The Ongoing Transformation

For the Issues podcast, we talk with fascinating people to get a behind-the-scenes look at how their research and ideas are transforming our world. Listen and subscribe to The Ongoing Transformation wherever you get your podcasts—or simply click on the links below.

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Episode 24

Collaborations on Ice

Over the course of a four-year project, a group of artists and scientists integrated field data, remote satellite imagery, scientific analysis, and art to create visual representations of disappearing Arctic ice. Being deeply embedded in each other’s processes helped the group foster new ideas and unexpected outcomes. Cy Keener and Ignatius Rigor discuss how to build successful collaborations across different disciplines and how creative practices can contribute to scientific research and communication.Read More

Episode 23

Shirley M. Malcom

Shirley Malcom – Where Science and Society Meet

Shirley M. Malcom is a trailblazer in the area of broadening participation in science. On this episode, she talks about the importance of the behavioral sciences, social sciences, and education in evidence-based public policy. She brings her considerable expertise in public science literacy, issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion, and STEM education to bear on the challenges facing American society.Read More

Episode 22

Peaches, Pimentos, and Myths of Innovation

Starting with a biotechnological invention—a shippable peach named the Elberta—a network of southern “fruit men” built railroads, designed shipping methods, educated farmers, and eventually transformed the landscape and economy of the region. They also used powerful storytelling and ideology to accomplish this revolution. Lisa Margonelli talks with Cynthia Greenlee about the role of technological innovation, storytelling, and myth in regional transformation. Read More

Episode 21

To Solve Societal Problems, Unite the Humanities With Science

Science and engineering have long been siloed from the humanities, arts, and social sciences, but uniting these disciplines could help leaders better understand and address problems like educational disparities, socioeconomic inequity, and decreasing national wellbeing. Josh Trapani speaks to Kaye Husbands Fealing about her efforts to integrate humanities and social sciences with science and engineering.Read More

Episode 20

How to Fix the Bus

Buses are an inexpensive and easy-to-deploy form of mass transit that could help reduce traffic congestion and curb air pollution. But in the United States, no one wants to ride them. How could the bus be transformed into a mode of transit that people actually want to use? Brian Sherlock, a former Seattle bus driver and safety specialist at Amalgamated Transit Union International, the largest public transit union in North America, explains what’s wrong with American buses, and how a redesign could make for a better urban future. Read More

Episode 19

How Can Clinical Trials Better Reflect Society’s Diversity?

Clinical trials are crucial to the development of new drugs, medical treatments, and therapeutics, but wide swaths of the American population are not adequately represented in trials and do not benefit equitably from this research. Sara Frueh is joined by Gloria Coronado and Jason Resendez to discuss the causes and consequences of this underrepresentation, and steps researchers and policymakers should take to remedy it.Read More

Episode 18

The Forgotten Origins of the Social Internet

The standard history of the internet’s origins leaves out the many computer enthusiasts and hobbyists of the 1980s who created thriving online communities well before most people ever heard about the “information superhighway.” Jason Lloyd talks with professor Kevin Driscoll about how the forgotten history of bulletin board systems can help us better understand today’s social media-dominated internet.Read More

Episode 17

David Allan Burns and Austin Young, "The Endless Orchard" (detail), 2017

Fruitful Communities

How can art and advances in agricultural science create new food resources, connect communities, and create more resilient food systems? J. D. Talasek is joined by artists David Allen Burns and Austin Young of Fallen Fruit and professor Molly Jahn to explore how creativity and systems thinking can change the food system.Read More

Bonus Episode!

A Historic Opportunity for US Innovation

This summer, Congress is trying to reconcile the differences between two massive bills focused on strengthening US competitiveness and spurring innovation. We speak with Mitch Ambrose about the historic conference aimed at negotiating the House and Senate bills.Read More

Episode 15

Biotech Goes to Summer Camp

Who gets to be a scientist? At a free summer camp in Northern California, the answer is everyone. This week we talk with Callie R. Chappell, Rolando Perez, and Corinne Okada Takara about how BioJam engages high school students and their communities to create art through bioengineering.Read More

Episode 14

Rethinking Hard Problems in Brain Science

When it comes to exploring the mindboggling complexity of living systems—ranging from the origins of human consciousness to treatments for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s—Susan Fitzpatrick has long been a critic of reductionist thinking. We talk with her about new ways to understand the human brain, the difficulty of developing an effective Alzheimer’s treatment, and how scientific research can more successfully confront complex problems.Read More

Episode 13

Demystifying the Federal Budget

How do budgets evolve into policies? As Congress starts to appropriate money for President Biden’s 2023 budget requests, we talk with Matt Hourihan, director of the R&D Budget and Policy Program for the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Hourihan tells of his own introduction to the byzantine mysteries of the budget, how the process works (and sometimes doesn’t work!), and what the numbers reveal about today’s science policy priorities.Read More

Episode 12

Chasing Connections in Climate Action

We talk to photographer James Balog and climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe about how their work creates connections across different ways of knowing, such as art, science, or religion. How can religious and artistic practices—along with a better understanding of influences such as personal geographies and socioeconomic backgrounds—inform meaningful ways to confront climate change?Read More

Episode 11

Can Bureaucracy Build a Climate Revolution?

India’s carbon-heavy government ministries have shown a surprising ability to engineer deep change. Kartikeya Singh, senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, talks with us about what role these ministries—which employ upwards of 20 million people—could play in creating an energy sector that is ecologically and economically sustainable.Read More

Episode 10

Creating a “High-Minded Enterprise”: Vannevar Bush and Postwar Science Policy

A science adviser to Presidents Roosevelt and Truman during and after World War II, Vannevar Bush mobilized the US research community in support of the war effort and was a major figure in the creation of the National Science Foundation. We talk with writer and educator G. Pascal Zachary, Bush’s biographer and editor of a new collection of his writings, about this remarkable polymath and his surprising legacy for the information age.Read More

Episode 9

Maximizing the Good of Innovation

The United States is justifiably proud of the accomplishments of its taxpayer-funded biomedical innovation system. But these innovations don’t benefit all Americans equally. In this episode we speak with Shobita Parthasarathy, a professor at the University of Michigan and director of the Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program. She explains how to think differently about the country’s innovation system to allow all Americans to thrive.Read More

Episode 8

Fighting COVID With Art

Because art is a powerful tool for connecting with communities, building stronger relationships between artists and public health programs may be a way to increase people’s confidence about vaccines. On this episode, cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz and Jill Sonke, director of the Center for Art in Medicine at the University of Florida, join us to explore what role artists and culture bearers can play in discussions of vaccine confidence.Read More

Episode 7

Shaky Science in the Courtroom

Eyewitness testimony and forensic science are often used in criminal cases, but these types of evidence can be deeply flawed. In this episode we speak with Jed Rakoff, senior US district judge for the Southern District of New York. Judge Rakoff discusses the weaknesses in eyewitness identification and forensic science and offers thoughts on how to get stronger science into the courtroom.Read More

Episode 6

The Marvelous and the Mundane

The James Webb Space Telescope is expected to reveal secrets of every phase of cosmic history, going all the way back to the Big Bang. In this episode we talk with Washington, DC-based artist Timothy Makepeace about his work, which celebrates the awe-inspiring technology of the space telescope while drawing attention to the fact that it is a human endeavor.Read More

Episode 5

Dinosaurs!

Social scientist and University of Virginia professor Caitlin Donahue Wylie takes us inside the paleontology lab to uncover a complex world of status hierarchies, glue controversies, phones that don’t work—and, potentially, a way to open up the scientific enterprise to far more people.Read More

Episode 4

Art of a COVID Year

San Francisco artist James Gouldthorpe created a visual journal starting at the very onset of the pandemic to record its personal, societal, and historical impacts. We spoke with Gouldthorpe and Dominic Montagu, a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco.Read More

Episode 3

Eternal Memory of the Facebook Mind

How do social media platforms and streaming services affect the way we remember—and even what we think memory is? We talked to David Beer, professor of sociology at the University of York, about how algorithms and classifications play an increasingly important role in what we remember about the past.Read More

Episode 2

Doing Science With Everyone at the Table

Could we create more knowledge by changing the way we do scientific research?  We spoke with NASA’s Psyche mission’s principal investigator and ASU Interplanetary Initiative vice president Lindy Elkins-Tanton about the limitations of “hero science,” and how she is using an inclusive model where collaborative teams pursue “profound and important questions.”Read More

Episode 1

Science Policymakers’ Required Reading

Every Monday afternoon, the Washington, DC, science policy community clicks open an email newsletter from the American Institute of Physics’ science policy news service, FYI, to learn what they’ve missed. We spoke with Mitch Ambrose and Will Thomas about this amazing must-read: how it comes together in real time and what it reveals about the ever-changing world of science policy itself.Read More

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