Science & Chill Podcast 2020 Year in Review

I want to begin by first extending a major thank you to listeners of the Science & Chill podcast. If you listened to even ONE episode — heck, even just 10 minutes of one episode — I am extremely grateful that you lent your ears. I hope that you took something away from your listening experience, whether it be new knowledge on a particular topic, exposure to a guest whose research or work you now follow, or a tiny bit of information that changed your health or mindset for the better. That’s the goal of the podcast, after all.

An extra special thank you to all of my Patreon supporters! You have made this podcast exponentially better through your generous monthly contributions and I appreciate your willingness to help this podcast grow and thrive. Your support is invaluable.

If you would like to become a Science & Chill Patreon, you can do so easily by clicking here! Patreon makes it easy for you to choose a monthly donation “tier” of anywhere from $3 per month and up. If supporting the podcast is something you’d like to do, click the link below to find more information. Thank you!

In 2021, one of my main goals is to introduce more “subscriber-only” content available to those who support the podcast.

Science & Chill began as a new project for me in 2020. I told myself that I’d get through a minimum of 5 episodes. If I enjoyed podcasting and felt I had the bandwidth to continue after this 4-episode minimum, I would continue.

23 episodes later, I’m incredibly happy I continued this project and it has really become much more than a podcast, but something I look forwarding to creating and releasing.

Not only do I love making the podcast itself, but the process has resulted in the formation of so many fun and stimulating relationships with people I would have never thought I’d become acquainted with.

That is largely a result of the 2020 pandemic. Originally, the podcast was to be only with “local” guests who I could interview face to face. Well, clearly that changed, but Zoom has broadened the pool of potential podcast guests infinitely, something I wanted to take full advantage of. Many of my guests are from the University of Florida (where I’m currently studying and employed), but I’ve interviewed scientists and health/fitness-related guests from around the globe.

Obviously I could talk about all of the scientific information I’ve learned throughout the 23-episodes, but why would I give away the spoilers when you could just go listen instead? 🙂 At the end of this post, you can find a list of and link to every single episode, along with a tiny blurb about the guest and what we talked about.

Instead, here’s a few “broad” things I’ve learned from starting and growing a podcast in 2020.

  • People are genuine and VERY willing to oblige your request to be a guest, and most scientists are extremely excited and willing to share their work. I’ve been surprised (maybe not the best word, rather elated) that some of my guests replied to my Twitter DM with a resounding “sure!”
  • Podcasting doesn’t require a Herculean effort. It’s a fairly accessible form of content creation even to the less technically-literate folks like myself. A microphone, a bit of editing, a bit of topic and conversation prep, and I was able to have (or so I hope) a pretty decent sounding podcast. Sure, I hope to expand on quality and infrastructure in the future, but for now, I have other priorities along with the podcast and am working with what bandwidth I’ve got.
  • Long-form is fun. Most of my episodes run from 60–90 minutes, and that’s because I don’t “script” them for a purely question and answer type show. Letting the conversation flow naturally extends the episode lengrth considerably, but allows a more natural conversation that sometimes gets taken to places I hadn’t planned on. This often results in some cool digressions.
  • Interaction is meaningful. Let’s face it, we didn’t get much face to face interaction in 2020. The small conversations I had with “strangers” outside of my family and friend circle were invigorating and always left me with a sense of connection. Even better, these once “strangers” are now at least closer acquaintances of mine, and I have become quite close with many of my guests after their appearance. I now have a network of insanely smart, connected, and successful people who at least know my name. That wasn’t the main goal of the podcast, but it’s an unintended (and welcome) side effect. #Networking

2020 was quite the year, and perhaps 2021 will be similar in many ways. Podcasting was only one project that brought me joy this year, and even if no one other than my mom heard an episode, I’m still happy I embarked on the journey.

I have a few guests already slated to appear in early 2021 who I’m extremely excited about. Hopefully as the episodes and conversations continue, the podcast will evolve, and this tiny passion project can become something really big and useful to others.

That’s all for now. I hope everyone has a fantastic holiday season and a great rest of the year.


Top 5 most-downloaded episodes

1. Episode 15: Protein myths and sports supplements with Dr. Jose Antonio

2. Episode 2: Circadian rhythms, exercise, and skeletal muscle with Dr. Karyn Esser

3. Episode 17: COVID-19, mental health, and life in the emergency room with Shivam Shah

4. Episode 1: Exertional heat stroke (EHS) with Dr. Orlando Laitano

5. Episode 14; Harvard neurobiologists on why sleep deprivation is lethal

Complete episode list

Episode 1: Exertional heat stroke (EHS) with Dr. Orlando Laitano

– My first episode! In this episode, I sit down with Orlando Laitano, PhD. Orlando is a post-doctoral researcher in the department of Applied Physiology and Kinesiology at the University of Florida, where his research interests include studying exertional heat stroke in mice. We talk about Orlando’s journey into science, the perils and joys of scientific publishing, and his work with the Brazilian national soccer team and Gatorade. This episode is a can’t-miss if you enjoy human physiology, or simply listening to someone who really has a great life story!

Episode 2: Circadian rhythms, exercise, and skeletal muscle with Dr. Karyn Esser

– In this episode of Science & Chill, I talk with Dr. Karyn Esser, the associate program director at the Institute of Myology at the University of Florida. Dr. Esser is an expert in the area of biological rhythms, also known as circadian rhythms. In particular, her group focuses on how circadian rhythms function in skeletal muscle and respond to things like exercise, feeding, and light. In this episode, we talk about why humans (and plants and animals) have circadian rhythms in the first place, the importance of sleep and exercise for maintaining circadian rhythms, and much more.

Episode 3: Spaceflight, brain science, and aging with Dr. Rachael Seidler

– In this episode, I interview Dr. Rachael Seidler. Dr. Seidler is a research scientist at the University of Florida College of Health and Human Performance, where she is also the graduate program coordinator. Dr. Seidler’s research primarily focuses on how our brain changes with aging, and how this affects our ability to complete motor tasks and our learning capabilities. She is also a NASA-funded scientist who explores the effects of spaceflight on the brain — specifically how our motor and cognitive capabilities change in space, and what we can do to prevent or counteract these changes. We briefly discuss the recent COVID-19 epidemic, and how this unique time period is influencing academia in general and her research specifically. We talk about changes she’s implemented with her laboratory and what she is going to try to accomplish while “in quarantine.” The conversation also begins with a bit of a background into Dr. Seidler’s life as a scientist and how she got interested in research.

Episode 4: Solo: Research overview on exercise, immune system health, and COVID-19

– It has long been said and believed by athletes/coaches that hard and strenuous exercise “compromises” your immune system. But is this true? In this episode, I take a look into a review article that looks at the evidence behind this statement, the research to support and refute it, and propose some alternative conclusions and ways of looking at exercise in the context of immune health.

Episode 5: Blood pressure, nutrition, and exercise performance with Dr. Austin Robinson

– In this episode of Science & Chill, my guest is Dr. Austin Robinson from Auburn University. Dr. Robinson is an expert in blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and exercise. His main research interest focus on how blood pressure is influenced by lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, and even race. We share a common research interest in the fact that Austin is also interested in studying blood vessel function, a topic we cover in detail during this episode. Along with these topics, we discuss endurance exercise performance and review a study he was a lead author on that profiled a 70-year old marathoner who holds the world record for his age group!

Episode 6: Exogenous ketones for health and performance with Dr. Brianna Stubbs

– In episode 6 of Science and Chill, I interview Dr. Brianna Stubbs, a translational scientist at the Buck Institute. Dr. Stubbs earned her PhD from Oxford University in metabolic biochemistry, where she began her work on studying the effects of exogenous ketones in health and performance. She continues this work at the Buck and has published many studies on how exogenous ketone supplements might be used for athletic performance, metabolic diseases, and neurological conditions. We talk ketosis, nerd out on endurance performance, and talk about her rich history as a world-champion rower and her current interests as a triathlete.

Episode 7: How a lack of sleep affects mitochondrial health with Dr. Nicholas Saner

– In episode 7 of Science & Chill, I talk with Dr. Nicholas Saner, a clinical research administrator at the Baker Institute in Melbourne Australia. Dr. Saner completed his PhD in physiology from Victoria University, where his final project focused on the effects of sleep restriction on muscle protein synthesis and metabolic function. This paper caught my eye, and I wanted to interview Nick about this study in particular, as well as some of his other research pursuits, which have including genetics and their influence on army recruit performance and injury risk, as well as his current work using exercise for cancer therapy.

Episode 8: Fat adaptation, ultramarathon physiology, and coaching science with Jason Koop

– Jason Koop is the head coach for CTS-ultrarunning, where he has managed hundreds of coaches and athletes to ultra marathon running success. But he doesn’t just coach, Jason is a talented and experienced ultrarunner himself, having finished ultramarathon races including the Badwater 135, Leadville trail 100, and the Western States 100. Jason is also the author of the book “Training Essentials for Ultra Running: How to Train Smarter, Race Faster, and Optimize Your Ultramarathon Performance.” Jason is also a podcaster in his own right; he hosts a podcast called The Koop Cast, which can be found on all major podcast platforms. I definitely suggest you check that out after you’ve listened to our conversation if you want to learn even more about the science behind running and some of Jason’s coaching philosophy. In this episode, we cover a variety of topics including the science of low-carb diets and fat adaptation for endurance performance, how to coach and train for an ultramarathon, and what types of variables you should monitor to guide training. We also dig into Jason’s coaching philosophy, how he determines which research is valuable, and the benefits and risks of “junk miles.”

Episode 9: Random show with Jack Butler: Running, millennial things, immortality, and more!

– In this episode of the podcast, I interview my longtime friend Jack Butler. Jack and I met each other through the sport of running, and have continued our personal and athletic relationship to this day. Jack was also interviewing me for HIS podcast, so this is a bit of a two-way interview. We talk about our history in running, why we still run, and our thoughts on some of the more “cultural” aspects of running. In addition, we speak on some topics concerning human longevity and why we do or don’t want to live forever.

Episode 10: Crossover with Kyle and Corey Unplugged

– In this special, off-beat episode of Science & Chill, I sit down with my great friends Kyle and Corey to record a “hybrid” episode of our podcasts. The conversation is wide ranging, and we touch upon things like weight stigma, COVID-19, morning routines, sports, and much more.

Episode 11: Obesity, health disparities, and gender equity and academia with Dr. Michelle Cardel

– In episode 11 of Science and Chill, I interview Dr. Michelle Cardel. Dr. Cardel is a researcher and scientist in obesity and nutrition and also a registered dietitian working in the Department of Health Outcomes and Biomedical Informatics at the University of Florida; she’s a fellow gator. Her current focus includes nutrition, obesity, weight management, pediatric obesity, and the psychosocial factors that contribute to obesity and health disparities in underserved and minority populations. In addition to talking about some of the causes and treatments for obesity, we cover a paper that Dr. Cardel recently published on the reasons for gender inequity in the ranks of academia and higher level positions with the university system.

Episode 12: Genetic engineering and the importance of science communication with Dr. Kevin Folta

– In episode 12 of Science & Chill, I interview Dr. Kevin Folta. Dr. Folta is a professor in the department of horticultural sciences at the University of Florida. Dr. Folta’s research focuses on the functional genomics of small fruit crops, the genetic basis of flavors, photomorphogenesis in controlled environments, and small molecule discovery. In addition to his scientific research, Dr. Folta is a fabulous science communicator; using workshops to teach scientists how to communicate their science effectively. He is also continuously active in public engagement and outreach, and can often be found voicing his personal and scientific opinions on Twitter, among other social media platforms. The journal Nature Biotechnology has described Dr. Folta as “a gifted communicator — one of the rare scientists who has engaged the public, with over 12 years experience behind him. Not someone who merely discusses public engagement, but someone who actually communicates directly with non-expert audiences.” This episode is wide ranging and very relevant to scientific and cultures issues of today. Hope you enjoy!

Episode 13: A conversation on race in academia with ACSM president Dr. NiCole Keith

– In episode 13 of Science and Chill, I had the opportunity to speak with Dr. NiCole Keith, who recently took over as the 64th president of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) — becoming the first African American leader of the organization. In addition to her role as president, Dr. Keith is a professor in the department of kinesiology at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis — or IUPUI. She also holds positions as the associate dean of faculty affairs in the school of health and human sciences at IUPUI and is actively involved in research roles at the Indiana University Center for Aging Research and an investigator at the Regenstrief Institute — a research organization centered around finding innovative strategies to improve human health and end disease. Dr. Keith’s research focuses on physical activity and health promotion. Specifically, she is interested in community-based physical activity research participation, health equity, and developing and implementing physical fitness standards for children, adult, and patient populations.

Episode 14; Harvard neurobiologists on why sleep deprivation is lethal

– In this episode of Science & Chill, I speak with three researchers from Harvard University — Dr. Dragana Rogulja, Dr. Alexandra Vaccaro, and Dr. Yosef Kaplan Dor — on the evolutionary origins of sleep, what the function of sleep is, and how a lack of sleep can be fatal (at least in flies and mice). Their lab just published a study showing that sleep deprivation causes flies and mice to die after about 5–10 days, and provides a mechanism as to how this happens (hint…it involves the gut!).

Episode 15: Protein myths and sports supplements with Dr. Jose Antonio

– In this episode of Science & Chill, I speak with Dr. Jose Antonio. Dr. Antonio is The CEO of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), which he founded in 2003. The ISSN is a non-profit academic society dedicated to promoting the science and application of evidence-based sports nutrition and supplementation. They are the world lead in science-based sports nutrition and supplement information, hosting annual conferences and publishing the latest science in the foundation’s very own peer-reviewed journal: the journal of the international society of sports nutrition (JISSN). Dr. Antonio is also the program director and associate professor of exercise and sport science and Nova Southeastern University, where his areas of research focus on the role of sports nutrition in relation to athletic performance and body composition, the role of high-protein diets in health and body composition in bodybuilders and other athletes and more recently, how training and nutrition can affect performance in stand-up paddling athletes. Our conversation covers the history of the sports supplement industry, why science is so important to sports supplements, and bust some widely-believed myths about high-protein diets. We also discuss reasons for the “runners” high and why coffee and rice are his go-to food choices.

Episode 16: Plant-based diets and heart health with Dr. Monica Aggarwal

– In this episode of Science & Chill, I speak with Dr. Monica Aggarwal. Dr. Aggarwal is a cardiologist at the University of Florida, where she focuses on using lifestyle-based strategies, in particular plant-based diets, to improve patient health. She is a strong advocate for improving the quality of menus inside hospitals and is involved in several nationwide efforts to implement healthier food into our medical system. Whether you’re plant-based or omnivorous, you’ll love this episode.

Episode 17: COVID-19, mental health, and life in the emergency room with Shivam Shah

– In this episode of Science & Chill, I have a conversation with my good friend Shivam Shah. Shivam and I graduated high school together back in 2012, and this was a great opportunity to catch up with him and learn about all of the awesome work he is involved in. Shivam is a 4th year medical student at the University of Toledo. He’s involved in several projects focused on mental health of medical residents during COVID-19 along with multiple other clinical trials, which we talk about extensively in this episode. We discuss our nation’s response to COVID and what we can learn from our current pandemic. Shivam also shares some powerful stories about his time working in the ER.

Episode 18–19 were re-releases

Episode 20: Black in Cancer and cancer biology with Dr. Henry Henderson III

– In Episode 20 of Science & Chill, I speak with Dr. Henry Henderson. Dr. Henderson is a post-doctoral fellow in the department of Hematology/Oncology. His research focuses on understanding non-small cell lung cancer and improving therapeutic strategies targeting oncogenic mutations in Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase domain with a particular focus on mechanisms of sensitivity and resistance to agents used in clinical practice. Dr. Henderson is also the co-founder of Black in Cancer, an organization that began this year with the goal of “Strengthening Networks and Highlighting Black Excellence in Cancer Research and Medicine.” We talk about issues regarding race in academia, medicine, and health disparities. We also talk about Dr. Henderson’s research on cancer biology and some exciting projects he’s working on. I had a great time speaking with him and I hope you enjoy listening to our conversation.

Episode 21: The runner’s high (and runner’s lows) with Jack Butler

– In episode 21 of Science & Chill, I have a conversation with my great friend, running partner, and lifetime “rival” Jack Butler. We talk about the runner’s high, runner’s low, and other important topics. This is the second time Jack has been on my podcast, also appearing on episode 9.

Episode 22: Dietary nitrates for health and performance with Ravi Kumar

In episode 22 of the Science & Chill podcast, I have a conversation with one of my great friends and fantastic scientist, Ravi Kumar. Ravi is a PhD student in the department of Applied Physiology and Kinesiology at the University of Florida (we share a building!). His lab focuses on the effects of dietary nitrate supplementation on muscle function and also conducts research in animal models of heart failure. Ravi recently published an article in the Journal of Physiology showing that nitrate supplementation improves respiratory muscle function in rodents, and we talk a bit about that paper in this podcast. In addition to talking about his research, we geek out on endurance sports, which is a frequent topic of conversation between Ravi and I.

Episode 23: Regenerative medicine, lifestyle, and biohacking with Dr. Nick Greiner

– In episode 23 of Science & Chill, I speak with Dr. Nick Greiner. Dr. Greiner is trained and certified as a functional medicine physician who practices out of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. His clinic focus on regenerative medicine therapies and he advocates using lifestyle interventions such as diet and exercise to improve patients’ health. In this episode, we talk about his practice, his philosophy on healthcare and how he tackles health from an integrative approach. We also dig in to some “biohacking” and talk about light and circadian rhythms, heat/cold exposure, and intermittent fasting.

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