May 13, 2015

Horses and Jockeys: The Practical Side of Innovation

Where's My Jetpack?: Episode #5

As managing director of the Skandalaris Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Emre Toker has encountered many innovative ideas for products and businesses - some of which succeed, most of which do not. Toker, who has founded or co-founded five companies, discusses his own experiences as an investor and entrepreneur and explains some of the common pitfalls that keep innovators from bringing their ideas to life.


May 6, 2015

Beyond the Medical Breakthrough: How Partnerships Improve Global Health

Where's My Jetpack?: Episode #4

As director of the Institute for Public Health at Washington University, William Powderly believes that in order to be innovative and find useful solutions to global health challenges, effective partnerships are key. But how do these partnerships form, and what types of partnerships are most effective? To continue our collaboration with the graduate student group ProSPER, graduate student Kuan-lin Huang interviews Powderly about the importance of working with teams both around the world and across academic disciplines.


April 30, 2015

Stress and Competition: Does the Research "Lifestyle" Inhibit Innovation?

Where's my Jetpack?: Episode #3

Barak Cohen has some words of wisdom for the future biologists of the world: "If you’re doing this to get rich, you’re going to be disappointed.  If you’re doing this to get famous, you’re going to be doubly disappointed. The reason to do a PhD in biology is because you’re fascinated by biology." As Cohen and graduate students like Shelina Ramnarine know, being a professional scientist is typically not glamorous. It involves hard work and stress - often over funding. To continue our Where's My Jetpack? series, Ramnarine questions whether an increasingly competitive lifestyle is a barrier to innovation. In this week's episode, she and Cohen discuss how the internet, changes in governmental funding, and a lack of diversity among scientists all affect scientific progress.


April 23, 2015

How to Rethink Innovation and Bridge Divides

Where's My Jetpack?: Episode #2
Psychology graduate student Lameese Eldesouky has noticed a trend in research. In some cases, scientists in fields like genetics or biology have an easier time getting funding than researchers who study topics that are less easy to put into numbers, like relationships. In this episode, Eldesouky interviews professor Sarah Gehlert about her thoughts and experiences bridging the divide between the social sciences and the life or physical sciences. Gehlert, who has led cross-disciplinary research efforts into topics like racial disparities in health, discusses how in order to to make true progress, we need to start thinking about innovation in new ways.


April 9, 2015

A Meeting of the Sciences, from Geochemistry to Geobiology

Into the Earth: Episode #6

Throughout our series "Into the Earth," we've heard how Earth science topics cross between different disciplines like geology, physics, and chemistry. This has been true for postdoctoral research associate Steven Chemtob, whose recent research looks closely at a type of rock called banded iron formations. These rocks were created some 2.5 billion years ago, before there was oxygen in Earth's atmosphere and oceans. To understand how rocks like these formed, researchers like Chemtob approach the ancient formations from a variety of fields.

March 25, 2015

High-School Students Should Study Earth Science. Here's Why.

Into the Earth: Episode #4

Ever wonder why some subjects are taught in high school while others are not, or why students spend so much time memorizing facts? According to geophysicist Michael Wysession, science curricula in the US are based on standards that are more than 120 years old, and being stuck in the past has had serious consequences. Wysession, the Earth and space science writing team leader for the Next Generation Science Standards, believes in a new approach to science education.

March 20, 2015

A Volcanic Mystery

Into the Earth: Episode #3

Aubreya Adams, a postdoctoral researcher at Washington University in St. Louis, describes the Cameroon Volcanic Line as "one of the most interesting features in Africa that most people have never heard of." These volcanoes are something of a mystery, even to geologists - nobody knows exactly how they were created. However, Adams' research is shedding light on the mystery. Here she discusses her findings and shares some of the process behind seismology fieldwork.

March 5, 2015

Discovery in the Lau Basin

Into the Earth: Episode #2

Deep under the ocean, enormous tectonic plates push against one another and spread apart. Shawn Wei, a doctoral student and McDonnell Scholar at Washington University in St. Louis, wants to understand what's really going on down there. Deep in the Pacific Ocean, how do rock, magma, and water interact? To find out, Wei analyzed data collected at the famous Lau Basin, one of the most geologically active places on Earth - and his results surprised all the experts. Here, Shawn describes his discovery, his methods, and how science isn't always like what you seen in the movies.

February 25, 2015

Stories in Rocks

Into the Earth: Episode #1

In his rock deformation laboratory here at Washington University in St. Louis, Phil Skemer applies huge amounts of heat and pressure to rock samples. Crushing rocks may sound just like fun, but he and his team are seeking answers to fundamental questions about how Earth works. Why does our planet have plate tectonics, when neighbors like Venus do not? To look for clues, Skemer uses - and builds - instruments that replicate the intense conditions found deep in the interior of the Earth. 


February 19, 2015

Memories of Chinese New Year

Lunar New Year 2015

For thousands of years, Chinese New Year has been celebrated in the spring to mark the beginning of a new lunar year. Traditions surrounding this festival have varied across time and cultures - here at Washington University in St. Louis, they include the student-run Lunar New Year Festival. To commemorate the occasion this year, Linchei Letty Chen, associate professor of Chinese language and literature at Washington University, shares personal memories from new year's festivals she experienced growing up in Taiwan.