#59: Is Florida the Harbinger of Doom? (Probably)

In Episode 59, Quinn & Brian ask: Is Florida the harbinger of doom? (Probably)

Our guest is Dr. Salvador Almagro-Moreno, an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Central Florida. His lab, The Moreno Lab, lies at the interface between ecology and pathogenesis, studying the emergence and evolution of bacterial pathogens. From what we can tell, this means they’re focusing on how and why bacteria want to eat and/or kill us.

This episode contains what has to be some of the most scientifically-laden potty talk you’ve ever heard as we learn more about the good, the bad, and the ugly awaiting us in our poop and the water. But don’t get us wrong, this is some serious shit.

We’ll also spoil one big takeaway from this episode now, and we hope you take it to heart: do NOT retire to Florida.

Listen to the episode here, or read the transcript here.

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#57: Make Food Great (Nutritious) Again

In Episode 57, Quinn & Brian discuss: Why more food ≠ more nutrition.

Our guests are Professors Kristie Ebi and Irakli Loladze. Dr. Ebi is the Rohm & Haas Endowed Professorship in Public Health Sciences at the University of Washington, where she has been conducting research and practice on the health risks of climate variability and change for over twenty years. She focuses on understanding sources of vulnerability, estimating current and future health risks of climate change, and designing adaptation policies and measures to reduce the risks of climate change in multi-stressor environments. Dr. Loladze is a professor of health sciences at the Bryan Medical Center at Bryan College, where he applies mathematical, computational, and statistical methods to life sciences – which is to say, he’s a math biologist.

Dr. Ebi recently testified in front of Congress – specifically, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology – in the first of a series of hearings on climate science and why it matters (a series of conversations we’re pretty surprised and excited are actually happening at all, if you need any more evidence that your vote matters). She was speaking about the health implications, which Dr. Loladze has also spent much of his life studying. In fact, he linked rising CO2 levels to the quality of human nutrition and obesity, revealing that some of the advancements that allow us to grow more food also reduce the nutritional quality of those foods.
But you want to know what’s really screwed up about the whole situation? These two don’t have any funding for this potentially world-saving research.

Listen to the episode here, or read the transcript here.

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#55: What Are The Energy Requirements of Well Being?

In Episode 55, Quinn & Brian ask: What are the energy requirements of well-being?

Our guest is Julia Steinberger, a Professor of Social Ecology & Ecological Economics at the University of Leeds School of Earth and Environment. Her research examines the connections between resource use (energy and materials, greenhouse gas emissions) and societal performance (economic activity and human wellbeing) – or, what happens when you drive your car every damn day. She is interested in quantifying the current and historical linkages between resource use and socioeconomic parameters, and identifying alternative development pathways to guide the necessary transition to a low carbon society.

Basically, all her research can be boiled down to one important question: are we going to make it and maintain our standard of living, given the resources available to us and the technology we have now? And, well... it’s possible, but it’s not going to be easy and some things are going to have to change. Fast.

Listen to the episode here, or read the transcript here.

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#53: How the Hell Do We Pull Clean Drinking Water Out of Thin Air?

In Episode 53, Quinn & Brian ask: How the hell do we pull clean drinking water out of thin air?

Our guest is Dr. Shing-Chung “Josh” Wong, a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Akron In addition to pursuing bio-inspired materials research, he has worked on mechanical behavior and functional properties of polymers, electrospinning, processing-structure-property relationships, coatings, bio- and nano-materials, and composites. Dr. Wong has authored and co-authored over 70 archived articles in book, journal, and patent literatures, and in 2007, he was selected as a recipient for the prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER Award.

There are a lot of words you may not understand in that bio – don’t worry, you’re not alone – but the reason Josh is awesome and we wanted him on the show comes down to one simple fact: he has invented some very cool shit that benefits anyone who enjoys being alive on Earth. He comes from a place of such moral integrity, constantly striving to use his capacity for innovation and discovery to help other people... a trait that is almost staggeringly uncommon these days, to our detriment.

Listen to the episode here, or read the transcript here.

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#49: Can The Huge Food Companies Pivot to Sustainability?

In Episode 49, Quinn & Brian ask: What can the HUGE food and beverage companies do, right now, to improve U.S. food systems and drive trends towards a more sustainable future?

It’s a big and complicated question, but our guest Jennifer Mleczko is going to share the one simple thing you can do to address all of it at once. Jennifer is a consultant at the World Bank focused on sustainable development, specifically agriculture and, even more specifically, livestock.

There are environmental, social, economic, and political implications to the food systems we’ve created here in the United States; globalization, international trade, market consolidation, and the ways we produce food affects communities all around the globe. We aren’t always aware of how buying a package of dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets from Walmart affects a small farm halfway across the country or the world, but every choice we make has consequences – and the more we work to bring awareness to these choices, the more we can do to transition to a more sustainable food system.

Listen to the episode here, or read the transcript here.

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#47: The Future of Digital Health, Part II

In Episode 47, Quinn goes solo for a minute to discuss: America’s data and the future of digital health.

Quinn sits down for a one-on-one chat with Dave Gershgorn, the lead artificial intelligence reporter at Quartz (AKA qz.com), to figure out why our data is different, how the future we were promised is both here and pretty damn far away, and whether/why data is too white.

The worlds of healthcare and artificial intelligence are looking – big surprise – really biased right now, but with some effort, we can get to the colorful and diverse future of digital health we talked about with Dr. Indra Joshi and Maxine Mackintosh back in episode 43. Today, Dave provides some journalist-approved action steps that will help us get a little more informed on the subject so that we can all help make that future our reality.

Listen to the episode here, or read the transcript here.

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#46: Is There Nuclear Waste in the Ocean (& Can We Become Super Heroes if There Is)?

In Episode 46, Quinn & Brian ask: Is there nuclear waste in the ocean... and can we become superheroes if there is?

Our guest is Dr. Claudia Benitez-Nelson, an Associate Dean and Distinguished Professor in the College of Arts & Sciences at the University of South Carolina, where she focuses on just ONE thing–– oh, wait, no, we got that wrong. She focuses on just about EVERYTHING: biogeochemistry and geochemistry; climate change; society, policy & environment; coastal processes; water resources & hydrology; and oceanography. She is also a co-author on a paper about the impact of the accident that happened at the Fukushima nuclear power plant ("Fukushima Daiichi–Derived Radionuclides in the Ocean: Transport, Fate, and Impacts").

Make sure you put your learning hat on as you put in your headphones for this episode because Dr. Benitez-Nelson has some shit to teach us today. You’ll come away from this episode knowing more about the pros and cons of nuclear power – and the ocean in general – than you ever did before (unless you also happen to be a Renaissance scientist). And at the very least, you’ll have some fun facts to throw around when you talk about the upcoming release of Aquaman.

Listen to the episode here, or read the transcript here.

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