Elsa Partan

Producer for Living Lab

Elsa Partan is a producer for Living Lab Radio. She first came to the station in 2002 as an intern and fell in love with radio. She is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. From 2006 to 2009, she covered the state of Wyoming for the NPR member station Wyoming Public Media in Laramie. She was a newspaper reporter at The Mashpee Enterprise from 2010 to 2013. She lives in Falmouth with her husband and two daughters.
 

Ways to Connect

Jack Hamilton / https://bit.ly/2IRYLCs

The Korean peninsula is at the center of global geopolitics right now. It might also be ground zero for the global decline of amphibians. And, strangely, the two might be connected. 

NIH / https://bit.ly/2JdN1cC

A new report from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health shows opioid-related deaths are down five percent compared to this time last year. And opioid prescriptions have also dropped here in the Commonwealth and nationwide. Still, the opioid epidemic is far from over, and the pace of research on effective pain management seems to be picking up. 

Wikicommons / http://bit.ly/2x6w8f0

Eugenics, which got its start in the 1880s, is a set of beliefs and practices that aims at improving the genetic quality of a human population. It was the basis for forced sterilization laws in the United States and spread to Germany in the first part of the last century.

The American conservation movement started around the same time and was championed by Theodore Roosevelt, who became president in 1901.

It may seem strange today, but those two movements were closely linked at the time.

University of Michigan / The Robot Report

Robotics experts will be gathering in Boston this week for the 2018 Robotics Summit and Showcase. It’s an event targeted at professionals, but robots are becoming a bigger and bigger presence in all of our lives. We spoke with Steve Crowe, editor of The Robot Report, to get a preview. 

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Until recently, researchers thought that most of the birds that sing were males. But in 2016, Karan Odom went through samples of songs from more than a thousand species from around the world and found that 64 percent of the species had females that sing.

Odom is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Leiden University and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. She has launched a new citizen science initiative called the Female Bird Song Project.

This week, the journal Nature released a survey of 3,200 scientists that showed many feel science is a friendly and collaborative field. Unfortunately, there is a sizable minority that find their labs are tense or even toxic. The good news is that the survey also points to several things that universities can do to systematically improve the academic workplace.

Faustin Tuyambaze / unsplash

Massachusetts highest court has ruled that MIT is not responsible for the suicide in 2009 of a twenty-five-year-old graduate student. MIT does have a higher suicide rate than other schools, but depression, anxiety, and suicide are a prevalent problem throughout academia.

Bruno Martins / Unsplash

We’ve all heard that the best time to learn a new language is when you’re a young child; think pre-school or elementary school. But a recent study by researchers from Boston College, MIT and Harvard finds that the window of opportunity is quite a bit larger than previously thought, extending all the way through high school.

It’s May, nice weather is finally here, and some of you are thinking about what your teenager will do when school gets out. We’ve got somebody who can help.

Hawaii has passed a ban on certain sunscreens that are harmful to corals.
Elsa Partan / WGBH

Hawaii is poised become the first state to ban certain sunscreens – not because they are bad for people necessarily, but because they’ve been implicated in the decline of coral reefs. The ban specifically targets sunscreens that contain two chemicals – oxybenzone and octinoxate. The bill is awaiting the governor’s signature.

Davide Cantelli / https://bit.ly/2DYMsAM

New York State has revived a climate science committee that the Trump administration let go last summer. The group’s objective is to help local and regional officials to get the information they need to prepare and respond to impacts like heat waves, droughts, and flooding. And they’re building a network of dozens of organizations to get the job done without the federal government’s involvement.

Small gasoline-powered engines help create air pollution on sunny days.
piviso.com / http://bit.ly/2FSkjID

This past week brought the first real taste of spring or maybe even summer weather. Along with the warmth came something less desirable -- air quality alerts. From Connecticut to southern Maine, ozone levels mid-week rose to what the EPA considers unhealthy for those with asthma or other lung problems.

More than 12 million people have had their DNA analyzed by direct-to-consumer genealogy tests like 23andMe and ancestry.com. That number more than doubled last year, giving the industry a huge boost.

The European Union has voted to ban three pesticides known as neonicotinoids based on evidence that they pose a risk to bees.
John Campbell / http://bit.ly/2HYQgoo

Each month, Living Lab Radio checks in with Nature News to talk about some of the latest research headlines. This time we talk with senior reporter Lizzie Gibney at the London bureau.

Many long-time Cape Codders would be surprised to learn that there is coral growing along Cape Cod’s shores – no big reefs, just hearty chunks of coral that can survive water temperatures close to freezing.

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