Elsa Partan

Producer for Living Lab

Elsa Partan is a producer for Living Lab Radio. She first came to the station in 2002 as an intern and fell in love with radio. She is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. From 2006 to 2009, she covered the state of Wyoming for the NPR member station Wyoming Public Media in Laramie. She was a newspaper reporter at The Mashpee Enterprise from 2010 to 2013. She lives in Falmouth with her husband and two daughters.

Ways to Connect

Courtesy of Duygu Özpolat

“If you cut them into small pieces, each of those pieces will become a whole new worm, instead of dying. And, in addition to that, they also can make clones of themselves. So, imagine one day you see a little bump on your feet, and then that gradually grows into a whole new you and buds off. This is the kind of things they do.” - Duygu Özpolat

This week on Living Lab Radio:

Image via www.vpnsrus.com / CC BY 2.0

The Internet and artificial intelligence are changing the way we live. That’s not a surprise. We fret about how distracted we've become, or about whether robots will take our jobs. Those are real concerns. But the impact of computing technology could be even bigger and deeper – forcing us to reckon with our place in the world and our ability to understand it.

You can make fish and chips using spiny dogfish, a common catch in our waters.
Matthias Meckel, https://tinyurl.com/y6monys9

Dozens of species of fish and shellfish are caught in New England’s waters. But only a handful show up in most seafood retailers. You can probably list them: cod, haddock, scallops, clams, lobster.

Now, it’s not just anecdotal. A citizen science initiative has found that five species dominate at New England seafood counters and that some of the species that are most common out in the ocean are the rarest in our markets.

Dongju Zhang, Lanzhou University

Each month, we check in with the editors at Nature News for a roundup of top science headlines. This time, we talk to multimedia editor Benjamin Thompson of the Nature News podcast and video team.

Oliver Ryder, director of genetics at San Diego Zoo's Institute for Conservation Research.
Photo courtesy of San Diego Zoo Global

“There's no time we're going to be able to collect more biodiversity than now, because it's declining. So, I think if we were to have a a conversation with the future, they would tell us: ‘Biodiversity is declining. Just bank as much of it as you can, because we would be glad to have it.’” – Oliver Ryder

This week on Living Lab Radio:

The majority of Americans - across party lines - support more funding for renewable energy research and tax incentives for solar panel purchases.
Vera Kratochvil / CCO 1.0 Public Domain

A new CNN poll finds that climate change is the most prevalent issue on the minds of Democratic voters. Eighty two percent of survey respondents told CNN that they think it is very important that the Democratic for president support taking aggressive action to slow the effects of climate change. Not even universal healthcare garnered a “very important” rating from that many prospective voters.

And, sure enough, some would-be Democratic nominees are making climate change a signature issue. Beto O’Rourke, Cory Booker, and Elizabeth Warren have all outlined plans.

Alva Pratt / unsplash

When it comes to sharks, great whites and the risk to human swimmers have dominated public attention in the northeast recently. But, there are hundreds of species of sharks, and for most of them, in most of the world, humans are a far greater threat to sharks than the other way around. That’s why Anna Oposa is working to establish a shark shelter in the waters around the Phillippines.


It’s estimated there are just over 400 North Atlantic right whales remaining, and that number has been declining in recent years. The two main causes of death are both related to human activities – ship strikes and entanglement in fishing gear. In particular, the lines that connect lobster and crab traps to buoys at the water’s surface are major culprits in entanglements.

Wildlife habitat gardens provide food and shelter for wildlife in the midst of human neighborhoods.
Photo by David Mizejewski / National Wildlife Federation

Habitat loss is one of the greatest threats to the diversity of plants and animals on Earth. Parks and wild lands are essential for conserving ecosystems. But it turns out our back yards and even urban balconies can also play an important role. 

The Green New Deal has become a political lightning rod, but 2018 polling showed 8 out of 10 Americans support the underlying ideas.
Intothewoods7 [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

" The current data suggests - and certainly the behavior of current candidates for the Democratic nomination strongly suggests - that this will be the first national election where climate change ends up playing a major role." - Ed Maibach, George Mason University

This week on Living Lab Radio:

Impossible Burger by Impossible Foods

First, it was White Castle and Red Robin. Then, Burger King.

Vegan meat substitutes are popping up at fast food chains across the nation, raising questions about how much better they really are for the environment, and for you.

Cory Doctorow's new book is called "Radicalized: Four Tales of our Present Moment"
Macmillan Publishers

Imagine a world in which your toaster will only toast bread from approved vendors and your dishwasher will only clean approved dishes using specific brands of soap. Think that’s far-fetched? Cory Doctorow doesn’t.

One scientist argues we should rethink our approach to the invasive plant phragmites australis.
nicolas_gent, https://tinyurl.com/y2ae64dx

Living Lab Radio this week.

Waymo Chrysler Pacifica in Los Altos / Creative Commons / bit.ly/2KFonDR


It’s been just over a year since the first pedestrian was hit and killed by a self-driving car. Since then, we’ve learned a lot about the algorithms that drive autonomous vehicles. 

Scientists have obtained the first image of a black hole. They used the Event Horizon Telescope to observe the center of the galaxy M87.
Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration

It’s been a big week for space exploration, and a bit of a roller-coaster.