Elsa Partan | CAI

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

An artist's rendering of what chronic fatigue syndrome feels like. Researchers are beginning to understand the biology responsible for the experience.
Jem Yoshioka/Wikimedia Commons / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en

Chronic fatigue syndrome (now known as myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome) was first described in the early 1980s, and it affects an estimated two and a half million Americans. For many years, doctors’ tests couldn’t find an explanation for patients’ symptoms, so they were dismissed as “nothing wrong.” But a growing body of research reveals plenty of things going wrong in chronic fatigue syndrome.

Living Lab Radio of September 8 and 9, 2019

Sep 8, 2019
Elsa Partan

We've seen about a 60 percent increase in the frequency of events like Dorian stalling near the coast...The culprit is related to a slowdown in large scale atmospheric wind patterns likely due to a warming climate. -Timothy Hall of NASA

This week on Living Lab Radio:

Living Lab Radio--September 1 and 2, 2019.

Sep 1, 2019
LOUISE DOCKER, WIKICOMMONS, HTTPS://TINYURL.COM/YBKZPALO

This week on Living Lab Radio, we’re revisiting some of our favorite conversations of 2019.

Frank Paul, University of Zurich

How an issue is portrayed in the media can have a huge effect on how it is perceived by the public. When it comes to climate change, a lot of attention has been dedicated to how much the issue is covered. And whether that coverage is scientifically accurate.

Artificial Intellegence Helped Save A Boy's Life

Aug 26, 2019
Matthew Might created an algorithim to help doctors come up with an emergency treatment that saved his son Bertrand's life. He is photograhed here at home with his wife, Cristina, and with Bertrand, age 11.
Courtesy UAB

An artificial intelligence developer races against time to create a computer program that can save his son from the mysterious illness that seems to be killing him.

It sounds like the premise for a science fiction novel. But it’s a true story.

It’s been just over two years since Hurricane Harvey devastated the Houston area – dumping up to five feet of rain in some places, and causing unprecedented flooding. 

Criminal Sentencing Race Gap Declines

Aug 25, 2019
David Johnson, https://tinyurl.com/y4zyne8y

An American convicted of a federal crime is seven percent more likely to be sentenced to jail time if they are black than if they are white. That jail time is likely to be eight months longer if the person is black.

That’s a major disparity, but it’s also a major improvement over where we were 20 years ago. 

Living Lab Radio -- August 25 and 26, 2019.

Aug 25, 2019
Texas National Guard soldiers conduct rescue operations in flooded areas around Houston, Texas on August 27, 2017. New research is looking into the health impacts on the disaster.
Photo by 1Lt. Zachary West, 100th MPAD

Here are the stories on Living Lab Radio for August 25 and 26, 2019. 

How Arctic Researchers Hold On To Hope

Aug 19, 2019
NASA/Kathryn Hansen

There’s record low Arctic sea ice. There’s record melting of Greenland’s glaciers. There’s unprecedented permafrost melting. And more than a million acres has been burned by wildfires in Alaska.

Each of these stories has garnered headlines this summer, but they have tended to be presented as separate events. In actuality, they are all part of the broader phenomenon of extreme Arctic warming, and they are intimately linked to each other.

Headlines From Nature News

Aug 19, 2019
The Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI) near Tucson, Arizona.
Courtesy DESI

It’s time for our monthly tour of science headlines from our friends at the Journal Nature and the Nature podcast. 

End-of-Summer Beach Reads with a Science Twist

Aug 18, 2019
Pexels/Pixabay

Looking for good book - maybe something a little different - to see you through those final days of summer?

LabLit is different than science fiction. It's fiction that features realistic science and scientists. LabLit.com founder and editor, Jenny Rohn, is prone to getting excited over "hard-core lab scenes." But she's more focused on finding a good story than making sure the science is perfect.

There’s an entire laboratory dedicated to the practice of discussing challenging topics.
thebarrowboy, https://tinyurl.com/y4vs6f32

Many of us steer around difficult political conversations to avoid conflict with people with whom we disagree. Among people we know, we employ the tried-and-true method of staying away from politics and religion.

But there’s an entire laboratory dedicated to the practice of discussing challenging topics. It’s the Difficult Conversations Lab at Columbia University.

Living Lab Radio: August 19th, 2019

Aug 18, 2019
Runoff from the Greenland ice sheet near the Greenland capital of Nuuk.
Irina Overeem / National Snow and Ice Data Center

"The changes that are happening in the Arctic can feel very far away, but we can now recognize that all of these changes we've talked about together have been fundamentally caused by human action. But the good news is that the future of these changes will also be fundamentally determined by human action. So, we can be really active players in what the future holds." - Twila Moon

Solving the world’s climate problems will require many kinds of brain power.
UC Irvine School of Humanities / CC BY-ND

Steven D. Allison, University of California, Irvine and Tyrus Miller, University of California, Irvine

Large wildfires in the Arctic and intense heat waves in Europe are just the latest evidence that climate change is becoming the defining event of our time. Unlike other periods that came and went, such as the 1960s or the dot-com boom, an era of unchecked climate change will lead to complex and irreversible changes in Earth’s life support systems.

Looking At The Perseid Meteor Shower? So is NASA.

Aug 11, 2019
NASA/Bill Ingalls

The Perseid meteor shower is at its peak right now. If you’re the super-early-morning type (like 3:00 AM early) it can make for a great light show.

But researchers at NASA keep an eye on events like this for different reasons, not least of which is the risk they can pose to satellites and spacecraft in Earth’s orbit.

Reeta Asmai/UC Davis, https://tinyurl.com/y3da4a89

It’s tough to study rare diseases. Because they affect only a small percentage of the population, it can be hard for researchers to find funding. It’s also challenging to do clinical trials, since there are a small number of people who can take part. 

But rare disease research can yield discoveries that impact all of us.

Beta amyloid plaques (brown) in the brain are strongly linked to Alzheimer's disease. A new blood test is a sensitive, early indicator of such brain changes.
National Institute on Aging, NIH / Public Domain

Alzheimer's disease affects at least five and a half million people in the United States. One of the greatest challenges in trying to treat the disease is catching it early enough. There's currently no reliable way to diagnose Alzheimer's until symptoms like memory loss are already recognizable. And by that time the brain has suffered years if not decades worth of damage. That's likely why many promising drug trials in recent years have failed.

Living Lab Radio: August 12th, 2019

Aug 11, 2019
A beautiful Perseid meteor, captured by astronaut Ron Garan aboard the International Space Station in 2011.
NASA / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/

"The Perseids are caused by the debris left behind by comet Swift-Tuttle, which is one of the bigger comets in the solar system. And every year in middle of August we run into the debris trail. And when that debris hits our atmosphere at  132,000 miles per hour, it burns up and leaves these brilliant streaks of light we call Perseid meteors." - Bill Cooke

This week on Living Lab Radio:

Ticks could spread weaponized bacteria – but  <em>B. burgdorferi</em> that causes Lyme isn’t one of them.
Kelvin Ma/Tufts University / http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/4.0

Sam Telford, Tufts University

Could Lyme disease in the U.S. be the result of an accidental release from a secret bioweapons experiment? Could the military have specifically engineered the Lyme disease bacterium to be more insidious and destructive – and then let it somehow escape the lab and spread in nature?

What Makes 'Old Town Road' So Popular

Aug 4, 2019
'Old Town Road' by Lil Nas X has stayed at the top of the charts for longer than any other song.
Courtesy Photo

“Old Town Road,” Lil Nas X’s country/western rap hit, is now not only genre-breaking, it’s record-breaking. It has held Billboard’s number one spot for 17 weeks, breaking the record previously set by the 2017 hit "Despacito" and, back in 1995, "One Sweet Day" by Mariah Carey and Boyz to Men.

Infrared Cameras Could Help Ships Avoid Whales

Aug 4, 2019
Dan Zitterbart of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is developing thermal infrared cameras to help vessels avoid whale strikes.
Dan Zitterbart, WHOI

Eight critically endangered North Atlantic right whales have died this summer, several of them hit by ships.

In the last two years alone, 20 North Atlantic right whales have been found dead in Canadian waters. Of the 11 that could be studied, seven were found to have died as a result of vessel strikes.

That has prompted Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans to announce a new round of funding to develop better ways for ships to find whales and avoid hitting them. 

One of those technologies is thermal infrared imaging.

How Mass Media Shapes Perceptions of Mass Shootings

Aug 4, 2019
The Columbine High School shooting has shaped public perception of mass shootings.
Seraphimblade / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/

Twenty dead in El Paso, Texas; nine in Dayton, Ohio. Three - including two children - killed at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. And a dozen shot at the Brownsville Old Timers' Block Party in Brooklyn.

Living Lab Radio: August 5, 2019

Aug 4, 2019
Daniel Foster/flickr / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/

"There are some benefits to sounding like things we've heard before. At the same time, if something's exactly the same as what we've heard before, it's not going to get any attention. There's nothing new about it. So there's this nice blend of novelty and familiarity, of similarity and difference, of new and old. You can almost think about it as a Goldilocks effect - not too hot, not too cold, but just right - that really helps things in culture succeed." - Jonah Berger

When Scientists Get Celebrity Treatment

Jul 29, 2019
Billionaire Sean Parker is pouring money into science and treating scientists like celebrities.
@Kmeron, https://tinyurl.com/yy7ffdw6

You probably wouldn't be surprised to hear that a California billionaire had thrown an extravagant party for friends that included a custom ice sculpture that funneled high end whiskey into guest's glasses.

But what about if those guests were scientists and the party was to celebrate a Nobel Prize?

Photo Courtesy: Sue Natali

Extreme heat in Europe and the continental U.S. has made headlines this summer. What you may not have heard about is what’s been going on in Alaska: 90 degree temps in the arctic, wildfires and rare lightning storms, and the ground literally collapsing due to the melting of permafrost.

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