19. Rob Dunn and Carl Sagan’s Armpit Bacteria


In this episode recorded just before the US government shutdown of 2018-19, hosts Dr. Katie Mack and Dr. Madhusudan Katti interview Dr. Rob Dunn, in a conversation that ranged from climate change to space exploration, from the biodiversity in rainforests to that living with us in in our homes, from microbes in our shower heads to those on the space station, and perhaps even on the Voyager spacecrafts! Hope you enjoy it, and Madhu’s poor voice recovering from the cold is not too distracting. 

Let us know what you think on twitter or on our facebook page.

Jurassic Frankenstein: A Discussion About Maintaining Ethical Research

Please join us on Monday, February 4, for a panel discussion on the ethics of research.

The first genetically engineered human babies were born in China this year, kicking off another debate about scientific ethics.  How do we make sure that scientific research is ethical, in particular research involving humans or animals?  How can we test if a drug is safe to give to pregnant women? How are research animals protected? Can a step-parent give consent for their child to participate in a clinical trial? This month we ask the experts about how scientists and institutions police their research to ensure that scientific work is ethical.  Our panel members serve on the ethics boards of local research institutions or train early-career scientists in research ethics.

Who: Dr. Jones (Dept. Psychology, Fresno State University), Dr. Ozeran (UC San Franscisco Fresno Extension, and Valley Children’s Hospital), Dr. Telemeco, and Dr. Ross (both Dept. Biology, Fresno State University).

When: February 4, 2019 at 7PM

Where: Santa Fe Basque, 3110 N Maroa Ave., Fresno, CA 93704


Bigfoot Meets the Loch Ness Alien Space Ghosts: The Cognitive Genesis of False Observation in Superstition and Science

Ring in the new year with Cafe Scientifique! Dr. Matthew Sharps from Fresno State will be speaking to us about some of his research into perception and cognition.

Eyewitness memory in the criminal justice system is notoriously unreliable.  Less well-recognized is the fact that the same perceptual and cognitive principles operate in other areas as well, notably in the false observation of “paranormal” phenomena such as Bigfoot, UFO aliens, and ghostly apparitions. My students and I have published a number of articles on this subject.  We’ve demonstrated that not only can we distinguish, psychologically, people who believe in different aspects of the paranormal, but that specific psychological processes can literally induce normal people to see them, to interpret everyday sights as paranormal entities and objects.  We have also shown that these principles can apply in the sciences themselves, most famously in the case of Percival Lowell and the Canals of Mars.  Understanding these principles of interpretation and misinterpretation is increasingly important in a world in which science and pseudoscience are frequently confused.

Who: Dr. Matthew Sharps, California State University, Fresno.

When: January 7, 2019 at 7PM

Where: Santa Fe Basque, 3110 N Maroa Ave., Fresno, CA 93704