He also holds a master’s in nonfiction writing from the Johns Hopkins University. Specialty areas of study included Crafting Nonfiction Voice, the Literature of Science, Essay and Memoir, Review and Opinion Writing, Teaching Writing and more. Professionally, John writes about transforming the care experience with the help of innovative health IT solutions that put patients first. follow him @JohnMTrumbo.Emma Yarbrough is a theater artist, writer, and story enthusiast based in Atlanta, GA. A graduate of Emory University, she just couldn't let go of that liberal arts lifestyle and now serves as the communications specialist for the Arts at Emory. When she's not performing or cooking up a new piece of theater, you can find her wandering the tree-lined streets of Atlanta. It shouldn't be hard to spot her. She's quite tall. @emmayarbs

This week, in honor of Halloween, we're presenting two stories about facing fears for science.Part 1: As a newly minted PhD student in geology, Erik Klemetti starts to question his decisions when Aucanquilcha, a 20,000-foot volcano in Chile, proves difficult to tame.Part 2: Explorer George Kourounis finds himself growing increasingly anxious as he prepares to enter a fiery sinkhole known as the “Doorway to Hell.”Erik Klemetti is an associate professor of Geosciences and volcanologist at Denison University. He works on volcanoes all over the planet, from Chile to New Zealand to the Cascades of Oregon and California. His research focusses on how crystals record the events inside a volcano before and between eruptions. For the past 9 years, he’s been teaching all the “hard rock” classes at Denison. He also writes for Discover Magazine. His blog, Rocky Planet, have been running since Fall 2017. Before that, he wrote Eruptions, a blog about volcanoes, for Wired Science for 9 years. You can also find him on Twitter (@eruptionsblog), variously tweeting about volcanoes, baseball (mostly Red Sox and Mariners) and his love of punk.George Kourounis is a renowned global explorer and storm chaser who specializes in documenting extreme forces of nature including: tornadoes, hurricanes, volcanoes, deserts, caves, avalanches and more. He is an Explorer In Residence for The Royal Canadian Geographical Society, the Chairman of the Explorers Club Canadian Chapter, and has received several awards and medals for his efforts. He frequently finds himself driving into the eye of fierce storms, or descending ropes into actively erupting volcanic craters, often while hosting television programs including “Angry Planet” and others.  He has given four TEDx talks, and has addressed the United Nations Environmental Emergencies Forum. George’s expeditions have taken him to 70 countries on all seven continents to such far-flung places as: Madagascar, Turkmenistan, Vanuatu, Greenland, North Korea, Myanmar, and Antarctica.

This week, we're presenting stories about times when science comes to the rescue — or not, as the case may be. Part 1: When science writer Kate Sheridan falls in love with a man who suffers from paralyzing headaches, her background in neuroscience helps her get to the bottom of it.  Part 2: Math teacher Giselle George-Gilkes is on a trip with her students when she receives terrible news from home.Kate Sheridan is a science writer based in Boston, where she lives with a remarkably fluffy cat. Her writing—much of which has to do with the flu, gene therapies, and other health-related stuff—has appeared in Newsweek, STAT, and the Montreal Gazette. She graduated from McGill University with a bachelor’s degree in cognitive science in 2014.Giselle George-Gilkes is originally from the Nature Island of the Caribbean, Dominica. She’s been the 8th grade Math teacher, at East Side Community High School, since 2005. She graduated from Brooklyn College with a BS in Mathematics and from NYU with an MA in Mathematics Education. She loves mathematics and tries her best to help each student who walks through my door, either fall in love with it or gain a deeper appreciation of it. She is currently in her third fellowship as a Math for America Master Teacher, where she gets to work with an amazing group of educators, from whom she has learned a lot as she's grown as an educator.

This week, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we're presenting two stories from cancer survivors.Part 1: Gail Thomas clashes with her oncologist while deciding how to fight her cancer.Part 2: As a marathon runner, Pierce McManus prides himself on his toughness — but then he begins coughing up blood. Gail Thomas has several resumes: writer/actor/teacher/filmmaker/lawyer. She is a Moth StorySLAM winner and has performed with RISK!, Sideshow Goshko, the Liar Show. She teaches for the Story Studio. Voiceover credits include David Letterman, Beavis and Butthead and Angelo Rules. Her short comedy, My BFF, rated 95% funny on Funny or Die and audience favorite at New Filmmakers. As a speechwriter for the Tribeca Film Festival and the Gotham Awards, her words were uttered by Oscar winners and fancy people with great clothes. Gail is currently working on her fashion sense. Her website is www.gail-thomas.com.Pierce McManus relocated to Washington, DC from New York in 1992 to pursue a career in international diplomacy. When his budding ambassadorial ambitions fell through, he opted for a different route -- running marathons, fronting a sleazy rock band, and diving headfirst into a career in digital communications. Pierce is a fixture of DC's venerated storytelling scene and the co-host of the popular Perfect Liars Club. You can learn more about him at the curiously titled piercemcmanus.com.   

This week, we're presenting two stories about the power of touch.Part 1: While working on a book about the sense of touch, science journalist Sushma Subramanian experiments with haptic technology to connect with her long-distance fiance. Part 2: Nick Andersen’s type 1 diabetes begins to affect his dating life.Sushma Subramanian is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Mary Washington, where she advises the staff of the campus newspaper, The Blue & Gray Press. She is also a freelance magazine writer focusing on the intersection of science and culture. Her most recent stories are about the neuroscience behind her struggles to relearn her forgotten first language and the ongoing legal battle surrounding the unethical Guatemala syphilis experiments. Her work has appeared in Discover, Slate, Foreign Policy and many other publications. Her book on the sense of touch is forthcoming from the publisher Algonquin.Nick Andersen is an audio producer and podcaster, based right here in beautiful Cambridge. When he's not telling awkwardly personal stories on a stage, he enjoys running, reading, and cooking. A Detroit-area native and a proud graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he promised his colleagues at WGBH’s MASTERPIECE that he would definitely mention them in his next public storytelling bio. He works there. He mentioned it. (You’re welcome, Bruce.) Nick also produces the brand-new podcast, Ministry of Ideas, which you should definitely listen to.