Irvine, Calif. — Inspired by listener requests in times of the coronavirus, coupled with the advent of Earth Day, THE LOH DOWN ON SCIENCE is launching a limited radio/podcast series called THE LOH DOWN ON SCIENCE: SPECIAL PANDEMIC EDITION (ldospandemicedition.org) on April 22 for eight weeks. The series, presented by the Loh Down On Science (LDOS) Media Lab, will offer five new pieces per week, available on PRX/Exchange, Stitcher, and soon to be on Apple iTunes, Spotify, and all standard podcast platforms. These are three-minute family friendly radio/podcast/audio modules covering a range of pandemic science.
Topics THE LOH DOWN ON SCIENCE: SPECIAL PANDEMIC EDITION will explore include: The science of herd immunity. The wonders of soap. The curious story of Lady Montagu, English aristocrat and early vaccine adopter. Could a mad scientist create a virus in a lab? (Well, not a very good one.) Why are our house cats going nuts? The surprising healing powers of copper. Can you harness your home computer, when you’re sleeping, to join an army of computers crunching data to find COVID-19’s Achilles Heel? Hint: Yes! It’s been done to solve Ebola!
LDOS host Sandra Tsing Loh says, “Even in such a dark time, there’s so much to learn, so much to hope for, so much cool science to inspire our next generation of virologists, computer scientists, urban planners, transportation designers, artists, writers, and thinkers. Join us, and subscribe! And tell us what YOU’RE curious about, via our website www.lohdownonscience.org”
Launched in 2004, now in its 16th year, THE LOH DOWN ON SCIENCE is the daily radio “minute” (90 seconds) of humorous yet informative current science. It runs twice a day on KPCC 89.3 FM (Southern California Public Radio, Los Angeles’ largest NPR station), and is syndicated internationally on 150 stations, with a weekly audience of 4 million. It’s hosted by Sandra Tsing Loh, writer, performer, and Distinguished Alumna (Physics, 1983) of the California Institute of Technology), and first alumna to give a Caltech commencement speech. Google News will begin running it in May.
Loh is particularly thrilled that THE LOH DOWN ON SCIENCE: SPECIAL PANDEMIC EDITION, is completely reported (research, written, and read) by members and emeriti of THE LOH DOWN ON SCIENCE “Hive.” Housed by the Graduate Division at the University of California, Irvine, the LDOS “Hive” is a unique fellowship program that supports young scientists with a passion for science communication. Citizens of this new era, “Hive” members meet on Zoom, correspond on Slack, edit each other’s scripts on Google Drive, and record (safely) in their closets!
A diverse group, Loh considers these “Hivers” role models and advocates for the next generation of scientists and science communicators. THE LOH DOWN ON SCIENCE began this volunteer effort with an eye to the many K-12 school children who are at home, searching for quality educational resources online, in this pandemic. This free series seeks not just to spark their imaginations, but to spark their inspiration to become our next globally-aware virologists, civil engineers, urban planners, journalists, artists, writers, and more.
Says Loh, “Originally created by Caltech, now housed at UC Irvine, we’ve explored a lot of amazing scientific research in our, what? 16 years on the air! Science has never been QUITE so relevant, though, as today, in Spring, 2020, with the coronavirus STRESS in our daily lives. From the horrors of the news to the tedium of quarantine, that’s an understatement!
“That said, if there is a silver lining? This COVID-19 era offers a unique opportunity for science, science communication, and for turbo-charging US science literacy. While the pressing global issue of climate change has had, let’s say, a somewhat politicized path, EVERYONE wants coronavirus done, if we have to wash our hands under warm-to-hot water, with soap, to an egg timer, to do it!”
Loh continues, “Because so many are cooped up at home, particularly K-12 school children, rather than focus TOO narrowly on coronavirus, our bailiwick is the Science of Pandemics, which, while it can be scary, is fascinating. History suggests we WILL come out on the other side, much as young Isaac Newton did, during HIS quarantine during the Bubonic Plague of the 1600’s, when he came up with his ground-breaking theories of gravity and modern optics. Fans of Animal Crossing— No pressure.”
THE LOH DOWN ON SCIENCE: SPECIAL PANDEMIC EDITION staff includes:
SANDRA TSING LOH (producer)
SANDRA TSING LOH is the host of KPCC/ NPR’s The Loh Down on Science, a contributing editor to The Atlantic Monthly, and has been a regular contributor to NPR’s Morning Edition, APM’s Marketplace, and Ira Glass’ This American Life. Her bestselling memoir, The Madwoman in the Volvo (W.W. Norton), was named a New York Times 100 Most Notable Book, became a hit play of the same name (premiered at South Coast Repertory), and has been optioned for TV by Paramount Television and Anonymous Content. Her new book, The Madwoman and the Roomba: My Year of Domestic Mayhem will be published by W.W. Norton this June.
ANNY CELSI (consulting producer)
ANNY CELSI is Senior Producer for “The Loh Down on Science” daily syndicated program. She has over 10 years of experience in public radio and podcasting. Her features have been heard on NPR, KPCC, Deutsche Welle and other outlets worldwide. When not confined to her stunning Mid-century apartment with her record collection she is also a touring singer/songwriter, with five self-produced albums under her belt.
Brenna Biggs is a Ph.D. candidate in Chemistry at the University of California, Irvine. She joined the Loh Down on Science “Hive” as a writer, where she is currently the lead managing editor. Brenna believes clear science communication is a necessary complement to highly technical, third-person scientific writing. She highlights exciting scientific discoveries and the amazing researchers behind them. Brenna wants to make science accessible and approachable for everyone, and is extremely excited to be part of THE LOH DOWN ON SCIENCE: SPECIAL PANDEMIC EDITION.
Kellen Kartub recently received her Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of California, Irvine. During her time there, she developed a love for science communication and quickly joined the Loh Down on Science “Hive” as a writer and eventual managing editor. When Sandra proposed the Loh Down on Science Special Pandemic initiative, she naturally jumped at the opportunity. In addition to covering all things chemistry, Kellen is curating a series of scripts devoted to current coronavirus research and the scientists behind them. Her goal is to give listeners hope and comfort knowing the best minds in science are coming together to tackle the current coronavirus.
Stella Moon is a Ph.D. student in Philosophy at the University of California, Irvine. She is interested in how we learn mathematics and the sciences. In order to answer the question, understanding and writing about the sciences are very important. Stella hopes to contribute to THE LOH DOWN ON SCIENCE: SPECIAL PANDEMIC EDITION, by bringing a philosophical light from the Moon!
Sumner L. Norman is a Postdoctoral Scholar in Biological Engineering at Caltech. He’s developing neural interfaces that empower people with paralysis to control computers and prosthetic limbs with only their mind. Eight years prior, as an NSF fellow and ARCS scholar at UC Irvine, Sumner joined the shiny-new Loh-Down on Science “Hive” as a writer and editor. Soon after, he earned a UC distinguished public impact fellow. In this role, he advocated for science and education funding at the state and federal levels. Now, Sumner will be sharing his boundless optimism for scientific innovation with you! After all, even in a pandemic, he can find the silver lining.
Bahareh Sorouri is a Ph.D. student in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California, Irvine. When she is not contemplating the effects of climate change on environmental microbes, she delves in science communication. Bahareh strives to make science accessible and clear for everyone so they can make more informed decisions for their life, health and planet. Bahareh joined the Loh Down on Science “Hive” as a writer and currently serves as a managing editor. She is excited to be a part of THE LOH DOWN ON SCIENCE: SPECIAL PANDEMIC EDITION, and hopes to offer listeners comfort through her scripts.
EMILY SARAH SUMNER
Emily Sarah Sumner is a Ph.D. Candidate in Cognitive Sciences at the University of California, Irvine. Her research looks at how children explore the world and make decisions. Emily is passionate about communicating clear and accessible science to all. Especially in the midst of a pandemic when science is rapidly changing. Through THE LOH DOWN ON SCIENCE: SPECIAL PANDEMIC EDITION, Emily aims to provide clear and concise descriptions of research that is applicable to our everyday pandemic lives.
Ted Yoo has his Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of California Irvine. When not thinking about how radioactive isotopes get recycled, he developed himself as an organizer and science communicator. Ted joined the Loh Down on Science “Hive” first as a writer, then as a managing editor. He also was Vice President of Brews and Brains at UC Irvine. There, Ted hosted and coached speakers to talk about their work to a broad audience. He continues to produce science communication content with his podcast “This Grad Life,” where he interviews grad students up to their necks in research. Between the three groups, he has addressed a broad range of scientific topics. Ted now hopes to bring his introspective flair to THE LOH DOWN ON SCIENCE: SPECIAL PANDEMIC EDITION.
LDOS MEDIA LAB, INC. is a 501c3 non-profit production company established in 2012 with the mission of creating educational programming to advance and promote the effective communication of scientific research to the general public. The company is responsible for the production and distribution of the popular public radio science segment “The Loh Down on Science” broadcast five days a week over 150 public radio station affiliates. The company also develops and presents science communication workshops for graduate research scientists, in a variety of platforms and formats.