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UnDisciplined: The Archaeologist And The Chemical Engineer

This week on UnDisciplined, we're talking about biofuels ... and tattoos. 

We're introducing an archaeologist and a chemical engineer, and if that doesn't already sound like a strange pairing, just consider what these guys study. 

Andrew Gillreath-Brown is a doctoral candidate at Washington State University in Pullman, Washington. Writing in the Journal of Archaeological Science Reports, he and his colleagues recently announced the identification of a 2,000-year-old tattooing needle — one of the oldest such instruments ever discovered. 

Swomitra "Bobby" Mohanty is an assistant professor of both chemical and metallurgical engineering at the Univeristy of Utah. He and his team recently described their super-fast method of turning algae into biocrude in the journal Chemical Engineering Science

Matthew LaPlante has reported on ritual infanticide in Northern Africa, insurgent warfare in the Middle East, the legacy of genocide in Southeast Asia, and gang violence in Central America. But a few years back, something donned on him: Maybe the news doesn't have to be brutally depressing all the time. Today, he balances his continuing work on more heartbreaking subjects by writing books about the intersection of science, human health and society, including the New York Times best-selling Lifespan with geneticist David Sinclair and the Nautilus Award-winning Longevity Plan with cardiologist John Day. His first solo book, Superlative, looks at what scientists are learning by studying organisms that have evolved in record-setting ways, and his is currently at work on another book about embracing the inevitability of human-caused climate change with an optimistic outlook on the future.