Piled high and Deep

An Education, Society and Culture podcast
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Dr. Shawn Sapp is the lead scientist in a forensic engineering firm, that means he investigates the causes and origins of accidents. But it’s not really where he expected to end up after finishing his doctorate. To be honest, given his experiences during his PhD it makes sense he would end up here, because his journey can be perhaps be defined with one word; change.
What's this new thing all about?
Brian Zaharatos has is certainly a man of many interests. He has managed to take one of those to the finish line with a Doctorate in Applied Mathematics and Statistics. There is a second point of interest also compelling and keeps him thinking and more than likely he will someday, not to far away, have a second PhD. In  the meantime he’ll keep stuffing young minds with the wonders of applied math. Here is a link to Brian's Blog  https://bzaharatos.wordpress.com
Sometimes the journey to a PhD has nothing to do with the PhD at all, it has to do with the ultimate goal. For Paige Backlund Jarquin her journey to her PhD started with a realization she wanted to work to improve the public health system. Now the statement of the goal wasn’t immediate, it took some time and a relocation to Washington, D.C. It was working in the trenches of public health when she had her, for lack of a better term, epiphany, and knew in order to reach the goal she would have to get her PhD.
Thinking about the role of technology and data in the world is just one of the big questions Shawn DuBravac, PhD is asking these days. Specifically he is focused on digitization. It is more than just the shifting from an analog world to a world build on  ones and zeros, Shawn is working on identifying the ways society is being changed by the transformation into a digital world and how all people can benefit from technological innovations. http://digitaldestiny.com https://twitter.com/shawndubravac
What do fruit flies and the video game Mass Effect have in common? you might not think very much, but today on the podcast those are major themes. You see fruit flies have been the focus of study for Eric Spana, PhD, in between games of Mass Effect and any number of other video games he loves to play. Then he decided to mash up his love of science and video games and talks about at science fiction conventions. Its a great gig. Academic by day, video game junkie at  night.
You might think a PhD built upon earthquakes and other natural disasters would be all science and stuff; not the case with Dr. Sara McBride. This journey begins with finding a love of writing and of far away places, putting those skills to work serving communities facing threats from Mother Nature and then traveling around the world chasing the disasters and helping communities recover.  For Sara the beginning of the PhD comes when her adopted hometown is the center of an  immense disaster. It is here she comes to grips with the realization;  as good as she is as a communicator she needed to do more to ensure her writing was hitting its mark.  Visit Sara on Twitter - https://twitter.com/DisastrousComms
Tenacity is a trait common among PhDs. The drive to find answers, solve problems, develop solutions, or improve upon what is already established and or commonplace. For Cathy Dundon the PhD journey begins with an early introduction into the wonders of cells and DNA. Her curiosity leads to a PhD and then to working to solve problems as industry looks to alternatives to hydrocarbon based packaging and fuels. The journey now is focused on helping other scientists realize their dreams of making the world a better place.
A big driver for success in this world is finding something you enjoy doing, and it doesn't matter why. For Emma Southon, PhD in Ancient History it was embracing the horribleness of Ancient Rome that opened her eyes to how awesome history is.  From there she moved on to look at how early Christianity rose up and plotted and schemed to convert the masses from worshipping ancestors and multiple gods to just one god.  Emma does this with a smile on her face a non-stop laugh at the wackiness of it all.   Here are links to Emma's website, twitter feed, and podcast.  https://www.emmasouthon.com  Twitter - @nuclearteeth History is Sexy Podcast
It's the premier episode of Piled high and Deep - The Podcast. My first guest is Elizabeth Dunn, PhD. She talks about her journey from Colorado, to France, China, Poland, and Georgia and how a study in food turns into a new passion project, refugees.
Peter McGraw's PhD journey, both to the dissertation and after has taken him around the world. Pretty exciting for a guy with an interest for quantitative psychology and an  understanding of why people make the decisions they do,.  Then there's the whole interest in what makes something funny. but don't laugh, it was all part of the plan.   Peter's website https://www.petermcgraw.org     Twitter - @PeterMcGraw
Samer Hijazi can point to a Japanese cartoon for being the inspiration for his pursuit of a PhD in Electrical Engineering. The cartoon was about a robot that understood what he was being told, but didn’t speak, but serves the greater good. This is the starting line for a love of technology and inspired a desire to build robots. Eventually the path leads to improvements to wireless communication networks and finally to a career focused on improving the ability for computers to better understand what people are really talking about.  
For Steve Lamos the path to his doctorate was actually more about staying in school to play in a band. It wasn’t until he had established himself as a tenured professor that the dreams of his childhood were realized, being a touring musician. Now he has to balance adult responsibilities  with those dreams starting to come true. Here’s the link to Steve’s band http://www.americanfootballmusic.com 
The 1950s were an exciting time for Joe Romig. Playing football and a passion for astronomy took him to the University of Colorado, in Boulder. He found great success at both. After his undergrad he went to England to study at Oxford, then returned home as part of the efforts to study the solar system. His never-ending curiosity led him to a career investigating explosions and fires, while also teaching at his alma mater.
Today's guest on the podcast is an environmental toxicologist who had a bit of a circuitous route to his PhD. We talk about balancing  family, research, classroom, and lab time in route to a PhD in Zoology.
Robin O’Keefe knew at a young age what he wanted to do with his life, the problem was his older self didn’t listen at first. But it all turned out for the best and Robin is doing exactly what he was meant to do, a paleontologist that teaches a lot of general biology classes, including human anatomy. WHAT?! There have also been some adventures, like the time he was in the African desert at the beginning of the Gulf War. Hunting for dinosaur bones is exciting.
Efra Rivera Serrano began his PhD journey very simply, he went to college in order to escape the poverty of rural Puerto Rico.  He fell in love with biology after his college classes built upon his favorite subjects in high school. The goal moved to PhD when he discovered a living could be had by being curious and asking questions. Efra then discovered a love for writing and science communications. Now he is taking all this and giving to his community of unique scientist and opportunity to share their stories.  Efra's Unique Scientist project https://uniquescientists.com Efra on Twitter - https://twitter.com/nakedcapsid
One might think that an undergrad degree in Leisure Studies wouldn’t lead to much more than a couch. That is certainly not the case for Justin Harmon. Sure the years right after graduation were a bit on the lackadaisical side of life, he was working, but he was more focused on the living. It wasn’t until the end of his masters that he found his calling and a way to turn a love of music into a study of culture.
Dr Erin Macdonald’s love of science came from watching Star Trek, specifically Captain Kathryn Janeway. She went to Scotland for her PhD where she put together the building blocks investigators would later use to identify gravitational waves. But you know dreams change. She been working in the aerospace industry of late, but now she wants to spread the word about science and one of the places she does that is comic book and science fiction conventions. Here’s the link to Erin’s website http://www.erinpmacdonald.com follow her on Twitter https://twitter.com/drerinmac 
The ability to push through obstacles is a defining quality in Donna Halper’s PhD journey.  She had a goal of being on the radio and a bunch of college boys in the 60s were not going to keep her from her dream. When Donna realized the radio industry was changing she decided a new path was to be followed and she could use her radio past to build her future. The ultimate goal would require some work though, a dissertation, something that would be a challenge for Donna almost 35 years removed from her undergrad. http://www.donnahalper.com    Twitter link @DevorahLeah
There’s nothing quite like a shiny new PhD. The burdens of the academic journey have slid off the shoulders of Chris Haynes, and now he needs to figure out what comes next. The journey was anything but a straight line. He grew up in a family of academics, so it is in his genes. His academic focus started with music, then it was onto medieval literature, and ended with comic books. Not exactly a traditional English Lit kinda guy and its probably not your traditional dissertation. But for Chris, the end of the this journey is just the beginning of another journey allowing him to engage in old conversations, while being the creator of brand new ones.
Never discount the power of a grandmother and her ability to instill a love of literature into a young boy. That's just one of many themes in the journey of Adam Bradley. Other themes include strong mentors, a love of Rap and Hip-Hop music and finding a way to combine all of this into a wonderful stew that is working to further the discussion of race and inequality in America. Link to Adam Bradley's website : http://www.adamfbradley.com 
Asking good questions are at the heart of all PhD journeys. For Andy Sayler it was a bit different. The questions he was asking didn’t have answers to be derived by laboratory experiments or field investigations. The questions he was working to answer had more to do with the discussion on how to keep digital information secure at the same time the users of the information can be productive with it. https://www.andysayler.com 
Zach Reed wasn’t the best student in HS or early on in college, it also didn’t help that he had to fight cancer. But it was a food science class that helped defined his PhD journey. It was also advantageous that Zach likes to cook and enjoyed his chemistry classes. These were the perfect ingredients for a PhD in Food Science.
David Conti’s path to his PhD started when he discovered he quite liked the way genetics helped him answer some of the questions he had about the world around him. It started with butterflies and then moved onto to identifying disease characteristics in our own genome. (I think I got this right.) Now his work finds him being more of a computer programer and statistician as he works to help identify how genetics impacts disease.
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Podcast Details

Feb 27th, 2017
Latest Episode
Jun 26th, 2019
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