a citizen-scientist speculating on the future

Episode 4 - Bioart imitating life imitating bioart: A conversation with bioartist Kathy High.

 Bioartist Kathy High as David Bowie in her exhibition "Waste Matters."

Bioartist Kathy High as David Bowie in her exhibition "Waste Matters."

This episode really gets at what I’m trying to do here and I hope you like it. 

My guest Kathy High is a Modern Artist who uses a wide range of media from experimental and documentary video, to sculpture and interactive installation pieces. Her work has appeared in the Guggenheim Museum and the Museum of Modern Art, among others. 

Kathy is Professor of Video and New Media in the Department of Arts, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY. She is one of the founders and curators of the Bio Arts initiative at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. You can find out more information and see her work at

Over the last 15 years or so she she has become a leading artist and philosopher Bioart. Partnering with research scientists, she uses the tools of modern biology to create works that challenge viewers to examine the social and cultural effects of biotechnology. Her recent works have used transgenic animals, or human derived immune cells. And she is becoming increasingly interested in the human micro-biome, specifically the emerging medical practice of therapeutic fecal transplantation. 

I spoke to Kathy after she presented a lecture entitled "Manipulating Art and Living Systems,” at UCLA, hosted by UCLA’s Art Sci center, a collaboration between UCLA’s California NanoSystems Institute and the Department of Design Media Arts (DMA). Her exhibition "Waste Matters: You Are My Future" is at UCLA’s California NanoSystems Institute through May 7.

Episode 3 - Stage fright or stage fun? Public speaking training in Hollywood and Silicon Valley with "Speechless Live."

 Comic Debra Wilson at Speechless on 3/27/15

Comic Debra Wilson at Speechless on 3/27/15

In this episode I interview Sammy Wegent.

Sammy is an entrepreneur, actor and comic, who has appeared on TV and toured comedy stages across america. I once saw him win a major stand up comedy competition at the San Jose Improv comedy club.

Two years ago Sammy started Speechless, a live comedy show where people improvise presentations using slides they have never seen. In addition to shows with professional comics, Sammy uses speechless to train people in effective public speaking at tech corporations in Silicon Valley.  

This Episode also includes clips from comics Debra Wilson (Mad TV), Joe Wengert (Kroll Show) and Ian Roberts (Upright Citizens Brigade.)

Episode 2 - Brain hacking with Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation

In this episode I talk to Dr. Bent Williams. Brent is an electrical engineer with a masters degree in Technology Management and Ph. D. in Educational Leadership. These come together in his role as  director of the iteach program at Kennesaw State University, which develops advanced educational technologies to aid teaching and learning.

In May of 2015 he was profiled in a Wired magazine article entitled “INSIDE THE STRANGE NEW WORLD OF DIY BRAIN STIMULATION.” 

You see a few years prior, while looking for was to improve learning, he came across news story describing how how Air Force researchers were using transcranial direct current stimultation, TDCS for short. to cut pilot training time. Other groups have suggested that TDCS can be use to enhance creativity or treat depression.

Brent went to his local radio shack and purchased the inexpensive components needed to make a TDCS device himself.

Brent is now a leading Do-It-Yourself brain zapper, a sort of renegade researcher often using himself, friends and family as test subjects.

For those with less engineering savvy there are now commercial TDCS units that can be controlled with iPhone apps and a few doctors prescribing them to patients.

But do any of these really work? Is it safe to put electricity through your brain? And how would one design controlled experiments to asses efficacy. It all sounds a bit crazy but is there sound science to back up the various claims? In this interview Brent will explain TDCS, and some of the caveats of its use. 

This was recorded last November as a video interview, which I intend to finish editing. But I wanted to post some excepts as a podcast.  Consider this an audio essay rather than an unedited interview. 

Episode 1 - "I'm not a scientist but I play one on TV" with Tina Huang and Malcolm Barrett


In this inaugural episode entitled “I’m not a scientists but I play on TV,” I interview actors Tina Huang and Malcolm Barrett.

Tina and Malcolm are your quintessential working actors, often appearing in scene stealing supporting roles.

You may know Tina from her recurring role as Senior Criminalist Susie Chang on TNT’s hit show Rizzoli & Isles. 

Tina has also appeared on Law & Order:LA, Hollywood Heights, The Kroll Show, The Office, General Hospital, Numbers, Chuck, House M.D., CSI, Criminal Minds and Castle, among others. Tina's also a writer developing her own TV shows.

Malcolm played Lem Hewitt, a lab scientist on ABC’s comedy Better off Ted.

He has appeared in numerous films including Larry Crowne, Peeples, The academy award winning The Hurt Locker, and the critically acclaimed film Dear White People. His TV credits include The Sopranos, Law and Order, Kroll Show and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia among many others. Malcolm is also a musician and rap artists both in solo projects and in the eclectic hip-hop, soul, rock group Sin City.

Both raised in New York City, Tina and Malcolm met as classmates studying theater at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and they remain active in theater as founding members of Ammunition theater company in Los Angeles.

They recently worked together on the web series Nerd Court, which settles nerd arguments in the style of the peoples court. Malcolm plays the Judge. Tina Guest Stars in an episode as one of the litigants.

I wanted to know what it’s like to play scientists on TV and to expose them as the nerds that they are.