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.

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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!

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Monday, October 13th, 2014 - Dr. Sean Gulick uses sub-seafloor imaging tools to understand Earth history

19Oct

Dr. Sean Gulick, a research professor at the University of Texas Institute for Geophysics, sat down with us to talk about his research that deals with plate tectonics and its interaction with various systems such as erosion from mountains, glaciers and regional climate. The main tools that Dr. Gulick uses is 2D and 3D seismic imaging of the sediments and rocks beneath the seafloor to study the imprint of plate tectonics and the mechanisms through which it is manifest. Dr. Gulick went into detail about some of his recent projects offshore Antarctica and Alaska, and also talked about his work mapping the K-Pg impact crater. This crater, located in the Yucatan Peninsula, was caused by the asteroid that was responsible for the extinction of dinosaurs. Listen to this episode to hear Dr. Gulick talk about geology, geophysics, tectonics and day-to-day life as a seagoing researcher!

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Monday, October 6th, 2014 - Kelly Pierce gives us a glimpse into the fascinating life of ticks and the pathogens they can carry

19Oct

On this episode, University of Texas at Austin Integrative Biology student, Kelly Pierce gives us a glimpse into the fascinating life and behavior of ticks. She talks about tick-borne diseases such as Lyme's disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted fever, and how these diseases are transmitted, and what motivates ticks in choosing their hosts. Kelly's research has taken her out to the field in east Texas where she has collected tick-related data from raccoons, possums, and deer. Tune in to this episode to hear from Kelly about some of the methods, motivations, goals, and results from tick-related research and the intricacies of tick-borne disease transmission.
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Monday, September 22nd, 2014 - Colin Averill researches carbon cycling and how decomposers can play an important role in removing CO2 from the atmosphere

19Oct

PhD candidate, Colin Averill (@colinaverill) of the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of Texas at Austin, spent some time with us to talk about his research and recenetly published article in Nature. Colin studies carbon cycling and its interaction with ecology to understand how trees and decomposing bacteria and fungi are integral parts of this cycle. He spoke to us about his research with mycorrhiza, a fungi that is symbiotic with the roots of trees, and how they can potentially mediate competition between plants and decomposers that are important to carbon and nitrogen cycling. Join us for this episode and learn about carbon cycling, anthropogenic CO2, and how various fungi and bacteria that dwell in soil can factor into climate change and atmospheric CO2 concentrations!

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Monday, August 25th, 2014 - Mason Fried talks to us about Greenland’s glaciology

19Oct

University of Texas at Institute for Geophysics PhD candidate, Mason Fried is our featured guest on the show for this episode. Mason studies glaciology and ice sheet dynamics on Greenland using a variety of tools such as GPS and ocean observation data. Tune in to this episode to hear Mason talk to us about his incredible field work this summer on Greenland, and some very 'cool' science that deals with the interaction between glaciers, oceans, ice sheets, and sea-level rise!

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Monday, July 7th, 2014 - Dr. Alex Jordan briefs us about the social network of animals

5Sep

Dr. Alex Jordan, a postdoctoral scientist at the University of Texas Department of Integrative Biology, sat down with us to talk about his research on the interplay between the social environment and animal behavior. Dr. Jordan works with a fascinating type of fish called Cichlids, primarily in East African rift lakes, to understand the processes that govern their social networking. He also studies bees, spiders, and humans as well! Join us to tune into They Blinded me with Science and to learn about social behavior in animals and humans, after some science news and views from the week.

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Monday, June 30th, 2014 - Dr. Judson Partin puts the Earth on a couch and asks it about its past

2Aug

University of Texas Institute for Geophysics researcher Dr. Judson Partin explains the importance of learning about past climates of planet Earth and how he uses stalagmites in caves to learn about ancient rainfall. Dr. Partin tells us about the his latest research in Vanuatu, an island region in the south Pacific Ocean, that attempts to understand past changes in a large band of rainfall called the South Pacific Convergence Zone. This band of rainfall is larger than the contiguous United States! He explains why it is important to global climate, what might have happened to thousands of years ago and what might happen to it in the future considering current climate change. Tune in to listen to Dr. Judson Partin take some time off from his day and speak to us about rainfall, (mega)drought, abrupt climate change, and his adventures while doing field work in caves!

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Monday, June 23rd, 2014 - Dr. Toti Larson gives us the real insight into “fracking”, methane, and groundwater as seen by stable isotopes

2Aug

Dr. Toti Larson, a research engineer at the Jackson School of Geosciences at UT Austin took some time with us to talk about his research in stable isotope geochemistry. Using stable isotopes, currently, Dr. Larson tries to track methane in groundwater. Methane exists naturally in groundwater due to microbial activity, but there are concerns whether hydraulic fracturing (or "fracking") may be introducing methane into groundwater and aquifers. In this episode, Dr. Larson dispels many myths associated with the process of hydraulic fracturing and clearly explains the issues, concerns and problems that surround the topic. Tune in to learn about the science behind methane in groundwater, and also about the interesting world of stable isotopes that can shed light on processes as varied as nuclear forensics to the diets of birds and deer!

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Monday, May 5th, 2014 - Mariana Vasconcellos talks to us about studying tree frogs in the Cerrado, a really unique biodiversity hotspot in South America

1Aug

Ecology, Evolution and Behavior graduate student at the University of Texas at Austin, Mariana Vasconcellos, spoke to us about The Cerrado in Brazil: a savannah in South America that is an incredibly diverse biodiversity hotspot. Specifically, Mariana studies the evolutionary history of tree frogs in the Cerrado. She uses DNA sequencing in the tree frogs to reconstruct phylogenetic trees of these frogs, essentially "family trees" for these frogs. Tune in to learn something new about South American tree frogs!

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