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.


Herman Pontzer: Burning Calories  

Anthropologist Herman Pontzer spends time living among a Hadza hunter-gatherer tribe in order to see if they burn more calories than a typical Westerner. Herman Pontzer, professor of anthropology at Hunter College in New York, investigates the human and ape evolution. His work incorporates laboratory and field studies of humans and apes, living and extinct, to shed light on our evolutionary past. Most recently Dr. Pontzer has investigated energy expenditure among Hadza hunter-gatherers in northern Tanzania. Follow him @HermanPontzer.

Layne Jackson Hubbard: Still Myself  

Layne Jackson Hubbard wakes up in a hospital room with a head wound and no memory of how she got there. Layne Jackson Hubbard is a PhD student in Computer Science at the University of Colorado Boulder and is the founder of MindScribe, a startup company working to empower early childhood development through creative technologies. During her undergrad at CU Boulder, she successfully spoke before the Board of Regents to create a new Neuroscience degree for the university's students. She has a B.A. in Computer Science and graduated #1 in her class. Her research is funded by the Chancellor's Fellowship.

Aparna Nancherla: By Any Means Necessary  

When comedian Aparna Nancherla's science fair project goes awry, she and her fellow students make some unethical choices. Aparna Nancherla is a standup comedian and writer who has written for “Late Night with Seth Meyers” and appeared on “Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell” among many other programs. Follow her @aparnapkin.

Patrick Freeman: Elephant Time  

Patrick Freeman is studying elephants in Namibia when he receives terrible news. Patrick Freeman is a Research Assistant at the Carnegie Institution for Science, Department of Global Ecology. He specializes in sub-Saharan wildlife ecology and is passionate about elephants. He has spent numerous field seasons observing them in Namibia, South Africa, and most recently in Kenya. He is an avid wildlife photographer, of which he says, "My goal is to bring authentic images of wildlife, wild spaces, and conservation challenges to life for people who may never be able to see them in the flesh." You can follow him @PTFreeman.

Rachel Yehuda: Cause and Effect  

To discover why some survivors of trauma experience PTSD and some don't, scientist Rachel Yehuda must convince a community of Holocaust survivors to let her study them. Rachel Yehuda is a professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Director of the Mental Health Patient Care Center at the James J. Peters Bronx Veterans Affairs hospital. Her research on PTSD has included both human populations and animal models, neuroendocrinology, and genomic and molecular biological studies of trauma.

Ira Flatow: The Sound of the Falls  

As a young science reporter at NPR, Science Friday's Ira Flatow accepts a challenge to record what it sounds like to go over Niagara Falls. Award winning science correspondent and TV journalist Ira Flatow is the host of Science Friday, heard weekly on PRI, Public Radio International, and online. He anchors the show each Friday, bringing radio and Internet listeners worldwide a lively, informative discussion on science, technology, health, space, and the environment. Ira is also founder and president of the Science Friday Initiative, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit company dedicated to creating radio, TV, and Internet projects that make science “user-friendly.”

Wyatt Cenac: Driving Drunk for Science  

While completing a community service requirement in high school, comedian Wyatt Cenac puts a drunk driving simulation to the test. Wyatt Cenac is a comedian and a former correspondent on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.” He has also released multiple standup specials, most recently on Netflix, and appeared on film and TV. He regularly hosts a standup evening in Brooklyn called “Night Train with Wyatt Cenac.” Follow him on Twitter @wyattcenac.

Paula Croxson: How Cold Is Too Cold?  

Neuroscientist Paula Croxson is determined to finish her first open-water swimming race -- despite the dangers. Paula Croxson is a neuroscientist at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, where she researches the brain mechanisms and chemicals that are responsible for memory. She's particularly interested in complex, autobiographical life memories. Paula is from the UK and before coming to New York she received an M.A. in Natural Sciences from the University of Cambridge and a M.Sc. and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of Oxford. When she's not doing science, she plays the flute, and she blogs for Psychology Today.

Ben Lillie: The Truth About My Grandfather  

After his grandfather passes away, Ben Lillie learns the surprising truth about his life -- from Wikipedia. Ben is a high-energy particle physicist who left the ivory tower for the wilds of New York's theater district. He is co-founder and artistic director of The Story Collider, where he’s lead the production of over 200 events in ten cities, and the five-year (and ongoing) production of the Story Collider podcast. He spent four years on the editorial team at TED, covering and participating in the production of the annual TED and TED Global conferences. He has a degree in physics from Reed College, a PhD from Stanford in theoretical physics, did a postdoc at the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory, and has published in The Atlantic, Slate, and Method Quarterly. He is and @benlillie.

Elana Lancaster: The Egg & the Equinox  

In grade school, Elana Lancaster gets into trouble when he questions his student teacher's science. Elana Lancaster is a health educator and storyteller who lives in Brooklyn. He's a Moth Slam winner, and co-hosts and co-produces the monthly show Take Two Storytelling. When he's not talking about himself onstage, he can often be found teaching and writing about LGBT health, working with medical providers to help them provide better care for transgender patients, and sharing random facts about sperm.

Skylar Bayer: The Hummingbird of Doom  

Skylar Bayer's dreams of a career in scientific scuba diving are put in jeopardy when her heart begins acting strangely. Skylar Bayer is a PhD candidate studying the secret sex lives of scallops in the great state of Maine. Due to a mishap involving a fisherman, buckets of gonads, and an unlocked Chevy, she once lost all her research samples, but gained a segment on The Colbert Report. She has also appeared as a guest on MPBN's Maine Calling and manages the blog and podcast, Strictlyfishwrap. Skylar has produced and hosted shows for The Story Collider throughout Maine.

Aaron Wolfe: The Inseminator  

Aaron Wolfe seeks meaning through labor at a kibbutz dairy farm -- and finds himself tackling some rather unexpected tasks. Aaron Wolfe is a moth grandslam winning storyteller, writer, filmmaker, and obsessive fan of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club. He is the screenwriter of the Academy Awards Shortlisted “Record/Play” and yet still somehow hasn’t won his friend's Oscars Pool. He has, however, taught his son to love soccer so there’s that. His work has been featured on The Moth radio hour, the NYTimes, and Slate. You can find out a lot more at

Jo Firestone: A Sex Education  

When comedian Jo Firestone goes to college, she starts to worry she has an STD -- even though she's never had sex.

MaryAnn Wilbur: Two Pregnancies  

While she's 26 weeks pregnant, OB-GYN MaryAnn Wilbur treats a woman who is also 26 weeks pregnant -- and about to go into labor. MaryAnn Wilbur is currently an editorial fellow at the New England Journal of Medicine and a practicing OB/Gyn at the Dimock Center and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. She graduated with a combined MD/MPH from Boston University in 2011 and completed residency training in Gynecology & Obstetrics at Johns Hopkins Hospital in June 2015. Next year, she will return to Johns Hopkins for a clinical fellowship in Gynecologic Oncology. Her areas of interest include women’s health issues and health outcome disparities.

Henry Duffy: 97 Days On Pitcairn Island  

As a student, Henry Duffy jumps at a chance to do research...on the second most remote island in the world. Henry Duffy is a conservationist with a particular interest in the marine environment and a background in tropical marine ecology and fisheries management. He has been marooned on one of the world’s most remote islands for three months in the name of scientific research, and aims to convince everyone that corals, sharks, sponges and fish are just as exciting as all the wildlife on land.

Nathan Boll: What Else Is Out There?  

Nathan Boll was an excellent physics student -- up until the day he suddenly dropped out. Nathan Boll is a Christine Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy Fellow with the National Academy of Sciences and a Space Policy Graduate Fellow in the Elliot School of International Affairs at George Washington University. He has a B.S. in Mathematics from the University of Montana Western and an M.S. in Space Science from the University of Michigan. Nathan’s work is primarily focused on the development of international cooperation for the exploration and development of space, and in supporting STEM education initiatives, such as the NASA Space Academy.

Nitin Ron: Babies and Mountains  

Newborn and premature baby specialist Nitin Ron learns a surprising lesson from one of his young patients. Nitin Ron is a neonatologist (baby doctor) and loves high altitude trekking and mountaineering. He is an associate professor of pediatrics at New York Methodist Hospital, and loves to use innovative methods to teach medical students. He is leading a research project in the Himalayas, including the Mt. Everest region, involving ultrasound of the eye and the body to predict mountain sickness. He also volunteers as an art guide at the Rubin Museum of Himalayan Art in New York City, and this is a reminder that medicine is so much of an art as well as a science!

Emily Mullin: Losing My Voice  

In high school, Emily Mullin dreams of becoming a broadcast journalist -- until her voice mysteriously begins to disappear. Emily Mullin is a freelance science writer interested in telling stories that explore the intersection of health and humanity. She is a regular contributor at Forbes, and her reporting frequently appears in The Washington Post. She has also written for publications like The Atlantic, The Baltimore Sun, Pacific Standard, Smithsonian Magazine and U.S. News & World Report. She holds an MA in Science Writing from Johns Hopkins University and is based in the Washington, D.C. area, where she performs with and writes short plays for The Coil Project, a nonprofit theater company.

Jeff Sparr: Obsession  

Jeff Sparr finds an unexpected purpose after his life is torn apart... by a case of jock itch. PeaceLove co-founder Jeff Sparr is a man on an audacious mission -- a mission to make mental illness cool. Not cool to have, but cool to support. A family man, mental health advocate, teacher and self-taught artist, Jeff is above all a survivor, battling Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) much of his life. Inspired by a simple, powerful image signifying “peace of mind and love for yourself,” Sparr set out to build the first symbol for mental health and bring expressive arts to millions of people to help them create peace of mind.

Amanda Duffy: A Picture of My Brain  

Neuroscientist Amanda Duffy gets some surprising news about her brain when she volunteers to be a control in an MRI study. Amanda Marie Duffy is a graduate student at Brown University pursuing her Ph.D. in Neuroscience. Her research is focused on understanding mechanisms that underlie ALS disease progression and therapeutic intervention with the use of molecular, cellular, and behavioral techniques. In 2015, Amanda was named a fellow in the Society for Neuroscience’s Neuroscience Scholars Program. In 2014, Amanda was elected as Graduate Student Representative where she managed recruitment and served as a member of the admissions committee. Prior to graduate school, Amanda worked as a research assistant at Massachusetts General Hospital in the Division of Neurotherapeutics. Amanda graduated from Brown University with a Sc.B. in Neuroscience in 2009.

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