For me, it was a welcome label for the type of curiosity that had driven me to major variously in physics, archaeology, and English in college. I wanted to turn things like the universe, human society, or language inside out and find out where they started and how they evolved. I ultimately wended my way through college as a physicist with an English habit, but, despite the rationalizations I presented to relatives around the Thanksgiving table, I really had no clear idea how, or even if, I’d ever blend these interests later in life.
After graduation from Johns Hopkins University in 2014, I held a number of research positions, ultimately becoming a research assistant in a biophysics and structural biology lab at Case Western Reserve University. There, the Institute for the Science of Origins instantly became my intellectual home. Central to the ISO’s mission is science communication. Jeff St. Clair, All Things Considered and Exploradio host at WKSU, proposed an Origins-focused radio module, to highlight the ISO’s unique mission and contributions to science. There was a need for someone to put this together, and I realized my oddball background might actually be useful.
My heart stirred because this was a way for me to bring the wild and fascinating things I got to interact with daily in the ISO to people on the outside who, despite doing other things for a living, could still find it awesome that someone was trying to use the moon as a dark matter detector, or that someone made a malaria detector with a couple of fridge magnets and a laser, or that someone had found that people who live in the Andes actually adapt to high altitude differently than people who live in the Himalayas.
The past few years have highlighted the need for scientists to emerge from the ivory tower and fulfill their half of the social contract-- to go find out cool stuff and then come out and tell us about it. I hope this radio module will find people wherever they may be, at work, in their cars, or at home, and welcome them to peer in the windows, with the message that what’s inside—the quest to answer some of humanity’s deepest questions-- belongs to all humans, not just scientists.
By day, I am pursuing a PhD in nuclear and accelerator physics at the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory [NSCL/FRIB] at Michigan State University.
Kellen would like to dedicate her work on this first season of Exploradio Origins to the memory of Chris Felcyn, host of "The Well-Tempered Wireless," on WRCJ 90.9FM Detroit.
We are grateful to Larry and Sally Sears for their generous support of science and innovation initiatives at WKSU.