show episodes
 
Volcanoes. Trees. Drunk butterflies. Mars missions. Slug sex. Death. Beauty standards. Anxiety busters. Beer science. Bee drama. Take away a pocket full of science knowledge and charming, bizarre stories about what fuels these professional -ologists' obsessions. Humorist and science correspondent Alie Ward asks smart people stupid questions and the answers might change your life.
 
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show series
 
Gratitude: what’s the deal? Does it really make us happier? Even when the world seems terrible? Or is being appreciative a bunch of hokey flim-flam? Author Neil Pasricha started a blog of 1000 Awesome Things in 2008 and it led him down rabbit holes looking into the science of gratitude and how to better survive some really tough times. Learn about …
 
Sexy apes: you’re one of them. And Biological Anthropologist Dr. Lara Durgavich joins to chat about everything from monogamy to PMS, male birth control pills, freezers of orangutan urine, imposter syndrome and testosterone, how the Pope makes you buy more tampons, which species has better sex, pancakes vs. boners, and boobs as a life preserver. It’…
 
Fashion! Trends! Not really! This lively chat with Riley Kucheran, an Assistant Professor of Design Leadership at Ryerson University’s School of Fashion, covers everything from the history of industrialized clothing manufacture to current Indigenous designers he loves, political statements through beadwork, Indigenous art markets, and a dissection …
 
BILL NYE. That’s right. Bill Freakin’ Nye sits down to get grilled by your Dadward (that’s me, Alie) all about Pedagogology, the art and science of science communication. How did the modern day hype man of facts and wonder get his start? What does he love about his job? What are the most important elements of spreading knowledge? WHICH TIE IS HIS F…
 
HERE IS SOME SAFE, COZY COMFORT: a platter of pumpkins. We have a new episode up this week: Desairology (MORTUARY MAKE-UP) but if that's toooo spooky: This 2019 Cucurbitology episode is an Ologies all-time favorite. Also? It helped launch sweet, sweet Anne Copeland’s book to the top of the seasonal cookbook charts last year. “Pumpkin, Pumpkin!” is …
 
What happens when you die? Cosmically, no one knows. But cosmetically, Desairologist Monica Torress knows everything. This friendly Phoenix funeral director shares her secrets for giving the dearly departed the greatest glam on their “special day.” She chats practical preservation techniques, spooky questions, her influences, the newest make-up lin…
 
Anthropodermic bibliopegy is a long, fancy way of saying “HUMAN SKIN BOOKS” and the study of confirming or debunking them is … Anthropodermic Biocodicology. For this skin-crawling, history-trawling Spooktober episode, we chat with the absolutely wonderful and charming medical librarian and expert of books bound in human skin, Megan Rosenbloom. Also…
 
Spooktober continues with … CrEePy cRawLies. And dark woods and solo hiking and Forest Entomologist Dr. Kristen Wickert a.k.a. KayDubs the Hiking Scientist. We chat about everything from Moth Man to chubby caterpillars to spiderwebs to fungus. She tells us how to look for big beautiful moths, what footwear is best for hitting the trail, which bugs …
 
To kick off SpooOoktober, we’re looking at huge birds that DEVOUR DEATH: the giant, majestic and critically endangered California condor. Condorologist Dr. Jonathan C. Hall’s work helps monitor populations, tracks flight data, and keeps tabs on how well this small population is rebounding after going extinct in the wild in 1987. We chat carcasses, …
 
If you need fuel to get excited about voting: here it is. How low is U.S. voter turnout? And why? Are mail-in ballots safe? Should you vote early? How has voter suppression worked in the past -- and the present -- to skew elections? Oooh, buckle up as the wonderful Dr. Mindy Romero, a Political Sociologist and founding director of USC’s Center for …
 
Thunder and lightning: very, very frighteningly interesting! Wildfire researcher and lightning scientist Chris Giesige answers questions about thunderclaps and lightning flashes in a laid back way that will put him at the top of your Fulminologist list. He explains everything from clouds to positive and negative charges, volcanic lightning, fire to…
 
Mammals: you’re one. Your dog is one. So are giant rats. What do we have in common? Nipples. The incredible Southern Illinois University professor, researcher, science communicator and mammalogist Dr. Danielle N. Lee joins to chat about everything from nature’s parenting styles to hairy bellies, milk glands, nip counts, how a meteor paved the way f…
 
The spirited, laughy chatter with a duo of deer scientists named Rhiannon continues in the thrilling conclusion with Part 2. Buckle up for listener questions addressing everything from social structure to hunting to Chronic Wasting Disease to how *not* to hit a deer with your car. Also the weirdest animal fact Alie has ever learned in the history o…
 
What IS a deer? And an elk? And a moose? And a Rhiannon? One thing they all have in common: cervidology. Buckle up for some spirited, laughy chatter with a duo of deer scientists. They dish all about Welsh mythology and their field trips into the remote, gorgeous wilderness. They’ll explain what to do if you find a fawn, if you should feed backyard…
 
Tasmanian devils! Quolls! Carnivores! Wait … what is a quoll? In what will become an instant-favorite new episode, Dasyurologist and Australian critter scientist Em Dale joins from Down-Down Under to discuss their work at Oxford University studying the ecology of misunderstood boofy bush babes. Alie learns about everything from the Tasmanian landsc…
 
With some fresh updates, ocean and policy expert Dr. Ayana Johnson guests in an encore presentation of a fan favorite episode. Hear updates from her, learn about her new podcast “How to Save a Planet,” and what she’s been up to since this episode originally aired in 2018. Are plastic straws really that bad? What's the oldest message in a bottle? An…
 
Spears! Sharp rocks! Ancient blades, bows and arrows and ...atlatls? What’s an atlatl? Experimental Archaeologist and decades-long ancient tool enthusiast Angelo Robledo is as passionate as an ologist can get. You likely have never heard of an atlatl, but by the end of the episode you’ll be carving one out of old lumber. Also covered: early axes, I…
 
Jellyfish stings: what are they and why do they hurt? And who studies them? Toxinologist Anna Klompen, that’s who. Speaking from her lab in Kansas, surrounded by jellies, the self-described professional jellyfish nerd invites us into her scientific Polyp Parlor to chat about barbs, neurotoxins, quick sting fixes, panty hose, the deadliest jellies, …
 
What even *is* a jellyfish?! How do they eat? What are they made of? Can we eat them? Your new favorite Medusologist, Dr. Rebecca Helm, is a ray of human sunshine in the depths of the deep sea. Truly one of the finest biology conversations you may ever hear. Get ready for PacMan ghosts, pet jellyfish, the biggest and smallest jellies, new band name…
 
Update! This episode posted on Tuesday per usual, then somehow un-published itself! Weird. Harrumph! It’s been a rough week for ol' Dadward VonPodcast, including a technical difficulty that left her behind, so she asked listeners if they would rather have a bizzaro minisode that involved a 30-40 minute rant about raw tomatoes or an AMA, and guess w…
 
Lights! Cameras! Arachnids! And lizards and bees and beetles. Macro photography is like magic: curved glass gives an entirely new take on the world, from dust on a cricket’s brow to a curious mantid stare to the elegant symmetry of spider whiskers. Joseph Saunders is an Oklahoma-based wildlife photographer whose larger-than-life photos of bugs and …
 
Yes, there is an -ology for that. Dr. Robert Proctor is a Stanford professor of the History of Science and co-edited the book “Agnotology: The Making & Unmaking of Ignorance,” having coined the word 30 years ago. We chat about everything from the true evils of tobacco marketing, to the sugar lobby, to racial injustice, horse vision, the psychology …
 
An instant classic. You’ll listen on repeat as world-renowned author, botanist, Indigenous ecology professor and bryologist Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer talks about her passion for moss. Cozy up for the most beautifully doled-out information about hidden worlds, overlooked mysteries, botanical drama, forests in miniature, Native peoples’ uses for moss a…
 
The wonderful neuroscientist and endocrinology researcher Dr. Daniel Pfau is back for Part 2 to answer listener mail about how hormones affect our moods, the variation of gender expression, queer lizards, how a strict gender binary is harmful to entire populations, hormone replacement therapy, hormones in sports, gender dysphoria, additional info o…
 
How many genders are there? How do you know if you’re queer? Is sexual orientation biological, and if so, how? The amazing Michigan State University neuroscientist and endocrinology researcher Dr. Daniel Pfau joins to share their path in academia finding the perfect research, understanding their own genderqueer identity, what animals in nature exhi…
 
The most ologists in one Ologies. And maybe my favorite episode ever. #BlackBirdersWeek was such a force that we wanted to keep the energy going by spotlighting not one, but 30 ologists. You’re about to meet 30 new science heroes who are @BlackAFinSTEM and chatting about electric fish snouts, urban birds, falcons, lizards, crocodiles, economics, ca…
 
Spine mysteries, saggy sacs, limericks, flim flam, flags, #BlackBirdersWeek, sandals, divebombs, porcupine espionage, ice cream sandwiches and more! The warm and wonderful pelicanologist Juita Martinez studies these glorious dinosaurs and shares fieldwork stories, what it’s like to hold a floofy baby sea bird, what she loves about being in nature a…
 
Why does clutter happen? How can we get rid of it and how will it affect us psychologically if we do? Buckle up for an episode that will lift your spirits and quite possibly change your life. We all have unfolded piles of laundry, that closet we don’t want to open, a tornado of papers on our desk that seems impossible to sort through. Enter: Oikolo…
 
Who cares about flatworms? Guess what: you do. Planarian expert Dr. Oné Pagán shares his infectious enthusiasm for the teeny tiny ribbons of flesh that are helping scientists understand addiction, limb regeneration, stem cells, immortality and maybe aliens though probably not aliens. You’re about to be obsessed. We discuss where to find planarians,…
 
What kind of masks should you wear? How many people have had COVID-19 and don’t know? Do antibody tests work? When will we have a vaccine? Is it okay to picnic? Will there be a second wave? You need updates and we’ve got ologists. The wonderful Dr. Shannon Bennett from the first Virology episode joins us again, as well as New York City physician Dr…
 
Iddris Sandu is only 22, but his life story is already legendary. This Architectural Technologist learned to program at the age of 11 and has worked with everyone from Kanye West to Nipsey Hussle to Space X. We talk coding, web design, holograms, and how programming works and what languages should you learn and why it's important. The designer and …
 
Glass eyes! Pelts! Antlers! Hides! Bones! Tanning! Hilarious, charming and globally celebrated taxidermist Allis Markham chats about her passion for preserving animals for museums and institutions. She’s won multiple awards for her artful poses and meticulous work as an ethical taxidermist. With her flair for vintage styling, is perhaps the most el…
 
Do penguins have flippers or wings? Why do they waddle? Do they really mate for life? What’s up with pebble gifts? Are they squishy or dense? And why why why are they so cute? April 25th is World Penguin Day and there’s never been a better time to sit down with renown Penguinologist Dr. Tom Hart, a research fellow with Oxford University. We chat al…
 
Sourdough starters! Ancient yeasts! Why we need/knead dough! And why you don't need to buy a starter to start. Polymath, particle physicist, inventor of the Xbox, and truly delightful fermentation nerd Seamus Blackley joins to chat about his kitchen adventures resurrecting dormant yeasts from 4,000 Egyptian baking vessels, plus wild yeasts, the inf…
 
Why do we kiss? What makes a good kiss or a bad kiss? How many microbes do we exchange? Is it good for us? One of the world’s most accomplished researchers on kissing, social behavior and relationships, Dr . Robin Dunar of Oxford University reluctantly agrees to be interviewed and explains how kissing may have evolved, how discos are research labs …
 
Plumage! Sexy dances! Feather heists! Possible holographic disco birds? Natural History Museum of LA ornithology curator Dr. Allison Shultz is a professional plumologist aka feather expert. We visit the museum’s collection of rare specimens and chat about everything from fossilized dinosaur feathers to silent owl flight to furry bird legs to why pi…
 
Since we just put out the "All (Washed) Hands on Deck" episode on Sunday, we figured a happy Springtime encore about fluttery, colorful cuties was in order -- with a few new updates and asides. Because ... Butterflies are gross. Yes they are delightful and beautiful and part of any idyllic picnic-scape but lepidopterologist, TV host and jungle expl…
 
CALLING ALL OLOGISTS: If you’re a scientist who wants to help with the COVID-19 pandemic -- boy howdy have we got an episode for you. Dr. Mike Wells, a neurobiologist at Harvard University and the Broad Institute, knows we need tests in the U.S. and is coralling all the wonderful scientists willing to pitch in. He explains how testing for the SARS …
 
At long last: an episode dedicated to veterinary medicine! Dr. Terrence Ferguson & Dr. Vernard Hodges have been friends for nearly 30 years and have co-owned their rural Georgia veterinary clinic, Critter Fixers, for over 20 years. The two wonderful buddies talk about getting accepted into vet school, caring for spiders & camels & lizards & toads &…
 
Folks, it’s a megasode. Not one, but 4 ologists. “Coronavirus” is on everyone’s lips -- and some people’s hands -- but what is it? Where did it come from? How does it spread? How dangerous is it? What should we do? Who’s most at risk? Was it biowarfare? Do bats spread it? Should you wear a mask? Can we still smooch our dogs on the face? Do we need …
 
Yep. Here it is. Let’s dive right in ... to poop. Hippo poop. Ferret poop. Octopoop. Dogs. Cats. Yours. The charming and informative Dr. Rachel Santymire -- aka Dr. Poop -- has a background in animal physiology and endocrinology and is elbow deep in dung as a research director at the Lincoln Park Zoo. Dr. Poop sits down with Alie to talk turds and …
 
“Everyone procrastinates, but not everyone is a procrastinator,” quoth Dr. Joe Ferrari, a charming, hilarious expert on the subject. The research psychologist, author and DePaul University professor sits down for a truly delightful exploration of why we procrastinate, how prevalent it is, when it becomes harmful, some myths about procrastination, w…
 
Glaciers: Where are they? What are they made of? What happens when chunks splinter off into the sea? There are ICEQUAKES? CalTech Cryoseismologist Celeste Labedz sometimes wears a cape with her snowpants and spends part of her career shooting explosions into giant chunks of ice and recording the seismic activity, analyzing the rivers that flow thro…
 
Histories, mysteries, memories and families: it’s time to clamber up our ancestral trees. Author and genealogist Stephen Hanks -- who teaches genealogy classes in Portland, Oregeon and has contributed to PBS genealogy documentaries -- sits down to chat about what ignited a passion for learning about his own history. Also: how to find your family th…
 
Cumulus! Lenticular! Venti sugar-free stratocumulus stratiformis translucidus undulatus! Those light and fluffy things that hang overhead weigh thousands of pounds and form under all kinds of conditions. Cloud doctor and nephologist Dr. Rachel Storer chats about why she loves clouds, the different varieties of them, weather modification, sun dogs, …
 
Diabetic diabetologist and wonderful person Dr. Mike Natter, MD is back to answer all of your questions about blood sugar, the cost of insulin, pancreas transplants, keto, glucagon, how exercise can save your life, his most meaningful interactions with patients, pudding theft, and the best place to cry at work. Also: why you should always keep fros…
 
Your blood sugar can make you happy, moody, sweaty, unconscious and possibly even homicidal. In this episode, Dr. Mike Natter dishes about how blood sugar works, what insulin does, and how prevalent diabetes is in all of its various forms. Also: keto vs. vegan, hypoglycemia, cyborg organs, owl hoots, gestational diabetes, type 1 vs. type 2 and ... …
 
Bison bison! Not just something to holler into the sky, but also the scientific name for North America's majestic wild bovines that once roamed the plains in the tens of millions. What's up with their humps? On what occasion do they wear capes? What noises do they make? How many are out there? What are the best ways to help them? In this special ep…
 
"The future's not ours to see..." OR IS IT? Professional futurologist Rose Eveleth -- host of the podcast Flash Forward -- endures all kinds of breathless questions from Alie about shiny metal and implanted microchips and biohacking and population density curves and flying cars and equality and utopias and the Jetsons and technology and nuclear fus…
 
FEAR. Anxiety. Stress. Dread. It's all the same dang thing, as it turns out. Biologist and fear expert Mary Poffenroth is back to answer your questions in Part 2 of the encore presentation that's been one of the most helpful interviews of ol' Alie Ward's life. Learn how super successful people approach fear, Mary’s scariest hour, plus answers to al…
 
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