Thursdays at 10:30 a.m.

Each week, UnDisciplined takes a fun, fascinating and accessible dive into the lives of researchers and explorers working across a wide variety of scientific fields.

They've got warts, they sometimes smell like roasted peanuts, and in Wyoming, they're changing how they move because of a fungus. This week, we'll be discussing a concept known as behavioral fever in boreal toads, and how this fever is helping toads fight chytrid fungus.

Just about everyone has experienced a shift in their relationships during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some people we didn't get to see as much, some people we saw a lot more of--for better or worse. But researchers are discovering that it wasn't just our relationships with people we know that changed, it was our relationships with people in the media we consume. This week we're talking about how the pandemic impacted parasocial relationships. 

If you started your day with a cup of coffee, kept it going with a cup of cola, or ended it with a glass of wine, you are part of a long human tradition of spicing up your life with intoxicating substances. As a species, we have been getting drunk and stoned for a very long time. But, like so many other things, it turns out we aren't all that unique in this way. Animals were getting blitzed long before we were. 

Bryant Baker

There's a lot more going on beneath the forest floor than you might realize. A vast underground network of fungi help some 95% of plants survive, helping them absorb nutrients and commnicate with other plants. New research shows that this fungi network might also be protecting the forest's biggest trees against pests and pathogens. 

ljubaphoto / Getty Images/iStockphoto

This week on UnDisciplined we're talking about teens and their smartphones. You've likely heard about how social media is making teens more depressed, anxious and lonely. However, there are some positives to teens staying connected virtually. Intriguing new research looks at how teens are using the internet to cope with stress. 

UN Women / Pathumporn Thongking

This week on UnDisciplined, we're talking about a breakthrough in our understanding of long COVID. Some 30% of COVID patients will have lingering symptoms for 3 to 6 months after contracting the virus. New research suggests that long COVID might be the result on an antibody attacking the immune system and we'll be talking about what we do and don't know about the causes of this phenomenon. 

Darryl Kirby

Climate change is profoundly affecting animals, but not only in the ways you might be thinking of. Compelling new research suggests that animals are shape-shifting to adapt. Birds beaks are getting bigger, mouse tails longer, all in an effort to better regulate their body temperatures.  

Public Domain

Covid-19 is not the first virus to travel around the globe. This week on UnDisciplined, we'll be talking about how the slave trade brought new viruses to the Americas. New research uses ancient DNA to trace the origins of pathogens found in Mexico City back to Africa. 

Creative Commons CC-BY-SA 3.0

This week on Undisciplined we're talking about disability and accessibility in ancient Greece. You might think that accommodations for disabled people are a relatively new concept, but compelling new research suggests that ancient Greeks were thinking about accessibility as far back as the 4th century BC. Scholars found evidence that ancient architects built ramps specifically to help those with limited mobility.   

We all dream, but why? And what do our dreams reveal about our waking lives? Since the beginning of human history, dreams have played a pivotal role in helping humans make sense of the world. What role do dreams play in our modern lives? This week, we'll be exploring the history of and science behind dreaming. 

Fred Murphy

The events of the past several months, and even years suggest that anger is a driving force in American politics. Are politicians stoking the flames and making their supporters angry? A new study looks at just that. We'll be talking to a politcal scientist whose research focuses on the role of emtion in politics. 


This week we are talking about urban bees and how converting vacant lots into green spaces doesn't only benefit humans. With a few adjustments, green spaces can help support local bee populations. We're talking to Ohio State University reserachers about how to help urban bees thrive.

Cover of “Sick and Tired: An Intimate History of Fatigue,” by Emily K. Abel

This week we're talking about fatigue. And no, it's not the same as being tired. Despite it being the top complaint among people with chronic conditions and those recovering from cancer, fatigue was largely ignored by the medical establishment until recently. We'll be talking to medical historian Emily K. Abel about her new book tracing the history of fatigue in the United States.

Tom Wolf

When the COVID-19 pandemic first emerged, tests were hard to come by, and you often had to wait days or even weeks for the results. We’ll be talking with an interdisciplinary group of researchers who developed a way to make testing more efficient.

Bryan Ungard

University of Utah researchers set out to measure changes in Park City’s air quality during the ski season and Sundance Film Festival. Then COVID-19 hit. And the city went into lockdown. And the data became even more fascinating.

Garry Knight

Since 2016, more women have run for political office than ever before, from the governor’s race to local school board elections. With this came an influx of first-time female candidates. But what about the women who didn’t get elected? We’ll be talking to a political science researcher who dug into 70 years of state and local election data to see whether or not women are more likely to quit after losing their first race. 

Albert Kok, creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en

Researchers recently uncovered the biggest mass extinction event since the dinosaurs. About 19 million years ago, the shark population was decimated by roughly 90 percent. Up until that point, sharks ruled the ocean. Researchers figured this out by analyzing over a thousand fossilized shark skins.

Undisciplined: Women And Wikipedia

Jul 29, 2021

Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, is one of the first sources Google provides for many different searches. From notable figures to new technology, historical events to horror films, Wikipedia is the initial place countless people look to get quick information. Despite the extensive numbers of articles Wikipedia provides, there is a large gap in gender when it comes to notable figures. Articles about notable women are far more likely to be flagged for deletion regardless of accomplishment, despite many editors’ best efforts.

How much do your personal choices affect climate change? Does promoting the use of energy efficient light bulbs take away from pushing for bigger policy changes like a carbon tax? A new study suggests that reflecting on our individual sustainability efforts might actually make us more likely to support ambitious policy proposals.

There are few things sweeter than a puppy staring back at you. But how does the puppy understand what you're saying, and when exactly do they start picking up on our cues? A new study by University of Arizona researchers shows that puppies as young as two months old can recognize when people are talking to them and look where they're pointing.

Undisciplined: Police Violence And Public Schools

Jul 10, 2021

The frustration over police use of force has been simmering for years in the United States. A new study, published in the February 2021 issue of the Quarterly Journal of Economics, focused on how police-involved killings affect the inner-city high school students in Los Angeles. The study found that a range of issues, including students' academic performance and psychological wellbeing can be impaired by such incidents, particularly for Black and Hispanic students.

Lab Science Career, creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/

Despite calls for increasing diversity, scientific researchers are still predominantly white. One of the main reasons: a substantial disparity in research funding between black and white researchers. This can affect scientists' careers in important ways. We'll dig into a new report by the National Institutes of Health, which promises to address structural racism within the scientific community, and we'll talk to a scientist who's fighting for change.

Undisciplined: Movie Magic

Jun 24, 2021

Could watching your favorite movie be a successful form of therapy? Researchers are looking into the ways that movies influence their viewers, and they're finding a positive influence on the audience's behaviors and their overall well-being. 

Jean-Pierre Dalbéra

We all know about cyber bullying. We know how pervasive it is. We know how damaging it can be. But there’s still a lot we don’t know about this relatively new phenomenon. For instance: how often are children engaged in cyberbullying of themselves? Well, according to one new study, the answer is a lot.

It’s no longer revolutionary to point out that bacteria can be beneficial in many ways. But until recently, we haven’t had a good handle on the role microorganisms play in plant growth. Now, researchers at Utah State University are starting to ask that question — and the answers may change the way we think about farming.


Political scientists Erika Allen Wolters and Brent Steel have written that the United States is experiencing a political era in which facts are fluid and the truth is subjective, and that the consequences of ideology trumping science can be devastating. And they wrote that back in 2017. This week we’ll talk to them about how their fears have shifted in the past four years.

When Athena Castro thinks about the makeup of research spaces, she sees a paradox. Asian women are simultaneously overrepresented in one way and under represented in another. This week, we’re talking to Castro about the intersectional challenges faced by Asian women in science.

Photo by Julia M Cameron

A recently published study has confirmed what a lot of people have long suspected: increasing social media use is correlated to suicidal thoughts among some adolescents. But before you go pull the plug, the nuances here are important. Researchers have identified specific patterns of use that may be dangerous. This week we’ll talk about who is at risk, and what can be done.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic there was a lot of misinformation about vaccines floating around on social media. Public health agencies have been trying to figure out what to do. It turns out that one of the most powerful remedies is also one of the simplest.

Photo by Mattwl, https://flic.kr/p/2SytAZ

There is nothing more damaging to a nation’s economy than a war on its own soil. But the way we think about the long-term economic consequences of war is often tied up in political instability and reconstruction and the cost of care for veterans. That’s all correct, but my guest this week says we’ve overlooked something: The long-term damage to agriculture.