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Undisciplined: October Science News Roundup


Although the national election and COVID-19 pandemic continue to dominate the news cycle, there is other news out there — and the worlds of science, exploration and research are moving along with fascinating new discoveries.

We’re discussing ancient hibernation, tiny robot surgeons, a new kind of thermometer, and the world-changing power of CRISPR.

From the University of Utah, where she is the director of Marketing and Communications at the David Eccles School of Business, is Sheena McFarland, an immense science buff with a degree in biology teaching whose work as a journalist includes features on space exploration.

And also with us for his third time on the round-up is Rodrigo Noriega. He is an assistant professor of physical and material chemistry, also at the University of Utah, with a research agenda focused on macro-molecular materials.

And finally, Mirella Meyer-Ficca also first joined us in 2019 to talk about her team’s work to genetically engineer a mouse that is dependent on Niacin in the same way as humans.

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.