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

A palentologist has found a deposit of fossils in North Dakota that he says show the aftermath of the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs.
Aaronyoung777, Wikicommons, http://tinyurl.com/yyxe58ot

Each month we check in with the reporters at Nature News for a roundup of recent science headlines. This month, Nature’s multi-media editor Shamini Bundell brings us these stories.

wikipeda / creative commons / bit.ly/2OVduML

Nearly four out of five people represented in human genetic research are of European decent. That’s the result of a recent analysis that also found that 10 % are of Asian descent, while people of African, Hispanic and all other ethnicities make up less than six percent.

Our brains are constantly working to keep us on an even keel.
underwaterer, http://tinyurl.com/yxfkbmsh

Government statistics suggest that one in 10 Americans is struggling with addiction. The CDC estimates that excessive alcohol use cost almost $250 billion in 2010. And opioid overdoses last year overtook car accidents as the leading cause of accidental deaths in t­he U.S.

Our understanding of how addiction plays out in the brain has increased dramatically in recent years. But treatment options are still limited.

Our brains don't let us stay elated for very long. They are always working to keep us at a happiness 'set point,' say neuroscientists.
Victor Björkund, http://tinyurl.com/yy6axzlp

"What was shocking to me was, I thought that in the last several years as the number of studies have increased that it would have gotten a lot better. And the surprise to me was it wasn't that much better. So, it's still at roughly 80% of studies that look at genetic associations with disease are focused on people of European ancestry." - Sarah Tishkoff

This week on Living Lab Radio:

The shore of Walden Pond.
wiki commons

For many, the longer, warmer days of spring offer a chance to renew our connection with the outdoor world and activities we’ve put aside for winter. And nothing says communing with nature like Walden Pond.

A frog infected with a fungus which has been dubbed the most destructive pathogen ever for biodiversity.
Forrest Brem / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/deed.en

An unassuming fungus that dwells in lakes and damp soil has proved to be the most potent killer of a large group of species ever documented. The victims are members of at least 501 species of frogs and other amphibians that have succumbed to a disease inflicted by Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, or Bd.


The Green New Deal has ignited a theatrical debate in Congress, from posters of a velociraptor-riding President Reagan on the Senate floor to press briefings of hamburger-eating leg

Mind wandering may hold clues about consciousness.
The Hiking Artist / CCO Public Domain https://goo.gl/auhrMp

"Personally, I think consciousness is one of the greatest, most remarkable puzzles left to science. Understanding how this three-pound meatloaf is capable of producing experience is just remarkable." - Jonathan Schooler

This week on Living Lab Radio:

Astrophysicist and cosmologist Marcelo Gleiser is this year's Templeton Prize winner.
Dartmouth College-Eli Burakian

The Templeton Prize is sometimes described as the Nobel Prize for spirituality.

Team Salient. From left, Stephen, Ray, and Eric Schmitt. Stephen and Eric are Ray's twin sons.
Nancy Copley

We’ve got 10-day weather forecasts. We’ve got NOAA seasonal outlook forecasts. But there’s a no man’s land in between, and that’s where predictions get really tricky.

The Missouri River near Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska.
Joshua Stevens, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey.

Nebraska is facing more than one billion dollars in damage due to historic and devastating flooding this past week. The storm that set things into motion was powerful –a so-called bomb cyclone. But the amount of rain it delivered doesn’t account for the flooding on its own.

Mass shootings researcher Jaclyn Schildkraut says media coverage should limit use of perpetrators' names and faces.
Courtesy of Jaclyn Schildkraut

Mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch rocked New Zealanders to their core. What may have shocked Americans even more is the response of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who quickly and emphatically declared that she would not say the name of the shooter.

Naomi Oreskes
Sage Ross, https://tinyurl.com/y4qsxd73

Many of our most important social and political debates have science at their core – from climate change to genetically modified foods. When policymakers want expert input on what we know about these subjects, they often turn to massive synthesis reports known as assessments. 

Figures from Aaron Slepkov's experiments in microwaving grapes and other watery orbs.
Slepkov Biophotonics Lab, Trent University

It’s not every day that a scientific study reads like great literature, but here’s how a recent paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences begins:

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a pair of grape hemispheres exposed to intense microwave radiation will spark, igniting a plasma.”

CBD, a component of marijuana and hemp, is being marketed for anxiety and a host of other health problems. There is currently little or no science behind the claims.
Jeoy Pena / https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:CBD_Oil_For_Anxiety.jpg

Jenny WilkersonUniversity of Florida and Lance McMahonUniversity of Florida  

Cannabidiol, or CBD, has become a household name. On many social media sites, people suggest “but have you tried CBD oil?” on posts pertaining to any health-related issue.