Hayley Mattison working at her microscope in the Kaplan Lab at Massachusetts General Hospital
Hayley Mattison working at her microscope in the Kaplan Lab at Massachusetts General Hospital
Best Science Podcasts

As a postdoctoral fellow studying sleep in worms in the Kaplan Lab at Massachusetts General Hospital, I spend long hours setting up experiments and collecting or analyzing data at a microscope.

To get through the hours spent alone (often in the dark) with my worms, I turn to podcasts for some much-needed entertainment and education.

I have compiled a list, in no particular order, of a few of my favorite science podcasts that keep me updated on research in a variety of fields.


Radiolab

Radiolab has been produced by WNYC since 2002 and is broadcast nationally on public radio stations. Radiolab bills itself as a podcast about “curiosity,” and this gives the hosts, Jad Abimrad and Robert Krulwich, free reign to explore scientific or cultural phenomena, as well as philosophical questions. Each episode tells a carefully crafted story that is developed by layering casual conversations and expert interviews with music and sound effects.

While Radiolab’s most loyal science-loving listeners may lament the podcast’s forays into non-scientific topics, the current season of Radiolab offers a few great science episodes (I suggest Alpha Gal, From Tree to Shining Tree, and The Primitive Streak).

Recommended episode: Patient Zero


Science Vs.

Science Vs. originated in Australia and is now produced in NYC by Gimlet Media. In each episode, host Wendy Zukerman presents a controversial topic, such as organic food, forensic science or antidepressants, and presents the scientific research behind each side of the “controversy.”

She interviews researchers on each topic, presents peer-reviewed studies, and discusses what she's heard to determine whether there is enough evidence to support buying organic food or using antidepressants, for example.

After the evidence is weighed, a “conclusion” is drawn. Wendy lays out each case with clarity and humor, making the show educational as well as entertaining.

Recommended episode: Forensic Science


Carry the One Radio

Carry the One Radio is the newest addition to my science podcast collection. This podcast is created and produced by scientists at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF), and each episode covers research in a particular area, from the microbiome to autism.

The host of the episode gives a description of the topic to break down the scientific jargon by using colorful imagery (for example, the brain is creatively described as a “layer cake” in How to Build a Human: Part 1) in order to better communicate the science.

Interviews with researchers are woven in to the host’s narration to allow them to explain terminology that may not be familiar to the listener. The researchers interviewed are most often at UCSF, and they discuss the research in their labs and the latest results that are moving the field forward.

Recommended episode: Cracking the Autism Code with Matt State


Science Magazine Podcast

Science Magazine Podcast from AAAS is hosted by Sarah Crespi and begins with a conversation, most often with the Online News Editor of Science, David Grimm, about the latest stories from the Science website. This segment is then followed by an in-depth interview with a guest, which is usually either a scientist or staff writer, about their research or recent news article. The podcast covers a lot of ground in a short period (~20 minutes), which is great for those with a short attention span. 

Recommended episode: The Impact of Legal Pot on Opioid Use and a Very Early Look at a Fetus’s Genome

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