Cara Santa Maria is a science communicator, television host, producer, and journalist. She is excited to present "Talk Nerdy," a place for conversations with interesting people about interesting topics.
In this episode of Talk Nerdy, Cara is joined by mathematician and former NFL player, John Urschel. They talk about his passion for mathematics, including his current work as a doctoral candidate at MIT and his new book, "Mind and Matter: A Life in Math and Football." They also discuss his love of football, motivations for retiring from the sport, and the painful reality of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Follow John: @JohnCUrschel.
In this episode of Talk Nerdy, Cara is joined by Molly Strausbaugh, chemist and assistant director of the Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS). They talk about all things chemistry, including how the American Chemical Society's CAS serves scientists by providing a wealth of knowledge about the properties of every chemical you can imagine. Follow Molly's work: @AmerChemSociety.
In this episode of Talk Nerdy, Cara is joined by philosopher and historian of science, Dr. Michael Ruse, to discuss his new book, "A Meaning to Life." They talk about the interplay between existential philosophy and Darwinian evolution, including his approach to atheism. Read several of Michael's other books here.
In this episode of Talk Nerdy, Cara is joined by Annaka Harris, science editor, consultant, and author of the new book, “Conscious: A Brief Guide to the Fundamental Mystery of the Mind.” They talk about her work in the world of science writing as well as mindfulness meditation. Then the conversation turns to the topic of consciousness, a fascinating deep dive into the mysterious construct that has baffled and intrigued scientists and philosophers for centuries. Follow Annaka: @AnnakaHarris.
In this episode of Talk Nerdy, Cara is joined by the Head of Science at Synthego, Dr. Kevin Holden. They talk about new advances in genetic engineering technology, such as the CRISPR-CasX system. Also discussed: what the future holds for synthetic biology and related fields. Follow Kevin’s work: @Synthego.
In this episode of Talk Nerdy, Cara is joined by Alexis Pedrick, the manager of public programs at the Science History Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They talk about all things rare earths, including the Rare Earth Elements Project at the institute. They also discuss the podcast Alexis co-hosts, Distillations. Follow Alexis’s work: @SciHistoryOrg.
In this episode of Talk Nerdy, Cara sits down with Dr. Lucy Jones, founder of the Dr. Lucy Jones Center for Science and Society and author of the new book, “The Big Ones: How Natural Disasters Have Shaped Us (and What We Can Do About Them)”. They just so happened to record on the morning of July 5, 2019, between the magnitude 6.4 foreshock on July 4 and the magnitude 7.1 earthquake on July 5, 2019 in southern California. They discuss earthquake safety, seismology, and the psychological biases that prevent us from accurate risk assessment. Follow Lucy: @DrLucyJones.
In this episode of Talk Nerdy, Cara is joined by UCLA biogeochemistry PhD student Rob Ulrich. They talk about his work as the founding president of Queers in STEM, including the institutional barriers faced by LGBTQIA+ individuals in the sciences and allied academic fields. They also discuss the upcoming international LGBTSTEM Day on July 5th! Follow Rob: @robertnulrich.
In this episode of Talk Nerdy, Cara is joined by Ana Humphrey, winner of the 2019 Regeneron Science Talent Search. They talk about her $250,000 winning research calculating potential exoplanets using NASA’s Kepler data, as well as what’s next for this inspirational high school grad. Follow Ana: @AnaOnAPlanet.
In this episode of Talk Nerdy, Cara speaks with fellow Texan Sahana Srinivasan, host of Netflix’s “Brain Child.” They talk about what is was like to lead a show while finishing her college degree. In addition, they discuss the role of inclusion and diversity in science media, as Sahana is the first Indian-American woman to host a science television show in the United States.
In this episode of Talk Nerdy, Cara is once again joined in-studio by Katie McKissick, author and illustrator of Beatrice the Biologist. They talk about their mutual love of all things science and scicomm, including her newest book, “Everyday Amazing: Fascinating Facts About the Science that Surrounds Us.” Follow Katie: @BeatriceBiology.
In this week’s episode of Talk Nerdy, Cara is joined by neuroscientist and author, Dr. Erin Clabough. They talk about her new book, “Second Nature: How Parents Can Use Neuroscience to Help Kids Develop Empathy, Creativity, and Self-Control.” Also discussed: Erin’s path to science and motherhood, as well as evidence-supported insights for parents.
In this episode of Talk Nerdy, Cara is joined by the author of “The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote,” Elaine Weiss. They talk about the fascinating history of women’s suffrage, including the brave individuals who fought against misogyny, racism, and corporate interests to secure the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Follow Elaine: @efweiss5.
In this episode of Talk Nerdy, Cara speaks with filmmaker, conservationist, hunter, and cohost of the “Into the Wilderness” podcast Byron Pace while attending a conference in Namibia. They discuss the controversial topic of African big game conservation, including the economic necessity of hunting programs in many regions. Follow Byron: @ByronJPace.
In this episode of Talk Nerdy, recorded in Windhoek, Namibia, Cara speaks with the Director of the Namibian Association of CBNRM (community-based natural resource management) Support Organisations, Maxi Louis. They talk about her work as an anti-apartheid activist, advocate for indigenous peoples in southern Africa, and champion for conservation.
In this episode of Talk Nerdy, Cara is joined by Harvard neuroscientist-turned-visual effects pioneer Dr. Barry Sandrew. They talk about his innovative work in digital imaging for motion pictures, including his invention and later re-imagination of digital colorization. They also discuss what life is like living with prosopagnosia (face blindness. Follow Barry: @movieproducer.
In this episode of Talk Nerdy, Cara is joined by science writer Christie Aschwanden to talk about her new book, “Good to Go: What the Athlete in All of Us Can Learn from the Strange Science of Sports Recovery.” They talk about the myths and pseudoscience often peddled within the exercise recovery industry, as well as the strength of the scientific evidence available. Follow Christie: @cragcrest.
In this episode of Talk Nerdy, Cara speaks with Dr. Jeffrey Marlow, a science journalist, National Geographic Emerging Explorer, and Geobiologist at Harvard University who studies deep-sea microbes. They talk about the importance of innovative technology to the scientific process, as well as the curious link between marine microbial communities and potential life on other worlds. Follow Jeffrey: @jj_marlow.
In this episode of Talk Nerdy, Cara has an in-studio chat with Dr. Stacey Finley, head of the Computational Systems Biology Laboratory in the University of Southern California’s Viterbi School of Engineering. They discuss the work she’s doing at the intersection of systems biology, chemical engineering, computer science, and materials science to develop novel mechanistic models of disease processes such as cancer. Follow Stacey: @USCSysBio_Lab.
In this episode of Talk Nerdy, Cara is joined by Dr. Randi Hutter Epstein, author of “Aroused: The History of Hormones and How they Control Just About Everything.” They talk about her work as a science and medicine writer, and her winding journey from M.D. to M.P.H. and everything in between. Then they focus on the topic of her new book, the fascinating history and current impact of human hormones. Follow Randi: @randihepstein.
In this episode of Talk Nerdy, Cara is joined by Mr. Fascinate himself, Justin Shaifer. They talk about the work he’s doing to bring culturally responsive STEM curriculum to students and educators nationwide, as well as his animated series, ‘Hood Science. Follow Justin: @FascinateSci.
In this episode of Talk Nerdy, Cara is joined by producer, writer, and designer Rose Eveleth. They discuss the futuristic scenarios explored on Rose’s popular podcast, Flash Forward. They also spend an inordinate amount of time talking about archival footage and the importance of learning history, because, well, you know… Follow Rose: @roseeveleth.
In this episode of Talk Nerdy, Cara chats with Stacey Espinosa, Global Product Development Senior Manager for Mints and New Benefits at Mars Wrigley Confectionary. They talk about her dream job as a chemical engineer developing new candy flavors, as well as ways we can all help inspire young women to pursue STEM careers.
In this episode of Talk Nerdy, Cara is joined in-studio by Dr. Burcin Becerik-Gerber, founding director of the Innovation in Integrated Informatics Lab and the Center for Intelligent Environments, Technology, and Society at the University of Southern California. They talk about her work developing adaptive built environments using machine learning and systems thinking. They also discuss an incredible course she teaches called “Innovation in Engineering Design for Global Challenges,” in which USC students travel to refugee camps around the world to work with their inhabitants to design sustainable, feasible solutions to critical problems. Follow Burcin: @Becerik-Gerber.
In this episode of Talk Nerdy, Cara is joined by Dr. Kristina (Kris) Ropella, Dean of the College of Engineering and professor of biomedical engineering at Marquette University. They talk about her research in biosignal processing and medical imaging for diagnostic biomedical devices. They also discuss her role as Dean of Engineering, a position that is still incredibly rare to be held by a woman. Follow Kris: @DeanRopellaMU.
In this episode of Talk Nerdy, Cara speaks with Dr. Gary Paul Nabhan, founder of the Center for Regional Food Studies at the University of Arizona. They talk about sustainability, conservation, indigenous agriculture, and his newest of several books, “Mesquite: An Arboreal Love Affair.” Follow Gary: @Ferhat9282468.
In this episode of Talk Nerdy, Cara speaks with Dr. Livia Eberlin, an analytical chemist at the University of Texas. They talk about her recognition as a 2018 Sloan Research Fellow, Moore Inventor Fellow, and MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipient. They also discuss her incredible work at the intersection of chemistry and medicine, including the invention of the MasSpec Pen, a handheld device allowing for rapid, nondestructive analysis of cancerous tissue during surgery. Follow Livia: @livia_se.
In this episode of Talk Nerdy, Cara speaks with Dr. Ross MacPhee, Curator of the Department of Mammalogy in the Division of Vertebrate Zoology at the American Museum of Natural History. They talk about his newest book, “End of the Megafauna: The Weight of the World’s Hugest, Fiercest, and Strangest, Animals.” In it, Ross discusses new and exciting theories underlying the multiple extinction events of Earth’s largest prehistoric mammals.
In this episode of Talk Nerdy, Cara chats with award-winning documentarian and creative director of Genepool Productions, Sonya Pemberton. They talk about her newest film, Vitamania, as well as other projects she’s produced and aired across the globe. They also discuss the challenges bringing Australian-made films to an American audience in the current science media landscape. Follow Sonya: @pembertonfilms.
In this episode of Talk Nerdy, Cara speaks with Wright State University professor of philosophy Dr. William Irvine about his new book, “You: A Natural History.” They discuss the various identities that make you, well, you, including perspectives from evolutionary biology, genetics, and physics. Then the conversation turns to classical philosophy and the perspective of the stoics.
In this episode of Talk Nerdy, Cara is joined by author and artist Shawn Sheehy to talk about his newest book, “Beyond the Sixth Extinction: A Post-Apocalyptic Pop-Up.” They discuss his journey into the paper arts as well as the ecological and evolutionary science that goes into his work. Follow Shawn on Facebook here.
In this episode of Talk Nerdy, Cara connects with science writer David Quammen to talk about his new book, “The Tangled Tree: A Radical New History of Life.” They discuss the complexity of modern evolutionary theory, from classical Darwinian natural selection to recent discoveries in the field of molecular phylogenetics. Follow David: @DavidQuammen.
In this episode of Talk Nerdy, Cara is joined by J.R. Becker, author of the “Annabelle and Aiden” children’s book series. They discuss how his transition into fatherhood inspired him to write books for kids that emphasize science, skepticism, and awe. Follow J.R.: @AnnabelleNAiden.
In this episode of Talk Nerdy, Cara is joined in studio by National Geographic Explorer and conservation technologist, Shah Selbe. They talk about his work as the founder of Conservify, a non-profit organization dedicated to the democratization of data and technology to aid in global conservation. Follow Shah: @ShahSelbe.
In this episode of Talk Nerdy, Cara joins Astronomer Royal and Emeritus Professor of Astronomy and Cosmology, Lord Martin Rees, in his office at Cambridge University. They talk about his new book, “On the Future: Prospects of Humanity,” as well as his work as the co-founder of the Center for the Study of Existential Risk. They discuss the hazards of short-term decision-making and the great potential modern science and technology offers us to secure the future of planet Earth for generations to come.
In this episode of Talk Nerdy, Cara is joined by Anna Rothschild, the creator and host of the incredible Washington Post Youtube series “Anna’s Science Magic Show Hooray!” They talk about her lifelong interest in how stuff works (including the gross stuff that never ceases to amaze and fascinate), as well as the ins and outs of creating, writing, animating, and starring in your own science Youtube series. Follow Anna: @Anna_Rothschild.
In this episode of Talk Nerdy, Cara is joined in studio by documentarians Christina Costantini and Darren Foster. They talk about their wonderful new film, Science Fair, which Cristina describes as a “love letter to the subculture that saved” her and critics agree will restore your faith in humanity. Follow the film: @ScienceFairFilm.
In this episode of Talk Nerdy, Cara is joined by Dr. Chris Impey, astrophysicist and author of “Einstein’s Monsters: The Life and Times of Black Holes.” They discuss black holes’ rich history of discovery, from Galilean telescopes to spectroscopy to gravitational wave detection. Follow Chris: @ImpeyChris.
In this episode of Talk Nerdy, Cara speaks with Dr. David George Haskell, the author of “Songs of Trees: Stories of Nature’s Great Connectors,” They juxtapose the joyous relationship humanity has long had with nature against modern abuses, such as consumption, destruction, and shortsightedness. David’s verbal expression is as eloquent as his writing—this poetic conversation will have you thinking about your place in the great ecosystem we call Earth. Follow David: @DGHaskell.
In this episode of Talk Nerdy, connects with Israeli-based immunologist and Chief Scientific Officer of BiondVax Pharmaceuticals, Dr. Tammy Ben-Yedidia. They discuss her incredible work developing and testing a multi-season, multi-strain “universal” flu vaccine. Follow Tammy’s work: @BiondVax.
In this episode of Talk Nerdy, Cara speaks with mathematician Dr. Hannah Fry about her new book, “Hello World: Being Human in the Age of Algorithms.” They talk about her work as a television presenter for the BBC and a radio presenter for “The Curious Cases of Rutherford and Fry.” They also discuss the use on algorithms in modern society, including her own research into the mathematics of human behavior. Follow Hannah: @FryRsquared.
In this episode of Talk Nerdy, Cara is joined by speaker, writer, and empathy educator Kate Kenfield. They talk about her ingenious Tea & Empathy cards, which facilitate conversation in a non-confrontational and practical manner. They also discuss the necessity of empathy for effective interpersonal communication, with a special focus on social and emotional learning, consent, and gender differences. Follow Kate: @katekenfield.
In this episode of Talk Nerdy, Cara is joined in-studio by journalist Vince Beiser to talk about his new book, “The World in a Grain: The Story of Sand and How it Transformed Civilization.” They discuss the surprising and fascinating history of sand, from its foundational role in society to its dealings as a black market commodity. Follow Vince: @vincelb.
In this episode of Talk Nerdy, Cara speaks with the creator and author of “Dinosaur Comics,” computer programmer-turned-writer Ryan North. From his incredible new book “How to Invent Everything: A Survival Guide for the Stranded Time Traveler,” they discuss how one might build a civilization from scratch (if, you know, it comes to that). Follow Ryan: @ryanqnorth.
In this episode of Talk Nerdy, Cara chats with actress Alison Becker (Parks and Recreation) about the ups and downs of the television industry with a special emphasis on the #MeToo era. They also discuss her work in sketch comedy, as well as her super cool side gig teaching improv to help people improve their communication skills. Follow Alison: @thealisonbecker.
In this episode of Talk Nerdy, Cara is joined by Dr. Kevin Hainline, a postdoctoral researcher in astrophysics at the Steward Observatory in Tucson, Arizona. They discuss the nature of black holes and galaxies, the value of science communication, and his work on the upcoming JWST NIRCam (the imager for the James Webb Space Telescope). Follow Kevin: @Kevin_Hainline.
In this episode of Talk Nerdy, Cara sits down in studio with Mara Altman, author of the hilarious and enlightening new book, “Gross Anatomy: Dispatches from the Front (and Back).” They talk about the writing that originally inspired the book (her Kindle single “Bearded Lady”) as well as Mara’s journey to understand the origins of embarrassment and shame that often accompany our relationships with our bodies. Watch the trailer for her book here! Follow Mara: @maraaltman.
In this episode of Talk Nerdy, Cara is joined by Sara MacSorley, the author of "Super Cool Scientists: A Coloring Book Celebrating Women in Science." They talk about her work in science communication, with a specific focus on what Sara is doing to promote inclusion and representation in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Follow Sara: @SMacSorley.
In this episode of Talk Nerdy, Cara speaks with Dr. Adam Rutherford, author of "A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived: The Human Story Retold Through Our Genes." They dive deep into human genetics, including what consumer DNA tests can and can't tell you about your genetic history. They also discuss the sordid history of eugenics as a scientific discipline. Follow Adam: @AdamRutherford.
In this episode of Talk Nerdy, Cara is joined by Breanna Cox, the Quality Assurance Manager at MedCure, Inc., a whole-body donation program. They detail what happens when you donate your body for science (education and research), including the care that is taken to maintain compassion and respect for your remains after you die. Follow Breanna's work: @MedCure_