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The Ongoing Transformation

The Ongoing Transformation

By Issues in Science and Technology

The Ongoing Transformation is a biweekly podcast featuring conversations about science, technology, policy, and society. We talk with interesting thinkers—leading researchers, artists, policymakers, social theorists, and other luminaries—about the ways new knowledge transforms our world.

This podcast is presented by Issues in Science and Technology, a journal published by Arizona State University and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Visit and contact us at
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A Venture Capitalist for Better Science

The Ongoing TransformationNov 28, 2023

A Venture Capitalist for Better Science

A Venture Capitalist for Better Science

Stuart Buck has referred to himself as a venture capitalist for making science more efficient, reliable, and accountable. As vice president at the policy-focused philanthropy Arnold Ventures, he directed funds toward fledgling enterprises that are now major forces shaping scientific norms and infrastructure, including the Center for Open Science and Retraction Watch. He’s now executive director of the Good Science Project, a nonprofit organization working to figure out effective ways to improve science.

Buck considers how to make sure that reforms are actually improvements, not performative busywork. He explores what sorts of entities are required to push for positive change in science and still respect the different cultures and practices in various countries and disciplines. It’s not enough to assess scientific practices, he argues; there needs to be a built-in way to assess scientific reforms, including the relative costs and benefits of increasingly popular policies like sharing data and promoting transparency.

In this context, Buck joins host Monya Baker to discuss how metascience—the study of science—has fueled reform, and how to make sure reforms produce the desired effects.


Nov 28, 202331:13
Science Policy IRL: Quinn Spadola Develops Nanotechnology With Soft Power

Science Policy IRL: Quinn Spadola Develops Nanotechnology With Soft Power

Since 1984, Issues in Science and Technology has been a journal for science policy—a space to discuss how to best use science for the benefit of society. But what is science policy, exactly? Our new podcast series, Science Policy IRL, explores what science policy is and how it gets done. “Science” is often caricatured as a lone person in a lab, but the work of science is supported by a community of people who engineer its funding, goals, coordination, and dissemination. They include people in legislative offices, federal agencies, national labs, universities, the National Academies, industry, and think tanks—not to mention interest groups and lobbyists.  In this series, we will explore the work of science policy by speaking to people who have built careers in it.


For the first episode in this series, host Lisa Margonelli is joined by Quinn Spadola, the deputy director of the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office, a unique office that coordinates the development of nanotechnology across the entire federal government. Spadola, who has a Ph.D. in physics from Arizona State University,  now uses “soft power” to bring groups together to coordinate their efforts so that taxpayers get the most from their investments in science. In practice, she brings all of her life experiences to bear on the task of shaping technology so that it benefits society. 

Is there something about science policy you’d like us to explore?  Let us know by emailing us at, or by tagging us on social media using the hashtag #SciencePolicyIRL. 


On science policy:

- Harvey Brooks, “Knowledge and Action: The Dilemma of Science Policy in the ’70s,” Daedalus 102, no. 2 (Spring 1973): 125–143.

- Deborah D. Stine “Science and Technology Policymaking: A Primer,” Congressional Research Service, RL34454 (May 27, 2009). 

On nanotechnology:

- The website of the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office.

- National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, A Quadrennial Review of the National Nanotechnology Initiative: Nanoscience, Applications, and Commercialization (Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2020),

Nov 14, 202331:20
Sustaining Science for the Future of Ukraine

Sustaining Science for the Future of Ukraine

After Russia invaded Ukraine, hundreds of scientists fled the country and hundreds more remained behind. Those scientists who stayed are trying to continue their research and engage with the global scientific community under often difficult circumstances, with the ultimate goal of being able to help rebuild Ukraine when the war ends. 

Since the early days of the war, Vaughan Turekian, the director of the Policy and Global Affairs Division of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, has been leading efforts to support Ukrainian scientists and their research, enlisting the help of international science academies and philanthropic partners. Turekian has spent much of his career in science diplomacy. Before joining the Academies, he served as the fifth science and technology advisor to US Secretary of State John Kerry and was also the founding director of the Center for Science Diplomacy at the American Association for the Advancement of Science. 

In this episode, recorded on October 5, Turekian joins host Molly Galvin to discuss efforts to support Ukrainian scientists and why such efforts are important for the future of Ukraine. 


National Academies, “Supporting Ukraine’s Scientists, Engineers, and Health Care Workers.”

Interview with the president of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Jerzy Duszyński, “What I’m Mostly Afraid of Is That There Will Be Two Sciences—Democratic Science and Autocratic Science,” (Issues, Summer 2022).

Daniel Armanios, Jonas Skovrup Christensen, and Andriy Tymoshenko, “What Ukraine can Teach the World About Resilience and Civil Engineering” (Issues, Fall 2023).

Oct 31, 202327:06
The Complicated Legacy of the Green Revolution
Oct 10, 202330:56
Open Science: Moving from Possible to Expected to Required
Sep 26, 202331:22
Blue Dreams: Connecting People With Ocean Research

Blue Dreams: Connecting People With Ocean Research

There is more life in the ocean than anywhere else on Earth. Accounting for over 70% of the planet’s surface, the ocean provides habitat to millions of species, supplies freshwater and oxygen, moderates the climate, and influences the weather. But despite its importance, the ocean is largely unexplored and often misunderstood. 

There is growing interest in how art can help people connect with ocean research. The National Academy of Sciences is hosting an immersive video installation called Blue Dreams by Rebecca Rutstein and the Ocean Memory Project. Inspired by the vast microbial networks in the deep sea, the installation is the product of a collaboration between an artist and four scientists. From abstract imagery to stunning undersea video footage and computer modeling, Blue Dreams offers a glimpse into the interconnections and resilience of microbes, our planet’s smallest yet most vital living systems.

In this episode, host Alana Quinn is joined by artist Rebecca Rutstein and one of her collaborators, the oceanographer Mandy Joye, to discuss their work and the rich potential of partnerships between artists and scientists to create visceral connections to the deep sea.


Visit the Joye Research Group website to learn more about Mandy Joye’s research.

Sep 05, 202339:36
Secretary Ernest Moniz on the Diplomatic Role of “Cumulative” Science

Secretary Ernest Moniz on the Diplomatic Role of “Cumulative” Science

Over the last 40 years, US and Chinese scientists at all levels have been engaged in broad-based diplomacy, publishing hundreds of thousands of scientific papers together. Recently, amid tensions between the two countries and official and unofficial government actions to curtail collaboration, joint publications have fallen. Ernest Moniz, Secretary of Energy during the Obama administration, has been a practitioner of science diplomacy at the highest levels. Trained as a physicist, Moniz worked with his Iranian counterpart, Ali Salehi, on the Iran nuclear agreement in 2015.


In this episode, Moniz talks about the ways that science can provide a common language and a sense of trust during diplomatic negotiations. And he emphasizes the importance of collaboration to scientific discovery. Science, he says, is cumulative, extending far beyond the experience of a single person. If collaborations are prevented, we will never know what knowledge we failed to create. 


Moniz is president and CEO of the Energy Futures Initiative and CEO and co-chair of the Nuclear Threat Initiative. He served as the thirteenth US Secretary of Energy from 2013 to January 2017. He is also the Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics and Engineering Systems emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.





E. William Colglazier, “The Precarious Balance Between Research Openness and Security,” Issues in Science and Technology 39, no. 3 (Spring 2023): 87–91.


Sylvia Schwaag Serger, Cong Cao, Caroline S. Wagner, Xabier Goenaga, and Koen Jonkers, “What Do China’s Scientific Ambitions Mean for Science and the World?” Issues in Science and Technology (April 5, 2021).

Aug 01, 202320:21
Combating the “Multi-Dimensional Beast” of Chronic Pain

Combating the “Multi-Dimensional Beast” of Chronic Pain

Chronic pain, according to a 2023 study, affects more Americans than diabetes, depression, and hypertension. Yet the disease is poorly understood, often undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, and effective treatments are in short supply.


A recent study in Nature Neuroscience provides new insights into how the disease affects the nervous system. For the first time, researchers recorded data from inside the brains of individuals who were suffering from chronic pain and found distinct biomarkers for the disease. These insights are an important first step toward better diagnosing and treating chronic pain.


In this episode, the lead author of that study, Prasad Shirvalkar, a neurologist and interventional pain medicine specialist at the University of California, San Francisco, talks with managing editor Jason Lloyd about his research and how it could transform physicians’ understanding and treatment of what Shirvalkar calls a “multi-dimensional beast.”




·     Read the article: Prasad Shirvalkar, Jordan Prosky, Gregory Chin, Parima Ahmadipour, Omid G. Sani, Maansi Desai, Ashlyn Schmitgen, Heather Dawes, Maryam M. Shanechi, Philip A. Starr, and Edward F. Chang, “First-in-human prediction of chronic pain state using intracranial neural biomarkers,” Nature Neuroscience 26 (2023): 1090–1099.

·     Prasad Shirvalkar leads the Shirvalkar Pain Neuromodulation Lab at the University of California San Francisco.

·     More about Shirvalkar’s research in the New York Times: “Scientists Find Brain Signals of Chronic Pain.”



Coming soon!

Jun 20, 202331:58
Artificial Intelligence and the Moral Imagination

Artificial Intelligence and the Moral Imagination

Artificial intelligence’s remarkable advances, along with the risks and opportunities the technology presents, have recently become a topic of feverish discussion. Along with contemplating the dangers AI poses to employment and information ecosystems, there are those who claim it endangers humanity as a whole. These concerns are in line with a long tradition of cautionary tales about human creations escaping their bounds to wreak havoc.


But several recent novels pose a more subtle, and in some ways more interesting, question: What does our interaction with artificial intelligence reveal about us and our society? In this episode, historian Deborah Poskanzer speaks with managing editor Jason Lloyd about three books that she recently reviewed for Issues: Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan, Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro, and The Employees by Olga Ravn (translated by Martin Aitken). She talks about the themes that unite these novels, the connections they draw with real-world politics and history, and what they reveal about our moral imagination.




Read Deborah Poskanzer’s book reviews in Issues:

·     “Not Your Father’s Turing Test”: review of Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan, Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro, and The Employees by Olga Ravn (translated by Martin Aitken).

·     “Exploring the Depths of Scientific Patronage”: review of Science on a Mission: How Military Spending Shaped What We Do and Don’t Know About the Ocean by Naomi Oreskes.

·      “A Planet-Changing Idea”: review of The Environment: A History of the Idea by Paul Warde, Libby Robin, and Sverker Sörlin.

·      “Oh, the Humanities!”: review of Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life by William Deresiewicz and College: What It Was, Is, and Should Be by Andrew Delbanco.


Transcript coming soon!

Jun 06, 202335:33
Race, Genetics, and a “Most Dangerous Myth”
May 16, 202328:58
The Microscope and the Metaphor
May 02, 202338:43
To Solve the AI Problem, Rely on Policy, Not Technology

To Solve the AI Problem, Rely on Policy, Not Technology

Artificial intelligence is everywhere, growing increasingly accessible and pervasive. Conversations about AI often focus on technical accomplishments rather than societal impacts, but leading scholar Kate Crawford has long drawn attention to the potential harms AI poses for society: exploitation, discrimination, and more. She argues that minimizing risks depends on civil society, not technology.

The ability of people to govern AI is often overlooked because many people approach new technologies with what Crawford calls “enchanted determinism,” seeing them as both magical and more accurate and insightful than humans. In 2017, Crawford cofounded the AI Now Institute to explore productive policy approaches around the social consequences of AI. Across her work in industry, academia, and elsewhere, she has started essential conversations about regulation and policy. Issues editor Monya Baker recently spoke with Crawford about how to ensure AI designers incorporate societal protections into product development and deployment.


Apr 18, 202327:18
Finding Collective Advantage in Shared Knowledge
Mar 28, 202332:14
Confronting Extreme Heat with the World’s First Chief Heat Officer
Mar 07, 202331:40
You've Been Misinformed About Sharks
Feb 21, 202327:26
What’s Driving the Electric Car Revival?
Feb 07, 202332:43
Collaborations on Ice
Jan 10, 202334:42
Shirley Malcom: Where Science and Society Meet
Dec 20, 202240:55
Peaches, Pimentos, and Myths of Innovation

Peaches, Pimentos, and Myths of Innovation

The challenge of transforming regional economies through technological innovation is at the heart of current discussions about science and industrial policy—not to mention the CHIPs and Science Act itself. To think about what regional transformation means, it’s worth revisiting the story of how a network of “fruit men” used the peach, and later the pimento, to change the South after the Civil War. Starting with a biotechnological invention—a shippable peach named the Elberta—this group built railroads, designed shipping methods, educated farmers, and eventually built factories that transformed the landscape and economy of the region. But this story isn’t only about tangible actions: the network used powerful storytelling and ideology to accomplish this revolution.

On this episode, host Lisa Margonelli talks with historian and journalist Cynthia Greenlee about the role of technological innovation, storytelling, and myth in regional transformation. They also discuss how the peach paved the way for the invention of the pimento—now part of a beloved regional cheese spread—and harnessed cultural as well as technological forces.


· Reach Cynthia R. Greenlee’s Issues essay, Reinventing the Peach, the Pimento, and Regional Identity.

· Visit Cynthia’s website to find more of her work. She has written on food, history, politics, and more.

Dec 06, 202231:54
To Solve Societal Problems, Unite the Humanities with Science

To Solve Societal Problems, Unite the Humanities with Science

How can music composition help students learn how to code? How can creative writing help medical practitioners improve care for their patients? Science and engineering have long been siloed from the humanities, arts, and social sciences, but uniting these disciplines could help leaders better understand and address problems like educational disparities, socioeconomic inequity, and decreasing national wellbeing.

On this episode, host Josh Trapani speaks to Kaye Husbands Fealing, dean of the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts at Georgia Tech, about her efforts to integrate humanities and social sciences with science and engineering. We also discuss her pivotal role in establishing the National Science Foundation’s Science of Science and Innovation Policy program, and why an integrative approach is crucial to solving societal problems.

Recommended Reading

· Read Kaye Husbands Fealing, Aubrey DeVeny Incorvaia, and Richard Utz’s Issues piece “Humanizing Science and Engineering for the Twenty-First Century” for for our series “The Next 75 Years of Science Policy," supported by the Kavli Foundation

[KS1]Think this is enough to justify using Kavli funds to promote this episode of the podcast?

· Visit Kaye Husbands Fealing’s webpage at Georgia Tech

· Read Julia Lane’s Issues piece “A Vision for Democratizing Government Data

· Read National Science Board members Ellen Ochoa and Victor R. McCrary’s Issues piece “Cultivating America’s STEM Talent Must Begin at Home

· Read John H. Marburger’s 2005 piece in ScienceWanted: Better Benchmarks

· Look at the National Academies 2014 summary of the Science of Science and Innovation Policy (SciSIP) principal investigators conference

· View the webpage for the SciSIP program (renamed Science of Science: Discovery, Communication, and Impact) at the National Science Foundation

Nov 15, 202234:32
How to Fix the Bus
Nov 02, 202234:57
How can Clinical Trials Better Reflect Society’s Diversity?
Oct 04, 202244:31
The Forgotten Origins of the Social Internet
Sep 20, 202240:10
Fruitful Communities
Sep 06, 202233:51
BONUS EPISODE: A Historic Opportunity for U.S. Innovation
Jun 29, 202230:50
Biotech Goes to Summer Camp
May 24, 202235:18
Rethinking Hard Problems in Brain Science
May 10, 202230:08
Demystifying the Federal Budget
Apr 26, 202223:33
Chasing Connections in Climate Action
Apr 12, 202234:58
Can Bureaucracy Build a Climate Revolution?
Mar 29, 202233:10
Creating a “High-Minded Enterprise”: Vannevar Bush and Postwar Science Policy
Mar 15, 202229:39
Maximizing the Good of Innovation
Mar 01, 202227:02
Fighting COVID with Art
Feb 15, 202233:49
Shaky Science in the Courtroom
Jan 31, 202227:05
The Marvelous and the Mundane: Art and the Webb Telescope
Jan 18, 202229:48
Jan 04, 202238:05
The Art of a COVID Year
Dec 21, 202129:25
Eternal Memory of the Facebook Mind
Dec 07, 202125:10
Doing Science with Everyone at the Table

Doing Science with Everyone at the Table

Could we create more knowledge by changing the way we do scientific research?  We spoke with NASA’s Psyche mission’s principal investigator and ASU Interplanetary Initiative vice president Lindy Elkins-Tanton about the limitations of “hero science,” and how she is using an inclusive model where collaborative teams pursue “profound and important questions.”

Read Lindy Elkins-Tanton’s essay, Time to Say Goodbye to Our Heroes?

Visit for more episodes, conversations and articles. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn! Comments? Questions? Tweet us or email us at

Nov 22, 202132:25
Science Policymakers’ Required Reading
Nov 22, 202127:07