Sciographies is a podcast and radio program on CKDU 88.1 FM (Halifax, NS). The show introduces listeners to scientists at Dalhousie. Each episode explores events in the guest’s life that led to a career in science, while also exploring their research.
Sciographies host David Barclay, an associate professor of oceanography, has now interviewed 20 different Dalhousie scientists since 2018.
The podcast recently picked up its first award, the 2020 Prix D'Excellence Silver Medal for Best Use of Multi-Media from the Canadian Council for the Advancement of Education (CCAE). The show is produced by Niecole Killawee and Jocelyn Adams from the Faculty of Science.
*The opening theme song of Sciographies includes pieces of Hugh Le Caine’s ‘Dripsody’ and Lee Rosevere’s ‘Star Song.'
Check out the new trailer of Sciographies.
Episode 19: Tess Cyrus, Economist *new this week
In this episode, we interview Dr. Tess Cyrus. She’s an economist and associate professor with Dalhousie’s Department of Economics.
Dr. Cyrus grew up in sunny California, just a stone’s throw away from Disneyland. As a self-proclaimed bookworm, she spent hours on end reading anything she could get her hands on. That natural curiosity sparked her desire to escape the American dream and experience life outside of the United States. She got her chance in university, when she studied abroad for a year in Scotland. While there, she had the opportunity to travel throughout Europe to witness other cultures and ways of life — and that’s when she discovered a passion for international economics.
Today, Dr. Cyrus is an associate professor in the Department of Economics and her research focuses on understanding the forces that bring people together. She studies international trade and bilateral trade flows with an emphasis on how culture plays a role in these processes.
As an educator, she’s also interested in designing and improving the economics curriculum. Her commitment to putting her best foot forward for students has been recognized with Dalhousie’s Faculty of Science Award for Excellence in Teaching.
In this episode of Sciographies, Dr. Cyrus talks to host David Barclay about what it was like to grow up in a storied place like Southern California, why economics was the subject that captured her interest (after a short stint in chemistry), and some of her most recent studies on international trade and economics education.
Sciographies is brought to you by Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Science and campus-community radio station CKDU 88.1 FM in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Episode 18: Mark Stradiotto, Chemist
In this episode, we interview Dr. Mark Stradiotto. He’s a chemist and professor with Dalhousie’s Department of Chemistry. He has also won teaching awards and is the most recent recipient of Dal’s Arthur B. McDonald Chair of research Excellence.
Dr. Stradiotto wasn’t planning on becoming a chemist until his third year of university, when a course in inorganic chemistry (and its professor) sparked his interest in the field. From that point on, he pursued chemistry as a career path and has become a leader in his field.
Today the Stradiotto Research Group at Dalhousie specializes in the study and design of ligands — these are ions or molecules that bind to metals, allowing the metals to react in ways that otherwise wouldn’t be possible. Ligands are incredibly useful in pharmaceutical chemistry, so some of Dr. Stradiotto’s innovations have even been patented and commercialized for industry use.
Dr. Stradiotto tells us about his high-school years as a drummer in southern Ontario, his participation in the commercialization of research, and his approach to teaching chemistry to undergrads.
Sciographies is brought to you by Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Science and campus-community radio station CKDU 88.1 FM in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Special Alumni Episode: Kathy Sullivan, Hybrid Astronaut and Oceanographer
From Space to the Ocean Deep: A Journey with Dr. Kathy Sullivan (PhD'78)
Open Dialogue Live and Sciographies present a one-on-one interview with former NASA astronaut, Kathryn Sullivan (PhD’78, LLD'85). Dr. Sullivan was the first American woman to complete a spacewalk and the first woman to travel to Challenger Deep, the deepest point of the sea. Oceanography assistant professor and host of Sciographies, a podcast and radio show produced by Dalhousie's Faculty of Science, David Barclay engages in an in-depth conversation with Dr. Sullivan, exploring her life and journey to space and the ocean deep.
Episode 17: Tim Bardouille, Medical Physicists
In this episode, we interview Dr. Tim Bardouille. He’s a medical physicist and assistant professor with Dalhousie’s Department of Physics and Atmospheric Sciences.
An early fascination with technology and philosophy sparked his desire to study physics. When he learned about medical physics — a field focused on the role physics can play when applied in health and medicine to diagnose and treat patients — he pursued it as a career path.
After working in industry for a few years, Dr. Bardouille went back to school to get his PhD and worked towards shifting to a research career.
Today his research in Dal’s Biosignal Lab explores how to capture and analyze imaging data on the brain activity associated with disorders of the motor system, with a goal of creating technology that helps improve patient outcomes.
Dr. Bardouille tells us about his career path, his research, and his experience organizing a Black Lives Matter protest in Halifax that led to forming Dal’s new Anti-Racism Action Team.
Episode 16: Hal Whitehead, Marine Biologist
In this episode we interview Dr. Hal Whitehead in his backyard, which overlooks the ocean in Herring Cove, Nova Scotia. Dr. Whitehead is a marine biologist, a professor in the Department of Biology, and author of several books. His interest in animal behaviour led to a scientific career studying the cultural lives of whales (even though his academic life began with an undergraduate degree in pure mathematics).
He tells us about travelling between Maine, USA and England, UK while growing up, and how that experience on the eastern seaboard of the United States nurtured an early love of sailing that persists today.
Now Dr. Whitehead uses his own sailboat to track sperm whales and northern bottlenose whales at sea for weeks at a time. A handful of graduate students join him to collect visual, acoustic, and biological data on how the whales behave and communicate with each other.
Episode 15: Natalie Rosen, Pscyhologist & Sexual Health Researcher
In this episode, we interview Dr. Natalie Rosen, a sex therapist, sexual health researcher, and associate professor of psychology. She tells us about growing up in Ottawa, being inspired by Dr. Sue Johanson’s sex education broadcast programs, her path through university and grad school, and insights from her couples-based research on sexual relationships. Dr. Rosen also tells us about her knowledge mobilization initiative PostBabyHankyPanky.com, which boils down her research findings into short, informative videos that aim to help new parents talk about the very common sexual concerns that arise for both partners after having a baby.
Episode 14: Christine Chambers , Psychologist
This episodes airs on CKDU 88.1FM at 4:00pm on Thursday, October 31, 2019.
In this episode, Dr. Christine Chambers tells us about her laser-focus career path and different types of pain. She also shares the motivation behind her deep commitment to science communication and knowledge mobilization.
Dr. Chambers grew up in Halifax, Nova Scotia and knew at 12 years old that she wanted to become a child psychologist. That path began at Dalhousie, a few blocks away from her childhood home, when she took the undergraduate psychology program. Then she finished up her PhD in clinical psychology at UBC and started working as a psychologist, scientist, and professor.
Now Dr. Chambers is a Killam Professor in the Department of Psychology & Neuroscience (Faculty of Science) and the Department of Pediatrics (Faculty of Medicine). She’s a leading figure in pediatric pain management and a member of the Royal Society of Canada’s College for New Scholars, Artists and Scientists.
Her lab is based in the IWK Health Centre and that’s where she churns out evidence-based strategies for helping kids manage pain, while also making sure those strategies are reaching parents, family doctors, and other front-line healthcare providers.
…And here are just a few more titles Dr. Chambers is known by:
- Canada Research Chair in Children’s Pain
- Scientific Director of SKIP: Solutions for Kids in Pain
- Incoming Scientific Director of the CIHR Institute of Human Development, Child and Youth Health
Episode 13: Lars Osberg, Economist
He discusses economic inequality, insecurity, and well-being — topics that have dominated his research career. He also tells us about his experiences studying and working abroad in the early 70s, and how the field of economics has captivated him for so many years.
Dr. Osberg grew up in Ottawa and pursued his undergrad in economics at Queen’s University with a stint at the London School of Economics. After that, he spent two years volunteering with CUSO – Canadian University Service Overseas. That took Dr. Osberg all the way to East Africa where he worked with the Tanzania Sisal Corporation. When he returned to North America, he pursued a PhD in development economics at Yale, which he finished in 1975.
He’s written over 10 books, many of which cover the topic of economic inequality. His most recent is called The Age of Increasing Inequality: The Astonishing Rise of Canada’s 1%. That book landed Dr. Osberg the Doug Purvis Memorial Prize for its contribution to Canadian economic policy… And the prize was awarded by the Canadian Economics Association, an organization Dr. Osberg once led as its president in 1999.
Episode 12: Eric Oliver, Oceanographer
In this episode, we interview Dr. Eric Oliver, an assistant professor and oceanographer here at Dalhousie. Dr. Oliver outlines how climate change is increasing the occurrence of marine heatwaves in the ocean. He also shares his hope for a future where traditional Indigenous knowledge is combined with scientific data to conduct research that has meaningful impact for Northern communities, as he himself is a scientist of Inuit-descent with roots in Rigolet, Nunatsiavut.
Dr. Oliver grew up in Labrador and spent plenty of time enjoying the great outdoors with family. Then he majored in physics and math before building a career in oceanography after doing his PhD here at Dalhousie. Today, Dr. Oliver studies climate modelling, ocean modelling, and marine heatwaves. They’re just like those we experience on land, but instead they impact marine ecosystems. Dr. Oliver is also working on new ocean research projects within, for, and by Inuit communities on the north coast of Labrador.
Episode 11: John Gosse, Geologist
In this episode, we interview Dr. John Gosse, a geologist with Dalhousie University’s Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences.
We discuss growing up in Newfoundland, his adventurous undergrad years studying earth sciences, and how some of his latest research will help us better understand the risk of natural disasters in the Canadian Arctic as global temperatures continue to rise.
Dr. Gosse uses specializes in using cosmic ray Isotope techniques to study how vast landscapes form and change over time. His research has brought him to The Andes, The Rockies, and The Himalayas. He has also explored the lesser known Torngat Mountains in Northern Labrador.
Dr. Gosse spends a lot of time looking far, far into the pasts of massive mountains and glaciers, but his research also contributes to the fundamental science around prediction of natural disasters like earthquakes, landslides, and tsunamis.
Episode 10: Megan Bailey, Fisheries Economist
In this episode, we interview Dr. Megan Bailey, a fisheries economist with Dalhousie University’s Marine Affairs Program. We discuss her artistic hobbies, changing her focus and finding her passion, and what it’s like to work at the intersection of ecological science and social science.
Dr. Bailey grew up in London, Ontario with a love of animals that led her to a zoology degree. She then spent a year studying the behaviour of monkeys in the Suriname jungle, hoping to one day become a primatologist. While there, though, she found her mind was more occupied with questions about the jungle’s natural resources and how the local communities were using them. When Dr. Bailey returned to Canada, she course-corrected her career path and pursued a Master’s and PhD in fisheries economics instead.
Now Dr. Bailey is a Canada Research Chair in Integrated Ocean and Coastal Governance. Her research informs public and private policies around seafood production and consumption all over the world. Her motivations are guided by the belief that ocean resources can be governed in ways that consider both ecological resilience and the social-wellbeing of communities that rely heavily on local fisheries.
Episode 9: Alastair Simpson, Evolutionary Biologist
In this episode, we interview Dalhousie University’s Dr. Alastair Simpson, an evolutionary biologist. We talk to him about a widely-publicized paper his team landed in the journal Nature last fall, and how studying the genetic information of microbes helps us better understand the evolution of complex lifeforms on Earth. We also take a break from the science to discuss the sport that helps Dr. Simpson get through Canadian winters.
Dr. Simpson grew up in Sydney, Australia. He first came to North America for some of his graduate work at the storied Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.
Then he landed a post-doc position here at Dalhousie in the Med School’s Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology—and he’s been with the university ever since.
Dr. Simpson was drawn to evolutionary biology in his undergrad because of how much we still don’t know about complex lifeforms on Earth. Today, he contributes to his field with research on eukaryotic microbes, also known as 'Protists". They’re organisms with complex cells—just like us—but they don’t belong to the animal kingdom, and they aren’t plants or fungi either. These microbes form many different branches on the Tree of Life, and Dr. Simpson’s team is particularly interested in the species that are predators; the ones that eat other microbes to survive and reproduce themselves.
Read Q&A article on Alastair Simpson
Episode 8: Jason Brown, Mathematician
In this episode, we interview Dalhousie University mathematician Dr. Jason Brown. We talk to him about his early days playing guitar in a band with his siblings, the real-world applications of graph theory, and the mathematics behind Beatles music.
In his free time, Dr. Brown enjoys playing music and writing songs. He’s been performing in front of audiences for decades and has even recorded his own album (Songs in the Key of Pi).
Back in 2004, some of Dr. Brown’s research made international headlines when he first used the power of math to figure out what was really going on with the mysterious opening chord of A Hard Day’s Night by the Beatles. Since then, he’s continued to explore music mathematically and publish the results.
Episode 7: Sara Iverson, Marine Biologist
In this episode, we interview Dr. Sara Iverson to learn about her upbringing in Michigan, her fascinating path through university and grad school, what it’s like to work in the field with wild animals, and how to tag sharks and track them for studies that inform conservation policies.
Dr. Sara Iverson is a marine biologist with Dalhousie University and the Scientific Director of the Ocean Tracking Network. She’s also a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada—an honour that recognizes her life’s work studying physiological ecology. Her research takes her to remote locations in North America and the Arctic to study seabirds, seals, sea lions and polar bears in their natural habitats. Mattel and National Geographic even chose her as the role model for their recently-released polar marine biologist Barbie.
Episode 6: Jeff Dahn, Battery Scientist – Focus, Drive & Energy Storage Solutions
He went from the varsity soccer team at Dalhousie to striking a deal that made him Tesla’s first university research partner ever. Physicist Jeff Dahn isn’t one to “stand around and let grass grow” under his feet. He has led a highly-acclaimed career in battery science. Known around the world as one of the pioneering developers of the lithium-ion batteries now found in portable electronics, power tools, electric vehicles and large-scale energy storage, Dr. Dahn has been recognized with awards like Canada’s NSERC Gerhard Herzberg Gold Medal in Science and Engineering. Now an Industrial Research Chair with NSERC and Tesla Canada, Dr. Dahn works to improve how much energy Li-ion batteries can store, how long they last over time, and how they’re made in an effort to reduce their cost. In between running his 25-member lab group, he teaches the first-year physics course at Dalhousie. In this episode, he talks about how he built a successful career as a scientist in government, industry and academia. He also comments on how Li-ion batteries are currently the best energy storage solution but alternatives, while in their infancy now, can also help us solve our energy problems in the future.
Episode 5: Sarah Wells, Biomedical Engineer - Heart Tissues & Spider Silk
She went from feeling personally responsible for documenting a lunar eclipse as a kid to taking hints from nature to inspire her research as a biomedical scientist and engineer. Dr. Sarah Wells is the Assistant Dean of the Medical Sciences program at Dalhousie University and a professor in both the Department of Physics and Atmospheric Sciences and the School of Biomedical Engineering. She tells us about reading every astronomy book in the Lucan, Ontario library and her work on understanding natural materials like heart tissues in pregnant women. Having a fundamental understanding of how natural materials work, she says, can lead to better high-performance engineering materials, medical treatments and more.
Episode 4: Jordan Kyriakidis, Experimental Physicist - Quantum Computing
He went from quantum theory to co-founding his own tech start-up. Jordan Kyriakidis grew up in Toronto, the child of Greek immigrants. He makes bold moves. First, he moved halfway across the country with his then-girlfriend after his second year of undergrad. Now he’s the CEO and President of QRA Corp., a company the associate professor with Dal’s Department of Physics and Atmospheric Science formed after working with an industry partner on quantum computing research. He tells us about how being a scientist isn’t so different from being a CEO, the difference between theoretical physics and experimental physics, and how an automated future demands innovation in science and engineering.
Episode 3: Mita Dasog, Chemist - Clean Energy
She went from a little girl playing in her dad’s laboratory in India to earning recognition as one of Canada’s Top 150 Women in STEM last year. Mita Dasog started university at age 16, got hired as a summer research assistant at 17, then earned her PhD in her mid-20s. Now she’s an assistant professor of Chemistry and her work involves designing new materials for use in renewable energy solutions. She tells us about growing up in India, how she fell in love with science, and the challenges she and other scientists face as they try to move society away from burning fossil fuels for energy.
Episode 2: Sean Barrett, Psychologist – Substance Use and the Legalization of Cannabis
He went from flunking a year in high school to identifying a gap in scientific research on dopamine and smoking tobacco as an undergraduate sociology major. When the young Sean Barrett realized he couldn’t fill that gap through the lens of sociology, he switched to psychology and completed an honours project that served as the foundation for the rest of his career. Now Dr. Sean Barrett is a professor in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience and head of the Dalhousie Substance Use and Addictions Lab. There he studies substances like tobacco and alcohol to better understand how various factors contribute to different addictive behaviours. Now that Canada has announced the approaching legalization of cannabis, becoming the second nation in the world to do so, Sean and other Canadian researchers like him will be able to access cannabis for studies more easily than ever before. Those studies will build the much-needed scientific knowledge on the substance and its uses. He talks to us about his life, research and how the legalization of cannabis impacts his lab.
Episode 1: Kimberley Davies, Oceanographer – Endangered North Atlantic Right Whales
She went from creating her own poetry zines to publishing her first scientific paper in Nature Geoscience while she was an undergrad. Oceanographer and post-doctoral fellow Kimberley (Kim) Davies tells us about growing up on the West Coast, her transformative experience watching humpback whales in Haida Gwaii and how she still gets sea sick every time she boards a ship. When the endangered North Atlantic right whale population off the east coast of North America lost 12 members last summer in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Dr. Davies was considered one of the key experts on the case. She was often asked to explain the situation in national and international news coverage. In this episode of Sciographies, Dr. Davies also explains how her past and current research helps decision makers understand more about these whales and where they go to find food.
Read about Dr. Davies research on Dal News: Saving the North Atlantic right whale.She went from creating her own poetry zines to publishing her first scientific paper in Nature Geoscience while she was an undergrad. Oceanographer and post-doctoral fellow Kimberley (Kim) Davies tells us about growing up on the West Coast, her transformative experience watching humpback whales in Haida Gwaii and how she still gets sea sick every time she boards a ship. When the endangered North Atlantic right whale population off the east coast of North America lost 12 members last summer in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Dr. Davies was considered one of the key experts on the case. She was often asked to explain the situation in national and international news coverage. In this episode of Sciographies, Dr. Davies also explains how her past and current research helps decision makers understand more about these whales and where they go to find food.