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Who Cares? Casual Conversations with Southern Scholars

Who Cares? Casual Conversations with Southern Scholars

By Georgia Southern University College of Behavioral and Social Sciences
Casual interviews and conversations with researchers at Georgia Southern University to make their research known, understandable and relatable to the public, ultimately, answering the question "Who Cares?" Researchers from Science, Engineering, Education, and the Social Sciences all discuss why what they do matters, how it is studied, and ultimately what the goal of the research is. Done in easy to understand and everyday language, the hosts engage the guests in a conversations to help the public better understand academic research.
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Coastal and Fishing Communities
Jennifer Sweeney Tookes, Ph.D., is an applied cultural anthropologist that studies fishing communities, people who live in coastal regions, and those that work with seafood and seafood processing. In other words, she gathers information about coastal and fishing communities to examine how to assist with problems they are experiencing. It’s a pretty cool job. Sweeney Tookes completed her dissertation work in the Caribbean, working with women in Barbados to understand how health and food practices changed when they migrated to the U.S. Her first research project while at Georgia Southern examined the ways for people to mitigate the overpopulation of the invasive lionfish (interesting-looking fish with venomous spines--ouch). Her research (which includes a lot of conversations with people from all angles of the issue) led Sweeney Tookes to realize that tourists and local people were educated in a way that led them to believe that lionfish are poisonous. Which isn’t true. Sure… it hurts if you pick one up and get stung by one of their spines, but that doesn’t mean you can’t eat a lionfish. In fact, if you cut the spines off, and cook lionfish, they are a very mild tender white fish (mmhhmmm… cooked with butter). With this information, Sweeney Tookes and a team of researchers were able to help find solutions to a human problem which impacted economics, ecosystems, and culture of the Caribbean. Today, Sweeney Tookes is focusing her research on Georgia and South Carolina’s shrimpers and the famous Wild Caught Georgia Shrimp. Although we get a little sidetracked talking about an interesting export of cannonball jellyfish to Asia (it was too interesting to pass up a side conversation about), tune in to hear more about the current concerns for the seafood industry in the Georgia Coast and more on this episode of “Who Cares?”. Sweeney Tookes is an associate professor of sociology and anthropology at Georgia Southern University.
January 18, 2022
How alternative educational opportunities could affect these individuals and what were the necessary components to make a difference.
When Panama-native Beverly Miller, Ph.D., arrived in the United States at age six, she says it was the continued support of teachers and professors that got her through--all the way to her Ph.D. After earning a master’s in education, Miller became a science teacher because, well to be honest, she said there was a drastic need for science teachers (still is, really). Miller found her passion in STEM education for underrepresented students, and her work has focused on that ever since. Existing research tells us that underrepresented groups, especially African Americans, receive some of the poorest education and health care as well as suffer the hardest economically. What Miller wanted to know was how alternative educational opportunities (think summer camps, clubs and STEM events) could affect these individuals and what were the necessary components to make a difference. With experiences teaching alternative STEM education in Chicago, New Mexico, South Africa, Panama and recently here in rural Georgia, what Miller finds is fundamentally the same--students need strong curriculum, field experience and food (yes, food). Students cannot learn when they are hungry. Miller says her camps and alternative learning programs always include food to assist in ensuring that all the basic needs of the students are met so that they can focus on the curriculum, which always includes hands-on experiences. And the best part? With these types of learning opportunities, Miller is able to adapt in the moment to what she sees the students need or want. Bottom line--Miller says parents and guardians should pursue educational opportunities outside of the classroom for their students to ensure they are having moments that are genuine and meaningful to them. These are the moments they will remember. I think we all care about that.
July 19, 2021
Smart tech--the good, the bad and the ugly.
Rami Haddad, Ph.D., associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, asks listeners a question. If the power goes out, can you function? What can you do? If the answer is nothing, then you are completely reliant on technology. While your answer probably differs between work and home, for many of us, just when the internet is down, we find ourselves at a total loss at our place of employment. Haddad points out that just 30 years ago, we were functioning just fine without the internet. How then, can we expect that the next 30 years will not show continued advancement of technology? Haddad conducts research on smart technology, which he explains allows a computer to obtain, process and present useful information. In some of his most recent work, Haddad is training smart technology to examine chest x-rays to recognize and diagnose pneumonia. Left untreated, pneumonia can be life threatening, yet the condition is not uncommon. Advancement that allowed quick and effective diagnosis could save lives. In this episode of “Who Cares?” Haddad and our hosts talk smart tech--the good, the bad and the ugly. While some say advancements in tech are terrifying [think I, Robot; Ex Machina; Wall-E; 2001: A Space Odyssey; Westworld; The get the point], we should remember that there are also advantages to the advancement of technology. We should also remember that if it is terrifying to us, perhaps we should ask our children or grandchildren if it is terrifying to them. More than likely, they are not quite as frightened by technological advances as we oldies are.
June 14, 2021
Organisms you cannot see, at least not with the naked eye
Liz Sargent, Ph.D., is passionate about organisms you cannot see, at least not with the naked eye. Phytoplankton are microscopic organisms that live in watery environments [so...not Sheldon J. Plankton from SpongeBob...smaller on the food web]. These little plants are responsible for approximately 50% of all photosynthesis on earth, and to be honest, if you don’t know what they look like you should Google them [we’ll wait]. They are unquestionably unique, and grow external structures around them made of silica [glass] and chalk. But that’s not the only thing microscopic that Sargent is studying these days. Since moving to Georgia, she has become very interested in microplastics including plastic shards, beads and fibers less than 0.5 cm. While not visible in the Georgia coastal waters we love, these microplastics are definitely there [lots of it, in fact]. Research is being done to determine what long term effects the presence of microplastics may have on fisheries [and therefore the local economy], but it’s too early to tell. What Sargent does know is that the microplastics are coming from us. The clothes that we wear, specifically fleece and  polyester, go into the washing machine, which eventually ends up in the ocean and therefore in the food chain. On a larger scale, companies use plastic and plastic fibers in almost everything. So what can we do? What does this mean? Tune in to find out.
May 13, 2021
While the subfields of geology are vast, Travis Swanson, Ph.D., has a passion for Geomorphology
While the subfields of geology are vast, Travis Swanson, Ph.D., has a passion for geomorphology. (Don’t know what that is? It’s okay; we didn’t either) Swanson’s research looks at the change or evolution of modern environments, such as desert dune fields or rivers, and focuses on the way those environments are changing and why they are changing through a physical framework. Through lab work, field work and simulations, Swanson can tell you intricate information about sediment (aka dirt, but not just exclusively dirt). But what does it all mean? Why does that matter to me? The work Swanson is doing provides and fuels actionable knowledge. This research can be used to determine if changes could or should be made to reverse or change effects on modern environments. As Swanson simplifies his work to “simple tools to forecast change,” he says when it comes to the question “Who cares?” about his research, hopefully we all do. Change to our modern environments may be gradual, but the tortoise still finishes the race (if you catch what we are saying).
April 08, 2021
How can countries best work together? What are the costs and benefits of international cooperation?
How can countries best work together? What are the costs and benefits of international cooperation?  In this episode, Jamie Scalera, Ph.D., associate professor of political science, addresses some of the challenges of international cooperation that are most pressing today, particularly in the areas of trade and migration. Brexit (Great Britain + Exit), provides a current example. Scalera and hosts discuss the withdrawal of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union (EU) to illustrate the challenges of international relations. The UK will now create its own policies in the areas of trade, citizenship and migration. How will these changes impact citizens in the UK, throughout European, and here in the United States? Other countries will be watching, and future actions may hinge on the success of the UK after leaving the EU.
March 29, 2021
In a world where teens send 100s of text messages a week, has literacy changed?
In a world where teens send 100s of text messages a week, has literacy changed? In this episode, hear Taylor Norman, Ph.D., assistant professor of English language arts education, talk about the power of literacy, Norman explains, "Literacy is everywhere--It's critical thinking. It's writing. It's reading, It's engaging with the world. It's being a global citizen. It's understanding data." While texting has become its own genre of writing, Norman discusses how it has its place, just as all forms of writing do. "It's important we have a conversation about the genres of writing. How you text may not be a professional style of writing, and you need to understand the difference." Language and writing has changed throughout the years, and it will continue to change. So how do we keep up and educate students on literacy? That is what Norman likes to research and discover.
March 04, 2021
Cyber Security and Being Cyber-Aware
“There are people who are making a living by collecting your personal information and selling it,” said Dr. Elizabeth Rasnick, assistant professor of information technology at Georgia Southern University. In this episode, Dr. Rasnick discusses cyber security and being cyber-aware. She provides tips and tools on how to better secure your cyber footprint and discusses why continued diligence is needed when thinking about an online presence.
February 11, 2021
Parent University with Katy Gregg, Ph.D.
Parent University is a Savannah-Chatham County collaborative that supports families and encourages parent/guardian involvement and participation in the education of our community’s children and youth. In this episode of 'Who Cares? Casual Conversations with Southern Scholars" host Kania Greer talks to Katy Gregg, Ph.D., associate professor and program coordinator of child and family development (College of Behavioral and Social Sciences) and Alisa Leckie, Ph.D., assistant dean for partnerships and outreach in the College of Education. Mrs. Gregg and Leckie share details about their collaborative efforts with Parent University and the families of Savannah-Chatham County.
January 05, 2021
Race and Worrying about Police Brutality: The Hidden Injuries of Minority Status in America
Criminal Justice and Criminology Assistant Professor, Dr. Amanda Graham discusses Race and Worrying about Police Brutality: The Hidden Injuries of Minority Status in America.  This study examined the level of worry that Americans felt about experiencing police brutality. Specifically, examining the racial and ethnic differences in levels of worry to understand not only the differences between Black and White Americans' (something that was expected) but also how Hispanic Americans' worried. We find that Black and Hispanic Americans' worry about experiencing police brutality at similar levels, which are five and four times higher than White Americans', respectively. This research has been used to apply for a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to further explore the fear of police in America.
November 06, 2020
Law Enforcement Officers' Experience of Stress
Dr. Cleveland teaches in the Counselor Education program and conducts research exploring law enforcement officers' experience of stress, specifically when deploying force. He is interested in how mindfulness-based interventions might be a part of stress inoculation training.
October 15, 2020
An Intro to Casual Conversations with Southern Scholars
Our first episode will introduce our hosts, Dr. Ryan Schroeder Dean for Georgia Southern University's College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, and Dr. Kania Greer Coordinator for the Institute for Interdisciplinary STEM Education in the College of Education at Georgia Southern University. So why are we diving into podcasts? What do we want people to take away? Research is taking place across the University on a daily basis, and it's important to talk about and highlight the kinds of research that takes place. So let's make this fun, interesting, casual, conversational and give our audience a true sense of the personalities of our scholars.
September 10, 2020