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Archive of Pizza Lunch Podcasts



Retracing the Evolution of African Penguins

"Penguins are 10 times older than humans and have been here for a very, very long time,"said Daniel Ksepka, African PenguinsPh.D., a researcher at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent). Dr. Ksepka researches the evolution of penguins and how they came to inhabit the African continent. 

Because penguins have been around for over 60 million years, their fossil record is extensive. Fossils that Dr. Ksepka and his colleagues have discovered provide clues about migration patterns and the diversity of penguin species.

Dr. Ksepka goes into more depth about how his research is piecing together the evolutionary puzzle of penguins and other related bird species.


Science Hangout: Dr. Gruss on Advancing Research 

Scientist research

In American Scientist 's first Google Hangout On Air, managing editor Fenella Saunders talks with Prof. Dr. Peter Gruss, president of the Max Planck Society, a nonprofit research organization that has promoted research at its own institutes since 1948, about growing basic research and the various ways to do so.

Click the title to view the recorded discussion!


Smart Materials Deliver Drugs to Targeted Areas in the Body

Dr. Darlene Taylor is an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry at Uterine FibroidClick to Enlarge Image North Carolina Central University. She uses molecular engineering to develop what she calls “smart materials”- substances that can sense and respond in some way to a change in their environment. Perhaps the most exciting use for smart materials is helping to deliver powerful drugs to specific target sites deep inside the body without affecting other tissues along the way.

Dr. Taylor discusses her research in an interview with Sandra Ackerman, senior editor at American Scientist magazine


Pancreatic Cancer and More Effective Treatments

PancreasClick to Enlarge Image

Dr. Antonio Baines is an associate professor in the Department of Biology at North Carolina Central University, an adjunct professor in the Department of Pharmacology in the School of Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a cancer researcher.

Dr. Baines’ research focuses on understanding a gene called Ras, and its role as a molecular target in pancreatic cancer. His research aim is to target certain points in the pathway of pancreatic cancer in order to increase the effectiveness of treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation. Dr.Baines goes into more depth about how his research could increase understanding of how to combat pancreatic cancer.


How to Better Communicate Your Science

Most scientists will tell you that one of the inspirations for their work is to somehow benefit mankind, whether that’s through new medicines or a better understanding of the formation of the universe. But how can scientists ensure that mankind knows about their work?

Science author and journalist Dennis Meredith discusses how scientists can become better communicators of their research.

In this podcast, he discussed with American Scientist managing editor, Fenella Saunders, some of the ways he’s found to help scientists become more effective communicators.


LungFlexibleRobot Robots in Clinical and Home Environments

Dr. Ron Alterovitz, an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, talks about current and future research and challenges involving robots used in clinical and home environments.

In this podcast, Dr. Alterovitz talks about his research on creating algorithms for robots and their use mainly in surgical and home environments.


Rolling the Dice on Big Data

MathConceptClick to Enlarge Image

Dr. Ilse Ipsen, a professor in the Department of Mathematics at North Carolina State University, goes in-depth about how mathematicians can use the Monte Carlo method, and other tools, to wrestle with the deluge of data emerging from the wide variety of scientific research areas.

In this podcast, Dr. Ipsen speaks with associate editor, Katie Burke, about her research and viewpoints on using the Monte Carlo method and big data.


Addressing Emergent Challenges with Wind Power

Dr. Sukanta Basu, associate professor, Department of Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, North Carolina State University. Wind TurbinesClick to Enlarge Image

Dr. Basu talks about the benefits and challenges of wind power and what it could mean for the future of renewable energy. His field of study is boundary layer meteorology, which addresses some of the widespread uses of wind power.

In this podcast, Dr. Basu speaks with associate editor, Katie Burke, about his work and viewpoints regarding wind power usage.


What Is Intelligence? Corgi DogClick to Enlarge Image

Brian Hare, evolutionary anthropologist, Duke University

Hare is a member of the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience and is interested in what dogs can do cognitively that humans and other primates cannot do. Are humans really the most intelligent species?

In this audio slideshow, Hare spoke to associate editor Katie L. Burke about what we can learn about our own species by studying dogs and bonobos.



Earthquakes and Ancient Humans on the Island of Crete Crete IslandClick to Enlarge Image

Karl Wegmann , geologist, North Carolina State University

Wegmann's research may change how people view earthquake risks in the eastern Mediterranean. He has also helped date the age of stone tools on Crete, artifacts that suggest that we Homo sapiens were not the first of our lineage to build or use boats .

In this podcast, Wegmann speaks with senior editor Cathy Clabby about his work studying the geology and prehistory of the beautiful island of Crete. 


Toward a Cure for AIDS Aids CureClick to Enlarge Image

David Margolis , physician and medical researcher, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Current therapies are very good at keeping HIV under control, but they never completely cure it. David Margolis studies the molecular biology of HIV infections and is looking for ways to completely eradicate the virus from infected individuals.

In this podcast, Margolis speaks with associate editor Elsa Youngsteadt about what it will take to cure a person (or a mouse) of HIV. 


Appalachian Coal Mining Coal Mining

Emily Bernhardt , ecosystem ecologist, Duke University

Southern Appalachian forests are a global biodiversity hotspot. But they’re also rich with coal. Emily Bernhardt led a recent study that documents the long-term, widespread effects of surface coal mining on the region’s waterways.

In this podcast, Bernhardt speaks with associate editor Cathy Clabby about Appalachian ecosystems, and how they’re changing. 


Public Genome book cover

 Reflections on a Public Genome 

Misha Angrist , geneticist and writer, Duke University

Misha Angrist's genome is a public document, thanks to his participation in Harvard's Personal Genome Project. Angrist reflects on the medical and ethical implications of the project in his 2010 book, Here is a Human Being: At the Dawn of Personal Genomics.

In this podcast, he speaks with associate editor Cathy Clabby about his experience.   


Friends or Foes: Female Relationships Among the Gombe Chimpanzees

Anne Pusey, evolutionary anthropologist, Duke University

Pusey shares insights from long-term studies of chimpanzee behavior at Gombe National Park in Tanzania, where Jane Goodall began observing chimpanzees more than 50 years ago. (Feb. 23, 2011) 


The Puzzle of the Bed-bug Resurgence

Coby Schal, entomologist, North Carolina State University

Schal discusses the return of bed bugs, why pesticides won’t stop them and the best theories for why the tiny pests are spreading around the world. (Jan. 25, 2011)


Images of Darwin and the Nature of Science

William Kimler, historian, North Carolina State University

Kimler charts the changing image of Charles Darwin through time—from dim but perseverant naturalist to revered founder of evolutionary theory. (October 19, 2010)


Serious Games

Phaedra Boinodiris, Serious Games program manager at IBM

Boinodiris explains how she designs computer games that teach students and trainees to solve complex problems in business management and city planning. (May 25, 2010)


Whole Genome Analysis in the Clinic

James Evans, clinical researcher in genetics at the University of North Carolina

Evans urges us to support genomics medicine research but asks us to temper our enthusiasm until it becomes a proven tool. (April 20, 2010)


Genomic and Personalized Medicine

Geoffrey Ginsburg, director of the Center for Genomic Medicine, Duke University

Ginsburg presents advances and ongoing research in personalized medicine, from prescribing cancer drugs to predicting flu symptoms. (March 30, 2010)


Mental Health Implications of the Khmer Rouge Genocide Trials

Jeffrey Sonis, physician and public health research scientist, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

Sonis and colleagues are developing ways to gauge how groups of people scarred by mass murder respond to revisiting a traumatic history. (February 18, 2010)


Metapopulation Dynamics of Oyster Restoration in Pamlico Sound, NC

David Eggleston, director of the Center for Marine Science and Technology, North Carolina State University

Eggleston discusses the challenges of conserving and restoring North Carolina coastal ecosystems, particularly oyster reefs. (January 26, 2010)


An Empire Lacking Food: The Astonishing Existence of Life on the Deep Seafloor

Craig McClain, assistant director of science, National Evolutionary Synthesis Center

McClain explores how the meager availability of food on the deep seafloor shapes the ecology and evolution of the animals that live there. (December 15, 2009)


Future Renewable Electric Energy Delivery and Management Systems

Alex Huang, professor of electrical engineering and director of the FREEDM Systems Center, North Carolina State University

Huang talks about research on new electric grid technologies that could better utilize renewable energy sources, and the role of plug-in hybrid cars in such a grid system. (November 24, 2009)


The Evolution of the Human Capacity for Killing at a Distance

Steven Churchill, professor of evolutionary anthropology, Duke University

Churchill presents his research on the evolutionary origins of projectile weaponry, and how weapon use changed interactions between humans and other species—including, perhaps, the Neandertals. (October 20, 2009)


Our Energy Future: Science and Technology Challenges for the 21st Century

Thomas Meyer, director, Solar Energy Research Center, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Meyer discusses the status of the world's energy supply. In particular, he presents the idea that the sun's energy could be used to make fuels from water and carbon dioxide for heating, transportation and energy storage. (September 24, 2009)


Everything Is Dangerous: A Controversy

S. Stanley Young, director of bioinformatics, National Institute of Statistical Sciences

Young critiques statistical analysis by some epidemiologists, especially their multiple testing of data sets obtained from observational studies. (April 22, 2009)


From Cloning to Stem Cells: How Can Pigs Help Us Solve Problems in Human Medicine?

Jorge Piedrahita, professor of genomics, North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine

Piedrahita describes his research with cloned swine and how their abnormal growth provides insight into human placental defects, the ways transgenic pigs may help grow human tissue and how pigs could help advance stem cell therapies. (March 25, 2009)



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