Western Science Speaks

Henry Standage hosts the Western Science Speaks podcast; a short format interview show exploring interesting and important work produced by Faculty of Science at Western University. The show covers a wide range of topics in Science relevant to a broad spectrum of listeners.

Check us out on podbean, or search WesternU Science on iTunes, Google Play, and Spotify. 

Is there a scientific question you would like us to address? Send your questions and ideas to science@uwo.ca or follow us @westernuScience and message us. We look forward to hearing from you!

WSS S3E12: Volunteering at Western: Making the Most Out of Your Time Here

Rebecca Clark came to Western for her Masters of Environment and Sustainability (MES). As her time at Western comes to close, she has left her mark on campus by leading all Science Faculty masters students in volunteer hours. Rebecca joins Western Science Speaks to talk about her experience volunteering, and why with the right organization and time-management, it can be worthwhile in the short and long term for any student looking to get involved.

Season 3

WSS S3E11: Left in the Dark: Why are Power Outages Still so Disruptive?

Power outages disrupt modern life, making the speed of repairs to electrical wires absolutely crucial. Unfortunately, the technology behind power outages is dated, leaving families and businesses in the dark longer than they should be. Western Science Speaks is joined by Dr. Hanan Lutfiyya, Chair of the Computer Science Department at Western University, to discuss the flaws in our current method of power repair, and her proposed solutions to the issue.

WSS S3E10: Staying one step ahead in the evolutionary arms race

Predictive mathematical models are a useful tool for just about any type of research in science. Just how useful can they be in helping us to understand the nature of evolution? Dr. Lindi Wahl from the Department of Applied Mathematics at Western University develops models to help capture the evolution of microbes, specifically viruses and bacteria. Western Science Speaks host Henry Standage chats with Dr. Wahl about the mechanisms viruses have or develop in order to avoid extinction. Discover how a better understanding of microbial evolution allows humans to stay one step ahead in the evolutionary arms race.

WSS S3E9: The Physics of Cancer

We all know someone who has or is suffering from cancer. This week on Western Science speaks, Dr. Eugene Wong, a medical physicist at Western University, tells us about the wide variety of imaging technologies he uses to better understand the contexts in which cancerous tumors grow.

WSS S3E8: Rolling the Dye: Synthetic Technology in Electricity

This week, Western Science Speaks brings you the magic of synthetic chemistry – mixing molecules to create new materials! Dr. Joe Gilroy from the Department of Chemistry at Western University shares his insights about a new, cheaper and more efficient imaging dye designed in his synthetic chemistry lab. The molecules that make up the dye are red and they glow! Listen here to find out more.

WSS S3E7: House of Balloons: Chemistry's Innovative Forefront

Chemists never rest on their laurels. 159 years after the invention of the periodic table, they are still looking to find revolutionary ways to apply and organize elements. This episode of Western Science Speaks focuses on the dexterous ways in which Western chemists are manipulating the element Phosphorus, in order to create a brighter, greener future for our planet.

WSS S3E6: Parasitism: The Most Popular Lifestyle Choice on Earth

With a population in the millions of trillions, Parasites are able to evolve at a faster pace than just about anything on Earth. Through this extreme and rapid evolution, parasites are able to come up with increasingly innovative ways to attach to a host species; whether it be in the sky, or down on the ground. Beth MacDougall-Shackleton, a professor at the Western faculty of Biology, studies the way in which parasites evolve in order to find hosts. She brings her expertise to the Western Science Speaks Podcast to explain how parasitism became the most popular lifestyle choice on Earth.

WSS S3E5: A new learning landscape

In honor of International Week at Western University, the Western Science Speaks podcast is proud to present a special podcast, celebrating the students willing to go the extra mile for a unique and foreign academic experience. Beginning with an interview with a student who spent 6 months in Stockholm, Sweden and concluding with a student who spent 10 months in Singapore, this podcast unveils the tips and insight needed for any student considering studying in a new learning landscape.

WSS S3E4: Nice Guys Finish Last ... Or Do They?

On this episode of the Western Science Speaks podcast we explore why attributes such as kindness and selflessness have triumphed over some less altruistic traits in evolution. Geoff Wild from the Department of Applied Mathematics stops by the podcast for a discussion ranging from the evolutionary benefits of "niceness" to how to the incorporation of social media into our daily lives has changed our perceptions of one another.

WSS S3E3: Breaking the Code: The Adaptive Capabilities of DNA.

DNA is our biological signature. If our DNA changes, naturally so do we. So what causes these changes? Listen to this episode of Western Science Speaks to have Kathleen Hill from the Department of Biology break down how DNA is the thread that joins us to our ancestors, plus a conversation about the biological impacts of modern life.

WSS S3E2: Behind the Screens: The Secrets to the Seemingly Living Worlds In Video Games.

There's nothing better than losing yourself for a couple hours in a foreign, thought-provoking virtual land. Those experienced in video games will know this typically ends with an irrational rant at a bunch of animated characters on a TV screen, and on truly antagonizing days, a broken controller to boot. So how do video games manage to create a sense of real-world importance? On this episode of Western Science Speaks we hear from Michael Katchabaw of the Computer Science department at Western University. He discusses how his lab develops hyper-realistic methods for creating believable online landscapes, how online multiplayer has changed the industry, and where video game technology is heading.

WSS S3E1: The draw of the galactic abyss: What you may not have known about black holes.

Few would argue the magnetism of space and its mysterious nature. An endless puzzle looming over us, begging to be solved. At the heart of our extra-terrestrial conundrum are black holes; an irresistible juggernaut, seemingly capable of so much - yet barely understood. Western Science Speaks hosts Western's resident black hole expert, Dr. Sarah Gallagher from the Department of Physics and Astronomy, for a discussion about what we truly know about black holes, some of the common misconceptions about them, and a few of the most interesting theories Dr. Gallagher has came across.

Season 2

WSS S2E8: Canada's Oil Disconnect.

Western Canada is one of the world's largest oil manufacturing regions, but in the last half-decade the industry has experienced a significant downturn, and is only just starting to recover. Western Science Speaks brings in geologist and former oil exploration CEO, Professor Burns Cheadle, for an objective breakdown of Canada's oil sector woes, the head-scratching reality of half the country importing oil from abroad, and how the sector impacts our relationship with the U.S.

WSS S2E7: Stirring the Pot: Finding sustainable methods for metal extraction.

We rely on metal to power our daily lives. The good news is, Canada is one of the world’s largest producers of this vital material. However, balancing that productivity with the obligation to protect our increasingly fragile environment is a challenge that leaves Canadian miners and environmentalists grappling. Professor Kim Baines from the Department of Chemistry joins Western Science Speaks to discuss metal’s national importance, the common mining and separation techniques, and how chemists approach the obstacle of assembling an environmentally friendlier mining process.

WSS S2E6: No Need to Fear: The enormous upside of Artificial Intelligence in injury rehabilitation.

Are you concerned about the impact rapidly advancing AI technology on your privacy, wealth and our democracy? If so, you need to hear from Dr. Dan Lizotte from the Department of Computer Science at Western University. Dan joins the podcast to dispel the evil-robot narrative, talk about his medical AI research and illuminate the life-saving upside that robots can contribute to the health of Canadians in the very near future.

WSS S2E5: The Genetic Basis for Courtship and Mating Behaviour with Amanda Moehring

Meeting someone special is an undeniably worthwhile and necessary part of life. Unfortunately, it can often be awkward, flustering and at the worst of times, cringe-inducing. Determining how much of our success (or failure) in that domain is dictated by free will, rather than deep-rooted peculiarities is a question that fascinates researchers of behaviour. Amanda Moehring, from the Department of Biology, joins the podcast to break down the role genetics play in our courtship and mating process.

WSS S2E4: Explore the Revival of Atlantic Salmon in the Great Lakes 

When you live in a fish-eat-fish world, the complexity of your environment and how you use it to survive and thrive is of critical importance. Neff Lab researcher, Chris Therrien joins us for part two in a series about the revival of Atlantic Salmon in The Great Lakes.

WSS S2E3: Genetics and Social Behaviour with Dr Anne Simon

Western students, professors and staff create a social community of over 30,000 people on Western's campus every day. Understanding why we are comfortable or not in these social spaces is a topic of great importance for behavioural researchers. Western Science Speaks sits down with Dr Anne Simon of Western’s Department of Biology, to explore the role genetics in the social behaviour of living things.

WSS S2E2: The Story of Salmon Revival in the Great Lakes with Nicole Zathey

Our world is supporting less natural life forms than ever before. How do we revive a once thriving species, that perished at the hands of man? Western Science Speaks talks to Nicole Zathey, who is working to restore the previously native Atlantic Salmon back into Ontario waters.

WSS S2E1: Bird Survival in a Changing Climate

Western Science Speaks takes a tour of the Advanced Facility for Avian Research. This cutting-edge research facility has it's own wind tunnel and is able to simulate almost any environmental condition. We talk with Jeff Martin who's looking how climate change is affecting birds in Canada.

WSS Season 2 Launch: Canada’s Energy Economy

Sustainability, alternative energy, profitability and competitiveness; concepts that considered together provide a thought-provoking discussion with Western University’s Dr. Matt Davison about Canada’s energy economy from the perspective of the consumer, government and business.