This week’s episode comes to you from the Maine Science Festival. You’re the Expert presents Dr. Kristy Townsend, a professor of neurobiology at the University of Maine. Dr. Townsend’s work centers around the relationship between diet and energy. More specifically, she’s studying the brain’s role in appetite, hunger, and energy.

Dr. Kristy Townsend

Dr. Kristy Townsend

Dr. Townsend received her B.S. from the University of Maine, and her PhD from Boston University. At the Townsend Lab, Kristy and her colleagues are trying to understand how obesity develops, as well as the brain’s role in fat production and the body’s release of energy by burning calories. Dr. Townsend’s research impacts many other areas of study including aging, neurodegenerative diseases, metabolic diseases and diabetes.

Why it Matters:  

Dr. Townsend’s research is all about the relationship between food and the brain, which affects everyone who eats food. While there is no cure for obesity and other food-related diseases, Dr. Townsend’s work emphasizes the importance of prevention when it comes to weight gain. Healthy eating is an efficient way to keep both the body healthy, and Dr. Townsend is shedding light on the impact of food on the mind.

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AuthorEileen Klomhaus

Expert: Dr. Sarah Ruane

This week’s episode comes to you from the Bell House in Brooklyn, NY as part of the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival. Our expert this week is Dr. Sarah Ruane, a herpetologist and assistant professor at Rutgers University. 

Herpetologist Dr. Sara Ruane (right)

Herpetologist Dr. Sara Ruane (right)

Dr. Ruane has previously worked at LSU and the American Museum of Natural History. Her work focuses primarily on snakes, and evolutionary biology in particular. At the Ruane Lab, Dr. Ruane and her colleagues are particularly interested in the systematics, phylogenetics, phylogeography of snakes. 

Why it Matters:
Much of Dr. Ruane’s work and research help us understand the speciation of snakes, their ecological diversity and their significance in evolutionary biology. With this information, we can discover more about biology and the evolution of not only snakes, but all living organisms.

The mysterious ghost snake

The mysterious ghost snake

Further Reading:
Check out one of the projects Sara referenced in the podcast where she extracted DNA from one-hundred-year-old snake specimen:
https://sararuane.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/ruane_et_al-2017-molecular_ecology_resources.pdf

Dr. Ruane’s documentation of milksnakes’ responses to climate change:
https://sararuane.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/ruane-plos-one-2015.pdf

Follow Sara:
Website:
https://sararuane.wordpress.com/
Twitter:
https://twitter.com/sara_and_snakes?lang=en
 

Posted
AuthorEileen Klomhaus

 

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

Links:

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

Scientists with Stories: https://vimeo.com/scientistswithstories

Posted
AuthorEileen Klomhaus