The Story Collider
By: The Story Collider
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!
Hot Episode Picks
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.
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.
This week, we're presenting stories about times when science is just too much.Part 1: Fiona Calvert is a crier — but when she starts her PhD, she promises herself she’ll never cry in front of her colleagues.Part 2: After graduating with his PhD, Shane Hanlon struggles to find balance in his science career.Fiona Calvert is a third-year PhD student at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute where she focusses on the role of the immune system in Alzheimer’s disease. She uses stem cells to understand how genetic mutations can affect the functions of microglia, a vital immune cell in the brain. As well as being fascinated and constantly amazed by the biology of the brain, Fiona is also passionate about science communication and loves any opportunity to talk about the wonderful world of microglia! Shane M Hanlon is a scientist turned communicator who masquerades as a storyteller. He got a PhD studying frogs and turtles, tried his hand in government, and is now a scientist who teaches scientists how to talk to non-scientists. Shane is also DC's oldest (but not bestest) Story Collider co-host & producer. He happily lives in Virginia (but still loves DC), tries to get outside with his partner and dog as much as possible, and is medicore at writing witty biographies. Find him @ecologyofshane.
This week, we're presenting stories about passion for science that keeps us going, even in the face of overwhelming struggle. Part 1: When Cailin Gallinger struggles with her gender identity in college, her volunteer position in a plant lab becomes a lifeline.Part 2: In the midst of homelessness and abuse, Rose DF dreams of a life in science. Cailin Gallinger is a Master’s student in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Toronto. She studies the geophysical processes of planets in our solar system, from impact craters on the Moon to volcanoes on Mars and beyond, and has performed in several scicomm events in Toronto, including the LGBTQ-themed Science Slam at Glad Day Bookshop and David Hamilton’s Solar System Social. She is currently soliciting submissions for a forthcoming zine, Corona, focusing on queer and trans scientists living and working on the margins, and hopes to continue combining her passions for both science and art in her post-grad life.Rose DF is a born explorer with a passion for accessible and inclusive science and education. A first generation scientist born and raised in the Dominican Republic, currently pursuing studies in Biophysics. After opening up about her life for a feature in "Stories in Science" Rose's social media presence has increased since, and she now uses it to raise awareness in the topics of inclusivity and diversity in STEM as she constantly challenges some of the stereotypes associated with being an "non-traditional" academic and a Latina in the US.
This week, we're presenting stories about the difficulties of following instructions -- whether it's medical advice or a recipe. Part 1: Science writer Cassandra WIllyard is frustrated by the restrictions put on her during her pregnancy.Part 2: Comedian Joseph Scrimshaw is terrified of messing up when his new museum job requires him to bake.Cassandra Willyard is a freelance science journalist who likes long walks, international travel, and infectious diseases, the more neglected the better. She earned a BS in Biological Aspects of Conservation (and a certificate in drinking) from the University of Wisconsin and an MA in Science Writing from Johns Hopkins University. She also served as Peace Corps volunteer in Bolivia. You can read her work in Discover, Popular Science, and Nature. She also blogs regularly for The Last Word on Nothing. After spending several years in New York City, Cassandra moved back to Midwest. She now lives in Madison with her husband and daughter. But she still enjoys sarcasm and wearing black. Joseph Scrimshaw is a comedian, writer, and host based in Los Angeles, as well as a Story Collider producer. As a comedian, he’s appeared at SF SketchFest, Chicago Improv Festival, Dragon Con, headlined on Jonathan Coulton’s JoCoCruise, appeared on Wil Wheaton’s TableTop, and more. Joseph has written for Adult Swim, the movie riffing group, RiffTrax, Screen Junkies, and was a writer/performer on Wits, where he wrote sketches for Paul F. Tompkins, Dave Foley, Neil Gaiman, and more. Joseph’s plays Adventures in Mating, An Inconvenient Squirrel, and My Monster (written with Bill Corbett) have been performed all over the US, the UK, and strangely Bulgaria. His popular comedy podcast Obsessed is part of the Feral Audio podcast network and has been listed as a Staff Favorite on iTunes multiple times. Joseph also co-hosts the Star Wars podcast feed, ForceCenter. Joseph has released multiple comedy albums including 2015’s Rebel Scum and 2013’s Flaw Fest. John Hodgman said of the album, “I am glad Joseph Scrimshaw has the power of thought and audible speech, or else this very funny album would not exist.”
This week, we're presenting stories about what happens when our expectations don't match up with reality.Part 1: Married neuroscientists Susana Martinez-Conde and Stephen Macknik are surprised by what they learn when they investigate deception at a psychic convention.Part 2: While working in the South Sudan, OB-GYN Africa Stewart must wait for an elder's permission before treating a pregnant woman gored by a bull.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. Their new book, Champions of Illusion: The Science Behind Mind-Boggling Images and Mystifying Brain Puzzles, comes out October 24th. Dr. Africa Stewart graduated with honors from Johns Hopkins University in 1995 with a BA in psychology and mathematical science. She then attended Drexel University Medical School in Philadelphia. In 1999 she completed a Masters of Business Administration with a concentration in Strategic Planning from the University of Pittsburgh's Katz School of Business. She then returned to Philadelphia to finish her medical training at Drexel. In 2000 she received a Doctorate in Medicine and began Obstetrics and Gynecology residency at Hahnemann University Hospital. Her career with MSF began in Sudan in June 2011. Dr. Stewart has completed 4 surgical field missions and served as a guide for the Forced From Home exhibit in 2016. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Doctors Without Borders and continues to support women’s health care locally and abroad with and emphasis on education and prevention.
This week, we're presenting stories from scientists who faced unusually difficult paths to science. We all know it's hard work to become a scientist. But for some folks, even getting to that point where you can pursue your science education can seem like an impossible dream.Part 1: When Evelyn Valdez-Ward discovers that she's undocumented, she fears her dreams of becoming a scientist are over. Part 2: Samuel Achilefu's experiences growing up during the Nigerian Civil War inspire his passion for science. Evelyn Valdez-Ward is an undocumented, Latina, scientist and PhD student at the University of California, Irvine. For her thesis, she studies the impact of California's drought on the ways that plants and their soil microbes (fungi and bacteria in the soil) communicate and interact with one another. In addition to doing research, she's extremely passionate about advocating for undocumented students in STEM. She recently published her story "I'm an undocumented scientist fighting for my Dream" in Science, and was invited to speak at the March for Science rally in DC to advocate for Dreamers in STEM. She has been awarded a UCI's Dynamic Womxn's Award for Outstanding Social Justice Activist, and the Svetlana Bersahdsky Graduate Student Award for her lobbying and advocacy efforts. She plans to continue lobbying and fighting for her undocumented community after graduating, and work in science policy, where she can continue to advocate for both science and minorities in STEM.Originally from Nigeria, Samuel Achilefu is the Michel M. Ter-Pogossian Professor of Radiology at Washington University School of Medicine. He also holds joint appointments as a Professor in Medicine, Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics, and Biomedical Engineering and serves as the Chief of the Optical Radiology Laboratory (ORL), Director of the Molecular Imaging Center, Director of the Center for Multiple Myeloma Nanotherapy, and a co-leader of the Oncologic Imaging Program of the Siteman Cancer Center. His lab harnesses the power of light to develop methods for understanding, diagnosing and treating human diseases and is made up of biologists, chemists, engineers, medical scientists and physicists. He enjoys biking, playing tennis, and travelling. Samuel lives with his wife and they have two college-aged children.
This week, we're presenting a special two-part bonus episode featuring the stories from our June 2018 show at Caveat in New York City, as part of the Underground Science Festival. Rather than the speeches we typically hear on this topic, our storytellers -- who are both OB-GYNs and patients -- have shared firsthand experiences that cross both generations and borders, and are crucial to our understanding of women's health. You can find Part 1 of this special episode here. Part 1: While working with Doctors Without Borders in a country where abortion is illegal, OB-GYN Veronica Ades is falsely accused of performing an abortion.Part 2: When Tracey Segarra tells her mother she had an abortion, she's shocked by the response.Veronica Ades, MD, MPH is a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist. She completed herDoctor of Medicine degree at the State University of New York at Downstate in Brooklyn, NY, and a Master’s degree in Public Health with a concentration in Quantitative Methods at the Harvard School of Public Health. She completed residency training in obstetrics and gynecology at the Albert Einstein School of Medicine in the Bronx, NY, and a fellowship in Reproductive Infectious Disease at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Ades also completed a Certificate in Comparative Effectiveness at the NYU School of Medicine. Dr. Ades has worked with Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders on assignments in Aweil, South Sudan in 2012 and 2016 and in Irbid, Jordan in 2013. Dr. Ades is currently an Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Director of Global Women’s Health at the New York University School of Medicine (NYUMC). Her clinical work is at the New York Harbor VA, Gouverneur Health, and Bellevue Hospital. She is the Founder and Director of the EMPOWER Clinic for Survivors of Sex Trafficking and Sexual Violence at Gouverneur Health on the Lower East Side. Dr. Ades conducts research on sexual- and gender-based violence and trauma, and runs the Empower Lab at NYU. Read her blog here.Tracey Segarra launched her career in NYC as a reporter and editor for local newspapers and national wire services, interviewing assorted politicians, celebrities and criminals. But now all she wants to do is tell stories to strangers about her own life. She has appeared on the Story Collider and Risk! live shows and podcasts, the Moth Radio Hour on NPR and is the host of her own storytelling show based on Long Island, "Now You're Talking!"
This week, we're presenting a special two-part bonus episode featuring the stories from our June 2018 show in New York City, "Abortion: Stories from doctors and patients," which was part of Caveat's first annual Underground Science Festival. Rather than the speeches we typically hear on this topic, our storytellers -- who are both OB-GYNs and patients -- have shared firsthand experiences that cross both generations and borders, and are crucial to our understanding of women's health. Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow, August 29! Part 1: Actress and playwright Jacey Powers faces a difficult decision when she’s diagnosed with breast cancer just as she discovers she's pregnant. Part 2: Working with Doctors Without Borders in a war-torn country, OB-GYN Rasha Khoury tries to save a pregnant woman in critical condition. Part 3: Abortion doula Molly Gaebe is surprised to find herself in the same position as her patients. Jacey Powers is an actress and a writer, a stand-up and a storyteller. Jacey started acting at the age of five, when she appeared in the classic drama, The Chicken and the Man. She played the chicken. Her only line was “Cluck, cluck, cluck.” In the end the man ate her. Since then she has been seen performing off-Broadway and regionally. Some favorites include Our Town (Barrow Street Theatre), Falling (Minetta Lane Theatre) and Band Geeks! (Goodspeed Opera Company). She played the lead role in Picking Up (DR2 Theatre), which she also wrote. Her newest play, Not About The Cat had a reading in NYC last summer. It featured Kathryn Erbe, John Pankow and Deidre Lovejoy. As a stand-up she’s been seen at The Comedy Cellar/Village Underground, Stand-Up NY, Broadway Comedy Club, Dangerfield’s and more. She delivered the opening speech at the final Avon 39 Walk to End Breast cancer this past fall, and her story: “Army of Women,” aired on NPR last spring. She is a graduate of NYU and believes Nutella is the way to world peace.Dr. Rasha Khoury is a Palestinian woman who works as an emergency obstetrician with Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres -MSF) and is a fellow in Maternal Fetal Medicine at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, NY. Dr. Khoury’s clinical work and research centers around reducing maternal morbidity and mortality by improving access to high quality, dignified and safe abortion and contraceptive care, antepartum, delivery, and postpartum care among vulnerable populations (including women of color, women living in poverty, and women enduring displacement and war). Her work as a humanitarian medical aid worker has taken her to Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Cote d’Ivoire, and Sierra Leone.Molly Gaebe is a comedian living in NYC where she writes for Lady Parts Justice League, a reproductive rights organization that uses comedy to expose anti-choice extremist douchebags. She can be seen performing every Saturday with her house team Women and Men at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. Molly is an abortion and birth doula with The Doula Project, and a member of the sketch team Buzz Off, Lucille (buzzofflucille.com). A psychic once told her to look at the moon every month and demand "love and money" from it, so she does that too. Find more info at www.mollygaebe.net.
This week, we're presenting stories about leaving home in pursuit of science.Part 1: After being raised as a creationist, Jennifer Colbourne falls in love with evolutionary science.Jennifer Colbourne is a graduate student at York University where she is currently researching raccoon intelligence. She is interested in how animals are adapting to cities, and how to improve animal-human interactions in the urban environment.Part 2: Herman B. White leaves his hometown of Tuskegee behind to pursue physics -- but his Alabama roots help him make a surprising connection later in his career. Herman B. White, Jr. is a Senior Scientist having served Fermilab for over 43 years in leadership roles and research on nearly a dozen experiments covering, Neutrino, Muon, and Kaon physics and projects in accelerators and particle beams. For decades, he has worked to communicate important decisions about physical science research to the U. S. Congress, agencies in Washington and the world, including service on advisory panels for the Energy Department (HEPAP), National Science Foundation, NASA, the National Academies, the African School of Fundamental Physics and Applications, and APS. He was a Resident Research Associate in Nuclear Physics at Argonne National Laboratory for a period in 1971, a Sloan travel fellow at CERN during part of 1972, a University Fellow at Yale from 1976-78, and received his Ph.D. from Florida State University. Among his recognitions, for his contributions to Kaon Physics and the establishment of a new kind of interaction distinguishing matter from antimatter, he received the (APS), American Physical Society, Edward A. Bouchet Award in 2010. His life story recorded in 2006 by the HistoryMakers organization in Chicago, was made a part of the HistoryMakers Video Oral History Archives currently included in the USA Library of Congress permanent repository.Find out more at storycollider.org.