Today's episode features Dr. Christine McCarthy. She works at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory as an ice squeezer. In her own words "I torture ice to learn its secrets. I am particularly interested in how the micro controls themacro, that is, how grain and phase boundaries, defect concentration, and partial melt influence the mechanical behavior of terrestrial and planetary materials. I run laboratory experiments and have been known to cheer when something works or sit there staring at a creep curve for an hour straight. I make-n-break my own samples, systematically controlling each impurity or defect."

AuthorChris Duffy

This episode of You’re the Expert is coming to you from Caveat in New York City. Our expert this week is Jennifer Basil, an expert on animal memory and the chambered nautilus at Brooklyn College.

Before we get any further, here is a photo of a chambered nautilus!

Photo from the Monterey Bay Aquarium website

Photo from the Monterey Bay Aquarium website


About Dr. Basil:

After receiving her Ph.D., for which she studied how birds remember where they've stored food, Dr. Basil moved to the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass., and studied sensory and navigation in a variety of crustaceans. That's where she began to study her current passion: the chambered nautilus. Her laboratory's area of focus is the evolution of complex brains and behavior and she uses cephalopod molluscs (like the nautilus) as her model system.


To Learn More:

- Jennifer's website 

- NOAA's answer to "What is a Nautilus?"

- WIRED's "Absurd Creature of the Week"

- Bonus! A poem by Oliver Wendell Holmes called "The Chambered Nautilus"

AuthorChris Duffy

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