Science: A Candle In The Dark – episode 7: Fear and Learning in Science & Mathematics

Group of Freshman students on Fresno State campus

Students from the incoming Freshman class of Science & Maths majors at Fresno State. Photo by Cary Edmondson, the official University Photographer.

Science: A Candle In The Dark
Episode 7: Fear and Learning in Science & Mathematics
Airdate: 
28 July
 2015
Host: Dr. Madhusudan Katti
Guests: Dr. Amanda Mortimer and Dr. Beth Weinman.

Topic: Are you afraid of science? Do you suffer from Maths Anxiety? And are you transferring some of these fears to your children, even as you are anxious for them to do well in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) disciplines? In this episode, neuropsychologist Dr. Amanda Mortimer from Fresno State helps us develop a better scientific understanding of how fear and anxiety affect our ability to learn and remember things, and what are good ways to address the anxiety triggered for so many by science and mathematics. Dr. Beth Weinman discusses how some of this developing understanding of learning and memory is being applied to improve the success of incoming Science majors in a new First Year Experience program in Fresno State’s College of Science & Mathematics. The program (in which Dr. Katti is a collaborator) is particularly focused on helping students who are from economically challenging backgrounds, from under-represented minorities, or are the first generation from their families to ever go to college – demographics which constitute the majority of students on our campus and indeed in the Central Valley. A better understanding of how the mind works for optimal learning should help these students break patterns of anxiety about learning science and mathematics which have held them back, and go some way towards addressing the leaky pipeline in developing a new generation of diverse scientists and science-literate citizens.

Have a listen, and do share any thoughts you might have about your perception of science and learning.

Science: A Candle In The Dark – episode 6: Humans and Nature in the City

Photo shows Nature in a Chicago Winter

Nature in a Chicago winter. Photo © Madhusudan Katti, 2013.

Science: A Candle In The Dark
Episode 6: Humans and Nature in the City
Airdate: 
28 July
 2015
Host: Dr. Madhusudan Katti
Guests: Dr. Charles Nilon and Dr. Paige Warren.

Topic: This month, while the Café Scientifique is on its summer break, we bring you a wide-ranging conversation about how humans interact with nature in cities, and how scientists study this human-nature relationship. As Dr. Paige Warren notes early in the conversation, Dr. Charlie Nilon, an African American ecologist, is a pioneer in studying ecology in the context of urban systems where humans interact with nature to determine the fate of biodiversity. Both Warren and Nilon have collaborated closely with Katti over the past 15 years in developing a better understanding of the factors that influence biodiversity in cities. This field, the study of how we humans shape our immediate (and distant) environments, and in turn, how other species respond to our actions, holds a key to the future of biodiversity on our urbanized planet. More importantly, access to nature, and some degree of control on our relationship with nature may also be crucial for human wellbeing in cities, as Dr. Nilon suggests in the second half when discussing the potential environmental correlates of the urban racial unrest in Baltimore and Ferguson this year.

Have a listen, and do share any thoughts you might have about how you relate to nature in your urban (or rural) environment.

Science: A Candle In The Dark – episode 5: Urban Ecology

Grass breaks through concrete on an urban sidewalk in Chicago

Grass breaks through concrete on an urban sidewalk in Chicago

Science: A Candle In The Dark
Episode 5: Urban Ecology
Airdate: 
23 June
 2015
Host: Dr. Madhusudan Katti
Special Correspondent: Stephanie Slonka
Guests: Dr. Emily Minor, Dr. Kaberi Kar Gupta, Dr. John Marzluff, and Kim Eierman.

Topic: This special summer episode explores our growing understanding of urban ecology, of all the non-human species that inhabit and adapt to urban spaces, and what we can do in our own backyards to reconcile urban development with biodiversity conservation..