This episode of You’re the Expert is brought to you from Caveat in New York City. Our expert this week is Alicia Pérez-Porro, a zoologist and expert on sea sponges.

About Dr. Pérez-Porro:

Dr. Pérez-Porro is a research associate at the Museum of Natural History. She received her PhD from the Center for Advanced Studies of Blanes in Spain. Dr. Pérez-Porro first began researching sponge and sponge reproduction while she was studying in Costa Rica. Since then, she has investigated the impact of climate change on marine sponges. Dr. Pérez-Porro uses genomic devices to understand how sponges react to climate change and uses this information to measure any potential evolutionary responses.

 Dr. Pérez-Porro

Dr. Pérez-Porro

Why it Matters:

Dr. Pérez-Porro is an advocate of ocean conservation, and has spent a great deal of time understand how a warming ocean can impact the viability of sponges. Evidence shows that rising ocean temperatures hinder sea sponges’ ability to reproduce, and Dr. Pérez-Porro is studying the sea sponge genome to understand why that might be.

Not only is Dr. Pérez-Porro working to combat climate change, she’s also fighting sexism in the science community. She’s a member of Homeward Bound, a leadership group for women who study climate change to increase their role in creating policy and increasing awareness.


Further reading:

Dr. Pérez-Porro’s doctoral dissertation: Transcriptomics along a sponge life cycle:

A NGS approach to the encrusting Mediterranean sponge Crella elegans (Porifera, Demospongiae, Poecilosclerida): transcriptome sequencing, characterization and overview of the gene expression along three life cycle stages:

Follow Alicia:



About Homeward Bound:

AuthorEileen Klomhaus

Dr. Alicia Pérez-Porro is more than just a sea sponge expert, she's also a former professional dancer. Check out this video below (as discussed on the podcast) where she dances in an experimental Catalan film while dressed as a giant mussel. 

And here's the old British video about sea sponges we joked about in "Sounds of Science."

And finally, here's a pretty amazing visual demonstration of the way that sponges filter the water around them:

AuthorChris Duffy

This episode of You’re the Expert is brought to you from Caveat in NYC, featuring Tal Rabin, an expert in cryptography and cyber security at IBM. She’s the head IBM’s Thomas J Watson Research Group, which studies cryptography.

Dr. Rabin received her PhD from the Hebrew University, Israel. Within the field of cryptography, Dr. Rabin focuses on the theory of cryptography as well as secure distributed protocols. Cryptographic theory is complex and interrelated with number theory, theory of distributed systems and algorithm theory.


 An example image of web-based protocols

An example image of web-based protocols

Why it matters:

Computers, cell phones, and the internet are fundamental parts of our daily life, but lots of people don’t know how they work. Tal’s work helps keep devices communicating safely and protected from harmful adversaries.


Follow Tal:

Her bio:

Cryptography research team page:


Further Reading:

A list of Dr. Rabin & team’s most recent publications:

AuthorEileen Klomhaus