The Story Collider

The Story Collider

United Kingdom

From finding awe in Hubble images to visiting the doctor, science is everywhere in our lives. Whether we wear a white lab coat or haven't seen a test tube since eighth grade, science affects and changes us. We all have a story about science, and at The Story Collider, we want to hear those stories.

Episodes

Working Memory: Jirard Khalil & Ben Lillie  

This week, we present two stories of how memory impacts our lives, our families, and the way we see ourselves. Part 1: When Jirard Khalil is twelve years old, his mother suddenly starts to change. Part 2: A teacher’s social experiment lands fifth-grade Ben Lillie in an ethical dilemma. Jirard Khalil is a YouTuber, actor, writer, and performer. You can find him online at @JKCompletesIt on Twitter, and That One Video Gamer on YouTube. Ben Lillie, co-founder of The Story Collider, is a high-energy particle physicist who left the ivory tower for the wilds of New York's theater district. His current project is Caveat, an event space for entertaining talks and conversations opening September 5th on Manhattan's Lower East Side. He is also is a Moth StorySLAM champion, and was a writer and contributing editor for TED.com.

Standard Deviation: Bess Stillman & Brendan Bane  

Part 1: Late one night in the ER, doctor Bess Stillman treats a patient with an interesting dilemma. Part 2: As a teenager, science writer Brendan Bane becomes obsessed with collecting poisonous pets. Bess Stillman is an emergency physician and writer living in NYC. She has appeared on The Moth Radio Hour. Brendan Bane is a freelance science communicator and recent graduate of the UC Santa Cruz Science Communication Program. His interest in biology blossomed when he first laid his eyes upon a giant, hairy tarantula. He later followed his passion to the cloud forests of Costa Rica, where he studied how tarantulas communicate their romantic intentions. (Basically, they twerk). Though he loved tromping through forests and spying on spiders in their roadside burrows, his greatest thrill did not come from the field or laboratory. Instead, he was happiest onstage, bringing audiences face to fang with spiders through visual storytelling. Now, through science reporting, he immerses readers in the lives of all flora and fauna, whether wondrous or weird.

Maternal Instinct: Pamela Feliciano & Katharine Gammon  

In this week's episode, we present two stories of science and motherhood, just in time for Mother's Day. Part 1: Developmental biologist Pam Feliciano tries to understand her autistic son. Part 2: Science writer Katharine Gammon thinks she’s gone into labor, but her doctor says she hasn’t. As Scientific Director of SPARKforAutism.org, Pamela Feliciano leads the effort to build the largest autism research cohort in the United States, to speed up research and improve lives. SPARK aims to build a partnership between 50,000 individuals with autism and their families and autism researchers. Feliciano has also been a senior scientist at SFARI, the largest private funder of autism research in the United States, since 2013. At SFARI, she has been involved in  efforts to develop objective and reliable outcome measures for autism clinical trials. Previously, Feliciano was a senior editor at Nature Genetics, where she was responsible for managing the peer review process of research publications in all areas of genetics. While at Nature Genetics, Feliciano was engaged with the scientific community, attending conferences and giving talks and workshops on editorial decision-making at academic institutes worldwide. Katharine Gammon is an award-winning freelance science writer based in Santa Monica, California. She has written about a wide range of topics, from childhood memory to sexually-transmitted diseases in koalas to designing cities on Mars for publications like Wired, Popular Science, Newsweek and Scientific American. Katharine grew up in Seattle as the child of two scientists, attended Princeton University and received a master’s degree from MIT. She taught English in the Peace Corps in Bulgaria before discovering science writing. With two little boys under age 4, she has endless fodder for her blog Kinderlab about child development, and in her miniscule free time she rides horses and wants to spend more time under sail.

Hard Science: Sarah Demers & Katy Rodriguez Wimberly  

Part 1: When Sarah Demers gets a work-study job working on a particle detector, she has no idea what she's in for. Part 2: After being discouraged from pursuing science, Katy Rodriguez Wimberly searches for her place in the military and as an actor. Sarah Demers is the Horace D. Taft Associate Professor of Physics at Yale University.  She is a particle physicist and a member of the ATLAS and Mu2e Collaborations, studying fundamental particles and the forces with which they interact. Sarah graduated from Harvard University with an A.B. in physics in 1999.  She received her Ph.D. from the University of Rochester as a member of the CDF Collaboration in 2005. She was a postdoc with Stanford's Linear Accelerator Center, based at CERN as a member of the ATLAS experiment before beginning her faculty position at Yale in 2009.  She has been recognized for her research with an Early Career Award from the Department of Energy and has won awards for teaching and service at Yale. When she isn't doing physics she can be found spending time with her husband and two kids exploring in the woods behind their house, baking, reading and, recently, shoveling snow. M. Katy Rodriguez Wimberly is a first year graduate student at University of California, Irvine (UCI) in their Physics Department. She is a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow and the first Junior Board Fellow of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. She earned her Bachelor’s of Science degree, with a math minor, from California State University, Long Beach in May 2015. At UCI she is working with Dr. Michael Cooper on galaxy evolution research, which studies the coming together of satellite galaxies onto massive clusters of galaxies by comparing large cosmological simulations to observational data. Katy’s research interests lie in galaxy evolution and observational cosmology. Additionally, she loves and conducts astronomy outreach with underrepresented minorities, focusing primarily on K-12 Special Needs students (including children on the Autism Spectrum and those with Down’s Syndrome).

Syzygy: Bryony Tilsley & David Baron  

Part 1: Bryony Tilsley and her husband are planning a local astronomy event when their family undergoes a big change. Part 2: Eclipse chaser David Baron discovers the real magic behind a total solar eclipse. Bryony Tilsley, along with her husband Rob, is a founder of Dartmoor Skies, a U.K. charity that shares the beauty of astronomy with anyone who wants to experience it. She studied writing and choreography at Dartington College of Arts so she loves to bring art and science together. She finds stargazing therapeutic and would like to build an observatory on Dartmoor. She has lots of books, two cats and a dog. David Baron is a science journalist, broadcaster, and the author of American Eclipse: A Nation’s Epic Race to Catch the Shadow of the Moon and Win the Glory of the World. An avid eclipse chaser, David has witnessed five total solar eclipses in such disparate locales as Indonesia, Australia, and the Faroe Islands. He has spent most of his career in public radio, as science correspondent for NPR, science reporter for Boston’s WBUR, and science editor for PRI’s The World. You can find him online at www.american-eclipse.com.

Resistance: Siddhartha Roy & Ada Cheng  

Part 1: Environmental engineer Siddhartha Roy is baffled when the state of Michigan insists the water in Flint is safe to drink despite his scientific evidence. Part 2: Sociologist Ada Cheng learns a surprising lesson about resistance while studying human rights violations in Hong Kong. Siddhartha Roy is an Environmental Engineer and PhD candidate in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech. He works with Dr. Marc Edwards researching corrosion failures in potable water infrastructure. Sid also serves as the student leader and communications director for the Virginia Tech “Flint Water Study” research team that helped uncover the Flint Water Crisis. Ada Cheng is a professor-turned storyteller, improviser, and stand-up comic. She was a tenured professor in sociology at DePaul University for 15 years. She resigned from her position to pursue theater and performance full time in 2016. She is a one-time Moth storyslam winner, a presenter at the National Storytelling Conference, and a runner-up at Chicago’s Bughouse Square Debates. She has been featured at storytelling shows in Chicago and Atlanta. She has also told stories at The Moth in Chicago, New York, Denver, and Detroit. Her book, Standing Up: From Renegade Professor to Middle-Aged Comic, published in December 2016 by Difference Press, aims at encouraging people, particularly mid-lifers, to embrace fear about uncertainty and to pursue their passion and dream. Her motto: Make your life the best story you tell. Check out her website www.renegadeadacheng.com for more information.

Transformation: Sebastian Gaston Alvarado & Danny Artese  

Part 1: Geneticist Sebastian Alvarado reconnects with his love of comic books by attempting to shrink ants. Part 2: Inspired by his favorite novel, third-grade Danny Artese attempts to turn himself into a plant. Sebastian Gaston Alvarado went into science so he could make the X-men. During his Ph.D., he studied the molecular switches that regulate gene function. As a result, his work has shed light on chronic pain, size variation in ants, and metabolism in hibernating squirrels. He is also co-founder of Thwacke, a science consulting firm for the entertainment sector. As a consultant, he has rationalized the science behind Captain America's Super Soldier Serum and the reversible nature of the Incredible Hulk's transformations . Sebastian is currently an A.P. Giannini Fellow at Stanford University where he studies how social environment can shape the way genes change behavior in a fish. Danny Artese is a NY-based storyteller who has won multiple Moth StorySLAMs and performed at Q.E.D., UCB, The Magnet Theater, and Ripley's Believe It Or Not! While not a scientist by trade, one of the proudest moments of Danny's life was when his high school Biology teacher (Hi Mrs. Beamer!) told his 15-year-old self that he'd be a great gynecologist.

Technological Advancements: Simon Wheatcroft & Dale Markowitz  

Part 1: Blind athlete Simon Wheatcroft finds a way to run marathons by himself. Part 2: Worried she won't ever be able to commit to one field of study, Dale Markowitz decides to go all in on a neuroscience project. Simon Wheatcroft’s utilization of technology has enabled him to achieve incredible goals. From learning to train solo outdoors as a blind runner, to crossing deserts alone. It is his ability to adapt technology and engage those who create it, to redefine possibilities. His vast experience in the world of technology and psychology give him a fantastic base for his talks on diversity, inclusion and technology. Simon continues to push boundaries and motivate others to: reimagine what is possible through changes in thought processes; and believe that anything is possible. Dale Markowitz is an engineer and data scientist at OkCupid, where she spends endless hours contemplating the mechanics of romance and attraction. She graduated from Princeton University, where she bounced from physics to math to neuroscience before landing on a major in Computer Science. When she's not bugging people for stories about their online love lives, she can be found pondering math riddles or blogging on Medium @unquarked.

Observational Error: Qi Lin & Michael Perlin  

Part 1: Neuroscientist Qi Lin struggles to connect with friends and colleagues when she can’t escape her scientific mindset. Part 2: When defense attorney Michael Perlin interviews prisoners who have been deemed unfit to stand trial by reason of insanity, he makes a startling discovery. Hailing from Guangzhou (with the best dim sum!), China, Qi Lin is currently working in Dr. Daniela Schiller's lab as a lab manager and investigate the flexibility of emotional memory and the neural basis of social cognition. Qi graduated from New York University with a bachelor degree in psychology in 2015 December. She has a picture of her brain (sagittal) attached on her refrigerator door. Michael Perlin is a Professor of Law Emeritus at New York Law School (NYLS), founding director of NYLS’s Online Mental Disability Law Program, and founding director of NYLS’s International Mental Disability Law Reform Project in its Justice Action Center. He is also the co-founder of Mental Disability Law and Policy Associates. His hobbies include fishing, birding, playing the clarinet, opera, and the music of Bob Dylan. Michael Perlin's story was produced as part of a partnership with Springer Storytellers. Find out more at www.beforetheabstract.com/

Isolation: Alok Jha & Rita Tavares  

Part 1: On an expedition to Antarctica, journalist Alok Jha ends up trapped on the ice for days. Part 2: Neuroscientist Rita Tavares attempts to analyze her romantic problems with science. Alok Jha is a journalist, author and broadcaster, focusing on stories about science. He is the science correspondent at ITV News. Before that, he spent a decade at the Guardian and made programmes for the BBC. You can find him on Twitter and Facebook. Rita Tavares is a pirate born in the country of Portugal. She crossed the Atlantic ocean to make it to America, where she anchored her ship in New York City after a period in the Pacific waters off of San Francisco. She has a day cover working as a neuroscientist and a poet. In both these activities she keeps a facade of solving the mysteries of the mind scientifically and artfully. In her science job, she discovered that the human brain "sees" our social environment in ways similar to how it encodes physical space. She is now investigating how these processes go awry in patients with psychiatric disorders. In her poetry, she uses her pirate persona to write about her travels and her love of lunatics.

Habitat Loss: Evon Hekkala & Stan Stojkovic  

Part 1: Ecologist Evon Hekkala travels to Madagascar to help protect a village from a man-eating croc. Part 2: Criminologist Stan Stojkovic receives a letter from an incarcerated man who killed two people when he was a teenager. Evon Hekkala was born just outside of Fossil, Oregon, population 200. How she ended up living and working in NYC and traveling around the globe studying wildlife is all a bit of a big crazy fluke, set in motion by a mixture of really good, bad parenting and the naive ability to never see her own boundaries. Now she spends her time teaching and researching at Fordham University and the American Museum of Natural History where she and her students explore a century of change in the wild world of animals. Stan Stojkovic, PhD is Dean and Professor of Criminal Justice in the Helen Bader School of Social Welfare at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM). He has been a faculty member within the Helen Bader School of Social Welfare for the past 33 years. He received his Ph.D. in social science (with cognate specializations in criminal justice and criminology, public administration, and philosophy) from Michigan State University in 1984. Stan Stojkovic's story was produced as part of a partnership with Springer Storytellers. Find out more at www.beforetheabstract.com/

In the Field: Liz Neeley & Heith Copes  

Part 1: As a grad student, Liz Neeley falls in love with the order of science, but when she heads into the field, she’s forced to confront messy reality. Part 2: Criminologist Heith Copes gets close to his subjects when he studies meth users in rural Alabama. Liz Neeley is the executive director of The Story Collider. She is a lapsed marine biologist who will always name her printers after fish. For the past decade, she has been helping researchers around the world understand the science of science communication and find the courage to tell more stories about their work. She is a member of the advisory boards of Ensia Magazine and the CommLab at MIT. Heith Copes, Ph.D., is a professor in the Department of Justice Sciences at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He has served as the President of the Southern Criminal Justice Association and has been a visiting professor at the University of Oslo, University of South Wales, Aalborg University, and the Centre for Alcohol and Drug Research at Aarhus University. He received his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Tennessee in 2001. He is currently working with Jared Ragland on a photo-ethnography in rural Alabama. The project entails interviews, observations, and visual methods to document the lives of people who use methamphetamine in Marshall County, Alabama.

Natural Habitats: Helen Cheng & Thom Young-Bayer  

Part 1: Born and raised in Brooklyn, naturalist Helen Cheng leaves the comfort of the city to venture out into the field. Part 2: Ecologist Thom Young-Bayer makes the tough decision to leave science after his life changes course. Helen Cheng is once a city-dweller turned solitude-seeking naturalist. Born in Brooklyn, New York, Helen’s journey took her from the big city to the coasts of the New England, studying horseshoe crabs and receiving her M.S. in Zoology from the University of New Hampshire. Interested in how management plays a role in research, she worked at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as a Sea Grant Knauss Fellow. As an interdisciplinary marine biologist, Helen works on a variety of projects involving research, education and outreach, and science communication. Whenever she gets a free moment, Helen enjoys eating new and delicious foods around the city, hiking in the mountains, swimming in the ocean, and singing and playing acoustic guitar. Thom Young-Bayer’s affinity for the outdoors developed into a brief career as an ecologist, during which he worked as a tropical forest guide, studied coral reef fish and kelp forests, and traveled to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Since then, he has managed two organic farms, worked on a commercial fishing vessel, sailed across the Pacific using celestial navigation, and worked as the First Mate of a Maine windjammer. He maintains his tenuous grip on sanity with open water swimming, ultra-marathon running, and classical piano. He lives with his wife, Skylar, and their two dogs in Maine.

Predators: Drew Prochaska & Heather Cucolo  

Part 1: Drew Prochaska decides to confront his fear of sharks -- by going swimming with them. Part 2: Attorney Heather Cucolo must navigate the complicated psychology surrounding her sex-offender clients. Drew Prochaska is a two-time Moth StorySlam winner, who has been featured on the "RISK!", "Dear Show", and Audible's "Stories in Session" podcasts. A graduate of The Tisch School of Arts Dramatic Writing Program, Drew's writing was regularly featured on the website of Running with Scissors author Augusten Burroughs. He lives in Williamsburg, Brooklyn with his dog, Lula. Heather Cucolo is an adjunct professor at New York Law School and the current director of New York Law School’s Online Mental Disability Law Program. She has contributed to the development of courses for the program as well as assisted in collaboration with Asia-Pacific partners to foster international distance learning. Her academic work has afforded her wonderful opportunities, such as addressing mental disability law issues at the United Nations and allowing her to travel domestically and internationally to lecture and teach. Heather Cucolo's story was produced as part of a partnership with Springer Storytellers. Find out more at www.beforetheabstract.com/

Fear Response: Mark Pagán & Rob Lim  

Part 1: Mark Pagán combats his phobia of flying in an unusual way. Part 2: Military surgeon Rob Lim must perform surgery in the middle of a sandstorm in Iraq. Mark Pagán is an award-winning storyteller, comedian, multimedia artist, and writer best known for his humorous autobiographical and documentary vignettes for stage, television, online, screenings, print, and installation. His work and performances have been shown at festivals worldwide including Slamdance Film Festival, PBS, Arizona International Film Festival, Maryland Film Festival, Rooftop Film Festival, North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival, Chicago Improv Festival, Del Close Marathon, Philadelphia Improv Festival, and the Charleston Comedy Festival. Robert B. Lim, MD is a General Surgeon on active duty in the United States Army. He specializes in Advanced Laparoscopic Surgery, which includes robotics, single-incision laparoscopic, and bariatric surgery. He did his fellowship training at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center/Harvard Medical School. His academic career focuses on obesity care, surgical education, surgical simulation, and patient safety. He is on the Board of Governors at the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgery and holds the rank of Associate Professor at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. Dr. Lim founded the Society of Military Surgeons and produced the first ever tri-service military surgical symposium in 2014. He has been deployed to the combat zone 5 times including the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003. He has served on Forward Surgical Teams, in the Combat Hospitals, and on the GHOST-T surgical team (Golden Hour Offset of Surgical Trauma-Team) with the Special Forces. He helped revitalize the Excelsior Surgical Society, which is a tri-service military society that originated during World War II under the guidance of Winston Churchill. Rob Lim's story was produced as part of a partnership with Springer Storytellers. Find out more at http://www.beforetheabstract.com/

Oxytocin: Faith Dukes & Cara Gael O'Regan  

Part 1: MIT Museum education coordinator Faith Dukes wonders if there’s something wrong with her when she fails to couple up. Part 2: Cara Gael O'Regan is startled when she tests positive for syphilis. Faith Dukes is the Education Coordinator at the MIT Museum where her passions for inspiring the next generation of innovators and learning about the latest in science and technology collide. There, she creates interactive sessions for middle and high school students to explore using MIT’s exhibitions, collections and current research. Her dedication to outreach has extended to the local community where she chairs the Boston Blueprint Conference for Middle and High School Girls. Faith credits failed experiments during graduate school for helping her find the greatest coping tool ever, boxing. Today she teaches a weekly kickboxing class in Cambridge and calls the gym her meditation space. Faith earned her PhD in Chemistry from Tufts University and her BS from Spelman College. Cara Gael O'Regan is an artist, health advocate, and podcaster who has more than two decades of lived experience with complex chronic illness and the chronic uncertainty that comes along with it. Her painting, Syndrome, was published in the Fall 2015 issue of The Intima: A Journal of Narrative Medicine. She is a Clue Ambassador for menstrual + reproductive health, and a 2016 Stanford Medicine X ePatient Delegate. Cara's podcast, In Sickness + In Health, features interviews with people about their relationships with their bodies and discussions about the intersections with chronic illness, disability, healthcare, and mortality. She tweets about life and living with chronic illness @bimpse, and you can find the podcast @InSicknessPod and at insicknesspod.com.

Research: Bri Riggio & Seth Baum  

Part 1: As a teenager, Bri Riggio struggles to understand her eating disorder and connect with her psychologist father. Part 2: Seth Baum, an expert in global catastrophic risk, makes waves when he suggests a solution to the threat of nuclear winter. Bri Riggio has spent the last six years working at various institutions of higher education, from a study abroad program in Greece to George Mason University, where she now supports the Office of Research at the executive level. While not a scientist by training, she has always loved research and the process of learning. She stupidly spent an extra year in graduate school after choosing to base her Master's thesis on a social science methodology that she didn't know and just barely managed to finish her MA in Conflict Resolution this past spring. To keep her sanity, she runs marathons, plays video games, and looks for opportunities to tell her stories. Dr. Seth Baum is Executive Director of the Global Catastrophic Risk Institute, a nonprofit think tank that Baum co-founded in 2011. His research focuses on risk and policy analysis of catastrophes that could destroy human civilization, such as global warming, nuclear war, and infectious disease outbreaks. Baum received a Ph.D. in Geography from Pennsylvania State University and completed a post-doctoral fellowship with the Columbia University Center for Research on Environmental Decisions. His writing has appeared in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the Guardian, Scientific American, and a wide range of peer-reviewed scholarly journals. Follow him on Twitter @SethBaum and Facebook @sdbaum.

Outliers: Maryam Zaringhalam & Hillary Savoie  

Part 1: A series of unfortunate events reveals something off about molecular biologist Maryam Zaringhalam’s sense of smell. Part 2: Hillary Savoie’s daughter is born with a rare genetic mutation. Maryam Zaringhalam is a molecular biologist who just received her PhD from 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. You can follow her science-ish musings on Twitter @webmz_ Hillary Savoie is a writer, advocate, and mixer of killer cocktails. She is also mother to Esmé, a beautiful little girl with multiple rare genetic conditions. Hillary has blogged about life with Esmé since 2012. Her writing has appeared onMotherlode—the NY Times parenting blog, The Mighty, Vector—Boston Children’s Science and Innovation Blog, and the Huffington Post Blog, among others. In 2015 she published two short memoirs, Around and Into The Unknown and Whoosh. Hillary is the Founder and Director of the Cute Syndrome Foundation, which is dedicated to raising research funds for and awareness of PCDH19 Epilepsy and SCN8A Epilepsy. And she holds a doctorate in Communication and Rhetoric from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, which was great preparation for parenting Esmé, who is an expert in nonverbal persuasion. In her free time she enjoys gardening, dancing to Beyoncé and the Muppets with Esmé, snuggling her geriatric cat, Chicken, and dressing her daughter up as famous women from history. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @HillarySavoie and Facebook @HillarySavoieWriter

Baseline: Elizabeth Yuko and Selam Gano  

Part 1: Bioethicist Elizabeth Yuko tries to use her science training while reporting her sexual assault. Part 2: Engineering student Selam Gano returns to her father’s home country of Ethiopia with the hopes of providing clean water to the village where he grew up. Elizabeth Yuko is a bioethicist and writer, specializing in the intersection of popular culture and ethics. She is an experienced communications strategist both for political campaigns and academic research, and currently serves on the Board of Directors of the UN-affiliated NGO the Global Bioethics Initiative, and as an external expert for the European Research Council. She has been published in The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Rolling Stone, Ms. Magazine, The Establishment, Playboy, Racked and The Advocate, among others. Yuko also hosts a comedy lecture show called Let's Get Ethical! at Q.E.D. in Queens, New York. Selam Gano is an MIT undergraduate studying Mechanical Engineering with Robotics. She also blogs professionally for MIT Admissions and around the internet. When not in class, she is an undergraduate researcher at the MIT Media Lab and the principal researcher for the Muti Water Project. Born in the United States to an immigrant family, she has her heritage in China and Ethiopia and speaks four languages. She has a passion for robots, international projects, and writing.

Excited State: Brian Mackenwells & Jess Thom  

Brian Mackenwells tries to smuggle something onto the vomit comet, and Jess Thom learns the best way to explain her Tourette's to someone new.

0:00/0:00
Video player is in betaClose