Ologies with Alie Ward

Science Podcasts

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.


United States


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.




Laryngology (VOICE BOXES) with Ronda Alexander, Part 1

Voices! Singing! Anxiety busters! Breathing! The absolutely magnetic, charismatic Laryngologist and surgeon Dr. Ronda Alexander makes her long-awaited Ologies debut to chat about why we sound the way we do, hormones and voices, Elvis accents, opera singing, kid voices, turning back time vocally, coughing, sleep apnea, acid reflux, vocal fry, Mariah and more in this stellar two-parter. Come back next week when we answer so many burning questions. Follow Dr. Alexander on Instagram and...


Aperiology (MACRO PHOTOGRAPHY) Encore with Joseph Saunders

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 reptiles will make you realize just how little we appreciate the creatures on our window sills and skittering up our porches. We talk shop about...


Oneirology Part 2 (DREAMS) with G. William Domhoff

Part 2 is here: Lucid dreaming! Teeth falling out! Medications and dreaming! The source of creativity! Even how to clean your brain. Dr. G. William Domhoff has studied dreams for decades and returns to answer an absolute deluge of questions with his wisdom and aplomb. By the end, you’ll know to sleep better, why it’s important, how to relax like a fish, if cheese alters your subconscious, why your dog flaps their paws during naps, and rejoice about a freshly discovered part of the brain....


Oneirology Part 1 (DREAMS) with G. William Domhoff

WHY do we dream? What do dreams mean? What parts of our brain are working after-hours? We sought out UC Santa Cruz researcher and professor Dr. G. William Domhoff, a world expert on the topic, for this dream-come-true episode. Learn about historical dream research, dream researchers collect dream reports, how neurodivergence affects dreaming, why you should set an alarm to go to bed, how remembering dreams can help solve problems, and more about REM myths! We’ll be back next week to answer...


Bonus Episode: Secrets, Advice + Ask-Me-Anything

It’s a weird rambling bonus episode for the lonely week between the holidays and New Years! I thought I’d serve up a mellow hang full of secrets, a retrospective of the things that kept me relatively sane this past year, life hacks, science-backed ways to improve your mood, and a jaunty Q&A from Patrons. It’s not a normal episode, but just a little hello and check-in from your internet dad. Happy 2023, kiddos. Be good to yourself. Follow Alie’s TikTok: A donation went to the Trevor...


Smologies #19: EVOLUTION with John McCormack

Another G-rated edit of a classic! This Smologies with Dr. John McCormack of Occidental College is all about evolution, Darwinism, birds, bacteria, natural selection and how our mutations can be our greatest strengths. Also: breaking down terms like genetic drift and Linnaean taxonomy and why Charles Darwin had to face haters under his own roof. (For the adult version, the full-length episode is linked below.) Follow John McCormack on Twitter or the Moore Lab of Zoology on Instagram Full...


P-22: The Life & Death of an L.A. Cougar with Miguel Ordeñana & Beth Pratt

Very special episode for a very special cat. The day after the legendary Los Angeles mountain lion P-22 took his last breath, we talked with Natural History Museum wildlife biologist Miguel Ordeñana about his decade-long study of P-22 after discovering him in Griffith Park. Beth Pratt of #SaveLACougars and the National Wildlife Federation also shares how P-22 fueled her passion for saving this species from extinction — and we hear what one animal meant to millions of Angelenos. Learn all...


Meteorology (WEATHER & CLIMATE) with Marshall Shepherd

Bomb cyclones! Polar vortices! Atmospheric rivers! And rained out barbecues. One of the world’s leading Meteorologists, Dr. Marshall Shepherd – a former NASA scientist and current Professor of Geography and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Georgia – is here to field a downpour of questions. We chat about percentages in forecasts, hail, sleet, storm chasing, heatwaves, fluid dynamics, TV weather people, climate change delayism and his favorite weather-themed movies. Also: what not to...


Enigmatology (WORD PUZZLES) with David Kwong

Crosswords! Puzzles! Wordles! Magic? Ah yes, world-renowned Enigmatologist David Kwong drops in to chat about the intersection of sleight of hand and brain games, covering everything from Scrabble strategies to how to get away with a surprise party unsuspected. Also: crosswords and dementia, how puzzles are like hot sauce, a secret group of Hollywood magicians, his most clever clues, cryptic crosswords, international slang, Wordle’s many derivatives, and how to get over your intimidation of...


Special Ep: Mycology (MUSHROOMS) Tom Volk Memorial Encore

In celebration of Dr. Tom Volk’s life: Mushrooms! Psilocybin! Humongous fungus! Black mold! Foraging! The incredibly charming and warm Dr. Tom Volk, world-renowned mushroom expert, welcomes Alie into his office to dive deep into the underground world of fungal enthusiasts and touch on pathogens and medicinal therapies. Dr. Volk himself was a heart transplant patient, and shared how his life had been changed since a donor saved it. Also: Alie holds his old heart in her hands. Dr. Tom Volk...


Indigenous Pedology (SOIL SCIENCE) with Lydia Jennings

Soil! Dirt! Earth. Dr. Lydia Jennings, aka Native Soil Nerd, breaks down the stuff under our feet and explains everything from mining to why soil can be different colors. Also: medicine from microbes, giving back to the land after extractive processes, collecting samples in urban rivers, elders’ ecological knowledge, planting hot Cheetos, potting soil mysteries, lung fungus, the smell of rain and why gardening makes you happy. Oh and running hundreds of miles for your science. Follow Dr....


Smologies #18: FEASTS with Katherine Spiers

Kid-friendly and quick! It’s another Smologies G-rated cut of a classic episode. Loosen your belts and tuck a napkin under your chin because feasting season is here. Katherine Spiers -- journalist, food anthropologist, editor of HowtoEatLA.com and host of the culinary history podcast Smart Mouth -- lets Alie belly up for a buffet of questions about winter gatherings, Thanksgiving myths, green bean casseroles, the hazards of deep frying, holy eels and more. Follow Katherine Spiers on Twitter...


Bryology (MOSS) Encore with Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer

It’s November and you need chill vibes. And Native American Heritage Month is the perfect time to encore this classic. World-renowned author, botanist, Indigenous ecology professor and bryologist Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer, author of “Gathering Moss” and “Braiding Sweetgrass,” 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 and philosophies...


Discard Anthropology (GARBAGE) with Robin Nagle

Landfills! Treasures in the trash! Corporate conspiracies! Composting! An instantly classic conversation with the incredibly knowledgeable, frank and wonderful Dr. Robin Nagle of New York University’s Liberal Studies! She is a clinical professor, author, TED speaker and former New York City sanitation worker and truly the best person on Earth to trash talk with. We cover what you can and can’t actually recycle, sticky mustard bottles, drugs in the trash, Swedish Death Cleaning, mobsters and...


Smologies #17: FLAGS with E. Tory Laitila

A kid-friendly, shortened version of our classic episode on …flags! E. Tory Laitila, a textile expert who has also handled Honolulu's flag protocol, gives the skinny on the oldest flags, skull and crossbone Jolly Rogers, his favorite state flag, Scandinavian simplicity, the hardest flags to draw, who designed our modern American flag and how you too can have ... fun with flags all year round. A donation went to: Connecting to Collections via CulturalHeritage.org More Smologies...


Vampirology (VAMPIRES) Part 2 with Jeff Holdeman

Start with Part 1 for all the folkloric history, superstition, and Dracula basics. And then this Part 2 has vampire finches, fang straws, vegan bloodsuckers, threshold invites, horniness, grain alcohol, garlic breath, psychic vampires and all our questions answered by Dr. Jeff Holdeman, professor and Vampirologist in Indiana University’s Slavic and East European Languages and Cultures department. Also: I think you should write a novel. Part 1: alieward.com/ologies/vampirology Donations...


Vampirology (VAMPIRES) Part 1 with Jeff Holdeman

Fangs! Capes! Undead bloodlust! Are vampires soul-draining ghouls or a hot prom date? No better person to ask than Indiana University professor of Slavic and East European Languages and Cultures," Dr. Jeff Holdeman, who teaches the course “The Vampire in European and American Culture.” In Part 1, it’s a deep dive into the HISTORY. Jeff breaks down the folkloric purpose of vampire stories and how they morphed into novels and hit the silver screen. Plus: why every generation reinvents its...


Smologies #16: INSECTS with Lila Higgins

We're back with another shorter, cleaner, edition of an Ologies classic. Today it's all the way back from 2018: INSECTS, just straight up buuuugs. Quite likely Alie's favorite subject ever with an ologist who quite likely also dramatically shifted her life. That would be Lila Higgins, with passion more powerful than a Goliath Beetle's "especially large slicey mandibles." We cover a lot of ground, from dinosaur bugs to why wasps are so problematic, and even why it's totally fine to kiss a...


Metropolitan Tombology (PARIS CATACOMBS) with Erin-Marie Legacey

Let’s get spooky. Venture below Parisian streets and into the catacombs: hundreds of miles of subterranean tunnels housing millions of human skeletons, some fashioned into sculpture. Alie tracked down Dr. Erin-Marie Legacey – author of “Making Space for the Dead,” professor of French history and one of the world’s foremost experts on this eerie place. We chat about everything from miasmas to sinkholes, boggling cemetery history, smells, skulls, hidden chambers, (very) underground parties,...


FIELD TRIP: I Go France and Learn Weird French Stuff

Consider this an audio postcard from my first vacation in 13 years. I travel a lot for my other job (as a science correspondent on Innovation Nation for CBS) so I am out of practice on jet-setting for the sake of pure fun. But Jarrett’s family was headed to France so we cashed in some points and tagged along. Join me for some weird stuff I googled on the road, from pastry wars to royal cosplay, wax death masks, angry mobs, filming locations, things you can’t collect in a park and eat, how to...