Monday, March 23rd, 2015 - Siavash Mirarab develops computational methods to investigate large datasets in biology

12Apr

On this episode we're joined by University of Texas at Austin computer science PhD student, Siavash Mirarab, whose research focuses on large-scale phylogenetics. Siavash and his advisor Tandy Warnow developed a new technique for estimating evolutionary relationships ("statistical binning") that enabled an international consortium of researchers to redraw the bird family tree. He talks about this part of his PhD work which was recently published in Science magazine.  Join us to learn about the computational side of biology, where complex models and methodologies are used to understand evolution from Slavish Mirarab. 

00:0000:00

Monday, March 2nd, 2015 - Nate Pope, Hollis Woodard, Sarah Cusser, and Kim Ballare (of the Jha Lab) discuss native bee life history and conservation

12Apr

Shalene Jha’s research group at UT-Austin conducts research on plant and pollinator landscape ecology, plant and pollinator population genetics and disease ecology, and how land use impacts critical ecological processes for native plants and their pollinators. Postdoctoral researcher Hollis Woodard and PhD students Nate Pope, Sarah Cusser, and Kim Ballare joined us to talk about native bee natural history, the evolution of sociality in bees, pollination ecology, and how agricultural development and urban landscapes affect native bee populations. Tune in to learn about how important and amazing native bees are!

00:0000:00

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

12Apr

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!  

00:0000:00

Monday, February 17th, 2015 - Kristina Serratto uses ultra-short, ultra-intense laser pulses to create unique states of matter

12Apr

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.

00:0000:00

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

12Apr

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!

00:0000:00

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

12Apr

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.

00:0000:00

Monday, December 1st, 2014 - Rocket Aerodynamicist Dr. Leon Vanstone discusses spacecraft hot spots and scramjet technology

12Apr

On this episode of “They Blinded Me with Science”, we’re joined by Dr. Leon Vanstone, who is a rocket scientist (in particular, a “rocket aerodynamicist”) in the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics at UT-Austin. Travelling at high speeds through the atmosphere generates a lot of heat due to friction from the air, and the shock wave boundary layer interaction results in hot spots on spacecraft. Leon’s research focuses on the physics of airflow over rockets and re-entry crafts and how to prevent them from melting. Leon also discusses why rockets are inefficient for traveling to space and how ideally a “space plane” with a special type of (non-existent) engine called a scramjet would be used.

00:0000:00

Monday, November 3rd, 2014 - Dr. Yoel Stewart studies anoles and sticklebacks, and talks to us about their behavior and evolution.

12Apr

Department of Integrative Biology postdoctoral scholar Dr. Yoel Stewart was our guest on this episode and talked to us about his research on evolutionary behavior and community dynamics. Dr. Stewart’s research focuses on anoles and sticklebacks. He spoke to us about the interaction between green anoles and the invasive brown anole, and the evolutionary effects of this relationship. Join us on this episode to learn about catching lizards for science!

00:0000:00