BioScience Talks , published by the American Institute of Biological Sciences, is the monthly discussion podcast of the journal BioScience.
Episode #6: A Successful Intervention Boosts the Gender Diversity of STEM Faculty11/11/2015 Duration: 17min
Eighty-one percent of US science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) university faculty members are men. The relative dearth of women in the field is a long-recognized problem—but it's one that may be on its way to a solution. Using a three-step intervention derived from self-determination theory, an interdisciplinary team from Montana State University demonstrated a low-cost way to improve gender diversity in STEM-faculty hiring. The results were impressive, with search committees in the intervention group 6.3 times more likely to make an offer to a woman candidate. Dr. Alexander Zale was part of the team, and he joins us on this episode of BioScience Talks. Read the article describing the intervention. Read Amy Pohler's Smart Girls blog about the results. Subscribe on iTunes. Subscribe on Stitcher.
Episode #5: When Tree Planting Hurts Ecosystems14/10/2015 Duration: 18min
"Forest restoration" is a common conservation theme, often promoted as a means of repairing degraded landscapes and boosting carbon storage. But when the planting areas are poorly chosen, these initiatives have the potential to eradicate ancient grasslands, with devastating effects on biodiversity and ecosystem services. In Episode #5 of BioScience Talks, Joseph Veldman of Iowa State University describes the millions of acres of grassy biomes currently under threat from forestation and the efforts under way to protect them. Read the article by Joseph Veldman and colleagues. See figure 2 discussed in the podcast. Subscribe on iTunes. Subscribe on Stitcher.
Episode #4: Fire in the Amazon09/09/2015 Duration: 20min
Human-caused fires have the potential to hugely alter tropical forests—and the world at large. In this episode, we talk to Dr. Jennifer Balch, of the University of Colorado–Boulder. She discusses a long-term experiment in which she and her team deliberately lit fires in the Brazilian Amazon, with the aim of simulating the fires that are often released when people use burning to clear land. The forests were resilient to initial burning, but when a major drought hit in 2007, things changed quickly. The combined effects of drought and fire have huge implications, from grassland incursion and climate change to rainforest loss at previously unmeasured levels. The article is part of a BioScience Special Section on Tropical Forest Responses to Large-Scale Experiments.
Episode #3: Extracellular Vesicles Everywhere12/08/2015 Duration: 21min
Extracellular vesicles (EVs; article here) are one of the biggest stories in biology. These tiny "packets" are released by cells and constitute a previously misunderstood means of intracellular communication -- and their implications are huge. In humans, EVs can reveal disease, including some cancers and viral infections, and EV technology may soon replace many tissue biopsies. In addition, vesicles can be loaded with targeted treatments for a variety of diseases. The role that EVs will play in medicine is only beginning to be understood. In this episode, I'm joined by Drs. Xandra Breakefield and Mikolaj Zaborowski, two Harvard Medical School researchers working at the forefront of the field.
Episode #2: Transgenic Fish on the Loose?08/07/2015 Duration: 21min
Fast-growing transgenic salmonids are currently being developed for eventual human consumption. Dr. Robert Devlin and his team seek to evaluate the ecological threats posed by these GMO fish. In this discussion, he outlines the uncertainty inherent in these risk assessments and explains areas of potential future study. Read the full article: http://io.aibs.org/devful
BioScience Talks Episode #1: Coupled Human and Natural Systems10/06/2015 Duration: 22min
In our first episode, we discuss the concept of coupled human and natural systems (CHANS) with Dr. Jiquan Chen, of Michigan State University, who studies CHANS on the Mongolian Plateau. The CHANS concept enables the quantification of interacting human and biophysical factors, which can help shed light on how these systems work.