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

John Holdren, science advisor and director of OSTP under President Obama.
Elsa Partan / WCAI

President Donald Trump has yet to name a science advisor, a position that dates back to the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration. It wouldn't be the first time that a president has decided he's better off without one. 

President Nixon wasn’t happy with the advice he was getting from his Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).  He fired his science advisor and he dissolved the office of science and technology. But in 1976, Congress decided the executive branch really needed such an office and so it restored it by law.

Wiki Commons

Over the past several years, climate change has gained a reputation as a liberal agenda item. It wasn't always that way; it was President George H. W. Bush who brought the U.S. into international climate negotiations in 1992. Today, many GOP legislators reject the scientific consensus on human-caused climate change. But that science is clear – human activities are disrupting the global climate system, and that poses risks to people and institutions of all political persuasions.

Elsa Partan

The Lewis family ran Nantucket’s only funeral home for 135 years. They closed it nearly 3 years ago and sold the land when nobody wanted to take over the business. Now, a small group of people is trying to open a new one as a non-profit. For some, Nantucket’s identity as a real community is at stake.

Joyce Maxner sets up for a Death Cafe in West Tisbury, Martha's Vineyard.
Elsa Partan / WCAI

For most of American history, when a loved one died, family members cared for the body of the deceased at home before burial. It wasn’t until the Civil War that people started embalming soldiers’ bodies for the long train trips home. Soon after, funeral homes started offering embalming services, and an industry was born. Now, there’s a movement to bring after-death care back home.

The motivations driving such interest are varied. Some people find it more personal, more meaningful. Others want to avoid toxic embalming chemicals and reduce the environmental footprint of burial.

Modern Day Feminism

Sep 22, 2016
J.J.

Are you a feminist? What does that term mean to you? In 1920 the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was passed, guaranteeing women the right to vote.  Ninety-six years later a woman becomes the presidential nominee of a major political party for the first time: it is a historic moment for women.

reelblue LLC

There aren’t too many good-news stories about the state of rivers in the Pacific Northwest, but a new film tells just such a story. The Memory of Fish, produced by Jennifer Galvin of reelblue LLC, chronicles the life of Dick Goin, who worked for decades to bring down two dams that were slowly squeezing the life out of Elwha River. We watch as he finally succeeds in his lifelong work.

Goin was born in Iowa in 1931 and his family fled the Depression-era Dust Bowl for the lush banks of the Elwha when he was a boy.

Wikicommons

Madagascar is the hottest of biodiversity hot spots. The island is home to approximately five percent of all the species on earth. Four out of five of them are found nowhere else, including dozens of species of tenrecs and lemurs that have evolved over tens of millions of years.

Elsa Partan

For people in three towns on Cape Cod, taking out the trash means bringing it to the curb. For the rest, it means bringing it a transfer station. 

Courtesy Phil Goddard

Most of Cape Cod’s municipal solid waste goes to landfills now. The rest is burned at Covanta SEMASS in Rochester, Massachusetts. That begs a question.

Which is better for the environment, burning trash, or burying it?

Forest damage from the hurricane of 1938.
Forest History Society

On September 21, 1938, New England was slammed by a hurricane that remains the most damaging weather event to ever hit the region. The category 2 hurricane hit New England moving fifty miles per hour, and plowed a path straight up the Connecticut River valley to Vermont. Arriving at high tide, and on the heels of an unrelated rain storm, it caused extensive coastal and inland flooding. Hundreds were killed, and the damage - largely uninsured - cost the equivalent of $5 billion to repair.

Chemicals from household products can make their way into Cape Cod waters.
National Park Service

Antibiotics, pain medications, birth control pills, facial cleansers, shampoo, laundry detergent, dish detergent, the non-stick coating on those skillets, and even the waterproofing on that winter coat. In addition to being found in your home, they can now be found in groundwater, ponds, and coastal bays around Cape Cod.

Many of the medicines we take and the household products we use end up going down our drains and straight through our septic systems into the environment. Some actually come full circle and make it back into our drinking water.

A tulip placed on a melting piece of iceberg brought from Greenland to Paris as part of an art installation called Ice Watch.
Heather Goldstone / WCAI

At noon on December 12th - 12 o'clock on 12/12 - the bells of Notre Dame were tolling non-stop, as the electronic notification went out that international climate negotiators had released a final agreement. The two things were completely unrelated, but it was a memorable moment, nonetheless.

Republic of Kiribati

Sea level rise and increasingly extreme weather are among the most visible impacts of climate change. Coastal communities around the Cape and Islands are facing skyrocketing insurance rates, and damage to homes and infrastructure. But for the residents of small island nations, climate change poses an existential threat. 

Candle smoke transitions from straight, laminar flow to confused, turbulent flow. How and why aren't well understood. Nigel Goldenfeld sees parallels between such physical processes and the evolution of life.
Gary Settles / Wikimedia Commons

Nigel Goldenfeld sees patterns everywhere in the natural world. The physicist from the University of Illinois is a member of its top-ranked Condensed Matter Theory group, and studies how patterns evolve in time, “be they snowflakes, the microstructures of materials, the turbulent flow of fluids, geological formations, or even the spatial organization of microbes.”

Tote Services

As the Navy continues to search for the doomed cargo ship El Faro, the loss has an eerie resemblance to the Derbyshire disaster some three decades before. 

Pages