Science Studio

Sundays at 7pm

Science Studio is a fascinating 30-minute look into the ever progressing world of science. For nearly fifteen years, the show has taken in depth looks into all aspects of scientific researches and discoveries. Hosts Dr. Keith Pannell and Dr. Russell Chianelli, discuss their concerns on health and the environment. With two educated science connoisseurs, Science Studio helps you understand the inner workings of today’s science.

Science Studio also features Medical Discovery News, a weekly program that provide insights into a broad range of biomedical science topics. Biomedical science is research that addresses human health – from the study of important molecules, to clinical trials of new drugs and therapies. The story of these areas is a window on the future of medicine. We will also offer important basic information about your health. Our hope is that these episodes stimulate you to think, question and appreciate how science impacts you and your world. Medical Discovery News is produced by the University of Texas Medical Branch.

  Keith & Russ talk with Emilia Galperin, Assistant Professor, Department of Molecular & Cellular Biochemistry, University of Kentucky.  Galperin studies the molecular pathways in which the mutations that cause Noonan Syndrome occur.  People with Noonan Syndrome share similar facial features, short stature, possible heart defects, and the risk for developmental disabilities.  Galperin also explains why zebrafish embryos are studied for this and other genetic disorders.

Aired April 26, 2015.

  Keith talks with Benjamin Drenth, research geophysicist with the United States Geological Survey.  Drenth studies passive geophysics.  Seismic, or active, geophysics involves using outside energy sources needed to create sonic waves through the earth.  Whereas passive geophysics is a more subtle measuring of the earth's gravitational or magnetic fields.

Aired April 19, 2015.

Northern Illinois University

  Keith is once again on location at Northern Illinois University to talk with Daniel Gebo of NIU's Department of Anthropology.  Gebo tells us about his research and discoveries in the field of primate evolution, with a particular focus on locomotion and the development of the arm, leg, and foot bones.

Aired April 12, 2015.

Northern Illinois University

  Keith is on location at Northern Illinois University to talk with Elizabeth Gaillard, Presidential Research Professor in the Department of Chemistry at Northern Illinois University.  Gaillard is a vision chemist who studies the chemical reactions in the eye that lead to degenerative diseases like age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.

Aired April 5, 2015.

  Keith & Russ talk with Jørgen Randrup with the Nuclear Science division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.  He gives us a tutorial on the atom, the nucleus, and the quark.  Do quarks consist of even smaller particles?  How are they held together?  And Randrup discusses the mysterious "dark matter" that makes up most of the universe, though it has never been directly observed.

Aired March 29, 2015.

  Keith talks with Thorne Lay, Distinguished Professor and Director of the Center for the Study of the Imaging & Dynamics of the Earth at the University of California Santa Cruz.  An El Paso High School graduate, Lay talks about his path towards a career in seismology.  He also explains the difference between P- and S-waves, and why nuclear testing during the Cold War led to advances in seismic technology.

Aired March 22, 2015.

  Keith & Russ talk with Rudolf Seising of the Friedrich Schiller-Universitaet Jena in Germany.  Seising talks about his interest in the history of science, specifically in the 20th century, and on how scientists communicate and compete with each other.  He also discusses "fuzzy logic" - a mathematical theory that relies on words rather than numbers.  It has been used to control steam engines, and to make cameras and Japanese rice cookers.

Aired March 15, 2015.

  Keith welcomes Bonnie Gunn, UTEP Forensic Science Advisor; and Vanessa De La Rosa, IRACDA Post-Doctoral Fellow in Toxicology at the University of New Mexico.  They discuss forensic toxicology, and the long-term effect toxins in the environment have on people.  In De La Rosa's case, she is studying how arsenic & uranium are affecting Native American populations in Northern New Mexico.

Aired March 8, 2015.

  Keith & Russ talk with P. Shing Ho, Professor & Chair of the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology at Colorado State University.  Shing is a structural biologist, and he explains how the function ofDNA or protein molecules can be altered if there's a slight change in the molecular structure.  He also talks about discovering in 1979 how halogens inserted into DNA caused the DNA strands to split into a 4-stranded helical pattern.

Aired March 1, 2015.


  Keith talks with Cynthia Gomez, director of the Health Equity Institute at San Francisco State University.  She explains why health equity isn't just about eating right, but about the ethnic, economic, and social inequities that lead to poor health.  The Health Equity Institute is working to improve one of San Francisco's poorest public housing units.  Gomez also talks about her experiences working in Massachusetts in the early days of the AIDS virus, when it was still a dangerous, deadly, and mysterious disease.

Learn more about the Health Equity Institute at

Aired Feb. 22, 2015.

  Keith & Russ welcome Robert S. Kerbel, senior scientist at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, Canada.  Kerbel explains how regular chemotherapy for cancer patients often involves a "maximum tolerated dose" of treatment, which often taxes the patient and requires several days of recovery before the next treatment.  With metronomic chemotherapy, researchers hope to lower the dose of drugs and make the dosage more frequent.  

Aired Feb. 15, 2015.

  Keith talks with Huan Xie, Associate Professor of Pharmaceutics at Texas Southern University's College of Pharmacy.  Huan talks about her experience researching gold nanoparticles as a form of cancer treatment.  Why is gold different from other metals with similar properties?

Aired Feb. 8, 2015.

  Keith & Russ welcome Michelle Dolgos of the Oregon State University Department of Chemistry.  She discusses her research into creating materials that contribute to the sustainability of the planet.  Her lab uses nontoxic starting materials and low-energy inputs in their research.   She also the interesting features of the piezoelectric effect, which can create materials that act as either actuators or sensors.  We can find many of these materials in our own phones or in our car's brake systems.

Aired Feb. 1, 2015.


  Keith talks with Bruce Cushing, the new Chair of the Department of Biological Sciences at UTEP.  Cushing tells us about his varied travels while pursuing his degrees, and why he was drawn to studying animal behavior.  Cushing has studied polar bears (one of his studies was mentioned, uncited, in the movie "Anchorman"!), weasels, scorpions, and voles.  Cushing says voles are more human-like in their social structure, therefore making them much better lab subjects than mice or rats.

Aired Jan 25, 2015.

  In a re-broadcast from Nov. 28, 2010, Keith and guest co-host Tom Gill of the UTEP Geological Sciences Department talk with Tom Casadevall, Scientist Emeritus with the US Geological Survey.  Casadevall tells us about his early fascination with volcanoes, and what led him to become a vulcanologist.  He also reflects on the 2010 volcanic eruption in Iceland that disrupted air traffic across Europe.  And Casadevall explains why the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption was a career-defining event for him.

Aired Jan. 18, 2015.


  In a rebroadcast from Nov. 14, 2010, Keith talks with seismology professor Brian Stump, Albritton Professor of Earth Sciences, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, with SMU.  Stump explains why the earth's crust differs around the world, and why there is an increasing detection of smaller quakes worldwide.  An interesting question arises during the interview: Could nuclear weapons be used to relieve pressure along fault lines?  Plus, Stump explains how earthquakes cause low frequency acoustic waves in the atmosphere.

Aired Jan. 11, 2015.

KU Biodiversity Institute

  In a rebroadcast from Nov. 7, 2010, Keith and guest co-host Eli Greenbaum of the UTEP Department of Biological Sciences, talk with David Blackburn, an evolutionary biologist from the University of Kansas Biodiversity Institute.   Blackburn studies the vast diversity of frogs and amphibians, including of the fragmentation of frog species in the Sahara.  It's a fascinating conversation!

Aired Jan. 4, 2015.


   Keith & Russ welcome Steve Soper of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, from the Departments of Biomedical Engineering and Chemistry.  Soper is helping to develop devices that are reminiscent of the Star Trek tricorder...devices that can help with early detection and preventative medicine.

Aired Dec. 28, 2014.

  Sir Harry Kroto is the Francis Eppes Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Florida State University.  He is also the co-discoverer of C60, the Buckminster fullerene molecule, which is a cage molecule with 60 carbon atoms.  The discovery of these "Bucky balls" led to Kroto, Robert Curl, and Richard Smalley to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1996.  Kroto explains how his research in interstellar carbon led to this discovery, and about his early beginnings in chemistry.

Aired Dec. 21, 2014.

Cornell University

  Keith talks with Mariana Wolfner, Professor in the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics at Cornell University, about her research into the reproductive proteins of Drosophila (fruit flies).  These proteins reside in a male fly's seminal fluid, and when he mates with a female, these proteins can influence her reproductive tract and hormonal balance.  This research may lead scientists to one day learn how to control the reproductive cycles of disease-carrying vectors such as mosquitoes, and perhaps even help humans with reproductive problems.

Aired Dec. 14, 2014.

  Keith talks with Ann McDermott, Assistant Director of the Global Obesity Prevention Center at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.  The Center is the only kind in the world, and uses community-based participatory research to better understand the causes of obesity that range far beyond just diet and exercise.  She also tells us about the variety of careers she had during her lifetime, and what led her to enter a 7-year doctoral program when she was in her 40s...a program that led her to her current field.

Aired Dec. 7, 2014.

  Keith is on location once again at the Galveston National Laboratory, University of Texas Medical Branch, to talk with Janice Endsley of the Department of Microbiology/Immunology.  Endsley studies coinfections, in particular, the common coinfection of HIV with tuberculosis.  About 30% of the world's population have latent TB and show no symptoms.  However, if they are infected with HIV, the latent TB has a very good chance of being activated.  

Aired Nov. 30, 2014. / Galveston National Laboratory, UT Medical Branch

  Keith is on location at the Galveston National Laboratory, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston TX.  He talks with Thomas Geisbert, an infectious disease researcher at the GNL, who was the co-discoverer of the Reston strain of Ebola, made famous in the bestselling book "The Hot Zone" by Richard Preston.  Geisbert talks about this first encounter with Ebola, and how the GNL is working to develop vaccines and treatments for this devastating disease.  Geisbert also describes why the virus is so difficult to contract, and why the virus must be stopped at its source - Africa.  

Aired Nov. 23, 2014.


  Keith is on location at the Galveston National Laboratory (GNL) at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas, to talk to the facility's director, James LeDuc.  LeDuc had an interesting career prior to his current post, including earning a degree in Zoology, spending a period of time collecting samples for the Smithsonian, serving in the U.S. Army, and dedicating himself to public health.  LeDuc talks about the viruses the GNL studies, and explains the different biological safety levels in which the lab technicians work.  He also touches upon the difficulty in designing a generic vaccine for the flu virus, and the history of the Ebola virus in humans.

Aired Nov. 16, 2014.

MD Anderson

  Keith is once again on location in Houston, Texas, at the MD Anderson Cancer Treatment Center Proton Therapy Center, and he talks with clinical physicist Michael Gillin.  Gillin explains why protons, and not other elementary particles, are used in this treatment...and why proton therapy harms less healthy tissue than standard radiation treatment for cancer.

Aired Nov. 9, 2014.

  Keith is on location in Houston, Texas, to talk with Steven J. Frank, MD, Medical Director of the MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center.   Steven was inspired by his background onboard the U.S. Navy's Submarine Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program to study medicine and to use his background in nuclear engineering to research radiation oncology.  Proton radiation therapy is the most advanced radiation treatment available to treat numerous types of cancers by more directly targeting cancerous tumors.

Aired Nov. 2, 2014.

  Russ talks with Cheryl Conrad, Associate Dean for Research and Professor in the Department of Psychology at Arizona State University.  As a behavioral neuroscientist, Cheryl researches how chronic stress affects the hippocampus and the amygdala.  Stress is vital for survival, but excessive or repetitive stress can often result in changes in the brain.

Aired Oct. 26, 2014.


   Russ talks with Kyriakos Porfyrakis, Head of Laboratory for Carbon Materials at the University of Oxford.  Kyriakos is studying endohedral fullerenes, or "qubits" - atoms that are inserted into spherical fullerene molecules in order to induce electronic properties.  Qubits may help revolutionize electronic devices in the near future.

Aired Oct. 19, 2014.


  Keith & Russ welcome Hiram Castillo-Michel, a UTEP alum who is currently working at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in Grenoble, France.  Hiram is using the synchrotron to examine metal nanoparticles that are being taken up by plants and is analyzing how those nanoparticles affect the plants' functions. 

Aired Oct. 12, 2014.

  Keith travels to Sunspot, New Mexico, to visit with Steven Kyle, the retired director of the National Solar Observatory.  Kyle talks about the amazing discoveries made by the NSO during his directorship.  Kyle also explains how solar activity does and does NOT impact on our climate.  Learn more about the NSO at

Aired Oct. 5, 2014.