Living Lab Radio

Mondays at 9am and 7pm

Living Lab Radio is a forum for the stories behind science headlines — the people who do the research, the unexpected ways that science gets done, and how the results make their way into our everyday lives.

Host and producer Dr. Heather Goldstone.
Credit Maura Longueil

Do you have a question, story, or photo to share? Send it to livinglabradio@capeandislands.org. Or find us on Facebook and Twitter.

Living Lab Radio is produced by Heather Goldstone and Elsa Partan. The executive producer is Mindy Todd.

Major support for Living Lab Radio is provided by The Kendeda Fund.

North Atlantic right whale, Wart, with her weeks-old calf in January, 2013.
Allison Henry / NEFSC under Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies NOAA permit #14603

In another sign of the season, the right whales have come and gone. At the height of things, about ten days ago, 113 North Atlantic right whales - fully a quarter of the estimated 470 existing individuals - were sighted in Cape Cod Bay. A week later, Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies posted on Facebook:

Not a single right whale spotted in Cape Cod Bay...

Lars Plougmann / Flickr

Welcome to the first of what we hope will become a regular feature here on Living Lab. We’re calling it From the Director’s Chair, and it’s a chance to check in with the heads of local research institutions about the news and issues that are on their minds.

On the docket this time:

Courtesy of Emily Monosson

Later this month on Living Lab, we’ll be talking about Motherhood: The Elephant in the Laboratory. Do you have a story to share?

Usually, there's an audio player at the top of these posts. This one is different. That's a recorder up there. Here's why (and what you should do with it).

Female scientists are a species subject to serious attrition. Women make up more than half of all undergraduate science majors. Approximately 40% of doctoral degree recipients in science and engineering fields are women. At each successive career benchmark, the proportion of women drops. Less than 30% of full-time, tenured or tenure-track scientists are female.

Why? One major factor is motherhood.

The name of this New Bedford fishing boat expresses what many fishermen love about their jobs, and what many feel they've lost.
Heather Goldstone / WCAI

Today marks the opening of the 2013 groundfish season. It's a year that could go down in history as the end of New England's oldest fishery - cod.

The groundfish industry is no stranger to cutbacks and hard times. The fleet has been shrinking for over a decade. But cod fishermen are facing drastic reductions in catch limits this season - a 77% reduction in Gulf of Maine quotas, and greater than 50% reduction in Georges Bank allotments. And since cod is usually caught in conjunction with other groundfish, such as haddock or pollock, the restrictions on cod catches could curtail the entire groundfish season.

Scientists collect fish and plankton to assess the impacts of the Fukushima nuclear crisis on ocean ecosystems.
Ken Kostel / Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

The Gulf oil spill and Fukushima nuclear crisis have faded from the headlines, but research into the environmental impacts of these disasters is still in its early stages and could continue for decades.

In the past three years we’ve seen two of the worst environmental disasters in history.

Overfishing - of cod, and many other species - began well before modern technology.
Peabody Essex Museum

As long as there have been fishermen, there has been overfishing. Breaking that cycle is the central challenge facing fishermen, fishery scientists and regulators, and anyone who likes to eat fish or have fishermen as neighbors.

Coastal flooding and erosion are expected to become more frequent and severe as the climate warms.
Heather Goldstone / WCAI

Coastal counties in the United States are home to nearly half the nation's total population, and contributed more than 8 trillion dollars to the nation's economy in 2010. As the weather events of the past six months have made evident, coastal communities are increasingly vulnerable to the forces of nature.

Winning times for the Boston Marathon are slower when it's hotter.
Chase Elliott Clark / Flickr

New research points to some of the subtle ways climate change can affect daily (or not-so-daily, as the case may be) life.

A right whale skim feeding at the surface.
Courtesy of Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies

Add this to the list of what makes Cape Cod special: Cape Cod Bay may well be the place where the fate of endangered North Atlantic right whales is decided.

There are only about 470 North Atlantic right whales in existence. They were hunted to the brink of extinction, and their future remains precarious. They face a barage of threats - ship strikes, entanglement in fishing gear, increasing noise levels in the ocean, and climate change.

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