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Different: Stories about standing out in a crowd
The Story Collider

This week, we present two stories about being different, and the ways our differences can become our strengths. Part 1: Growing up, Amanda Gorman is determined to eliminate her speech impediment. Part 2: An aspiring scientist brought up in a family of artists, Elisa Schaum feels like a black sheep. Called the "next great figure of poetry in the US," 19-year-old Amanda Gorman is the first ever Youth Poet Laureate of the United States of America and a Moth GrandSLAM champion. Her first poetry book, "The One For Whom Food Is Not Enough," was published in 2015. A Harvard sophomore, she has worked as a U.N. Youth Delegate in New York City, a HERlead Fellow with girl leaders in D.C. and London, and an Ambassador for the feminist platform School of Doodle. She has been featured in the New York Times, The Boston Globe, and Teen Vogue. At 16, she founded the community project One Pen One Page, which promotes storytelling and youth activism. An oceanographer turned evolutionary biologist, Elisa Schaum investigates what makes some phytoplankton populations better at evolving under climate change than others. She does this because phytoplankton are breathtakingly beautiful, and because they pretty much rule the world: they produce half of the oxygen that we breathe, fuel food-webs and their activities determine whether the oceans can take up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. She is just now coming to the end of a position as an associate research fellow at the University of Exeter’s Satellite Campus for Strange People (more formally known as Penryn Campus), and is about to start a junior professorship at the University of Hamburg. Her life pre-science involved a lot of music and dancing. She also likes to write fairly horrific poetry (or, preferably, read splendid poetry) in her free time. Originally from Belgium, she has lived and worked in the Netherlands, Germany, France, South Africa, Italy, New Zealand and the UK.

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In Honor of Mother's Day: Stories about moms
The Story Collider

This week, in honor of Mother's Day, we present two stories about science and moms!  Part 1: Marine biologist Jessica Hoey tries to keep her daughter’s belief in mermaids alive. Part 2: Jamie Brickhouse begins to notice some startling changes in his mother's behavior. Jessica Hoey is the director of reef health reporting at the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. The reef forms part of her being, both in the office and in her personal life. She jumps at any chance to get her kids out on the ocean, from building forts out of drift wood on Lizard island to swimming with reef sharks.  With her overactive imagination and Peter Pan attitude she hopes her kids value coral reefs as much as she does.  Jamie Brickhouse is performing his award-winning solo show Dangerous When Wet: Booze, Sex, and My Mother based on his critically-acclaimed memoir and directed by Obie Award-winning David Drake at Capital Fringe in DC in July, Minnesota Fringe in Minneapolis in August, and San Francisco Fringe in September. For show dates, visit www.jamiebrickhouse.com and follow Jamie on Instagram and Twitter @jamiebrickhouse.

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Challenges: Stories about overcoming obstacles
The Story Collider

This week, we’re presenting stories about overcoming obstacles and breaking down barriers -- whether those barriers are institutional or written into our genetic code. Part 1: Aletha Maybank's childhood experiences with institutional racism inspire her work to combat structural barriers as a physician. Part 2: Joselin Linder shares a unique and deadly genetic mutation with just fourteen other people in the world -- and must make a difficult choice as a result. Aletha Maybank, MD, MPH currently serves as a Deputy Commissioner in the New York City Department of Health and is the Founding Director of the Center for Health Equity.  The Center’s mission is to bring an explicit focus to health equity in all of the Department’s work by tackling structural barriers, such as racism, ensuring meaningful community engagement, and fostering interagency coordination in neighborhoods with the highest disease burden. Prior to this role, she was an Assistant Commissioner in the NYC Health Department and served as the Director of the Brooklyn Office, a place-based approach.  Dr. Maybank also successfully launched the Office of Minority Health as its Founding Director in the Suffolk County Department of Health Services in NY from 2006-2009. Dr. Maybank serves as Vice President of the Empire State Medical Association, the NYS affiliate of the National Medical Association.  In the media and on the lecture circuit, she has appeared or been profiled on Disney Jr.’s highly successful Doc McStuffins Animated Series, ESSENCE Facebook live and their Festival’s Empowerment Stage, MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry show, and various other outlets. She has also advised on the award-winning documentary Soul Food Junkies by Byron Hurt and Black Women in Medicine by Crystal Emery. For her accomplishments, she has won numerous awards. Joselin Linder's work has appeared in The New York Post, as well as on Morning Edition, Joe's Pub, and Life of the Law. er book, The Family Gene, comes out in paperback on June 12, 2018.

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Dreams: Stories about ambition
The Story Collider

This week, we're presenting stories about scientific ambitions and dreams -- and the ways in which they meet reality. Part 1: Planetary geologist Sara Mazrouei misses out on a dream opportunity -- because of where she was born. Part 2: Working in conservation, marine ecologist Madhavi Colton faces down despair as the challenges feel overwhelming. Sara Mazrouei is a PhD candidate in planetary geology at the University of Toronto. She’s also a science communicator with a passion for sharing the wonders of the universe with the public. Sara is a big advocate for women in STEM. One day she’ll go dancing on the Moon.  Madhavi Colton is the Program Director at the Coral Reef Alliance. She oversees an international portfolio of community-driven conservation programs that are addressing local threats to reefs, including over-fishing, poor water quality, sedimentation, and habitat destruction. Madhavi is also spearheading new scientific research into how ecosystems adapt to the effects of climate change and is applying this knowledge to develop innovative approaches to coral conservation. Her expertise lies in building partnerships between academic researchers, non-profit organizations, governments and local communities to implement durable conservation solutions. She has worked in California, Hawai‘i, the Mesoamerican region, Indonesia, Fiji and Australia. Madhavi has a Ph.D. in Marine Ecology from the University of Melbourne, Australia.

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Fight or Flight: Stories about confronting threats
The Story Collider

This week, we present two stories about confronting threats -- whether it’s actual physical danger or a threat to your career. Part 1: Climate scientist Kim Cobb is exploring a cave in Borneo when rocks begin to fall. Part 2: Neurobiologist Lyl Tomlinson is startled when he's accused of stealing cocaine from his lab. Kim Cobb is a researcher who uses corals and cave stalagmites to probe the mechanisms of past, present, and future climate change. Kim has sailed on multiple oceanographic cruises to the deep tropics and led caving expeditions to the rainforests of Borneo in support of her research. Kim has received numerous awards for her research, most notably a NSF CAREER Award in 2007, and a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers in 2008. She is an Editor for Geophysical Research Letters, sits on the international CLIVAR Pacific Panel, and serves on the Advisory Council for the AAAS Leshner Institute for Public Engagement. As a mother to four, Kim is a strong advocate for women in science, and champions diversity and inclusion in all that she does. She is also devoted to the clear and frequent communication of climate change to the public through speaking engagements and social media. Lyl Tomlinson is a Brooklyn native and a neuroscience graduate student at Stony Brook University. He is also a science communication fanatic who often asks: “Would my grandma understand this?” Using this question as a guiding principle, he won the 2014 NASA FameLab science communication competition and became the International final runner-up. In addition to making complex information understandable, he has a growing interest in science policy. Lyl meets with government representatives to advocate for science related issues and regularly develops programs to tackle problems ranging from scientific workforce issues to the Opioid Epidemic. Outside of his work and career passions, he seems to harbor an odd obsession with sprinkles and is a (not so) comic book and anime nerd.

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Science Communication: Stories about spreading the word
The Story Collider

This week, we present two stories about communicating science, whether it's through journalism or over a fragile Skype connection. Part 1: Science journalist Judith Stone worries about causing conflict when she writes about cultural differences aboard the International Space Station. Part 2: Nurse Anna Freeman is frustrated by the limits of technology when she attempts to advise a Syrian hospital over a shaky Skype connection. Judith Stone is the author of Light Elements: Essays on Science from Gravity to Levity, a collection of her award-winning columns from Discover magazine. Her book When She Was White: The True Story of a Family Divided by Race was named one of the Washington Post’s annual top 100 books. Her work has appeared in the anthologies Mysteries of Life and the Universe: New Essays from America’s Finest Writers on Science and Life’s a Stitch: The Best of Contemporary Women’s Humor, as well as in The New York Times Magazine; Smithsonian; O, The Oprah Magazine and many other publications. She was on the founding board of The Moth, and is currently an instructor in The Moth’s community outreach program. During the Late Cretaceous Epoch, she was a member of The Second City touring company. Anna Freeman is a nurse and quality improvement specialist at Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders. She has worked in humanitarian response in ten countries over the past ten years, focusing on refugee health, infectious disease, and quality of care.  Anna is an excellent dancer, an enthusiastic fumbler in any foreign language, and one of the world’s worst surfers.

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New Beginnings: Stories about starting over
The Story Collider

This week, we present two stories about fresh starts and new beginnings in science. Part 1: Mari Provencher's family is rocked by changes -- starting with her mother's decision to become an entomologist. Part 2: Three years into a great faculty position, psychologist Amber Hewitt realizes her passion lies elsewhere. Mari Provencher is a Los Angeles based photographer who's spent a decade exploring the contemporary circus boom. Her work has been featured in Variety, Forbes, The Huffington Post, Time Out Chicago, The LA Times, and more. Her photos have also been featured in the ad campaigns for two international circus festivals, Circuba and Festival Internacional Circo Albecete. In her spare time she volunteers with the educational nonprofit 826LA, teaching writing to students K-12. She loves to take in stories in any format, and is a voracious reader and podcast listener. Raised by a boundlessly curious entomologist mother, she and Story Collider were bound to cross paths. Amber A. Hewitt, Ph.D. received her doctoral degree in counseling psychology from Loyola University Chicago in 2013. She also received her undergraduate degree in biology from the University of Southern California and masters’ degree in psychology from Boston University. Her predoctoral internship was completed in 2012 at the Center for Multicultural Training in Psychology at Boston Medical Center where she completed a neuropsychological assessment rotation at a center for infants and children with complicated medical conditions. She served as a tenure-track Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology from 2013-2016 at the University of Akron. Her research program examines the gendered-racial identity development of Black adolescents, critical consciousness development, and prevention programs that foster resilience and optimal development in children and adolescents. Hewitt’s policy interests include access to mental health care, psychological development of children, infant mortality, health disparities, and psychosocial determinants of health. She’s the 2016-2017 Jacquelin Goldman Congressional Fellow, a position funded by the American Psychological Foundation. I She is currently a AAAS fellow at the National Institutes of Health and recently accepted a position as a Manager of Policy & Advocacy in the Corporate Advocacy Division at Nemours, a children's health system. Note: This week's episode is sponsored by Audible. Go to Audible.com/collider or text COLLIDER to 500-500 for a 30-day trial and free first audiobook! 

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Women in Science: Stories about defying expectations
The Story Collider

This week, in honor of Women's History Month, we're presenting two stories about women in science and the unique challenges they face. Follow us on Twitter @story_collider this week as we feature highlights of other stories from women in science from our back catalog. Part 1: Alison Williams' blossoming passion for chemistry is sidetracked by a professor's thoughtless comment. Part 2: Climate scientist Sarah Myhre becomes embroiled in conflict after speaking out against a senior scientist's problematic statements about climate change. Alison Williams is the Associate Provost for Diversity and Intercultural Education at Denison University. She received her undergraduate degree in chemistry from Wesleyan University and her M.S. and Ph.D. in biophysical chemistry from the University of Rochester where she was a NSF graduate fellow and winner of the graduate student teaching award.  Prior to becoming an administrator first at Oberlin and now at Denison, she was a chemistry faculty member for 25 years, teaching at Swarthmore, Wesleyan, Princeton and Barnard College of Columbia University.  Her research focused using spectroscopy to determine the role of ions in shaping the physical properties of nucleic acids. Dr. Williams has been active nationally to increase access, inclusion and equity, especially in the sciences. She has received numerous recognitions for her teaching, outreach and mentoring activities.  She is a mother of two and a semi-professional oboist. Sarah Myhre Ph.D. is a Research Associate at the University of Washington and a board member of both 500 Women Scientists and the Center for Women and Democracy. She is actively investigating and publishing on the paleoceanographic history of the Pacific ocean, using ocean sediment cores and robots on the seafloor. She is a freelance writer, grass roots organizer, and a leading voice in the field science communication. She is also an uncompromising advocate for women's voices and leadership, both in science and society.     

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Generations: Stories about passing science down
The Story Collider

This week, we present two stories about science and wisdom passed down through generations. Part 1: Ted Olds fears he’ll fail to graduate after his parents sacrificed to send him to engineering school. Part 2: Kayla Glynn’s challenging relationship with her science-loving grandfather alters the course of her life. Ted Olds has a Mechanical Engineering degree, and worked as a Patent Examiner at the US Patent & Trademark Ofiice. For the last thirty years he has worked as a patent attorney in a variety of high tech, and low tech areas. He has published short stories in a few small Journals. He mid-life crisis is storytelling. He has performed at a Risk event, and several Secret Society of Twisted Storytellers events. As a Moth "road tripper" he's told stories in many many cities, and has won 14 Moth Story Slams and in 8 different cities. Kayla Glynn is one of The Story Collider's newest producers in the Vancouver area, as well as an ocean enthusiast. She is trained in marine management and research, but has recently shifted her focus to the realm of science communication. Kaylais currently the Digital Communications and Research Specialist for Clear Seas Centre for Responsible Marine Shipping and is on the Executive Board of the Canadian Network for Ocean Education. She is passionate about sharing her knowledge of the ocean and marine life with others and helping to improve global ocean literacy. Kayla believes that given the right knowledge and tools, people are capable of mitigating their impacts on the planet and fostering a deeper a relationship with the natural world. Follow her at @kaylamayglynn

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In Honor of Pi Day: Stories about math
The Story Collider

This week, in honor of Pi Day on March 14, we're presenting two stories from mathematicians. Part 1: After a reluctant start, mathematician Ken Ono makes an unexpected discovery. Part 2: Mathematician Piper Harron deals with harassment after standing up for diversity in math. Ken Ono is the Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Mathematics at Emory University. He is the Vice President of the American Mathematical Society, and he considered to be an expert in the theory of integer partitions and modular forms. His contributions include several monographs and over 160 research and popular articles in number theory, combinatorics and algebra. He received his Ph.D. from UCLA and has received many awards for his research in number theory, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Packard Fellowship and a Sloan Fellowship. He was awarded a Presidential Early Career Award for Science and Engineering (PECASE) by Bill Clinton in 2000 and he was named the National Science Foundation’s Distinguished Teaching Scholar in 2005. He serves as Editor-in-Chief for two Springer-Nature journals and is an editor of Springer's The Ramanujan Journal. He was also an Associate Producer of the Hollywood film The Man Who Knew Infinity which starred Jeremy Irons and Dev Patel. Piper Harron received her PhD in mathematics from Princeton University in January 2016. More interestingly, she started in 2003, left in 2009, lectured at Northeastern for three semesters, then stopped working and had two children born in 2011 and 2014. Her PhD thesis received recognition for its humorous style and blunt social commentary (Spoiler: math culture is oppressive), and she has traveled to many institutions around the country and in Canada to talk about her experiences trying to survive other people's good intentions. She is currently a postdoc in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

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Innovation: Stories about creative ideas
The Story Collider

This week, we present two stories about original ideas and creative solutions in science -- from a Rube Goldberg machine to using hookworms to treat an illness. Part 1: In the ninth grade, Adam Ruben and his friends create a Rube Goldberg machine for a school project. Part 2: Science writer Leah Shaffer discovers an interesting way to manage her chronic illness -- hookworms. Adam Ruben is a writer, comedian, and molecular biologist.  He has appeared on the Food Network, the Weather Channel, the Travel Channel, Discovery International, Netflix, and NPR, and he currently hosts Outrageous Acts of Science on the Science Channel.  Adam is a two-time Moth Story Slam winner, a teacher with Story District, and a producer of Mortified.  Adam has spoken and performed at shows, universities, and conferences in more than 30 states and 6 countries. He writes the humor column "Experimental Error" in the otherwise respectable journal Science and is the author of Surviving Your Stupid, Stupid Decision to Go to Grad School and Pinball Wizards:  Jackpots, Drains, and the Cult of the Silver Ball. Adam has a Bachelor's degree from Princeton and a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins in molecular biology and is the Associate Director of Vaccine Stabilization and Logistics at Sanaria Inc.  Learn more at adamruben.net Leah Shaffer is a freelance science writer based in St. Louis whose stories have appeared in Wired, The Atlantic and Discover magazines. She writes about biology, medicine, and the weird critters inside and outside the human body. You can read about her complaints and schemes on Twitter as @LeahabShaffer

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Double Lives: Stories about loving both science and art
The Story Collider

This week, we present two stories about being torn between love of science and a love of art. Part 1: Saad Sarwana tries to juggle careers in physics and comedy.  Part 2: Jean Zarate is torn between science and music until a tragic event brings both into perspective. Saad Sarwana is a Pakistani-American Physicist and Geek.  His research is in superconducting electronics. He has over 40 peer reviewed publications and two US patents. Saad is also an amateur comedian for 20+ years, and is on a personal quest to perform in every state in the US, he is about halfway there.  Saad has combined his love of Geekdom and his south asian heritage to create the “Science Fiction and Fantasy Spelling Bee”, a show he hosts at various local cons. On most days you can find him in the lab or home playing with his kids (he doesn’t get out much!). He lives in Westchester County, NY (home of the X-men!). Jean Mary Zarate is a Senior Editor at Nature Neuroscience and a musician. As a neuroscientist, her research focused on auditory cognition, including the neural correlates of vocal pitch regulation in singing. Her musical endeavors are widespread across multiple bands, genres, and a few albums scattered across the world wide web (unless you are a persistent web searcher or know her stage name). Note: Jean's story was produced as part of our partnership with Scientific American and Springer Nature's Springer Storytellers program. Find out more at beforetheabstract.com.

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Black Holes: Stories about dark times
The Story Collider

This week, we present two stories about dark moments in science. Part 1: Astrophysicist Jesse Shanahan tries to uncover the mysteries behind both the black holes she studies and her own chronic pain. Part 2: Comedian Sarah Pearl is committed to a mental hospital after suicidal thoughts. Jesse Shanahan is a science writer and astrophysicist, currently serving as a Coordinating Committee member in the Working Group on Accessibility and Disability that she co-founded for the American Astronomical Society. Her writing can be found in Science, Astronomy Magazine, and Forbes amongst others. In addition to organizing STEM outreach in local elementary schools, she works on behalf of disabled scientists to facilitate accessibility and accommodations in STEM. Outside of her research on supermassive black holes, she spends her days wrangling a very high energy Border Collie named Hubble and playing way too many video games. Follow her @enceladosaurus.   Born and raised in St. Louis, Sarah Pearl is an up-and-coming comedian, musician, and storyteller. She's performed throughout the Midwest, most notably at Laugh Factory Chicago, Helium Comedy Club, and one time, a back porch without a coat during winter. Her honest and sardonic style has been referred to as, "kind of sad, but really funny." Sarah will be debuting the story of her experience with mental illness and she hopes the storytelling class she took when she was eight pays off. You can follow her at @standupsarah.

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Heartbreak: Stories about times science breaks our hearts
The Story Collider

This week, in honor of Valentine's Day, we're presenting two stories about heartbreak in science. Part 1: Rattled by a recent heartbreak, neuroscientist Prabarna Ganguly makes a mistake in the lab. Part 2: Marine ecologist Kirsten Grorud-Colvert bonds with her diving buddy when they have an unexpected encounter with a hammerhead shark.  Prabarna Ganguly is one of the many Bostonian graduate students, studying neuroscience at Northeastern University. Her research focuses on how and why maternal care is necessary for the healthy development of infants. As an aspiring science writer, she is constantly looking for good science stories to share, and makes sure that her elevator pitches are always grandma-friendly. Comfortably Indian, she likes cricket, Pink Floyd, and enjoys simple frivolities. Also, having just dyed her hair red, she is quite excited about its possibilities.   Note: Kirsten's story was produced as part of our partnership with Springer Nature's Springer Storytellers program. Find out more at beforetheabstract.com. Kirsten Grorud-Colvert is a marine ecologist at Oregon State University, where she has studied ocean organisms in the Oregon nearshore, the Florida Keys, and California’s Catalina Island, along with other marine systems from the Mediterranean to the Caribbean. She uses data from different species and habitats to ask, What happens when you protect an area in the ocean? And what can we learn from those areas to design even better protection? She also directs the Science of Marine Reserves Project and loves learning from her creative colleagues in science, communication, and graphic design. Kirsten has always been obsessed with water—that’s what growing up in the 120 degrees Arizona desert will do to you!  

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Kinari Webb: Tearing Down the Wall
The Story Collider

Kinari Webb’s philosophy as a scientist is shaped by her experience of the fall of the Berlin Wall as a teenager. Kinari Webb first developed the vision for Health In Harmony when studying orangutans in 1993 at Gunung Palung National Park in Indonesia. There she encountered not only a beautiful and threatened natural environment but also the dire health needs of the people surrounding the National Park. After this experience, Kinari decided to become a physician and return to Indonesia to work together with local communities both to improve their health and to preserve the natural environment. She graduated from Yale University School of Medicine with honors and then completed her residency in Family Medicine at Contra Costa Regional Medical Center in Martinez, California. Kinari founded Health In Harmony in 2005 to support the combined human and environmental work that she planned in Indonesia. After a year of traveling around Indonesia looking for the best site for this program (unmet health care needs, forest that could still be saved and a responsive government), Kinari helped co-found the Alam Sehat Lestari (ASRI, which means “harmoniously balanced”) program in West Kalimantan with Hotlin Ompusunggu and Antonia Gorog. She is also an Ashoka Social Entrepreneur and Rainier Amhold Fellow. Kinari currently splits her time between Indonesia and the US. This story originally aired on Sept. 1, in an episode titled "Metamorphosis." Full episode and transcript here: https://www.storycollider.org/stories/2017/9/1/metamorphosis-stories-about-radical-change

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Recovery: Stories about responding to crises
The Story Collider

This week, we're p​resenting stories about the ways we respond and recover to dire situations in science, whether it's cancer or sexual assault.​​​​​​ Part 1: Biochemist Melanie McConnell encounters unexpected resistance when she tests an experimental cancer treatment. Part 2: Rape survivor Mo Culberson helps train doctors to treat other rape survivors. Melanie McConnell has a life-long interest in cancer cell biology. She has studied pediatric, brain, breast, and skin cancers, all to better understand the intricate process of gene regulation. After establishing the Cancer Stem Cell programme at the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research, she joined the School of Biological Sciences at Victoria University of Wellington. Her research is aimed at reducing relapse and improving to life-saving cancer therapies by understanding how cancer cells survive chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and radiation treatment. She’s currently focused on the role of mitochondria in therapy resistance. In her real life, she is married to Richard, is mum to two girls, and spends her time with them and the dog, making compost and tending to the weeds in her vege garden. Mauree "Mo" Culberson loved physics and chemistry when she was younger. While helping her physics teacher hang lights for the theater department a spotlight hit her on a dark stage and she's been performing ever since. Mauree is a writer, storyteller, and performer. She earned her degree in Theatrical Design and Technology and English from the University of Mississippi. Mauree has written for The Atlanta Fringe Festival, the Working Title Playwrights 24 Hour Play Festival and Emory University’s Brave New Works. She has shown her skills as a puppeteer, actor, comic, and improviser in Atlanta. The interaction of art and science continues to be her muse.

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Good and Evil: Stories about the science of gray areas
The Story Collider

This week, we bring you two stories about the science of morality. Or morality in science. Either way you want to look at it. Part 1: Political scientist Ethan Hollander interviews a Nazi war criminal. Part 2: As a graduate student, Cather Simpson was excited to present her work -- but then her adviser lies about it. Ethan J. Hollander is a professor of political science at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana. He is also the author of Hegemony and the Holocaust: State Power and Jewish Survival in Occupied Europe. Hollander’s published scholarship also includes research on democratization in Eastern Europe and on the Arab Spring. At Wabash, Dr. Hollander teaches courses on the Politics of the Middle East, Ethnic Conflict and Genocide, European Politics, and Research Methods and Statistics. He is a native of Miami Beach, and received his Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego in 2006. Note: Ethan's story was produced as part of The Story Collider's partnership with Springer Nature. Find out more at beforetheabstract.com. When Cather Simpson graduated from high-school in the USA, she was certain she was going to become a neurosurgeon. She was very, very wrong. In her first year at uni, she got discovered scientific research and got completely hooked. She is now a Professor of Physics and Chemical Sciences at the University of Auckland, where she runs a super-fun laser lab called the Photon Factory. The Photon Factory uses exotic pulsed lasers to enable all New Zealand scientists accomplish their goals, from improving products for industry to helping school students with science fair projects. Working with the Photon Factory’s 25+ extraordinary physicists, chemists and engineers, Cather gets to study everything from how molecules convert light into more useful forms of energy to how to sort sperm by sex for the dairy industry. When she’s not enjoying the pleasure and satisfaction from using lasers to solve the knotty problems presented by Mother Nature, she’s doing puzzles with her partner Tom and being “Schrodinger’s Mom” – simultaneously the world’s best and worst mother – to two lovely teenage boys. Note: Cather's story was produced as part of our partnership with SCANZ, Science Communicators Assocaition of New Zealand. Find out more at www.scanz.co.nz.

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Bad Days in the Field: Stories about fieldwork frustrations
The Story Collider

This week, we bring you two stories about frustrations in the field, whether it's a failure to find dinosaur fossils or a struggle with a painful medical condition. Part 1: Paleontologist David Evans and his team start to feel defeated after three days of searching fruitlessly for fossils.  Part 2: When cave geologist Gabriela Marks Serrato develops fibromyalgia, exploring caves becomes a challenge. David C. Evans holds the Temerty Chair in Vertebrate Palaeontology and oversees dinosaur research at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM). He is also an Associate Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Toronto. David is an Ontario-born researcher who is recognized as an authority on the rich dinosaur fossil record of Canada. As a curator, David helped develop the ROM's dinosaur galleries, and was Lead Curator of the major travelling exhibition Ultimate Dinosaurs. He has been featured on numerous television shows, and most recently, David was co-creator of the HISTORY series Dino Hunt Canada. David’s research focuses on the evolution, ecology and diversity of dinosaurs, and their relationship to environmental changes leading up to the end Cretaceous extinction event. Active in the field, he has participated in expeditions all over the world, including the Africa, Mongolia, and Canada, and has helped discover 10 new dinosaur species in the last five years- including the remarkable horned dinosaur Wendiceratops from southern Alberta, and the wickedly armoured Zuul named after the Ghostbusters movie monster. Gabriela Serrato Marks is a PhD student in the MIT-WHOI Joint Program in Oceanography, where she works with stalagmites from Mexico. She fell in love with rocks and the ocean while getting her B.A. in Earth and Oceanographic Science from Bowdoin College. Her current research focuses on archives of past rainfall and climate change. Outside of research, she is interested in issues of diversity and inclusion in STEM, hanging out with her cat, and growing tiny squash in her parents’ garden. 

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Origin Stories: Stories about paths to becoming a scientist
The Story Collider

This week we present two stories about the inspiration behind scientists' careers. Part 1: Kate Marvel's dream of being a genius takes her to Cambridge to study astrophysics. Part 2: When Joe Normandin begins to question his sexuality as a teenager, he turns to neuroscience for help. Kate Marvel is a scientist at Columbia University and the NASA Goddard Institute of Space studies. She uses computer models and satellite observations to monitor and explain the changes happening around us. Her work has suggested that human activities are already affecting global rainfall and cloud patterns. Marvel is committed to sharing the joy and beauty of science with wider audiences. She has advised journalists, artists and policymakers, written a popular science blog and given frequent public talks. Her writing has appeared in Nautilus Magazine and On Being.  You can watch her Mainstage TED talk at http://go.ted.com/katemarvel Joe Normandin earned a B.A. in Biology with a Specialization in Neuroscience from Boston University, where he worked as an undergraduate research assistant in labs studying the behavioral genetics of sexual orientation in people and female sexual behavior in a rat model.  He earned a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences - Neurobiology and Behavior from Georgia State University, where he explored how the brain regulates sexual reflexes.  He found evidence of a brain circuit that provides an anatomical/functional basis for the oft-reported side effects of delayed orgasm in those taking antidepressants. He is now a Lecturer and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Neuroscience Institute at Georgia State University. Dr. Normandin values the wonderful public education and support he received as a young gay man growing up in Massachusetts.  Even with that education and support, he struggled with his identity as a gay person.  In high school, a psychology class introduced him to neuroscience, which led to a search for research that he thought would validate his sexual orientation.  This search set him on a path towards becoming a neuroscientist, and ultimately led to questions he explores in the classroom: Are people born gay?  Does it matter?  Dr. Normandin is also an avid gamer and has saved the universe many times.

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Math Problems: Stories about struggles with math
The Story Collider

This week, we present two stories about the struggles "math people" face. Part 1: Lew Lefton tries to succeed as both a math professor and a math comedian. Part 2: Vanessa Vakharia faces her first day as student teacher of a math class. Lew Lefton is a faculty member in the Georgia Tech School of Mathematics and the Assistant Dean of Information Technology for the Georgia Tech College of Sciences.  He also has the role of Assistant Vice President for Research Cyberinfrastructure at Georgia Tech. Lefton co-founded and is the acting executive director of Decatur Makers, a family-friendly makerspace in downtown Decatur.  He is on the board of the Southeast Makers Alliance and has been involved as a co-producer of Maker Faire Atlanta since 2014. Lefton has a bachelor of science degree in math and computer science from New Mexico Tech, and a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Illinois. He moved to Decatur in 1999.  Lefton is also an accomplished and experienced comedian who has done stand up and improv comedy for more than 30 years. Vanessa Vakharia is the founder and director of The Math Guru, a super cool boutique math & science tutoring studio in Toronto. She has her Bachelor's of Commerce, Teaching Degree, Diploma in Graphic Design and Master's in Math Education. She specializes in teenage engagement in mathematics education, with a focus on encouraging young women to pursue STEM related fields as well as reinventing media representations of females as they intersect with math. She travels globally engaging audiences with her workshop, “Imagining a World Where Kim Kardashian Loves Math,” encouraging teenagers, teachers, and EVERYONE to re-interpret and re-invent traditional stereotypes of what it means to be a “math person.” She is also a founding member of Goodnight, Sunrise, a rock n roll band where she plays the keytar and belts lead vocals. Yes, she totally wants to be a rock star, who wouldn’t?  Mindy Kaling is her idol and Vanessa believes that she should be yours too.

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