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.

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This week, we're presenting stories about unconventional solutions and things that seemed like a great idea at the time!Part 1: Author Kate Greathead sets off on a cross-country drive to escape her anxiety. Part 2: After years of studying worms, Tracy Chong begins to wonder if they might hold the key to alleviating hunger. Kate Greathead is a 9-time Moth Storytelling Slam champion. Her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, and Vanity Fair, and on NPR’s Moth Radio Hour. She was a subject in the American version of the British Up documentary series. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, the writer Teddy Wayne. Her first novel, Laura & Emma, was published in March 2018.Tracy Chong found her passion working with invertebrates as a graduate student at the University of Illinois. She studied the development and regeneration of the reproductive system in the planarian, a free-living flatworm. She is currently part of a team at the Morgridge Institute for Research studying parasitic worms that causes the debilitating disease, Schistosomiasis. Aside from worms and science, Tracy is passionate about entrepreneurship and food. Combining her formal training as a scientist, with her culinary interest and hands-on business experience, Tracy’s vision is to provide a sustainable and affordable source of protein to meet the world’s growing global nutritional demands.

This week, we're presenting stories about what happens when our own brains keep us from being fully ourselves. Part 1: When storyteller Sandi Marx begins to develop cognitive symptoms of lupus, she worries she'll lose the aspects of her personality that she values most.Part 2: Chemist Toria Stafford's untreated mental illness starts to overwhelm both her science and her personal life. Sandi Marx, a retired talent agent, has been touring the country, telling stories, for the past three years. A multiple Moth story slam champ, she has been featured at the Women’s Boston Comedy Festival and regularly performs on shows such as Risk, Yums The Word, Women of Letters, Soundbites, and countless others. She can also be heard on podcasts for all the above and also HotMic with Dan Savage. Most recently, Sandi was featured on PBS for “Stories From The Stage." She is thrilled to be back at Story Collider, her favorite show for brainiacs. Toria Stafford just finished her PhD at the School of Chemistry at the University of Manchester. Her research looks at lanthanides, uranium and other radioactive actinide elements by emission spectroscopy to further understand processes and fingerprint species relevant to the nuclear fuel cycle. She has a passion for science communication, public engagement and women in STEM advocacy, jumping at the chance to take part in events throughout the UK. Outside the lab, Toria enjoys reading sci-fi/fantasy books, watching musicals and eating chocolate.

his week, we're presenting stories about the struggle to find friends. Science can be a lonely job -- but it can also connect us to others in ways we'd never imagine.Part 1: 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 2: Patrick Honner starts to doubt his lifelong love of math when graduate school becomes a lonely experience.Cindy Joe is an engineering physicist working with several of Fermilab’s experiments studying neutrinos, tiny particles that might hold the answers to some of the universe’s biggest mysteries. A first-generation college student, she grew up dreaming big in the back of her family’s Chinese restaurant in a small town in Arkansas. While obtaining her bachelor’s degree in physics, she also became a licensed senior reactor operator at Reed College’s nuclear research reactor. She then moved to even bigger machines, working as a particle accelerator operator in Fermilab’s Main Control Room for seven years. Cindy is deeply passionate about science outreach, and has spoken to audiences from elementary school to members of Congress. A 2-time presenter at Fermilab’s Physics Slam and a contributor to PechaKucha Night Batavia, she currently lectures in Fermilab’s Saturday Morning Physics program for high school students. Note: See our website for footage of Professor Snailworthy, as well as the full video of our show at Fermilab!Patrick Honner is an award-winning mathematics teacher who lives in Brooklyn, New York. He has taught everything from introductory algebra to multivariable calculus, and currently teaches calculus, linear algebra, and mathematical computing at Brooklyn Technical High School, where he also serves as instructional coach. Patrick is in his fourth Math for America Master Teacher Fellowship; he is a New York State Master Teacher; a Sloan award winner; and a Rosenthal Prize honoree. And in 2013 he received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. Patrick writes about math and teaching for Quanta Magazine, the New York Times, and on his blog.

This week, we're presenting stories about surprising revelations or events in science.Part 1: When he receives a call from the vet, writer Matthew Dicks is startled to learn that his dog is in surgery -- and that he agreed to it the night before.Part 2: After traveling to Madagascar for a conservation project, climatologist Simon Donner misses his ride to the field site, and must find his way there on his own. Matthew Dicks is an elementary school teacher and the internationally bestselling author of the novels Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend, Something Missing, Unexpectedly, Milo, and The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs. As a storyteller, he is a 34-time Moth StorySLAM champion and four time GrandSLAM champion. Matt is also the founder and Creative Director of Speak Up, a Hartford-based storytelling organization that recently launched the Speak Up Storytelling podcast, which Matt hosts with his wife, Elysha. He recently published a guide to storytelling, Storyworthy: Engage, Teach, Persuade, and Change Your Life Through the Power of Storytelling. Matt loves ice cream cake, playing golf poorly, tickling his children, staring at his wife, and not sleeping.Simon Donner is a Professor of Climatology in the Department of Geography at the University of British Columbia. He teaches and conducts interdisciplinary research at the interface of climate science, marine science, and public policy. His current areas of research include climate change and coral reefs; ocean warming and El Nino; climate change adaptation in small island developing states; public engagement on climate change. Simon is also the director of UBC’s NSERC-supported “Ocean Leaders” program and is affiliated with UBC’s Institute of Oceans and Fisheries, Liu Institute for Global Issues, and Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability. His efforts at public engagement on climate change have been recognized with an Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellowship, a Google Science Communication Fellowship and the UBC President’s Award for Public Education through the Media.Find transcripts and photos for these stories at storycollider.org.

This week at The Story Collider, we're presenting two stories about confronting death.Part 1: Science communicator Anthony Morgan receives an invitation to be vacuum-sealed to the bottom of a helicopter -- for science!Part 2: As a medical student, Elorm Avakame befriends a patient who is dying from alcoholism.Anthony Morgan is the Creative Director of Science Everywhere!, an organisation devoted to adult science entertainment. The mission is to build science culture through engaging science entertainment for TV, youtube and live events. He's also on the board of a makerspace (Site 3 CoLaboratory) and has a recurring segment on Daily Planet. His background is in neuroscience/psychology and science communication, but he fell in love with science working at the Ontario Science Centre. Since then he’s been finding as many ways and places to "mic drop science" as he can.Elorm F. Avakame is a Pediatric resident physician at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, DC. He previously earned a Doctor of Medicine from Harvard Medical School and a Master's of Public Policy from the Harvard John F. Kennedy School of Government. He was also a Sheila C. Johnson Leadership Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School's Center for Public Leadership. Elorm is passionate about health issues affecting children in urban communities and wants to make life better for children on the margins.

This week, we're presenting two stories about the science behind dating, ranging from a neuroscientist's attempts to use brain scans and personality tests to determine her compatibility with a rapper to a comedian's mishaps with a "penis-numbing spray"!Part 1: Comedian Josh Gondelman is threatened with a lawsuit after he reviews a new sexual enhancement product.Part 2: Seemingly incompatible, neuroscientist Heather Berlin and rapper Baba Brinkman try to use science to figure out if they belong together anyway.Josh Gondelman is a writer and comedian who incubated in Boston before moving to New York City, where he currently lives and works as a writer for Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. In 2016, he made his late night standup debut on Conan (TBS), and he recently made his network tv debut on Late Night With Seth Meyers (NBC). Josh’s newest comedy album Physical Whisper debuted in March of 2016 at #1 on the iTunes comedy charts (as well as #4 on the Billboard comedy chart)  and stayed there for…well…longer than he expected, honestly. Offstage, Josh has earned a Peabody Award, two Emmy awards, and two WGA Awards for his work on Last Week Tonight. He is also the co-author (along with Joe Berkowitz) of the book You Blew It, published October 2015 by Plume. His follow-up, Nice Try, is set to come out Fall 2019 through Harper Perennial. His writing has also appeared in prestigious publications such as McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, New York Magazine, and The New Yorker.Heather Berlin is a cognitive neuroscientist and Professor of Psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She practices clinical neuropsychology at Weill Cornell Medicine in the Department of Neurological Surgery, and is a Visiting Scholar at the New York Psychoanalytic Society and Institute. Passionate about science communication and promoting women in STEM, she is a founding committee member of the National Academy of Sciences’ Science and Entertainment Exchange, host of Startalk All-Stars with Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and has hosted series on PBS and the Discovery Channel. Baba Brinkman is a New York-based rap artist and playwright, best know for his “Rap Guide” series of hip-hop theatre shows and albums that communicate challenging scientific fields to the general public. Baba has produced Rap Guides to Medicine, Religion, Evolution, Climate Change, Consciousness, and Wilderness, among other topics. He has performed on MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show, shared stages with Stephen Hawking and Richard Dawkins, and toured worldwide including runs at the Sydney Opera House, the Edinburgh Fringe, and off-Broadway in New York, and has been nominated for and won multiple theatre awards.

This week, we're presenting two stories about responsibility in science. Whether we're working in a classroom or the White House, we all have some level of responsibility for others. And sometimes we have to ask ourselves -- are we doing enough to live up to those responsibilities? Both of our stories today explore this idea. Part 1: On her first day working in the White House under President Obama, microbiologist Jo Handelsman receives some bad news. 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 100 papers, 30 editorials and 5 books. She is responsible for groundbreaking studies in microbiology and gender in science.Part 2: After a confrontation with a student, math teacher Sage begins to question whether she's the ally she thought she was.Sage Forbes-Gray has been an educator for 15 years teaching middle school pre-algebra, high school algebra and English as a second language in Spain to a variety of ages. Sage is the Restorative Justice Coordinator at her school, supporting students and staff in resolving conflict and building community. She is currently in her third fellowship as a Math for America Master Teacher and has been an active community member for the past 9 years. In her free time, she and her spouse, Amber, can be found running, biking, or exploring the world near and far with their kids, Dante, 6, and Elio, 3.Note: This June, The Story Collider is celebrating Pride Month by highlighting stories about the intersection of science and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer issues. Each of our five weekly episodes this month will include one of these stories, and you can follow us on Twitter and Instagram this month as we also share highlights from our back catalog as well. 

To close out Pride Month this week, we're sharing a special bonus episode featuring stories about coming out in science! Part 1:  Science educator Charlie Cook experiments with coming out to students. Charlie Cook is a non-binary stand up comedian by night and a non-binary science educator by day. Their favourite topics include queer theory, entomology, and outer space. For more information on their work and to find out where they're performing next, visit them on Instagram @onmygnomePart 2: Marine biologist Shayle Matsuda adapts to his new identity as a transgender man while on assignment in the Philippines.Shayle Matsuda's story originally aired on our podcast in November 2014. See details here.Note: This June, The Story Collider is celebrating Pride Month by highlighting stories about the intersection of science and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer issues. Each of our five episodes this month will include one of these stories, and you can follow us on Twitter and Instagram this month as we also share highlights from our back catalog as well. 

In this week's episode, we're presenting stories about venturing into unfamiliar territory, whether it's an isolated community in Alaska or the Costa Rican island of Chira.Part 1: Journalist Arielle Duhaime-Ross finds common ground with an Alaskan community struggling with the effects of climate change.Part 2: Costa Rican ecologist Marco Quesada sees a new side of his country when he travels to Chira Island for a conservation project. Arielle Duhaime-Ross is the environment and climate correspondent for VICE News Tonight — the Emmy award-winning nightly newscast from VICE Media and HBO. Prior to joining VICE, she was a science reporter at The Verge, where she was granted the 2015 Herb Lampert Science in Society Emerging Journalist award for her coverage of a radical 1950s scientist who suggested memory could be stored outside the brain. Duhaime-Ross has previously written for Scientific American, Nature Medicine, The Atlantic, and Quartz. Originally from Canada, she has a bachelor's in zoology and a master’s in science, health, and environmental reporting.Marco Quesada earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees in biology from Universidad de Costa Rica (UCR). His M.Sc. work on marine plankton ecology was complemented at Portland University (U.S.). He completed additional graduate studies on microzooplankton taxonomy at the Université de la Rochelle in France. In 2011, he obtained a Ph.D. from the Department of Marine Affairs at the University of Rhode Island. His dissertation on stakeholder participation in fisheries management was based on fieldwork in coastal fishing communities in Costa Rica and Kodiak, Alaska. During his work with Conservation International, he has had the chance to visit and work in numerous coastal communities, particularly in Latin America, as well as engaged in fisheries policy-making processes in Costa Rica and the Latin American region. Marco teaches university graduate courses at both Universidad de Costa Rica (UCR) and the Costa Rica-based United Nations University for Peace and is a member of the Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSC) Stakeholder Council. He has worked with CI in Costa Rica since 2005 and is currently the Director Conservation International in Costa Rica.Note: This June, The Story Collider is celebrating Pride Month by highlighting stories about the intersection of science and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer issues. Each of our five episodes this month will include one of these stories, and you can follow us on Twitter and Instagram this month as we also share highlights from our back catalog as well.

This week, we're celebrating Father's Day by sharing stories about complicated relationships with dads.Part 1: After her father, a well-known intellectual, passes away, neurobiology PhD student Eva Higginbotham tries to live up to his academic standards.Part 2: Storyteller Nisse Greenberg travels home to care for his father after a brain injury.Eva Higginbotham is a 3rd year PhD candidate on the University of Cambridge’s ‘Developmental Mechanisms’ programme. She works with fruit flies to discover how neurons decide on their neurotransmitter phenotype during embryogenesis, but has been fascinated by all facets of developmental biology since her undergraduate degree at the University of Manchester. Born in Boston to American parents, she moved to England as a child but travels back every year to enjoy family, friends, and food.  Nisse Greenberg is an educator and storyteller who has won multiple Moth StorySlams and First Person Arts Slams. He teaches math to high-schoolers and storytelling to adults. He is the person behind the shows Drawn Out, Bad Feelings, and VHS Presents. He also identifies as vegetarian, but he'll eat meat if it looks good or if he feels like it's going to hurt someone's feelings if he doesn't. He just feels like it's an identity he doesn't want to let go of. He misses you. His playground is at nissegreenberg.com and he is Nisse@storycollider.org.Note: This June, The Story Collider will be celebrating Pride Month by highlighting stories about the intersection of science and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer issues. Each of our five episodes this month will include one of these stories, and you can follow us on Twitter and Instagram this month as we also share highlights from our back catalog as well.