March 18, 2013

Cahokia: Ancient City

Cities: Episode #4

At its peak around 1200 CE, the ancient Mississippian settlement of Cahokia stretched nearly six square miles and included around 120 man-made earthen mounds. It was as large, or larger, than any European city of that time, but can we fairly or accurately call Cahokia a city? John Kelly, senior lecturer of archaeology at Washington University in St. Louis, discusses the limitations of imposing the Western concept of "cities" on ancient sites and describes the mound culture of Mississippian Native American clans.

March 6, 2013

The Eye of the Beholder

Attraction: Episode #2

We've all heard that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but is this adage true? What personality traits do others find most attractive, and how can we use this information to develop meaningful relationships? Simine Vazire, associate professor of pyschology, discusses the costs and benefits of exaggerating our own and our partners' attractiveness and explains how a little self-knowledge can go a long way.

March 4, 2013

Hardwired for Love

Attraction: Episode #1

"So a fruit fly walks into a bar..." In all seriousness, finding a mate is an important part of life for almost every species. But how do animals like fruit flies determine what is attractive in a potential mate? Yehuda Ben-Shahar, assistant professor of biology, studies the role of genetics in courtship and mating behaviors. Join us as he describes his research and explains how biologists manipulate genes to test their theories.

February 22, 2013

What's in a Commute?

Cities: Episode #3

Whether it takes five minutes or an hour, commuting to and from work is an essential part of most people's daily lives. But how do commuting costs, whether in time or money, influence the structure and the formation of cities? Join Marcus Berliant, professor of economics, as he provides a glimpse into the questions and answers that make up the field of urban economics.


February 18, 2013

Mapping the City

Cities: Episode #2

Cities have individual identities, but many of them face similar problems, including unequal access to education, employment, and health services. Often, the solutions to these issues are as complex as their causes. Dr. William Tate, chair of the department of education, discusses the "geography of opportunity" and how researchers are able to illustrate their work through graphics in order to better reach and inspire local citizens.

February 11, 2013

Design as a Social Act

Cities: Episode #1

At its construction in St. Louis in 1951, Pruitt-Igoe was hailed as a model for future public housing efforts, but within two decades the area had decayed into an impoverished, crime-ridden neighborhood. By 1976, the entire complex was demolished. What caused this housing project to fail so spectacularly, and how can contemporary architects avoid the same mistakes? Susanne Cowan, a post-doctoral fellow in architecture and history, discusses the legacy of these buildings and the evolution of social design.

February 4, 2013

The Many Lives of Apollonius

People, Places, and Ideas: Episode #4

Following his death some 2,000 years ago, the philosopher Apollonius of Tyana was known as a charlatan and magician. A century later, he was considered the embodiment of Greek culture and religion, particularly for those who opposed Christianity. Join Roshan Abraham, assistant professor of classics and religious studies at Washington University in St. Louis, as he reveals the many lives of Apollonius.

December 31, 2012

Weedy Rice and Evolution

Farms/Food: Episode #8

Kenneth Olsen, associate professor of biology at Washington University in St. Louis, shares his research into red rice, a weedy form of cultivated rice that is a major problem for farmers in the southern United States. For the final podcast of our fall season, Olsen describes his research and explains why domesticated crops like rice are such a valuable tool for studying the genetics and evolution of plants.