The Symbiotic Podcast

The Symbiotic Podcast

Evolution is about more than survival of the fittest. It's also about the survival of the most cooperative. Join us as we explore the collaborative side of life sciences research and work to consciously evolve science itself. This podcast is a production of Penn State University's Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences. Watch the video versions, complete with cool animations at www.thesymbioticpodcast.com

Episodes

October 13, 2022 45 mins

The field of stem cell research has progressed immensely since its high-profile politicization in the early 2000s, with researchers now able to harvest cells from uncontroversial sources and manipulate them with ever-increasing accuracy and efficiency. Associate Professor of Biology and Biomedical Engineering Lance Lian talks about his key role in advancing our understanding and mastery of stem cells and the incredible medical appl...

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Sally Mackenzie is one of the world’s foremost experts on epigenetics, the study of how environmental changes affect the way genes are expressed. In this conversation we cover an epigenetic techniques she’s patented, the biotech company she founded, and the potential role that epigenetics could play in human health.

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Laura Weyrich leads efforts to better understand the impact of diet on the communities of microorganisms residing in our mouths, and their influence on human health. In this livestreamed conversation, she talks about her work with Neanderthal teeth, the ethics of dealing with human remains, and shifts in human activity that have changed the makeup of our microbiomes.

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Dr. Steven Schiff has spent much of his career fighting the scourge of infant infection, especially in low and middle-income countries with minimal healthcare infrastructure. In this livestreamed conversation, he explains the difficulties of working in places like Mbale, Uganda and Hanoi, Vietnam; shares hard-won victories in treatment and prevention; and forecasts future possibilities.

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Nita Bharti is an expert on the interplay of population movement and disease and a pioneer in the use of unorthodox data sources to better inform public health decisions. In this livestreamed conversation, she shares her open-minded, intellectually curious approach to epidemiology on multiple continents, working with people, animals, and spillover events between the two.

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David Hughes has won a number of accolades, both from the academic world and in the mainstream media, for his work with PlantVillage. In this livestreamed opening episode of season three, Hughes talks about the factors in his life and career that have made him so effective and iconoclastic.

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On November 11, 2020, we hosted three members of Penn State’s Center for Disease Dynamics, all of whom all of them are deeply involved in ongoing international efforts to piece together a bigger picture of how and why new viruses like SARVS-CoV-2 emerge and spill over from other species to our own.

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November 2, 2020 50 mins

On October 26, 2020, we teamed up with the hosts of the Podward State podcast to interview two members of Penn State’s coronavirus task force. Both have spent countless hours since that start of the pandemic doing all they can to help protect students, faculty, staff, and local community members in an ever-changing, endlessly challenging, and highly contentious environment.

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October 20, 2020 39 mins

On October 19, 2020, we teamed up with the hosts of Podward State – a Penn State student-produced podcast, to interview researchers working on a profoundly collaborative project designed to measure multiple impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on residents and students in Centre County, PA.

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On August 20, 2020, we spoke to an interdisciplinary team of scientists collaborating at the intersection of physics, engineering, materials science, epidemiology, and information technology. Their work holds the promise of new rapid identification diagnostics for SARS-CoV-2 and other viruses through enhanced Raman spectroscopy.

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September 8, 2020 55 mins

On June 8, 2020, we spoke to Riane Eisler and David Loye, two veteran systems scientists who have collaborated for more than 40 years as both researchers and marriage partners. In this wrap-up of a 2-part conversation, we explore the promise of partnership and perils of domination on the road to conscious social evolution.

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On June 8, 2020, we spoke to Riane Eisler and David Loye, two veteran systems scientists who have collaborated for more than 40 years as both researchers and marriage partners. In this first of a 2-part conversation, we unpack lost insights of Darwin and explore the basics of cultural transformation theory as a tool to evolve society.

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In this episode, recorded in-person on February 4, 2020, we talked to a team of Penn State researchers and about the stunning advancements made in recent years in the field of electron microscopy. 

Up for discussion was a short history of electron microscopy, including how the addition of cryogenics has enabled new materials and structures to be imaged, and how breakthroughs in certain scientific fields have enabled advances in some...

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Aiming to better understand the efficacy of public health messaging in a pandemic, a team of Penn State researchers designed and deployed an unusually open-ended survey that has been translated into 23 languages and reached more than 73 countries. This episode recorded via Zoom on May 20, 2020.

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In this episode, recorded via Zoom on May 11, 2020, we talked to Penn State personnel about their involvement with the Manufacturing and Sterilization for COVID-19 Project, or MASC. We discussed how University staff and researchers used their resources and expertise to produce and extend the effective life of personal protection equipment needed by medical providers during the pandemic.

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For this special collaborative episode recorded via Zoom on May 6, 2020, we partnered with the Democracy Works podcast to explore the dynamic and sometimes tense relationship between peer-reviewed scientific research and public policy decision-making. And we discuss how these tensions have been brought to the forefront by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Our discussion focuses on the work of our guest Taylor Scott, Associate Director of t...

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In this brief “special announcement” episode, Symbiotic Podcast host Cole Hons lays out the new direction and format for Season 2, a series of COVID-19 Research Briefs that explore radically open and transparent efforts currently underway worldwide to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

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February 27, 2020 72 mins

On February 4, 2020 as the COVID-19 virus began to go global, Cole spoke with three scientists from the Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics to hear their perspective on the outbreak. The resulting conversation uncovers aspects of humanity’s complex relationship with viruses that don’t often reach the mainstream media. 

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January 30, 2020 50 mins

In this episode, Cole and his guests discuss a transdisciplinary effort at Penn State to advance the printing of living tissues, from skin to bone to organs. Combining the efforts of engineers, nanotechnologists, and surgeons, the team has coined a new term – “intraoperative bioprinting” – to describe their approach.

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Gues...

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December 19, 2019 57 mins

In this episode, Cole and his guests discuss Penn State’s launch of the world’s first Center for Parasitic and Carnivorous Plants. These fascinatingly strange organisms have much to teach us about the outrageous diversity of life - especially now that we have the capacity to study them at every scale, from the molecular to the ecological.

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  • Claude de...
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