Science Podcasts

Presented by USU’s Office of Research, Instead is a digital bridge to span social-distance, allowing you to listen in on conversations with USU researchers and learn how Utah’s researchers move our state forward as new challenges circle the world.


United States


Presented by USU’s Office of Research, Instead is a digital bridge to span social-distance, allowing you to listen in on conversations with USU researchers and learn how Utah’s researchers move our state forward as new challenges circle the world.




61– Problem solving without borders. Ron Sims scales up science to turn waste into a resource, rehabilitate soil, and build a workforce of biological engineers

Toxic compounds made land near Libby, Montana uninhabitable. A first-generation college student restored the land with the help of some microscopic organisms. Now Ron is leveraging algae, to protect the environment. Algae growing in wastewater convert pollutants into a resource, that can sustain industries. Listen to this episode to hear how this work is done, and how Ron Sims uses these projects to educate future biological engineers.


60– Seize the carp! How zooplankton can reduce algal blooms in Utah lake, with undergraduate researcher Cristina Chirvasa

This episode is about Utah lake. A body of water that some people find a bit gross. Learn how Utah Lake earned its reputation. What's being done to help the lake's ecological processes recover. And how an undergraduate research project is supporting those efforts.


59– Students and teachers. Tyler Renshaw helps schools direct mental-wellness resources

Dr. Tyler Renshaw is an assistant professor in the School Psychology Program at Utah State University. His team screens students to help schools understand how to direct resources. In this episode, Renshaw describes the process of working with teachers to find and respond to the specific needs of their classroom. Renshaw also talks about skills and resources he provides different students to help them better cope with their struggles.


58– Where researchers come from: How 6 people turned an interest into a profession

In this podcast, six different researchers share what motivated them to pursue their studies. The beginning of each of these journeys look different — a gentle push from a friend, a role model to aspire after, or even a crush that happened to be working in the lab. The common thread, though, is a flame that was carried on by a long-lasting curiosity. Learn about these unique research topics and the first step that started the journey for each of the researchers in today’s episode. Episode clips from Episode 23 Witches, ghosts, and pesky high schoolers; polishing-up your legend detector, with Dr. Jeannie Thomas Episode 17 Don't touch my hive! Honey bees and killer hornets with Dr. Joe Wilson Episode 5 Earthquakes on the wasatch, with Dr. Alexis Ault Episode 53 Spiders and silkworms and hagfish, oh my! Justin Jones on spider silk research at USU Episode 35 Horses & Veterans; judgement free help in the therapy arena with, Judy Smith Episode 57 Dust. Janice Brahney explains how synthetic materials are driven into a natural phenomenon


57– Dust. Janice Brahney explains how synthetic materials are driven into a natural phenomenon

Email requests flooded Janice Brahney's inbox after publishing a paper in the June 2020 edition of Science. She had discovered microplastic in atmospheric dust. In this episode, she talks about how she handled her flooded inbox. You'll hear how she made this discovery. Listen to this episode to understand how phosphorus-laden dust affects watersheds across western states and how microplastic-laden dust changed Janice Brahney's life.


56– It doesn't build character. Diana Meter explains how defenders create belonging

Research shows that strong peer relationships in adolescence lead to stronger relationships in adulthood. In this episode of Instead, Diana Meter explains why people become aggressors and how bullies identify people to target. Defenders witness a person being victimized and do something. Diana's Research show's that even though a defender's actions seem small, they make people feel seen. So demystify your adolescence and listen to this episode of Instead.


55– Peer into the opiate crisis and courses that can help, with Maren Wright Voss

In this episode Maren discusses how she reduces harm caused by opioids. Maren talks about her role facilitating Extension’s pain management classes and peer support program. She shares a few of the pain management strategies that are covered in these Extension classes, some of the history of the opioid epidemic in rural places like Utah, what can be learned talking to people who have struggled with opioid abuse, and how doctors can approach this health crisis. Maren will also be a speaker at the next upcoming Blue Plate Research event. The HEART of the Opioid Epidemic: A cutting-edge program to address substance use disorder in Utah can be attended online 11:30 a.m-1:00 p.m. on August 19th at


54– Sagebrushicillin, with undergraduate researcher David Suisse

David Suisse is a student at USU. In this episode, he talks about researching the antibacterial properties of sagebrush and the interactions vulnerable people have with their physicians. Listen to this episode to hear how these two research projects are helping David gear up for med school. You will also hear his advice for new students at USU.


53– Spiders and silkworms and hagfish, oh my! Justin Jones on spider silk research at USU

Utah State’s spider silk research has made the news on multiple occasions, but what are they doing now? In this episode, Wyatt sits down with Justin Jones, assistant professor of biology and director of the spider silk lab. This episode covers everything from why we can’t farm spiders to how hagfish protect themselves from sharks to a glue stronger than gorilla glue. Join us to learn what we’re learning from spider silk now, and how we’re leveraging that for the future.


52– Facilitating action in the world, with technical communication researcher Rebecca Walton

According to Rebecca Walton, technical communication is communication that facilitates action in the world. She tells us how listening to people's stories can help us craft documents and policies that better our social environments. Dr. Walton also explains the four R's which help promote justice and how collaboration is key to replacing outdated terminology and practices.


51– Hitting the right note: Engineering buildings for earthquakes with Civil and Environmental Engineer Brady Cox

Learn about work being done to inform building practices and codes in Utah. Brady Cox examines the structural fallout from earthquakes around the world. His research helps predict how earthquakes will impact structures along Wasatch faults. In this episode, he talks about earthquakes in Haiti, New Zealand, and Utah. He also discusses the ground imaging techniques be developed to better understand what's going on under-construction sites. Brady Cox is a Professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at Utah State University


50– The fire cycle: appreciating a fundamental disturbance, with Fire Ecologist Larissa Yocom

Larissa Yocom researches how fire changes ecosystems and how those changes affect people. Larissa counts tree rings to learn how an area has burned in the past. She counts twigs on forest floors to see how an area would burn in the present. In this episode, Larissa explains the history of wildfire in the west, helping us understand fire as just another force of nature. Just like storms, we can't prevent fires from happening. But, mechanical treatments and prescribed burns give us some say in when and how an area burns. Decision-makers can use fire as a tool, reducing the negative and distractions effects fire has on people and communities. Listen to this episode and hear what happened in the past and what needs to happen in the present. Sign up for information about Upcoming Research Landscapes events Larissa Yocom's Website *Wyatt, the host of this podcast, is in the process of replacing his former last name with the more spellable name—Archer. Questions about the podcast can still be sent to


49– Immersive writing experiences and cultivating undergraduate research, with Joyce Kinkead

You really learn well by getting your hands on research and doing the activity,” says Dr. Joyce Kinkead. In this episode, we learn about Dr. Kinkead’s hands on approach to research and undergraduate mentorship as she talks us through the importance of writing history and her efforts as an undergraduate research mentor and administrator.


48– Setting people up for step-parenthood, with Brian Higginbotham

Dr. Brian Higginbotham is a Professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at USU. In this episode, Brian talks about the step-family education courses he facilitates. He explains the stress and strengths that step-families experience while sharing why this research is meaningful to him. For more information on Smart Steps for Step-families visit


47- Family caregivers and dementia, Beth Fauth's research on late life

“When someone begins to take care of older parents, spouses, or siblings, they don’t usually think of themselves as a caregiver; it’s just what you do for family. But people doing these tasks take on a significant emotional and physical load,” says Dr. Beth Fauth, Professor in the department of Human Development and Family Studies. The problem is that when caregivers don’t think of themselves as filling that role, they are less likely to reach out and find the resources they need. Dr. Fauth talks us through her research and efforts to provide and communicate resources for caregivers of family members with dementia or other needs. She reminds us that the health of caregiver and the care receiver are equally important. When new parents have a baby, they are expected to reach outside of themselves for help and resources; we consider it essential to care for both the parents and the infant. However, we have not yet normalized the same act of reaching out for late life caregivers, and we need to. Fauth’s research has shown that caregiver interventions work – they reduce stress and improve well-being of caregivers that utilize them. They are available face-to-face, online, and in other formats.


46- Celebrating Undergraduate Research at Utah State University

Established in 1975, USU’s undergraduate research program is one of the oldest in the nation. You will also learn about the history and future of undergraduate research from, Alexa Sand, associate vice president for research at Utah State. Wyatt also interviews two students with their mentors to understand how undergraduate research has benefitted them. Kelsey Bradshaw mentored by Dr. Elizabeth Vargis, and Cedric Mannie mentored by Dr. Breanne Litts.


45- The holy grail of water conservation, with turfgrass specialist Kelly Kopp

Professor Kelly Kopp’s research efforts are focused on landscape water conservation and sustainable turfgrass management. In this episode, Kelly takes us into the world of resource positive landscaping , a style of landscapes that gives more than it takes. Wyatt asks if decades-old patches of grass need to be upgraded, Kelly explains misconceptions about Xeriscaping, and we discuss what people care most about in their outdoor spaces. Dr. Kelly Kopp will be presenting her water-related research at Research Landscapes on March 2nd. The Center for Water Efficient Landscaping is a research and outreach center designed to improve the efficient use of water for landscape irrigation.


44- A guilt-free approach to change, with environmental planner Daniella Hirschfeld

Daniella Hirschfeld Specializes in environmental planning, climate adaptation, urban ecology, hazard mitigation, and spatial analysis. In this episode, you will learn how she keeps communities safe from floods, droughts, and the guilt of living in imperfect systems. Daniella Hirschfeld self-introduction –I weave together the fields of urban ecology and environmental planning to investigate resilient systems. I approach this investigation through three interwoven tracks. First, I look at the adaptive capacity of systems to understand their ability to change to meet future conditions. Second, I focus on the decision-making environment, unpacking the use of science and the connections to the cost of proactive adaptation actions. My third area of research is spatial analysis, which is primarily a tool I use to support the other two areas of work. More from Daniella Hirschfeld


43– Weight. Stop talking about it. Start checking in with yourself and, Maya Miyairi Steel

Dr. Maya Miyairi Steel promotes healthy relationships with food by educating pre-med students and parents about mindful eating. In this episode Maya talks about why eating mindfully is key. You need to pay attention to what goes in your mouths, slips off your tongue, and bounces around your brains.


42– Pinching the fat, talking body composition with, Dale Wagner

Whether it's electrodes in your bathroom scale or a sci-fi pod, accurate tools are needed to track progress. In this episode, Dr. Dale Wagner explains why understanding body composition is important, and he talks about how he makes sure that measurement tools are accurate.