Episode 32 – “Fermi Paradox” by Lukas Berglund

Created for CSET 2100: Science Communication Tools and Techniques

Have you ever looked up at the night sky and wondered if there is another life in the universe? Lukas Berglund has and in his episode on the Fermi Paradox, he takes the audience on an engaging audio journey that tactfully discusses the existence of extraterrestrial life. He weaves a UN speech, audio from the Voyager probes, and electronic music to set the mood and immerse the audience in a succinct story.

“Overall with academic-type communications, I feel like the key is always to anecdotal; to talk about moments, to talk about cases, to tell stories that you can build your academic ideas around”

– Jad Abumrad on podcasts about abstract academic concepts

What was your process for structuring this episode? Did you plan out the entire episode first or did you just experiment with audio until you found something that you liked?

“I started with the plan to make an episode about the Fermi Paradox. I was thinking about a hook and I remembered this disk that Carl Sagan sent out to space at some point so I took a look at that. It starts with this recording from the UN representative that I put at the start of my podcast. It really blew me away the first time I listened to it. It had this old-school, peace-and-love, the-world-is-holding-hands energy that I found to be an illuminating look into the way people thought back then. Once I knew how to start it I structured the rest of the podcast around best explaining the Fermi Paradox. I was particularly interested in proposed solutions to the Fermi Paradox so I read through a lot of them on the Wikipedia page. I also think the great filter is a pretty important idea so I decided to include that too. In the end, I think I packed a lot of stuff into the episode, maybe a bit too much, which made it feel kind of hectic, but it is what it is.”

How long did it take for you to produce this episode?

“I’m guessing I put about 7 hours of work into this episode including edits I made after the first draft.”

Could you explain your thought process behind designing the door knocking and “hello” in different languages?

“To be honest, this is the weirdest part of the episode. These recordings are also part of the voyager record that I featured in the beginning of the episode, so I thought it would be a nice touch to include them in that part of the episode. But that part ended up sounding kind of awkward and obviously people didn’t know that it’s from the voyager record, so that fun detail is lost on the listener. It also didn’t help that the recordings were pretty low-quality.”

What advice would you have for students that are interested in producing something similar?

“I have a couple of miscellaneous pieces of advice:

  1. Think about what you are trying to explain and try to do it in the most natural way possible. Also, when you are writing the script, say it out loud to see what does and doesn’t sound natural. The number one thing here is that the things that read nicely do not always sound nice.
  2. Don’t be afraid to experiment. The best way to tell if something works is by making it and listening to how it sounds. Producing a podcast is usually a loop of making a change, listening to it, readjusting, listening again, etc until I find something that sounds nice.
  3. Steal stuff from people you admire. Especially at the start, I think you can learn a lot by just taking things that you like from other podcasts and trying to do the same.”

Episode 31 – “PRISM: NSA’s Information Net” – by Rishabh Gharekhan

Runner-Up; Undergraduate: “Excellence in Podcasting” Competition

Sponsored by the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities in collaboration with the Center for Teaching and the Office of Immersion Resources.

With secrets at stake and lives on the line, where does the United States government draw the boundary between privacy and protection? In this episode of VandyVox, Rishabh Gharekhan produces a think piece that debunks myths, reinforces facts, and compares competing stories surrounding Edward Snowden’s 2013 National Security Agency (NSA) data leak. He was awarded runner-up in the undergraduate category for the Excellence in Podcasting competition.

Opening with audio reminiscent of a picturesque beach vacation, Rishabh induces a sense of relaxation with the sound of waves crashing on the shore. This cold open purposefully juxtaposes the life Edward Snowden traded for one of intense scrutiny, on the run from his home country, in name of privacy protection. Making the most of transitions, he deploys a set of revolving newsreel highlights from June 6, 2013. Utilizing historical TV clips as transition audio transforms the podcast’s time and place, giving the audience the impression that they’re flipping through channels and learning about Snowden’s astounding reveal for the first time. Further, brooding background music sets an atmosphere that makes the listener feel like they’re a spy receiving the debrief for their next mission. These are all examples of notable ways Rishabh skillfully incorporates audio to accentuate his content.

In addition to supplementary sound, informational scaffolding is another stronghold of Rishabh’s audio so that it’s accessible to experts and amateurs alike. He begins by communicating the basics, asking the question “Who deserves our data?” and breaking down the key players who may be involved, such as the government, industries, consumers (self), or some balance between them. Scaling up, he offers the listener some historical context to privacy and protection laws, describing how cascading events in post-Watergate policy tipped the scales of privacy in favor of surveillance, leading to the creation of the NSA’s Planning tool for Resource Integration, Synchronization, and Management (PRISM). By providing historical context, the listener is primed to dive deeper into the denser aspects of PRISM operations and chronological events that follow Snowden’s data leak.

Pulling back the curtain behind the PRISM, Rishabh provides an in-depth analysis that’s still accessible to the average privacy and protection novice, building further credibility between himself and the audience through direct references to federal policy and relevant newscasts. He extends this trust as he highlights the potential for long leash interpretations within the PRISM program, citing the language in section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that requires “reasonable suspicion,” for a defining target, or the meager  51% confidence interval for determining whether a someone was foreign or an American citizen. After scaffolding listener learning to an understanding of PRISM’s creation and wide operating range, Rishabh then builds a burgeoning for how the data collected by the NSA was being used, one step further into uncertainty.

Rishabh employs a tool to make even complex, non-verified theories about the inner workings of our nation’s top security agency palatable to a larger swath of people: analogy. As he covers multiple theories by top techs, he relates the process to a relatively ubiquitous experience, retrieving candy from a vending machine. As the information gets dicey, he maintains impartiality, quoting a variety of key players, top tech companies, bipartisan government officials, the director of the NSA, and former President Barak Obama, even playing a soundbite of his response when asked about these intelligence operations while in office. Though competing comments may cause perceived truths to sway in credibility depending on which characters you believe, Rishabh’s supported audio solidifies his integrity as a reporter, storyteller, and podcaster.

 

When opinions are across the board, strategic informational scaffolding like Rishabh’s helps hosts communicate organized facts. Convey your content with precision:

The IRIS Center at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College offers free, online resources related to implementing instructional scaffolding:

  • https://iris.peabody.vanderbilt.edu/module/sca/cresource/q1/p01/

 

In this tale of traitor vs. hero, Rishabh tells of twists and turns that keep the audience locked in. This Forbes article outlines the key components to achieve effective podcast storytelling.

“The Power of Podcasting For Telling A Story” by Carrie Kerpen

  • https://www.forbes.com/sites/carriekerpen/2020/03/11/the-power-of-podcasting-for-telling-a-story/?sh=1654323c2fb4

 

Catch your audience off-guard to capture their attention, the way Rishabh has the listener standing in the sand. Try introducing your podcast with a cold open:

Scroll through Tallie Gabriel’s “Show Bites: Hook Your Audience With a Cold Open,” on Marketing Showrunners:

  • https://www.marketingshowrunners.com/blog/show-bites-hook-your-audience-with-a-cold-open/

 

Rishabh’s soundbites of newsreels, speeches, and beaches transform the listener’s timeline. Add and edit sounds for free using Audacity, then publish for free on Anchor:

Audacity, a “free, open source, cross-platform audio software”

  • https://www.audacityteam.org/

Anchor, a “free, beginner-friendly platform for podcast creation,”

  • https://anchor.fm/

 

Written by Kaelyn Warne, Teaching Affiliate at the Vanderbilt Center for Teaching

Episode 30 – “Cancer Epidemiology” by Pranoti Pradhan

Runner-Up; Graduate & Professional: “Excellence in Podcasting” Competition

Sponsored by the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities in collaboration with the Center for Teaching and the Office of Immersion Resources.

What do nuns, chimney sweeps, and tobacco smokers have in common? Well, you’ll just have to listen to unravel the answer to this riddle. In this episode of VandyVox, Pranoti Pradhan explores how cancer epidemiology sprung to life and directs our attention towards the future of the field regarding health disparities. She was awarded runner-up in the graduate and professional students category for the Excellence in Podcasting competition. The featured audio is a component of the larger podcast “Going Viral,” Season 2 Episode 5 “Cancer Epidemiology”

“Going Viral” is a podcast with a mission for listeners to “understand the basics of epidemiology – health for the population,” co-created by Pranoti Pradhan, a Ph.D. student in Epidemiology at Vanderbilt University, and Saimrunali Dadigala, a Master of Biomedical Sciences student at Tufts University. Together, the pair communicate scientific information surrounding the basics of epidemiology and interview experts and field specialists to discuss epidemiological relevance to modern society.

To build a common knowledge base between herself and the listener, Pranoti approaches the historical lens of cancer epidemiology as a chronological tale of creation. Storytelling in this manner plops the budding science into contextual relevance, creating a cast of characters to capture the audience’s attention. From this vantage point, listeners are exposed to the scientific method in action as Pranoti strings together a series of observations and highlights how they shaped a novel medical field. More than just stories, these tales operate as case studies, an effective teaching tool to relate conceptual ideas to real-world situations.

As Pranoti shifts from past to present and the field of cancer epidemiology broadens, she continues to provide corporeal evidence to help listeners latch on to otherwise abstract considerations of health disparities. Applying a compare-and-contrast analysis when discussing the ways epidemiological factors diverge between different types of cancer, she provides supporting examples that highlight differences in health disparities. For instance, Pranoti asserts that certain types of risk are controllable, compared to those that are generally unavoidable, such as those influenced by genetic inheritance, socioeconomic status, disabilities, or race and ethnicity factors.

Her approach touches on Bloom’s taxonomy, a framework that categorizes and hierarchically assembles sets of learning objectives in a pyramid shape. As one works up the pyramid, the level of retention and complexity increases as well. By the close of her audio, Pranoti has climbed into the “analyze” category, organizing, comparing, contrasting, and differentiating modern cancer epidemiology. An image of Bloom’s Taxonomy by the Vanderbilt Center for Teaching is displayed for ease, while further guidance on the framework can be found amongst the additional resources below.

Bloom’s Taxonomy by the Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching

In addition to the educational tools Pranoti utilized, her podcast also stands out through the application of supplementary audio. From bookend to bookend, this audio is peppered with attention-grabbing pops; Pranoti’s intro highlights the previous podcast, enticing the audience from the very beginning, her outro is formatted as a teaser, hinting at upcoming content in future audio to draw them back, and her chronological look through history is augmented via musical transitions that make time travel almost tangible.

 

New episodes of “Going Viral” by Pranoti Pradhan and Saimrunali Dadigala are available every Monday at 8 AM EST. Listen now:

“Going Viral” Website: 

  • https://goingviralepidemiology.libsyn.com/website

Apple Podcasts:

  • https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/going-viral/id1520085421

Google Podcasts:

  • https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly9nb2luZ3ZpcmFsZXBpZGVtaW9sb2d5LmxpYnN5bi5jb20vcnNz?sa=X&ved=0CBEQlvsGahcKEwiA2rvhhfDzAhUAAAAAHQAAAAAQHA&hl=en

 

Incorporating key components of scientific research and teaching/learning frameworks can boost your audience’s knowledge retention. Explore the tools Pranoti employed:

Khan Academy’s “The scientific method”

  • https://www.khanacademy.org/science/biology/intro-to-biology/science-of-biology/a/the-science-of-biology

Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching guide to “Bloom’s Taxonomy” by Patricia Armstrong

  • https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/blooms-taxonomy/

Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching guide to “Case Studies”

  • https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/case-studies/

 

Giving your science a setting and cast of characters like Pranoti can increase listener retention and comprehension. This Forbes article outlines the key components to achieve effective podcast storytelling.

“The Power of Podcasting For Telling A Story” by Carrie Kerpen

  • https://www.forbes.com/sites/carriekerpen/2020/03/11/the-power-of-podcasting-for-telling-a-story/?sh=1654323c2fb4

 

Pranoti’s closing teaser entices the audience to keep listening. Add sounds and edit audio for free using Audacity, then publish for free on Anchor:

Audacity, a “free, open source, cross-platform audio software”

  • https://www.audacityteam.org/

Anchor, a “free, beginner-friendly platform for podcast creation,”

  • https://anchor.fm/

 

More information on the history of events that steered the field of cancer epidemiology Pranoti described can be found below:

“History of Cancer Epidemiology: 18th Century to Present” by The American Cancer Society

  • https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-basics/history-of-cancer/cancer-epidemiology.html

“Cancer: A History Perspective” by The National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute

https://training.seer.cancer.gov/disease/history/

 

Written by Kaelyn Warne, Teaching Affiliate at the Vanderbilt Center for Teaching

Episode 29 – “Gene Drives” by Olivia Pembridge

Runner-Up; Undergraduate: “Excellence in Podcasting” Competition

Sponsored by the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities in collaboration with the Center for Teaching and the Office of Immersion Resources.

If it were possible to eliminate malaria worldwide with a simple snip of the scissors, should we? Dive deeper and discover that fantastical-sounding science involving mutations, clones, and genetic modifications is no mere fiction. In this episode of VandyVox, Olivia Pembridge investigates the science, policy, and ethical aspects of biological technology Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) gene drives. Awarded runner-up in the undergraduate category for the Excellence in Podcasting competition, Olivia highlights the need to proceed with care when addressing research revolving around disease eliminations, beginning from a place of shared knowledge and responsibility.

Olivia tackles this sensitive science by starting with a simple scenario, discussing the limitations of gene drive through the personification of mosquitos. Peppering in a handful of human examples and colloquial pop culture language, she proceeds with dexterity as she lays out a basic understanding of CRISPR’s underlying mechanism. A strong component of Olivia’s scientific communication is her ability to scaffold information in a way that creates anticipation for the next level of learning. Additionally, she outlined the fundamental questions that comprised her scaffolding ladder:

    • “What is gene drive?” (Level 1)
    • “How does it work?” (Level 2)
    • “Is it dangerous?” (Level 3)

Relaying these questions to her audience allowed follow her pathway and provided her a framework within which she could navigation the delicate subject of genome editing technology, where adoption of this research could be polarized by the public. As she dives deeper into the scientific, political, and ethical intricacies surrounding CRISPER, Olivia interviews experts in genetic science.

Geneticist Kathy Friedman, Associate Professor and Vice-Chair in the Department of Biological Sciences at Vanderbilt University, provides a succinct description of the CRISPER process, expanding on the understanding Olivia provided in the introduction. Utilizing an interview-style of learning, Olivia extends a direct line from top university researchers to her audience. While Dr. Friedman, a member of the Genome Maintenance group in the Vanderbilt Ingram Cancer Center, provides listeners with an understanding of how CRISPR works, Olivia’s second interview samples what the future of CRISPER could hold.

Thomas Clements, a CRISPR researcher and Senior Lecturer of Biological Sciences at Vanderbilt University, unlocks the potential stored in CRISPR technology. Dr. Clements asserts that, if used correctly, gene drives could create a world without Malaria, Zika, or even COVID, extending that the possibilities are endless for disease prevention, theoretically. This new layer of knowledge allows Olivia to launch into a discussion weighing whether future potential leans towards good or bad, moving from Level 2 of her scaffolding framework “How does it work?” to Level 3 “Is it dangerous?”

Leah Buchman is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Entomology at Texas A&M University “currently working on a team of interdisciplinary scientists looking at the public perception of gene drives as an emerging technology in ag(riculture) in Texas.” Leah brings a holistic view to managing ecological harms vs benefits when implementing gene drives, considering unintended side effects within the food chain, and accounting for concerns with reversibility. The knowledge gleaned in this third interview demonstrates the complexity of the topic, a torch Olivia handles with care.

Olivia goes on to build further scientific trust between herself and the audience by referencing the work of Claudia Emerson, an Associate Professor of Philosophy at McMaster University and director of McMaster’s Institute on Ethics & Policy for Innovation. Dr. Emerson has shaped guiding principles for gene editing ethics and contributed to vaccine testing guidelines for COVID-19 set by the World Health Organization (WHO). Olivia builds on Dr. Emerson’s rationale that we all have shared responsibilities for the implementation of CRISPR gene drives, affirming that ethical codes at the localized scale have guided the cautious progression of research in controlled environments.

In addition to scaffolded learning and accessing expert information via interview format, Olivia deftly applies supplementary audio to create an excellent podcast. Transition tones set the mood while overlayed sound effects capture the listener’s attention, such as scissor snipping when referencing molecular scissors. At other times, Olivia transported the audience to a new setting entirely, like when she subtly included serene nature sounds when depicting the release of genetically modified mosquitoes into the wild.

 

The expertise offered in interviews can take your podcast to the next level. Learn more about the featured guests in Olivia’s Podcast.

“’We were doing all that hard work of helping students practice how to apply their knowledge together.’: Thomas Clements and Kathy Friedman talk about their synchronous sessions in their Fall 2020 online course.” By Carly Byer

    • https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/2021/03/we-were-doing-all-that-hard-work-of-helping-students-practice-how-to-apply-their-knowledge-together-thomas-clements-and-kathy-friedman-talk-about-their-synchronous-sessions-in-thei/

Learn more about Dr. Kathy Friedman on her lab website “The Friedman Lab” where you can access the group’s publications.

    • https://my.vanderbilt.edu/thefriedmanlab/

Learn more about Dr. Thomas Clements on his personal blog about science “Science_Baller”.

    • https://scienceballer.wordpress.com/

Discover the influence of Dr. Claudia Emerson in conversations on scientific ethics.

    • https://experts.mcmaster.ca/display/emersoc

Find more about Ph.D. Candidate Leah Buchman at Texas A&M University.

    • https://entomology.tamu.edu/current-students/current-graduate-students/graduate-student-profiles/leah-buchman/

 

Interviews like Olivia’s offer rare, unfettered access to experts by the public. Here are a few guides to ensure your future interviews are in great shape:

NPR’s Special Series, Student Podcast Challenge: “Starting Your Podcast: A Guide For Students” (What Makes a Good Interview?)

    • https://www.npr.org/2018/10/30/662070097/starting-your-podcast-a-guide-for-students#interviews

Mark Schaefer’s 5 Steps to Conduct a Superior Podcast Interview

    • https://businessesgrow.com/2017/05/25/podcast-interview/

 

Intentional informational scaffolding like Olivia’s creates smooth science communication on a sensitive subject. Convey your content with precision:

The IRIS Center at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College offers free, online resources related to implementing instructional scaffolding:

    • https://iris.peabody.vanderbilt.edu/module/sca/cresource/q1/p01/

 

Olivia’s supplementary audio transports the listeners to new settings. Add and edit sounds for free using Audacity, then publish for free on Anchor:

Audacity, a “free, open source, cross-platform audio software”

    • https://www.audacityteam.org/

Anchor, a “free, beginner-friendly platform for podcast creation,”

    • https://anchor.fm/

 

To learn more about CRISPR gene editing, which won the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, awarded to Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna, please visit the articles below:

Martin, J., Krzysztof, C., Ines, F., Michael, H., A., D. J., & Emmanuelle, C. (2012). A Programmable Dual-RNA–Guided DNA Endonuclease in Adaptive Bacterial Immunity. Science, 337(6096), 816–821. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1225829

Ledford, H., Callaway, E. (2020). Pioneers of revolutionary CRISPR gene editing win chemistry Nobel. Nature News https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02765-9

Ran, F. (2014). CRISPR-Cas: Development and applications for mammalian genome editing. Harvard University, Doctoral Dissertation. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:12274628

 

Written by Kaelyn Warne, Teaching Affiliate at the Vanderbilt Center for Teaching

Episode 28 – “My Humanities Moment: Children’s experiences and voices in social research and literature” by Marta Eugenia Zavaleta Lemus

Runner-Up; Graduate & Professional: “Excellence in Podcasting” Competition

Sponsored by the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities in collaboration with the Center for Teaching and the Office of Immersion Resources.

When it comes to weighty discussions, there’s one group of people whose perspectives are often overlooked: children. In this episode of VandyVox, Marta Eugenia Zavaleta Lemus goes to small places to grow to new heights, demonstrating the importance of children’s voices related to human mobilities. She was awarded runner-up in the graduate and professional students category for the Excellence in Podcasting competition.

Storytelling is one of the most effective tools Marta Eugenia utilized to convey the unique perspective children have on life events. Her vivid stories expose, through first-hand experience, the underbelly of life in El Salvador after the Salvadoran Civil War. Powerful and personal anecdotes like Marta Eugenia’s ascribe a tangible component to the value of children’s voices in the face of loss, fear, and hardship related to human mobilities. Ultimately, she relays that life events surrounding her childhood launched her into an academic career as a cultural anthropologist.

Relating to her childhood, Marta Eugenia also focuses on relevant literature that shaped her upbringing to relay the lasting impression that children’s voices can have in society. The first of two books she references is “The Diary of a Young Girl” by Anne Frank. As Marta Eugenia describes personally relating to Anne Frank’s narrative voice, the listener is unable to deny the importance of continually uplifting children’s first-person narratives. This message is accentuated in the second book she highlights, “My Friend the Painter” by Lygia Bojunga Nunes, which is written from a child’s point of view regarding art and suicide. Both pieces of literature feature heavy, solemn topics where children may be intentionally or unintentionally excluded from the conversations, despite their vital contributions.

Marta Eugenia displayed a skillful implementation of background and transitional music that complemented each topical tone. At the onset, she began with playful, attention-grabbing music as she revealed the subject centered around children’s voices. Then, while providing her personal and familial experiences in post-war El Salvador, the song slides into a brooding somberness. Pivoting into a discussion on the dark yet lofty book “My Friend the Painter,” the music modulates mimicking the complexity and breadth the book embodies. She even retells a portion of the story in both English and Spanish, touching back to her upbringing and bringing another layer of accessibility to the audio. Including supportive musical selections in this way enhances how the listener receives the audio content.

 

Discover the stories that spoke to Marta Eugenia through the representation of children’s voices:

“My Friend the Painter” by Lygia Bojunga Nunes

  • https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/8727594-my-friend-the-painter

“The Diary of a Young Girl” by Anne Frank

  • https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/48855.The_Diary_of_a_Young_Girl?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=QvEdLQXtVi&rank=1

 

Produce a podcast with powerful storytelling like Marta Eugenia’s. This Forbes article outlines the key components to achieve effective podcast storytelling.

“The Power of Podcasting For Telling A Story” by Carrie Kerpen

  • https://www.forbes.com/sites/carriekerpen/2020/03/11/the-power-of-podcasting-for-telling-a-story/?sh=1654323c2fb4

 

Marta Eugenia’s music adds depth to her podcast. Add sounds and edit audio for free using Audacity, then publish for free on Anchor:

Audacity, a “free, open source, cross-platform audio software”

  • https://www.audacityteam.org/

Anchor, a “free, beginner-friendly platform for podcast creation,”

  • https://anchor.fm/

 

Written by Kaelyn Warne, Teaching Affiliate at the Vanderbilt Center for Teaching

Episode 27 – “Anchor Down, Burn Out” by Abhinav Krishnan

Runner-Up; Undergraduate: “Excellence in Podcasting” Competition

Sponsored by the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities in collaboration with the Center for Teaching and the Office of Immersion Resources.

Burnout, a special type of stress related to work, is frequently discussed within academic environments. This physical or emotional exhaustion swelled on Vanderbilt’s campus in a whole new way during the 2020-2021 calendar year. In this episode of VandyVox, Abhinav Krishnan explores the impact COVID-19 policies had on undergraduate morale related to burnout. He was awarded runner-up in the undergraduate category for the Excellence in Podcasting competition.

This superb audio is a part of a larger podcast, “College Voices” in collaboration with the Vanderbilt Hustler, a “news source for Vanderbilt University’s campus and forum for students’ perspectives.” Abhinav is the Executive Producer of “College Voices,” described by the Hustler as a composition of columns highlighting undergraduate perspectives on campus by those with a variety of experiences, passions, and expertise.

In his audio, interviewees described burnout in their own experience, relating reduced breaks, rigorous course loads, and marathon mindsets to the “loss of the love of learning” as early as freshman year and feelings of guilt for engaging in self-care or having fun. Abhinav’s interviews provided a platform for students, whose voices made it clear that as a body, undergraduates felt left out of crucial conversations. Despite the drag students felt, he made sure to highlight a variety of campus resources they found helpful in fighting off burnout, such as conversations with faculty and the University Counseling Center. A key component of his interview style that conveyed their messages came down to effective editing.

Abhinav splices interviews together, rotating between the various students he interviewed and selecting the dialogue that had the most impact for the topic. Rather than feature one interview at a time, he passed the baton between participants and intermixed his own contextual blurbs to provide anchor points for their feedback. He spruced up his sound by adding royalty-free audio for non-commercial productions and chimed in with chipper bloopers at the end related to pandemic mask policies. These flourishes created an uplifting atmosphere around the critical conversation.

 

Find more episodes of College Voices, many of which were written or co-written by Abhinav:

Vanderbilt Hustler: “College Voices” 

    • https://vanderbilthustler.com/category/college-voices/

 

\ Interviews are a great tool for providing authentic audio like Abhinav’s. Here are a few guides to ensure your future interviews are in great shape:

NPR’s Special Series, Student Podcast Challenge: “Starting Your Podcast: A Guide For Students” (What Makes a Good Interview?)

    • https://www.npr.org/2018/10/30/662070097/starting-your-podcast-a-guide-for-students#interviews

Mark Schaefer’s 5 Steps to Conduct a Superior Podcast Interview

    • https://businessesgrow.com/2017/05/25/podcast-interview/

 

Abhinav’s use of music and bloopers uplifts his audio. Find free music like his, usable under a non-commercial creative commons license:

Free Music Archive, Artist “Bio Unit”:

    • https://freemusicarchive.org/music/Bio_Unit

 

Abhinav added audio to anchor his podcast. Add sounds and edit audio for free using Audacity, then publish for free on Anchor:

Audacity, a “free, open source, cross-platform audio software”

    • https://www.audacityteam.org/

Anchor, a “free, beginner-friendly

    • https://anchor.fm/

 

Written by Kaelyn Warne, Teaching Affiliate at the Vanderbilt Center for Teaching

Episode 26 – “How Real is Silicon-based Life?” by Natalie Wallace and Nicole Kendrick

Winner; Graduate & Professional: “Excellence in Podcasting” Competition

Sponsored by the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities in collaboration with the Center for Teaching and the Office of Immersion Resources.

When the line between science and fiction becomes blurred, how can know what’s rooted in reality or simply pseudoscience? This is precisely the question that Natalie Wallace and Nicole Kendrick, graduate students in biological science and biochemistry respectively, aim to answer. In this episode of VandyVox, the dynamic duo debunks famed sci-fi TV-series The X-Files, Season 2 Episode 9 “Firewalker.” The pair earned first place in the graduate and professional students category for the Excellence in Podcasting competition.

Strong components of Nicole’s and Natalie’s style are their ability to swiftly separate conglomerates into components, then scaffold discussions surrounding each subsection. Beginning with the basics, they compared and contrasted carbon- vs. silica-based structures, then built into the underlying mechanisms to lead listeners to the conclusion that silica-based life is unlikely on Earth. In addition to their robust analysis, the women keep the spirit of science fiction alive by referencing progress made in the field of synthetic chemistry for silica-carbon molecules, acknowledging the role imagination plays in the limit of possibilities.

Following the trend to reveal that some science fiction may not be so farfetched, Natalie and Nicole reference tangible examples where science mimics the science fiction found in the show. As examples, they unearthed various and vicious parasites that are capable of modifying host behavior and referenced NASA operations that sent robots to extreme environments, like volcanoes, in preparation for Mars explorations. Their ability to relate fantastical fiction to evidence-based science creates an enticing piece of audio that keeps the listener enthralled.

This STEM squad uses a cold open tactic, jumping directly into the audio in a discussion of the cuteness of robots on screen, followed by pensive music foreshadowing the dark drama ahead. Using supplementary sounds in this fashion catches the listener off-guard then draws them in, creating a subtle ploy to garner their attention.

Natalie and Nicole acknowledged their personal relationship to the show, revealing how they were inspired by the character Dana Scully, a strong female scientist, who may have convinced them to pursue scientific tracks themselves. Driving the conversation further, the podcasters investigated the impact of quality representation of women in STEM throughout media, highlighting both the progress made and the disparities left to address.

Their award-winning audio is a part of their larger podcast, “How Real is that Science?” where the team tackles more myths in a self-proclaimed “effort to improve science communication and watch movies.”

Find more episodes of “How Real is that Science?” by Nicole and Natalie at:

Apple Podcasts: 

    • https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/how-real-is-that-science/id1504271187

Spotify:

    • https://open.spotify.com/show/4sMAb6cpwEzIl8X5esP24g?si=e1f9a8907e9c44f7

 

Educational podcasts shine when evidence-based teaching methods are employed, the way Nicole and Natalie implemented informational scaffolding. Convey your content with precision:

The IRIS Center at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College offers free, online resources related to implementing instructional scaffolding:

    • https://iris.peabody.vanderbilt.edu/module/sca/cresource/q1/p01/

 

Natalie’s and Nicole’s intro hooks the audience. Want to try your hand at a cold open?

Scroll through Tallie Gabriel’s “Show Bites: Hook Your Audience With a Cold Open,” on Marketing Showrunners:

    • https://www.marketingshowrunners.com/blog/show-bites-hook-your-audience-with-a-cold-open/

 

You don’t need a team to create an amazing podcast. Add sounds and edit audio for free using Audacity, then publish for free on Anchor:

Audacity, a “free, open source, cross-platform audio software”

    • https://www.audacityteam.org/

Anchor, a “free, beginner-friendly platform for podcast creation,”

    • https://anchor.fm/

 

Written by Kaelyn Warne, Teaching Affiliate at the Vanderbilt Center for Teaching

Episode 25 – “Noise Pollution, COVID-19, and Your Health” by Emma Fagan

Winner; Undergraduate: “Excellence in Podcasting” Competition

Sponsored by the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities in collaboration with the Center for Teaching and the Office of Immersion Resources.

Since early 2020, dialogues have begun swirling around the effects of coronavirus and the implications of global pandemics. In this episode of VandyVox, Emma Fagan is bringing the conversation back to science to discuss its unexpected correlation to pollution, taking home first place in the undergraduate category for the Excellence in Podcasting competition.

While this audio was not produced for a class, it stands strong because it’s still rooted in research. Emma employed interviews of her roommates to take research into her own hands, grounding the conversation to tangible ways we experience noise pollution on a local level. Broadening the scope to the global perspective, she references international publications and cites scientific conclusions regarding the effects of noise pollution on human health.

Supplementary sounds of noise pollution plop listeners into a shared experience as Emma reveals that noise pollution can be unrecognized as a form of pollution by many. Emma’s tactic for revealing noise pollution to the listener is simple yet effective: pause the audio. When listeners return to the podcast, she offers them examples of both indoor and outdoor noise pollution to calibrate their senses.

Scaffolding our learning, once we’re oriented to the existence of noise pollution, she goes on to describe how the resultant stress and annoyance can negatively affect human health and cognition. Onto the final step of the framework, Emma relates noise pollution and human health to COVID-19, citing studies that compared pre-pandemic noise levels and exposure to those in various places after lockdown or stay-at-home orders were mandated. As she references research both domestic and international, Emma builds scientific trust between herself, as the host, and the listeners.

 

Interviews are a great tool for creating stellar podcasts like Emma’s. Here are a few guides to ensure your future interviews are in great shape:

NPR’s Special Series, Student Podcast Challenge: “Starting Your Podcast: A Guide For Students” (What Makes a Good Interview?)

    • https://www.npr.org/2018/10/30/662070097/starting-your-podcast-a-guide-for-students#interviews

Mark Schaefer’s 5 Steps to Conduct a Superior Podcast Interview

    • https://businessesgrow.com/2017/05/25/podcast-interview/

 

Educational podcasts shine when evidence-based teaching methods are employed, the way Emma implemented informational scaffolding. Convey your content with precision:

The IRIS Center at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College offers free, online resources related to implementing instructional scaffolding:

    • https://iris.peabody.vanderbilt.edu/module/sca/cresource/q1/p01/

 

Emma’s supplementary sounds made her podcast pop. Add sounds and edit audio for free using Audacity, then publish for free on Anchor:

Audacity, a “free, open source, cross-platform audio software”

    • https://www.audacityteam.org/

Anchor, a “free, beginner-friendly platform for podcast creation,”

    • https://anchor.fm/

 

To learn more about specific noise pollution topics Emma discussed, please visit the articles below:

Basu, B., Murphy, E., Molter, A., Sarkar Basu, A., Sannigrahi, S., Belmonte, M., & Pilla, F. (2021). Investigating changes in noise pollution due to the COVID-19 lockdown: The case of Dublin, Ireland. Sustainable Cities and Society, 65, 102597. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scs.2020.102597

Münzel, T., Sørensen, M., & Daiber, A. (2021). Transportation noise pollution and cardiovascular disease. Nature Reviews Cardiology, 18(9), 619–636. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41569-021-00532-5

Nicole, W. (2013). Road traffic noise and diabetes: long-term exposure may increase disease risk. Environmental Health Perspectives, 121(2), a60–a60. https://doi.org/10.1289/ehp.121-a60

Bickel, N. (2020). Stay-at-home orders cut noise exposure nearly in half. Michigan News, University of Michigan. https://news.umich.edu/stay-at-home-orders-cut-noise-exposure-nearly-in-half/

Local Learning: Noise pollution and Nashville’s education:

Sutton, C. (2021). ‘We deserve to learn in peace” Hume Fogg students call for party bus regulation in Metro Nashville. Nashville News Channel 5. https://www.newschannel5.com/news/hume-fogg-students-call-for-party-bus-regulation-in-metro-nashville

 

Written by Kaelyn Warne, Teaching Affiliate at the Vanderbilt Center for Teaching

Episode 24 -“Black Tea” by JoHannah Valentin & Shay Milner

In this episode VandyVox is featuring audio from a podcast titled “Black Tea”, that is produced by two Vanderbilt undergraduate students, JoHannah Valentin and Shay Milner, in collaboration with Vanderbilt Student Communications. In their episode, “Women, Religion, and Enslavement”, the women interview Vanderbilt Professor Alexis Wells-Oghoghomeh from the Department of Religious Studies.

While this podcast was not produced in response to a direct classroom assignment, JoHannah and Shay frequently introduce and expand on knowledge they cultivated from Professor Wells-Oghoghomeh’s course teachings. Shay and JoHannah produced this podcast because they wanted to address the discrepancy that exists between the campus demographics and the content produced by Student Media.

The pair draws on knowledge from Dr. Wells-Oghoghomeh’s course teachings and her written articles to ask open-ended questions that create an informed dialogue between themselves and the Vanderbilt faculty member. Specifically, the women reference her article, “the Gendered Ethics of Female Enslavement: Searching for Southern Slave Women’s Religions in the African Atlantic”, which was published in The Journal of Southern Religion, Volume 18. The citation of and the link to a free, online-published version of this article can be found at the end of these show notes. The research and planning involved in the creation of this podcast is evident and is a beautiful representation of how learning can be extended through podcasting, and, in particular, the podcast-interview format.

When asked about their process for creating a podcast, the women said that the first thing they do is create a list of the different components they want to include, for example a self-care section or a quote of the day. Once this list is completed, they divide it into an introduction, main section, and a conclusion; this results in the core structure of the podcast. However, the women go above and beyond this and give their podcast personality and soul by choosing a communication style, integrating relevant music, and creating smooth segment transitions. JoHannah and Shay revealed that they center their sound around “an almost ‘gossip-like’ conversation” that gives the podcast its relatable feel. In addition to the conversation feel, enticing music and soundscapes, like the tea preparation sounds and the African American spirituals, were used create seamless transitions that support the overall messages of the content.

The research, planning, and creativity, of Black Tea truly makes it a masterful piece of student produced audio, and once again shows how interview-style podcasting is an underutilized learning tool. JoHannah and Shay use the software Audacity to edit their podcasts and upload them through the Anchor.fm platform. Links to these tools, and more episodes of Black Tea, can also be found below.

Alexis S. Wells, “The Gendered Ethics of Female Enslavement: Searching for Southern Slave Women’s Religions in the African Atlantic,” Journal of Southern Religion (18) (2016): jsreligion.org/vol18/wells [http://jsreligion.org/vol18/wells/]

Black Tea: https://anchor.fm/johannah-chanteria/episodes/Black-Tea-Politics-of-Black-Gender-eadlaq

Anchor.fm, the platform Shay and JoHannah use to distribute their podcast: https://anchor.fm/

Audacity, the free software JoHannah and Shay use to edit their podcast: http://www.audacityteam.org/