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Town Hall Seattle Science Series

Science Podcasts

The Science series presents cutting-edge research about biology, physics, chemistry, ecology, geology, astronomy, and more. These events appeal to many different levels of expertise, from grade school students to career scientists. With a range of relevant applications, including medicine, the environment, and technology, this series expands our thinking and our possibilities.


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The Science series presents cutting-edge research about biology, physics, chemistry, ecology, geology, astronomy, and more. These events appeal to many different levels of expertise, from grade school students to career scientists. With a range of relevant applications, including medicine, the environment, and technology, this series expands our thinking and our possibilities.








221. Cat Bohannon with Bonnie Garmus: The Evolution of the Female Sex

Why do women live longer than men? Why do women have menopause? Why do girls score better at every academic subject than boys until puberty, when suddenly their scores plummet? And does the female brain really exist? Considering the science and data collection methods we currently have, it is somewhat of a wonder that there is so little known about biology as it relates to sex, as well as our behavior. Author and Researcher, Cat Bohannon, argues that these questions should have been investigated decades ago, with a level of thoroughness and care that is still lacking in mainstream science. Bohannon points to the fact that societal attention has been on the male body for so long, that even natural occurrences like menopause, are considered a medical mystery. In her debut publication, Eve: How the Female Body Drove 200 Million Years of Human Evolution, Bohannon examines the evolution of the female sex. From the development of breastmilk, initially in mammals no larger than a field mouse, to the first placental mammals, to the way C-sections in the industrialized world are altering women’s pelvic shape, Bohannon brings hard science and a passionate curiosity to the subject of female biology. Please join us as Town Hall as Cat Bohannan makes the case for a greater understanding of the female body. Cat Bohannon is a researcher and author with a Ph.D. from Columbia University in the evolution of narrative and cognition. Her essays and poems have appeared in Scientific American, Mind, Science Magazine, The Best American Nonrequired Reading, The Georgia Review, The Story Collider, and Poets Against the War. She lives with her family in Seattle. Bonnie Garmus is a copywriter and creative director who has worked widely in the fields of technology, medicine, and education. She’s an open-water swimmer, a rower, and mother to two pretty amazing daughters. Born in California and most recently from Seattle, she currently lives in London with her husband and her dog, 99. Eve: How the Female Body Drove 200 Million Years of Human Evolution Third Place Books


220. Jim Al-Khalili: The Joy of Thinking and Living Scientifically

Today’s information (and misinformation) overload is difficult and confusing to navigate. Post-truth politics and conspiracy theories abound. Science and scientists are under growing suspicion, causing even more confusion and unrest. At the same time, we need science to survive today’s biggest threats like pandemics and climate change. To bridge this gap, acclaimed physicist and New York Times bestselling author Jim Al-Khalili wants us all to start thinking like scientists. Al-Khalili believes that the practice of science can offer us a way of thinking and understanding our complex world. He’s created a guide to leading a more rational life, inviting people to engage with the world as scientists have been trained to do. He defines the “how” and “why” behind science, as well as what science is (and what it’s not). With today’s scrutiny over science, Al-Khalili admits that scientists need to do more to communicate how they work to build trust and credibility in the public eye. One way to do that is for everyone to adopt the scientific method in our daily lives. Science may not only solve today’s biggest problems, but it can be a way for everyone to make everyday decisions for themselves and their loved ones. Jim Al-Khalili is an Iraqi-born theoretical physicist at the University of Surrey, where he holds a Distinguished Chair in physics as well as a university chair in public engagement in science. He has written 14 books on popular science and the history of science, between them translated into twenty-six languages. His latest books include The Joy of Science and The World According to Physics, which was shortlisted for the Royal Society Book Prize. He is a regular presenter of TV science documentaries, such as the Bafta-nominated Chemistry: A Volatile History and he hosts the long-running weekly BBC Radio 4 program, The Life Scientific. The Joy of Science Third Place Books


219. Salmon, Cedar, Rock & Rain: Exploring Olympic National Park

In the Pacific Northwest, many of us delight in Olympic National Park, a UNESCO natural World Heritage Site, located right in Seattle’s backyard. Yet the famed park is just the center of a much larger ecosystem including rivers that encompass old-growth forests, coastal expanses, and alpine peaks, all rich with biodiversity. For tens of thousands of years, humans have thrived and strived alongside this area. To tell the story of this place, award-winning poet and nature writer Tim McNulty and contributors such as Fawn Sharpe, president of the National Congress of American Indians, David Guterson, author of bestselling novel Snow Falling on Cedars, Wendy Sampson, and Seattle Times environmental reporter Lynda V. Mapes, collaborated with Braided River in a project called Salmon, Cedar, Rock & Rain. Braided River, the same organization that created the award-winning book and multimedia exhibit We are Puget Sound, is bringing awareness to the Olympic Peninsula through art and stories––stories of development, conservation, restoration, and cultural heritage, while writers from the Lower Elwha Klallam, Jamestown S’Klallam, Port Gamble S’Klallam, Makah Tribe, and Quinault Indian Nation share some of their own history and perspectives. The project, in partnership with The Mountaineers, Olympic Parks Associates, National Parks Conservation Foundation, and many more, is a diverse exploration of Olympic National Park and its surrounding peninsula. Tim McNulty is a poet, essayist, and nature writer and recipient of the Washington State Book Award and National Outdoor Book Award. David Guterson is a novelist, short story writer, poet, essayist, and journalist. He is best known for his award-winning debut novel, Snow Falling on Cedars, which won both the PEN/Faulkner Award and the American Booksellers Association Book of the Year Award. It has sold more than four million copies and was adapted as a major motion picture. He lives on Bainbridge Island near Seattle with his wife Robin and five children. Wendy Sampson is a member of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe (LEKT); she lives on the reservation with her family. She has been a Klallam language teacher for twenty years. Wendy has provided cultural outreach in the schools, taught after-school programs and community adult classes, and worked under various grant projects with the goals of creating tribal history and language lessons and developing tools for language learning. She is now a teacher for the Port Angeles School District offering courses in the Klallam language as well as history classes from a tribal perspective. Lynda V. Mapes is an award-winning journalist, author, and close observer of the natural world. She is the author of six books, including Orca: Shared Waters, Shared Home; Witness Tree: Seasons of Change in a Century Old Oak; and Elwha: A River Reborn. Lynda lives in Seattle where she covers nature, the environment, and tribes as a staff reporter for The Seattle Times. Salmon, Cedar, Rock & Rain: Washington's Olympic Peninsula The Elliott Bay Book Company


218. Michèle Lamont: How We See Others

Why does it seem like some people matter more than others? Why are some given higher status or more recognition? And how do we broaden the circle of those who belong in society? Harvard sociologist Michèle Lamont examines these questions and unpacks the power of recognition—how we perceive others as visible and valued. She draws from her new book, Seeing Others, and nearly forty years of research and interviews to show how we need new narratives for everyone to feel respect and assert their dignity. For decades now, more people have become marginalized and divided. Lamont believes this is related to the fact that we’ve prioritized material and professional success, we have judged ourselves and others in terms of self-reliance, competition, and diplomas. At the same time, Lamont points out, we’re living in a moment where many marginalized social groups, including workers, people of color, LGBTQIA+ individuals, and minorities, want to be seen and heard––to fully belong in society. How do we heal such a deeply divided world? Join us at Town Hall for a riveting evening as Lamont looks at the heart of our modern struggles and offers an inclusive path forward with new ways of understanding our world while recognizing the diverse ways one can live a life. Michèle Lamont is a Professor of Sociology and of African and African American Studies at Harvard University, where she is also the Robert I. Goldman Professor of European studies. She served as the 108th President of the American Sociological Association and her research has received numerous awards, including honorary doctorates from six countries. The author or co-author of over a dozen books, she can be found on Seeing Others: How Recognition Works—and How It Can Heal a Divided World Third Place Books


217. Tanmeet Sethi, M.D. with Rebekah Borucki - Reclaiming Our Power: Using Joy and Imagination to Disrupt Oppressive Systems

The concept of finding joy has gone mainstream. Its benefits are well known: joy can improve overall well-being, strengthen relationships, and even extend lives. Yet for many, especially folks in marginalized communities, joy is elusive. Seattle-based Integrative Medicine Physician and activist Tanmeet Sethi wants to prove that joy really can be for everyone. In her book, Joy Is My Justice, she claims that the nervous system can shift its biochemistry into joy at the cellular level. She believes that people can find joy as they reclaim their personal power, strength, and purpose — despite living in an unjust world, past personal traumas, and a whitewashed wellness world. Sethi invites everyone who has felt like the wellness industry has left them behind to rediscover joy, not just the buzzword, but as a profound practice for healing. Even though joy has become a cultural mainstay, Sethi argues that it can also be a radical act of justice. Tanmeet Sethi, M.D. is an Integrative Medicine physician who has devoted her career to caring for the most vulnerable and teaching physicians how to care for these communities in the most humane and skillful way possible. She has spent the last 25 years on the frontlines practicing primary care, global trauma, and community activism. Dr. Sethi lectures nationally and has spoken on three TEDx stages about using gratitude as medicine. She lives in Seattle with her family. Rebekah “Bex” Borucki, founder of BexLife and Row House Publishing, is a mother of five, a meditation guide, a birth doula, a mentor for creative healers, and an author and publisher of books for big and little readers. Joy is My Justice: Reclaim What Is Yours Third Place Books


216. Denise Malm: Personal Safety Nets – The Next Generation

Join Denise Malm, Social Worker and Geriatric Mental Health specialist, as she dives into the fascinating world of Personal Safety Nets (PSN) and their role in combating the growing issue of loneliness and isolation in our society. Discover how this concept, born in 2007 thanks to Judy Pigott and Dr. John Gibson, offers creative ways to build meaningful relationships. Malm will uncover the potential of PSN to enhance connections and boost health and well-being as we age. Denise Malm, LSWAIC, GMHS serves as a social worker at the Wallingford Community Center. As a geriatric mental health specialist, Denise is trained to holistically assess and incorporate the complex physical and behavioral health conditions faced by each individual in her care. She also works with the University of Washington Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences AIMS Center as a clinical researcher supporting a study evaluating older adult participants engaged in a short-term behavioral activities intervention. Denise provides a multitude of services in a non-profit community setting including assessing dementia and delirium, evidence-based interventions for depression, facilitating discussions of end-of-life wishes, and working with adult children to plan and create a safety net for their aging parents. Presented by Town Hall Seattle and Northwest Center for Creative Aging


215. Ben Goldfarb with Brooke Jarvis - Life is a Highway: Protecting Wildlife through Road Ecology

Did you know that there are 40 million miles of roadways on earth? While roads are practically invisible to humans, wild animals experience them entirely differently. Conservation journalist Ben Goldfarb has explored the environmental effects of this ubiquitous part of the modern world. In his book, Crossings, Goldfarb explains how creatures from antelope to salmon are losing their ability to migrate in search of food and mates; invasive plants hitch rides in tire treads; road salt contaminates lakes and rivers; and the very noise of traffic chases songbirds from their habitat. These effects on nature are everywhere, all because of human activity. Yet there is human activity that is working to combat these effects as well. Goldfarb describes conservation work such as highway wildlife bridges, similar to the I-90 wildlife corridor in Washington state. He explains how tunnels for toads and deconstructing old logging roads can make a difference. These projects and other research in road ecology are working toward lessening the hazards of roadways. While they may take up millions of miles of the planet, roads can leave a smaller impact in the future. Ben Goldfarb is an award-winning environmental journalist who covers wildlife conservation, marine science, and public lands management, as well as an accomplished fiction writer. His work has been featured in Science, Mother Jones, The Guardian, High Country News, VICE, Audubon Magazine, Modern Farmer, Orion, World Wildlife Magazine, Scientific American, Yale Environment 360, and many other publications. He is the author of Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter. Brooke Jarvis is an independent journalist based in Seattle. She’s a contributing writer to The New York Times Magazine and a winner of the Livingston Award and the Whiting Award. Crossings: How Road Ecology Is Shaping the Future of Our Planet Third Place Books


214. Stephen M. Gardiner: Climate Justice: Past, Present, and Future

As awareness of the current climate crisis grows, we can’t help but wonder how the decisions of the past will affect our future. In Stephen M. Gardiner’s Dialogues on Climate Justice (co-written by Arthur R. Obst), we follow a cast of fictional characters as they experience the very real consequences of climate change. Spanning from the election of Donald Trump in 2016 until the 2060s, Gardiner’s protagonist, aptly named Hope, spurs conversations exploring the many aspects of the climate justice discussion. She engages with climate skepticism, explores her own climate responsibilities, and finally, as an older woman, to reflects with her granddaughter on what one generation owes another. Gardiner’s book allows us to explore all aspects of the tricky topic through the eyes of a reliable and relatable narrator. Through Hope’s story, we can better understand the philosophy and science of the current climate crisis. Gardiner joins us at Town Hall to continue the conversation. Stephen M. Gardiner is a professor of Philosophy at the University of Washington. He is the author of A Perfect Moral Storm: The Ethical Tragedy of Climate Change (2011), and co-author of Debating Climate Ethics (2016). His edited books include The Ethics of “Geoengineering” the Global Climate (2020), The Oxford Handbook of Environmental Ethics (2016), and The Oxford Handbook of Intergenerational Ethics (2022).


213. Peter Gleick: The History of Water

From the very creation of the planet to the present day, water has always been central to life on Earth. And while the amount of water on our planet has not changed, it has, in fact, changed the world. It has shaped our very existence. Renowned scientist Peter Gleick sheds light on water’s long history in his book, The Three Ages of Water. Gleick recounts how water has developed civilizations and empires, and driven centuries of advances in science and technology — from agriculture to aqueducts, steam power to space exploration — and progress in health and medicine. But the achievements that have propelled humanity forward also brought consequences like unsustainable water use, ecological destruction, and global climate change, that now threaten to send us into a new dark age. In Gleick’s research, he has found that billions of people today do not have access to clean water or sanitation. The scarcity of this fixed resource, Gleick believes, is directly linked to the growing violence and conflicts around the globe. Gleick says that we must change our ways, and quickly, to usher in a new age of water for the benefit of everyone. Drawing from the lessons of our past, Gleick charts a path toward a sustainable future for water and the planet. While water may be a fixed resource, Gleick believes we have the power to change the trajectory of the planet’s future by understanding its role in today’s current climate. Peter Gleick is perhaps the world’s most widely known and cited water expert. Educated at Yale and Berkeley, he went on to cofound the Pacific Institute, the leading independent research group devoted to reimagining water for a changing world. He is a scientist by training, winner of a MacArthur Foundation “Genius” award, and an elected member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. In 2018 he was awarded the Carl Sagan Prize for Science Popularization. He lives in Berkeley, California. The Three Ages of Water: Prehistoric Past, Imperiled Present, and a Hope for the Future Third Place Books


212. Leroy Hood and Nathan Price with Jim Heath: Can Data Stop Disease?

Taking us to the cutting edge of the new frontier of medicine, a visionary biotechnologist and a pathbreaking researcher show how we can optimize our health in ways that were previously unimaginable. We are on the cusp of a major transformation in healthcare—yet few people know it. At top hospitals and a few innovative health-tech startups, scientists are working closely with patients to dramatically extend their “healthspan”—the number of healthy years before disease sets in. In The Age of Scientific Wellness, two visionary leaders of this revolution in health take us on a thrilling journey to this new frontier of medicine. Today, most doctors wait for clinical symptoms to appear before they act, and the ten most commonly prescribed medications confer little or no benefit to most people taking them. Leroy Hood and Nathan Price argue that we must move beyond this reactive, hit-or-miss approach to usher in real precision health—a form of highly personalized care they call “scientific wellness.” Using information gleaned from our blood and genes and tapping into the data revolution made possible by AI, doctors can catch the onset of disease years before symptoms arise, revolutionizing prevention. Current applications have shown startling results: diabetes reversed, cancers eliminated, Alzheimer’s avoided, and autoimmune conditions kept at bay. This is not a future fantasy: it is already happening, but only for a few patients and at a high cost. It’s time to make this gold standard of care more widely available. Inspiring in its possibilities, and radical in its conclusions, The Age of Scientific Wellness shares actionable insights to help you chart a course to a longer, healthier, and more fulfilling life. Dr. Leroy Hood is a world-renowned scientist and recipient of the National Medal of Science in 2011. Dr. Hood co-founded the Institute for Systems Biology (ISB) in 2000, served as its first President from 2000-2017 and is a Professor and Chief Strategy Officer. In 2022, Dr. Hood started Phenome Health, a non-profit dedicated to delivering value through health innovation. Dr. Nathan Price is CEO of Onegevity, a division of Thorne HealthTech. He is also an (on leave) Professor at the Institute for Systems Biology, where he and Lee Hood co-direct the Hood-Price Lab for Systems Biomedicine. Additionally, Dr. Price is an affiliate faculty at the University of Washington in the Departments of Bioengineering, Computer Science & Engineering, and Molecular & Cellular Biology. In 2019, he was selected by the National Academy of Medicine as one of their 10 Emerging Leaders in Health and Medicine. Dr. Jim Heath is President and Professor at Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle. Heath also has the position of Professor of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology at UCLA. Formerly, he directed the National Cancer Institute-funded NSB Cancer Center, was the Elizabeth W. Gilloon Professor of Chemistry at Caltech, and served as co-director of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at UCLA until 2017. Presented by Town Hall Seattle and the Institute of Systems Biology. The Age of Scientific Wellness: Why the Future of Medicine Is Personalized, Predictive, Data-Rich, and in Your Hands Third Place Books


211. Rachel Nuwer with Dr. Sunil Kumar Aggarwal: The Ecstasy of Potential

How did the psychedelic drug MDMA emerge from the shadows to the forefront of a medical revolution? What potential does it hold to help us? What do you think of when you hear the abbreviation MDMA? Often seen as a party drug and vilified as a Schedule I substance that would supposedly eat holes in users’ brains, MDMA (also known as Molly or Ecstasy) has remained controversial. However, the substance is now being hailed as a therapeutic agent that could transform the field of mental health, becoming the first psychedelic approved for widespread clinical use. In I Feel Love, science journalist Rachel Nuwer presents evidence from scientific trials which suggest that MDMA, when properly administered, may be effective at relieving the effects of trauma. Results from other studies point to its usefulness for treating depression, alcohol addiction, eating disorders, and more. It has also been shown to dismantle psychological defenses and induce feelings of empathy, self-compassion, and love. Yet even as more is revealed about MDMA, there is still much that remains unknown that scientists are diligently working to figure out; the drug may answer as many questions as it asks. Nuwer guides readers through a cultural and scientific upheaval that separates fact and fiction, seeking to reshape our understanding of our brains, ourselves, and the space between. Rachel Nuwer is an award-winning science journalist who regularly contributes to the New York Times, National Geographic, Scientific American, and many other publications. Her reporting for the New York Times broke the news globally about the MDMA Phase III clinical trial and was highlighted by Michael Pollan, Ezra Klein, and Tim Ferriss, among other thought leaders. In 2022, Nuwer was among the inaugural recipients of the Ferriss–UC Berkeley Psychedelic Journalism Fellowship. She holds master’s degrees in applied ecology and in science journalism. Her first book, Poached: Inside the Dark World of Wildlife Trafficking, took her to a dozen countries to investigate the multibillion-dollar illegal wildlife trade. She lives in Brooklyn. Dr. Sunil Kumar Aggarwal is a physician and medical geographer. He is a Board-Certified Fellow of the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, where he was named a Top 20 Emerging Leader. He is the Past Chair of the Integrative Medicine Special Interest Group and an inaugural member of the Safe Use in Psychedelic-Assisted Therapies Forum at the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. He has been qualified as an expert in cannabis and psilocybin medical and religious use, ketamine-assisted psychotherapy and MAPS MDMA-Assisted Therapy. He is the co-founder and co-director of Seattle’s AIMS Institute. I Feel Love: MDMA and the Quest for Connection in a Fractured World Third Place Books


210. Jennifer Levin with Rebecca Crichton: Presence within Absence – Connections with the Deceased

We are all in relationships with people who have died. Whether they are our friends and family members, partners or teachers, we have all had to accept their absence from our lives. How do we remember, memorialize, and communicate with them? We will share the many ways we continue to feel the presence of people significant to us. Join Rebecca Crichton, Executive Director of Northwest Center for Creative Aging and Dr. Jennifer R Levin, licensed marriage and family therapist and recognized Fellow in Thanatology. Dr. Levin will share insights from her work with adolescents, adults, and families experiencing traumatic grief, sudden death, and post-traumatic growth. Dr. Jennifer R. Levin specializes in working with adolescents, adults, and families experiencing traumatic grief, sudden death, and post-traumatic growth. In 2000 Jennifer received her doctorate from the UCLA School of Public Health and in 2014 she earned her master’s degree in clinical psychology from Pepperdine University. Jennifer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in CA and WA and is a recognized Fellow in Thanatology; the study of death, dying, and bereavement from the Association of Death Education and Counseling. Professionally, Dr. Levin has served as the executive director of Hospice of Pasadena and taught at several California universities. Jennifer provides training, consultation, and crisis support to businesses, schools, and community-based organizations experiencing bereavement and loss. Jennifer is also the host of the podcast Untethered: Healing the Pain from a Sudden Death. To learn more about Dr. Levin visit Rebecca Crichton started her “Encore Career” as ED of NWCCA in 2012 after 21 years with The Boeing Company. She refashioned her skills and knowledge as a writer, curriculum designer, and leadership development coach to offer programs related to Creative Aging at many venues in the Seattle area. An active participant in the local aging community, she writes regularly for 3rd Act Magazine.


209. Grace Stanke, Miss America 2023 with Scott Montgomery: Nuclear Energy, Climate Change, and Young Women in STEM

A conversation about nuclear energy, climate change, and inspiring young women to go into STEM fields. On December 15, 2022, Grace Stanke, a senior at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, studying nuclear engineering, took home the Miss America crown along with the scholarship of the Miss America Organization. She additionally won in a talent category for her classical violin performance. As Miss America 2023, Grace is embarking on a year of service taking her on a tour across the country and she is using her national platform to continue advocating for “Clean Energy – Cleaner Future.” She believes that America needs to convert to zero-carbon energy with a focus on nuclear power and breaking down misconceptions surrounding nuclear energy. Through it all, her goal is to inspire the next generation of female scientists, engineers, and mathematicians. With increasing interest in, support for, and desire to become more informed about nuclear energy and how it can help mitigate climate change, combined with the wonderful goal of inspiring young women to enter the STEM fields, the evening promises to be interesting and inspiring. Scott Montgomery, University of Washington faculty from the Jackson School of International Studies, will be the interviewer for the event, and a Q&A will complete the evening. This special event is made possible by Friends of Fission Northwest and the generosity of the Anthropocene Institute, American Nuclear Society-Eastern Washington, Energy Northwest, Terrestrial Energy, and Town Hall Seattle. Scott L. Montgomery is an author, geoscientist, and affiliate faculty member in the Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington. He writes and lectures on a wide variety of topics related to energy (geopolitics, technology, resources, climate change), American politics, intellectual history, language and communication, and the history of science. About Friends of Fission Northwest Friends of Fission Northwest is a grassroots non-profit that, for more than six years, has brought speakers to the Puget Sound region and beyond. We strive to educate the public about the importance of nuclear energy, its value in fighting climate change, and to dispel myths and misinformation about nuclear power.


208. UW Engage Science 2023: Violet Sorrentino & Tessa Code

UW Engage Science sees a future where every graduate student has access to science communication training, and therefore good science communication becomes the norm. The outcome is an increased public trust and positive attitude toward science, ultimately strengthening the connection between the public and scientists. Join us for a look at the forefront of research in our region and meet the students who are leading the latest wave of scientific discovery. Violet Sorrentino: How tiny worms can help us understand the human brain The human brain is a complex structure populated with hundreds of billions of cells. When something goes wrong and the brain gets sick, how can we pinpoint which cells are having problems? That’s why some neuroscientists use tiny worms as a model. They have similar brain cells and molecules, but everything is on a much smaller scale, so we can take knowledge more easily gained from the worm brain and apply it to humans. Brain cells called glia eat small parts of other cells, but eating too much or too little can cause diseases like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. If we use worms to better understand the eating process, maybe we can develop treatments for these diseases. Violet Sorrentino is a cell biology graduate student at Fred Hutch, where she uses microscopic worms to study communication between two types of brain cells. The conversation between these cells helps maintain a happy and healthy brain, and she is working to define the molecular language these cells speak. Tessa Code: The threat of artificial light to young salmon in Lake Washington Juvenile sockeye salmon are not surviving their early growth phase in Lake Washington. Their main fish predator has heightened hunting efficiency due to the artificial light around the lake which brightens the water column. Artificial light at night is increasing at a rapid pace, brightening the sky more than ever before. Determining how salmon and their predators respond to the light levels in the lake would help Seattle and nearby cities to change lighting and help recover the salmon population. Tessa Code is a graduate student at the University of Washington and she works as a technician for the US Geological Survey Western Fisheries Research Center. Her research uses hydro-acoustics and light sensors to study the effect of artificial light on fish predator-prey dynamics in waterbodies around Seattle.


207. Philip Plait: A Sightseer’s Guide to the Universe

On a starry night, nothing inspires such deep wonder as staring into the vastness of space, imagining what curiosities might lie beyond our reach. This year we have seen several space-related news stories that managed to break through the usual slew of politics and economics. In February, we were met with headlines that reported a piece of the sun had broken off its surface and formed a swirling vortex around its north pole. In January, we were told that the Earth’s perpetually spinning core may have stopped turning altogether. While these stories are certainly eye-catching and likely to excite the imagination upon reading them, you might feel that you are being left with more questions than answers. Luckily, experts like Philip Plait make it their aim to present the universe and all of its oddities in a wonderfully creative, and deeply comprehensible style. In his new book, Under Alien Skies: A Sightseer’s Guide to the Universe, Plait acts as our tour guide through a variety of exotic worlds outside of our own. With vivid, inventive, and often humorous prose, he allows us to imagine ourselves stargazing from the rim of an ancient volcano, catching a glimpse of the frigid mountains and plains of Pluto, or glancing down to see the shadows cast by stars on a planet that is trillions of miles from Earth. Plait paints each of these scenes with a uniquely imaginative description informed by real science and observations. For anyone who ponders what wondrous things might lie out there beyond our horizons, Plait is of the rare few that can offer a starkly real and captivating answer. Dr. Philip Plait is an astronomer, science communicator, author, and all-around science nerd. After getting his Ph.D. using Hubble Space Telescope data, he started a career debunking bad science and promoting good science, creating the website and blog Bad Astronomy, now a popular newsletter with over 13,000 subscribers. He has written three books — Bad Astronomy, Death from the Skies!, and his most recent, Under Alien Skies — and currently writes for Scientific American. He wrote and hosted Crash Course Astronomy, a video series with 70+ million views, and has been a scientific technical consultant for numerous TV shows and movies. The Seattle Astronomical Society is our community partner for this event. Community Partner: Seattle Astronomical Society Seattle Astronomical Society (SAS) promotes meaningful astronomical activities for its members and to provide outreach and astronomy education for the public. Stop by the SAS table in The Forum on the night of the event to learn more about their mission and ways to get involved!


206. UW Engage Science 2023: Rory Mcguire, Keenan Ganz, & Rasika Venkataraman

UW Engage Science sees a future where every graduate student has access to science communication training, and therefore good science communication becomes the norm. The outcome is an increased public trust and positive attitude toward science, ultimately strengthening the connection between the public and scientists. Join us for a look at the forefront of research in our region and meet the students who are leading the latest wave of scientific discovery. Rory Mcguire: Automating science by putting the lab on a chip Computers used to be the size of rooms, and now they fit in our pockets. Biology, chemistry, and medical research on the other hand still require big, expensive lab spaces. But what if we could shrink the lab down to the size of a phone, or maybe even smaller? Putting a lab onto a chip could make research more accessible to underfunded institutions, cut the wait time between a doctor’s visit and getting a diagnosis, and reduce hazardous biological and chemical waste, among other benefits. Motivated by these possibilities, Rory McGuire is developing a “lab-on-a-chip” that uses electrical signals to manipulate liquids and molecules on a palm-sized platform that can all be controlled from your laptop. Rory Mcguire does research at the intersection of computation and biology. Sometimes this means using DNA as a hard drive to store digital data, and sometimes this means using electronics to automate biological experiments. Rory has spent the last 2 years developing open-source hardware and software with the aim of making biology and chemistry research more accessible, efficient, and equitable. Keenan Ganz: Predicting where the next wildfire will burn Recent large forest fires in the American west have placed wildfire, and its consequences, in the public eye. For nearly a century, forest managers have suppressed fire in naturally burning forests and used public awareness campaigns to portray wildfire as a destructive and wasteful force. But, recent scientific work and recognition of Indigenous land practices point to the opposite interpretation: fire is crucial to keeping our forests healthy. Keenan’s work is about helping us live with fire. He studies how computer models can help us prepare for when the next fire will burn. Keenan Ganz is a graduate student in Remote Sensing at the University of Washington. He uses specialized cameras on satellites and drones to study forest health and wildfire. One day, Keenan wants to build an improved forecasting system to understand when and where wildfire will burn next. Rasika Venkataraman: How understanding the environment of cancer can help us treat it Blood cells develop and mature in a spongy environment within our bones called the bone marrow. The bone marrow and blood cells are in constant communication with each other making sure the ‘blood headquarters’ is functioning smoothly, replenishing blood throughout life. A small population of humans is born with a mutation in a specific gene, which puts them at risk of developing blood cancer later in life. A mutation is a change in our genes, which are codes that tell our body to function a certain way. To understand how this mutation causes blood cancer, we need to study its function in blood cells as well the bone marrow environment. This will shed light on potential disruptions in the communication between the blood cells and the bone marrow, which could then be leveraged to improve blood cancer treatment in patients that have this specific mutation. Rasika Venkataraman is a third-year graduate student at the University of Washington’s Department of Lab Medicine and Pathology. Her research focuses on studying a specific hereditary mutation in DNA that causes blood cancers. She aims to investigate how this mutation alters the environment in which the cancer cells develop and grow, to improve the treatment of blood cancer.


205. Kaylin Ellioff, Samantha Borje, & Sonya Jampel: UW Engage Science 2023

UW Engage Science sees a future where every graduate student has access to science communication training, and therefore good science communication becomes the norm. The outcome is an increased public trust and positive attitude toward science, ultimately strengthening the connection between the public and scientists. Join us for a look at the forefront of research in our region and meet the students who are leading the latest wave of scientific discovery. Kaylin Ellioff: Understanding the makeup of marijuana to better treat chronic pain Chronic pain affects 1 in 5 people in the US and currently opioids are the main treatment for severe cases. There is potential for individuals to become tolerant to opioids as well as misuse them. Therefore, alternative treatments are desperately needed. In Kaylin Ellioff’s research, she is working to understand if and how different chemical components found in Cannabis, otherwise known as marijuana, can be used to treat chronic pain. Cannabis has been used for centuries to treat pain, and by better understanding how each of the chemicals work in our body, new pain treatments can be developed so that patients do not have to rely on daily doses of opioids or get high to experience pain relief. Kaylin Ellioff is a Pharmacology graduate student at the University of Washington, where she studies different chemicals found in cannabis and how they can be used to treat chronic pain. Samantha Borje: Using designer DNA to detect diseases When it comes to forming connections, molecules generally look for the same things that many people do: a sense of stability and a certain degree of freedom. Whether a molecule can provide these for another molecule is often a complicated question because most molecules consist of many parts. DNA, the central molecule of life, is remarkably simple in that it consists of only four parts: A, C, G, and T. The combination of these parts in a piece of DNA determines exactly whether, how quickly, and in what settings it can connect with another piece of DNA. We can take advantage of this predictability to design and carry out super-specific chain reactions made entirely of DNA pieces, in a process known as DNA computing. Samantha Borje is a Molecular Engineering graduate student at the University of Washington, where she works at the Seelig Lab and Molecular Information Systems Lab. Her research focuses on designing massive networks of DNA pieces. She aims to use these networks as diagnostic platforms, where the DNA pieces would set off different chain reactions depending on whether or not a medical sample contains markers for disease. Sonya Jampel: Public health prevention of air pollution exposure Fine particulate matter – a primary contributor to air pollution – is so small that over twenty particles can fit across one human hair. When fine particulate matter is suspended in the atmosphere, it can penetrate deep into your lungs and bloodstream. These small, suspended particles including dust, dirt, or soot can lead to harmful health impacts such as heart attacks, stroke, respiratory illness, and death. In January, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed lowering standards to protect human health. Come learn about how science and policy work together to improve health! Sonya Jampel (she/her) is a Master’s in Public Health Student in Epidemiology at the University of Washington. She uses large birth and death certificate datasets to analyze the relationship between air pollution and infant mortality in order to inform policy and prevention solutions.


204. Dementia-Friendly Seattle: Sandy Sabersky and Marigrace Becker

Did you know the Puget Sound region is known as a place where people with Dementia are respected, welcomed, and fully belong? Sandy Sabersky, Co-Founder of Elderwise® and co-author of The Elderwise Way, A Different Approach to Life with Dementia, will share how Spirit-Centered Care® provides connection and meaning for people with dementia as well as a way for care partners to grow. Marigrace Becker, Program Manager of Community Education and Impact at the UW Memory and Brain Wellness Center (MBWC) and the Director of the Memory Hub will highlight the Memory Hub as well as some of the many resources available for people in our region living with and engaged with dementia. Sandy Sabersky is co-founder of Elderwise® and co-author with Ruth Neuwald Falcon, of The Elderwise Way: A Different Approach to Life with Dementia which explains the Elderwise Philosophy and practice of Spirit-Centered Care®. She practiced physical therapy for 25 years and is a Certified Sage-ing Leader with Sage-ing International. Marigrace Becker, MSW, is the Program Manager of Community Education and Impact at the UW Memory and Brain Wellness Center (MBWC) and the Director of the Memory Hub: A Place for Dementia-Friendly Community, Collaboration, and Impact. Presented by Town Hall Seattle and Northwest Center for Creative Aging. This event is sponsored by Dementia Friends Washington.


203. UW Engage Science 2023: Megan Gialluca, Abi Elerding, & Emma Scalisi

UW Engage Science sees a future where every graduate student has access to science communication training, and therefore good science communication becomes the norm. The outcome is an increased public trust and positive attitude toward science, ultimately strengthening the connection between the public and scientists. Join us for a look at the forefront of research in our region and meet the students who are leading the latest wave of scientific discovery. Megan Gialluca: Using water to aid the search for life in the universe At present, we are closer than ever to answering the age-old question: “Are we alone in the universe?” For the first time, new and upcoming telescopes will have the capability to search for the signs of alien life on planets in other solar systems (termed exoplanets). From plants to technology to oxygen, there are lots of things that could tell us alien life is living on a planet, but searching for these clues is challenging. During this talk, you will learn about the signs of alien life scientists search for, the methods they are using to do it, and the challenges they face along the way. Megan Gialluca studies massive water loss on planets in other solar systems (termed exoplanets). This process can turn a potentially habitable planet, like Earth, into a burning hot, waterless environment, like Venus. Understanding whether or not a planet has undergone this process informs scientists on where to search for alien life in the universe, and what the clues we should look for are. Abi Elerding: The science of motivation and the function of dopamine in the human brain Dopamine is critical for many brain functions; it aids in our movement, motivates us to pursue our goals, and reinforces our inclination to pursue life’s many pleasures. Proper regulation of dopamine is essential since abnormalities in dopamine activity can contribute to the development of conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, ADHD, schizophrenia, and substance-use disorder. GABA is a brain chemical that acts as a natural brake on the activity of dopamine neurons, helping to regulate their function. Abi Elerding’s research focuses on understanding how GABA interacts with dopamine and its role in motivation and learning. These findings could pave the way for new treatment strategies for disorders associated with abnormal dopamine activity. Abi Elerding is a Ph.D. student at the University of Washington working to identify and isolate neuronal cell systems that guide behavior in health and disease. Emma Scalisi: How fishermen’s local knowledge can be used to improve policy Commercial fisheries are important to people around the world for many reasons, including jobs, food security, and culture. However, with pressures from both fishing and climate change stressors, many fish populations are currently declining. Fortunately, there are many people who care deeply about protecting these resources, including the fishermen who rely on them. This talk includes how and why knowledge from fishermen can help promote sustainable practices within fisheries, along with the difficulties of putting this into practice. Emma Scalisi is a graduate student at the University of Washington’s School of Marine and Environmental Affairs, where her research examines the relationships between small-scale commercial fishers and fisheries management agencies in Alaska. She wants to know how fish and people can benefit from listening to both scientists and fishermen.


202. Joan Maloof - The Secrets of Trees

Standing in an old-growth forest, you can instinctively sense the ways it is different from forests shaped by humans. These ancient, undisturbed ecosystems are increasingly rare and largely misunderstood, but American environmentalist Joan Maloof knows these forests intimately and has been studying and writing about them for decades. In the newly revised and expanded edition of her book, Nature’s Temples: A Natural History of Old-Growth Forests, she continues to deepen our understanding of these extraordinary ecosystems. Maloof brings together the scientific data we have about old-growth forests, drawing on diverse fields of study to explain the ecological differences among forests of various ages. She describes the life forms and relationships that make old-growth forests unique — from salamanders and micro-snails to plants that communicate through fungi — and reveals why human attempts to manage forests can never replicate nature’s sublime handiwork. She also sheds new light on the special role forests play in removing carbon from the atmosphere and shares what we know about the interplay between wildfires and ancient forests. Joan Maloof, Ph.D., is a powerful spokesperson for our nation’s forests — sharing information about their extent and condition and encouraging their preservation. Maloof is the author of Nature’s Temples: A Natural History of Old-Growth Forests. She also founded the Old-Growth Forest Network, an organization that is creating a network of protected forests across the U.S. Maloof is a professor emeritus at Salisbury University where she taught Biological Sciences and Environmental Studies. She is the author and four books in addition to Nature’s Temples: Treepedia; The Living Forest; Among the Ancients; and Teaching the Trees. Nature's Temples: A Natural History of Old-Growth Forests Revised and Expanded Third Place Books