Monday, February 23rd, 2015 - Rebecca Tarvin talks about how poison frogs avoid poisoning themselves

23Feb

Rebecca Tarvin’s doctoral research focuses on the evolution of chemical defense and resistance to self-intoxication in poison frogs (Dendrobatidae), which are native to Central and South America. Chemically defended poison frogs sequester distasteful alkaloids from insects in their diet and secrete these chemicals from dermal glands for defense. Dendrobatids are often brightly colored to warn potential predators, and the levels of toxicity vary considerably from one species to the next and from one population to another. Rebecca discusses her work on how the genetic and physiological basis of alkaloid resistance relate to phylogenetic and ecological patterns across Dendrobatidae. Tune in to learn about how poison frogs evolved the ability to resist their own toxins!  

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Monday, February 16th, 2015 - Kristina Serratto uses ultra-short, ultra-intense laser pulses to create unique states of matter

16Feb

PhD candidate Kristina Serrato from the High Intensity Laser Science Group at UT Austin talks to us about her research on lasers, light, optics, plasma and the associated instruments used to measure these phenomena. She detailed the difference between laser plasma research and how this differs from traditional plasma research used to investigate conditions on stars. Her PhD work focuses on the interaction between lasers that have wavelengths of one micron and their interaction with single objects that are comparable in size to that wavelength. Listen to this episode to gain insight on instrumentation, logistics, and the research output associated with experimental physicist, Kristina Serrato.

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Monday, February 9th, 2015 - Hilary Anderson from EarthSky talks to us about science communication

9Feb

Science journalist Hilary Anderson from EarthSky took the time to chat with us about science-based communication, outreach, and writing. In today’s day and age, considering the complexities of cutting-edge research and the ever-increasing role of technology in our day-to-day lives, science communication is very important. Hilary talks to us about “translating” science to the wider public and discusses the potential of social media in aiding this process. It was refreshing (and sobering) to gain insight into the science communication world from a journalist POV. Tune in to listen to Hilary Anderson and as a scientist, learn why explaining your research to “your 96-year old grandmother” is important!

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Monday, February 2nd, 2015 - Dr. Brent Covele is trying to find a way to pull clean fuel from seawater via nuclear fusion

2Feb

Dr. Brent Covele at the University of Texas’ Institute for Fusion Studies joined us to talk about his research on harnessing energy through nuclear fusion. We discuss the reactions associated with fusion, “acceptable radioactivity”, “dangerous radioactivity”, and the details behind how this research is done. Dr. Covele explains what a tokamak is, the importance of supercomputers in the field, and how both of these are used to study fusion. Tune in to this episode to hear Dr. Brent Covele expand on the comparison between fission and fusion, and the relative pros and cons of energy extraction via nuclear processes.

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