Our latest guest is also the latest faculty addition to the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, Dr. Monica Mugnier (big news: Monica won an 2016 NIH Early Independence Award which allowed her to skip the tradtional postdoctoral fellowship and become faculty right after completing her PhD work). Monica studies a kind of parasite, called a tropanosome, that causes the disease African Sleeping Sickness. They are very difficult to control for a vaiety of reasons, one of them being the focus of her work (and some very cool science) on how they can rapidly change their coats to avoid detection by our immune system (aka antigenic variation). Monica finds these parasites so cool to study because they break all of the rules (read: they don’t follow any of the classic biology rules that she learned in class). Lots of mystery and discovery!
Monica and I have a great conversation on how to make a great science presentation (and how difficult it can be to strike the right amount of info, depending on your audience). We also discuss the challenges of conveying the importance of global health science research, especially when the illness primarily impacts people on a different continent.
From his earliest days, Dr. Rush Holt has been interested in “how the world works (that’s science) and how people get along (that’s politics).” There are few who want to do both. Rush is one of the rare scientists who has served in Congress and has integrated ‘science and society’ into everything he’s done. Hear about what it was like to be a scientist in Congress and how scientists should be communicating. Rush is currently the CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) & was the U.S. Representative for New Jersey’s 12 congressional district from 1999 to 2015.
Ellis Rubinstein always knew that he wanted to combine his seemingly distinct passions for reporting news and science. Before stepping into his current role as New York Academy of Sciences’ President, he served as Editor of Science Magazine, the scientific journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In our latest podcast, he discusses how important it is for young scientists to be involved in AAAS and NYAS, and to not limit membership and activism to just those in their later careers as some other scientific societies due. Under his watch, the NYAS has the highest number of young scientists (including graduate and more junior students), thanks to the tremendous amount of work Ellis has done to promote career development, networking, and mentoring opportunities.
On the latest episode, Nina teams up with her Communicating Science student Arvin Saleh and his advisor Dr. Emily Fisher to talk about the wave that’s been hitting undergraduate campuses with the aim of improving how we teach science. These new strategies, called active learning, are designed to put the learning in the hands of the student and engage in course material. We go into detail about what this is and examples in this podcast. Emily is the Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Biology at Johns Hopkins University. Arvin is a junior and double major in Public Health Studies and Cellular and Molecular Biology.
Our latest guest, Dr. Meghan Moran, researches how the tobacco industry uses persuasive messaging on youths and teens–and how public health policy makers can use that knowledge to implement prevention campaigns. She also uses her expertise in persuasive communication to analyze why people are swayed by anti-vaccine messaging, and that it is not for the reasons we typically consider! Meghan is an Assistant Professor in Health, Behavior and Society Department at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.
Nina gets to do her favorite thing on the latest episode: talk about vaccines! Nina is back over at the International Vaccine Access Center with Director of Policy and Advocacy Communications Lois Privor-Dumm. Lois has been working on vaccine advocacy for decades to bring life saving vaccines (like the one to prevent meningitis) to countries all over the world.
Dr. Andrea Gielen is Director of the Center for Injury Research & Policy at Johns Hopkins and a very passionate person in general about getting the message out about how much injury is costing us each year–and all the many things we can do to help. Injury is a much broader term than Nina had realized and can include anything from falling down the stairs, to household fires, to child health to overdose from drugs.
The Center is also working to translate research into policy, and has many unique approaches worth hearing about. The Center is uniquely poised to do this as it’s a hub of interdisciplinary efforts combining research, policy, and practice all at the same place.
Continuing on with the science communication and politics theme, Nina chats with Dr. Jenny Carlson, medical entomologist, about her trip down to Florida last summer to talk to citizens about the benefits of releasing genetically modified (GM) mosquitoes to combat mosquito borne diseases like Zika and Dengue.
Wise words from Jenny: “Sometimes life will take you in the most unexpected direction if you open yourself up to opportunities- my personal philosophy in life is to experience as much as possible. My path has changed many time within the realm of science, but one thing is for sure, science is one of my greatest loves and because of that I need to advocate for it. Little did I know that my expertise in mosquito biology would lead me to defend for the release of genetically modified mosquitoes in Key West, FL.”
Happy Halloween! Four scientists get together on Halloween to talk about a spooky topic: the science views of the presidential candidates! The science communication show Public Health United welcomes Dr. Bill Moss (see our previous podcast together), Dr. Katherine Fenstermacher (Hopkins), and Kenny Shatzkes (Rutgers, Eagleton Fellow) to talk about their frustration while watching the debates, the lessons they’ve learned in communicating science and policy, and how scientists and policymakers need to collaborate and reach compromises to form better science policies. I cannot even count the number of laughs we all have together. Truly a fun and informative episode on science policy during this election season! FYI, the title of this special edition podcast is based on Harry Frankfurt’s NYT best selling book, “On Bullshit” which details the difference between liars and bullshitters…listen to hear what the difference is and how destructive the latter can be!
We often hear about Vitamin D with words like sunshine and milk, but it may be a mystery as to how it works and what the best sources are in your diet. On the latest episode of the science communication show Public Health United, Nina chats with Johns Hopkins Vitamin D researcher Dr. Leigh Frame-Peterson on the importance of this essential nutrient, especially after bariatric surgery when your body is trying to repair itself. In case you didn’t know (like Nina), bariatric surgery is surgery on the gastrointestinal tract in order to aid weight loss. There is a ton of misinformation on this–Leigh busts many of the myths out there and educates us on the public health importance of this tool to fight obesity and diabetes. On top of being very passionate about her work, she is also an active Twitter user and gave Nina some excellent tips on how to improve her Twitter engagement consistency.