Freelance Scholar and Science Advocate, German, PhD in neuroscience (2007-2010), postdoc in USA and Portugal (2011-2018)
Food production, transportation, and consumption habits have an immense impact on health, biodiversity, and the climate. Which food we eat influences our risks for metabolic and cardiovascular diseases; but also the use of land, water, fertilizers, and pesticides, Prices are the main driver for our decisions at the grocery store, but –  just as we discussed in the context of mobility and industry as a whole in earlier episodes – the true costs from damages done to the environment by unsustainable agricultural practices are hidden from the consumer. For this episode, I interviewed Dr. Gesa Maschkowski. She is a science journalist and editor in the field of nutrition and sustainable diet communication. For her PhD she looked into interventions to shift dietary habits in society. She found that the deficit model – merely informing citizens what would be beneficial practice – isn’t sufficient. Instead, intensive work was necessary to include citizens in the transformation process and guide them. This is how Finland was able to reduce diet-related health issues in its citizens. Do you have questions, comments or suggestion? Email, write us on facebook or twitter, or leave us a video message on Skype for dennis.eckmeier. SUPPORT US THROUGH PAYPAL Speaking of dietary recommendations. The EAT-Lancet Commission published recommendations named the “Planetary Health Diet”. The diet is supposed to be healthy and at the same time its production sustainable. The change in diet for the average European would mainly be to exchange most of the animal products – meat, dairy, and eggs – with fruit, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and nuts. As an activist with Scientists for Future, Gesa participates in a project with the city of Bonn that will put what she learned about guiding transformations into practice. The inclusive approach was met with agreement by the city council and they are now setting up the structure for the project. And this project isn’t just about eating habits and agriculture, the whole city is supposed to become carbon-neutral within 15 years. This project could be a model project for transforming cities and cultures. Unfortunately, we can’t wait to see how it works out. This opportunity has passed. We need action everywhere, immediately. Sources Transformation-Project “Bonn im Wandel” Scientists for Future EAT-Lancet’s Planetary Health Diet Information Deficit Model Backcasting
Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) is the idea of bringing stakeholders to the table when we plan our research strategies. The EU-funded project “FIT4RRI” was tasked with finding out why aspects of RRI – such as citizen science projects or the adoption of open science – are applied only little by European research institutes and their researchers. Experiments were conducted to find out how research projects can implement RRI principles right from the beginning. Based on that knowledge they then proceeded to develop guidelines and recommendations for institutions to foster RRI. And finally, they developed an online training course for researchers and administrators to learn about Responsible Research & Innovation practices. Maxie Gottschling (University of Göttingen) and Helene Brinken (now at the Leibniz Information Centre for Science and Technology) were part of a German workgroup within the much larger project. In this conversation, they give us some insights into what FIT4RRI found out, and what can be done. informational video by FIT4RRI Do you have questions, comments or suggestion? Email, write us on facebook or twitter, or leave us a video message on Skype for dennis.eckmeier. SUPPORT US THROUGH PAYPAL Resources: Maxie Gottschling and Helene Brinken on @sfprocur The FIT4RRI Website RRI Toolkit on FOSTER Slides and Recordings of the final summit “RRI4REAL” (scroll to the bottom)
My guest in this episode is Dr. Maria-Elena Vorrath, a geologist who studies the history of climate change, who just finished her PhD. Besides her work as a researcher she is a science communicator with Scientists for Future. Her message is clear: we can’t stop climate change, but we can slow the temperature rise. Every bit of reduction in carbon dioxide emissions saves lives down the line. And: A low-carbon society cannot rely on low-emission-technologies, only, but it also has to reduce it’s overall consumption. We further talk about Elena’s background and research, as well as her science communication for Scientists for Future. Listen to the Full Conversation on Patreon! To investigate the climate for the last 17 000 years, Maria-Elena Vorrath took samples from the ocean floor at the coast of Antarctica – sediment cores to be precise. These cores reveal the layers of sedimentation. Each layer correlates with one year. She sampled the different layers and analysed how much of a specific protein they contained; a protein that was produced by algae that live at the bottom side of ice sheets. So, the amount of protein tells her about the amount of ice on the ocean in a given year. Elena began sharing her work with the public around the same time Greta Thunberg gained media attention in late 2018 and joined Scientists for Future shortly after. She gives talks about her work at Science Slams and other events and combines it with her dire warning message about the climate emergency. The entertaining jokes she leaves to the other contestants at the Science Slam. She feels that this is her duty as a climate investigator. Do you have questions, comments or suggestion? Email, write us on facebook or twitter, or leave us a video message on Skype for dennis.eckmeier. SUPPORT US THROUGH PAYPAL Ressources Maria-Elena Vorrath on Twitter Maria-Elena’s Science Slam talk on YouTube [GER] Maria-Elena’s talk at the “Chaos Computer Club” on YouTube [GER] Maria-Elena Vorrath’s profile at the Alfred-Wegner-Institute Reports by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) “Earth Hasn’t Warmed this Fast for Tens of Millions of Years” (Scientific American) “Sea level rise from ice sheets track worst-case climate change scenario” (Science Direct) Carbon calculator: find out how much CO2 your flight will emit (The Guardian)
One of my favorite topics is artificial intelligence, or – more specifically – what we can learn from neuroscience about artificial intelligence. So, when I was gifted the book “Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence” by Max Tegmark I enjoyed the read thoroughly. But, several scenarios envisioned in the book as paths to human-like artificial intelligence didn’t make sense to me, as a neuroscientist. So a bestseller book on artificial intelligence completely ignored the views of neuroscience. This is why invited Dr. Grace Lindsay, host of the podcast “Unsupervised Thinking” about computational neuroscience and artificial intelligence. Grace is a postdoc at University College London, and she is currently writing a popular book about computational neuroscience. Listen to the Full Conversation on Patreon! Neuroscience inspired the technology that is currently leading the field in artificial intelligence: artificial neural networks (ANNs); now better known as ‘deep networks’ as in ‘deep learning’. The inventors of ANNs were the first to implement the basic idea of distributing computations across a large number of small processing units – neurons. For decades this method suffered from it’s need for large amounts of data and a lack of appropriate hardware. As soon as these prerequisites were met, ANNs really took off. Today, some people are thinking about how progress in neuroscience can further inform the structure of ANNs to improve on their performance – because they still are far behind what a brain can do. Referring to Tegmark’s book we discuss scenarios that he writes are proposed to lead toward human-like artificial intelligence. We discuss whether modelling a human brain on different levels, from the molecules of every brain cell up to the behavior of an individual human, would work out – or would even count as intelligence. Could we upload our minds? Would human-level AI be conscious? Will the “singularity” kill us all? We try to answer these questions form the viewpoint of neuroscience. Do you have questions, comments or suggestion? Email, write us on facebook or twitter, or leave us a video message on Skype for dennis.eckmeier. SUPPORT US THROUGH PAYPAL Resources: Grace Lindsay on Twitter Grace’s upcoming Book “Models of the Mind“ Grace’s Podcast “Unsupervised Thinking” Grace’s Blog “Neurdiness” Max Tegmark “Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence” Mentioned Black Mirror episode: “Be Right Back”
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Creator Details

Nov 16th, 1978
Lisbon, Portugal
Episode Count
Podcast Count
Total Airtime
1 day, 15 hours
Podchaser Creator ID logo 749123