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.
 

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There’s new evidence that gender stereotypes of scientists are changing. Researchers looked at drawings of scientists made by more than 20,000 children and found that 28 percent drew their scientist as a woman. That’s a dramatic increase from the .6 percent researchers saw 50 years ago, but there’s still room for growth.

noaa.gov

The ocean has a plastic problem. And it’s growing. Several million tons of plastic enter the ocean every year, and much of it ends up swirling around in the middle of ocean basins.

There is a long and troubling history of science – or at least pseudoscience – being used to justify racism and discrimination. The nineteenth century practice of phrenology is a commonly cited – and thoroughly debunked – example.

Millions of people use social media, many overuse it, and some are actually clinically addicted. Isaac Vaghefi, assistant professor at the Binghamton University School of Management, says that about fifteen to twenty percent of the college students he works with fall into the problematic category. But who is most likely to develop a social media problem?

Northeastern Illinois University

Cindy Voisine grew up in Fort Kent, Maine – a small town with a strong French Canadian influence. Her family is bilingual, and she was the first in her family to go to college. She grew up thinking she would become a medical doctor, the only career she knew of that would satisfy her interest in biology. But her ideas changed when she got to Bates College.

Solar energy is one of the most contentious topics out there. Some see it as the way to a carbon-neutral energy system, while others say it’s a boondoggle. Varun Sivaram has worked in the ivory tower of academia, the nitty gritty of municipal governance, and the high-risk, high-reward world of tech start-ups. Along the way, he’s come face to face with the differing views of solar, and he attempts to pull them all together and put them in perspective in his new book, Taming the Sun.

 

 

We know we have an opioid epidemic. Opioid overdoses have become the leading cause of accidental deaths for Americans under the age of 50. But the problem is far worse in some places than in others. A new county-by-county analysis of deaths due to drug and alcohol abuse highlights just how enormous the disparities can be.

L. Lerner

There’s been a steady decline in mental health among teens and young adults in recent decades. Since 1960, anxiety, depression, and addiction have increased, as as has the number of young people who say they aren’t the ones in control of their lives. That lack (or perceived lack) of control may be at the heart of the problem.

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Mid-March is when many in southern New England would usually get their gardens started. With the weather we’ve been having, that may seem a distant dream right now. That just leaves us extra time for planning.

L. Lerner

Southern New England has been battered by three major winter storms in as many weeks. Severe coastal flooding and widespread power outages have prompted many to ask if it's a new normal brought on by climate change. A growing body of research suggests it may be, and extreme warming in the Arctic may be responsible.

Ione Fine

Scientific journals don’t track the gender of their authors. That made it that much trickier for University of Washington psychology professor Ione Fine and her colleagues to uncover a surprising fact: that women scientists are significantly under-represented among authors of studies published in top-tier journals. 

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For almost a decade, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper slashed science funding and restricted government researchers’ ability to speak to the public. The Trudeau administration has worked to reverse their predecessors’ anti-science policies, but many Canadian scientists still say they don’t feel free to speak to the public. Science librarian and blogger John Dupuis of York University, told Living Lab Radio he isn’t surprised. Rebuilding is slow. 

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Medicine has changed radically in the past century, but one thing that flies under the radar is how much our concept of illness, itself, has changed. 

Johannes Plenio / unsplash

When it comes to artificial intelligence, a lot of attention has been focused on issues of privacy and economics – what happens if AI makes human workers obsolete. Now, a new report from the non-profit Environmental Law Institute highlights the potential environmental impacts of AI-driven technologies, from autonomous cars to smart thermostats.

Wikicommons

In the weeks since the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the national debate about guns has begun to shift. One issue that has come to the fore is funding for research on gun violence. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have a program focused on injury prevention and control, but gun safety research has not been part of their work for more than twenty years. 

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