Expert: Clare Fieseler

 This week’s episode comes to you live from National Geographic HQ in Washington, DC. Our expert Clare Fieseler is a NatGeo grantee, a photographer, and an ecologist who studies coral reefs at UNC Chapel Hill. 

Clare Fieseler

Clare Fieseler


How can we protect coral reefs? What helps them survive? What exactly is a coral anyway? Those are the kinds of questions that Clare works to answer. 

 Through Clare’s work with National Geographic, she’s been able to examine multiple aspects of conservation and ecology. She’s written about her visit to the largest human-made ecosystem in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, and the role in could play in in colonizing other planets. Clare’s work has taken her all over the world, and she’s recounted these experiences in her blog

In addition to Clare’s work with the Castillo Lab and National Geographic, she runs the Duke/UNC Scientists With Stories Project, which strives to educate others on science through storytelling. 

Why it Matters

In their study of reefs’ relationships with their environment, the Castillo Lab hopes that further understanding the environmental history of coral reefs will allow scientists to more easily predict coral reefs responses to changes in climate. In order to learn more about the interrelationship between reefs and their environment, the Castillo Lab is studying the effects of temperature change, nutrient density, ocean acidification, increased sedimentation, and pollution. 

A reef off the coast of Panama

A reef off the coast of Panama


Learn more about Clare’s research and conservation efforts through her blog, or check out her Instagram and Twitter.

Scientists with Stories:

AuthorEileen Klomhaus


Dr. Sara Seager and The Hunt for Earth 2.0

Check out our new episode here:

This week’s episode comes to you from the Brattle Theater in Boston. You’re the Expert presents Dr. Sara Seager, a professor of astrophysics and planetary science at MIT.

Dr. Sara Seager photo cred: MIT/Justin Knight

Dr. Sara Seager

photo cred: MIT/Justin Knight

Dr. Seager’s work focuses on the science and theory surrounding exoplanets, or planets beyond our solar system. She was working towards her PhD at Harvard in the mid 90s when scientists first began seeing evidence of exoplanets. Since then, Dr. Seager has focused her research on the theoretical models of atmospheres and interiors of exoplanets. As a member of the team responsible for co-discovering the first spectrum and first light detection of an exoplanet, Dr. Seager’s passion for astronomy has brought her to the forefront of her field.  

Exoplanets, or possible new homes.

Exoplanets, or possible new homes.

Why it matters:

As Dr. Seager said in her 2015 Ted Talk, the discovery of extraterrestrial life is within reach for the first time in human history. Understanding the atmosphere of an exoplanet is fundamental to determining whether or not an exoplanet is a “Goldilocks planet”, with an environment capable of supporting life.


Further Reading:

Examining  the transmission spectra of exoplanets, and the subsequent detection of an exoplanet atmosphere:

Seager, S., & Sasselov, D. D. 2000, “Theoretical Transmission Spectra During an Extrasolar Giant Planet Transit”, ApJ, 537, 916-921.

On the retrieval of exoplanet atmosphere profiles and data:

Madhusudhan, N. & Seager, S. 2010, “A Temperature and Abundance Retrieval Method for Exoplanet Atmospheres”, ApJ, 707, 24-39.

On habitable zones:


To see more updates on Dr. Seager’s work:





AuthorEileen Klomhaus