science news

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. 

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. 

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.

Albert Kok,

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.

Julie Marsh Unsplash


Rabbit hemorrhagic disease is a highly contagious virus that causes liver inflammation, leading to fatal hemorrhaging of blood in rabbits and pikas. The disease originated in Europe but spread to North America in 2018.

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.

There are a lot of ways 2020 is going to be remembered and, to be honest, a lot of us will probably remember it as a pretty terrible year, for very obvious reasons. But here at Utah Public Radio, we’re also going to remember 2020 as a year in which we learned some amazing things about our world.

Have you ever found it strange that one of the ways that we let people know we care about them is by gently making fun of them? Teasing is a weird sort of thing – a combination between aggression and play. And researchers from UCLA wanted to know where it came from. This week, we’re going to talk about what they learned.

Health in Harmony

Stopping the decimation of rainforests is unquestionably important to slowing climate change. But simply protecting forests often excludes and disenfranchises local communities. This week we’re talking about a different way of addressing this problem — a pairing of ecology with healthcare.


Without having a really good reason for doing so, nobody in their right mind would put a dead fish into a ziploc bag, attach it to wires to an electric stimulator, and release it into a tank with an electric eel.

But thankfully, Kenneth Catania had a perfectly good reason for doing all of that. Or maybe he’s not in his right mind. 

Either way, the result was a revelation about the eel — evidence that eels don’t just use their capacity to stun prey with zaps of electricity to kill, but also to sense the world around them.



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.

For millions of years, evolution has shaped our behavior — we do what we’re designed to do. Or, at least, we did. Because today’s world stresses and confuses our bodies in ways that we are simply ill-adapted for. Now, the psychologist Erik Peper says it’s time for reckoning.

Andrew Brooks,

We’re talking about fires and fossils, sea butterflies and stonehenge, and parasitic plants and saving the planet — well, saving ourselves, anyway. Our guests are researchers from across the nation with a diversity of expertise.

To better understand monarch declines, Utah Department of Wildlife Resources biologists have been conducting monarch surveys in Uintah county to look for monarch adults, caterpillars, and eggs.

This week on Undisciplined, we’re talking about the long-lost woolly rhinoceros, Vikings, smallpox, and innovations in playground equipment. With a list of subjects that diverse, you might have guessed that the monthly science news round-up is back – and it is.


Utah’s Space Dynamics Laboratory recently delivered a test version of a satellite sub-unit to NASA that will measure the movements of microscopic creatures within Earth’s oceans from space. The Space Dynamics Laboratory is an affiliate lab to Utah State University and is working on a sub-unit of the PACE spacecraft, which NASA will launch into space in 2022. PACE stands for Plankton Aerosol Cloud Ocean Ecosystem.

What Exactly Is A Virus?

Apr 7, 2020
U.S. Government

Amidst the current coronavirus pandemic, we have heard a lot about viruses. But what exactly is a virus and in what ways to scientists study them? 

Stony Brook University

This week on UnDisciplined, we're talking about the discovery of an essential element for life on a meteorite, using A.I. for archaeology, and vampire bat buddies. It's time for the monthly science news roundup. 

We're joined this month by Mirella Meyer-Ficca of Utah State University, who first joined us last year to talk about her team's work to genetically engineer a mouse that is dependent on niacin in the same way as humans.

Heiko Kiera / Fotalia

This week on the show, we're talking about the science behind Hurricane Dorian, a "rat-pocalypse," a new human ancestor, and poison dart frogs. Everybody on the show is an expert on something, but none of them is an expert on those things. 


This week on UnDisciplined, we've gathered two of our favorite fellow science geeks to talk about the headlines that caught our eyes in June — and a few we wish would have gotten more attention.