Episode 14: Bridget (Things we lost and learned in quarantine)

A little over a week ago, I graduated with my Bachelors in GIS from the Ohio State University. My dear friend Bridget achieved the same. We were supposed to celebrate together – senior bar crawl, end of semester confessions on the Oval, and photos together in our caps and gowns. We didn’t get what we wanted and certainly not what we deserved.

In this episode, Bridget and I dive into what life has been like in pandemic – from the big naps and loss of time to the effort of friendship and the joys of cable television. It gets a little weird, but it’s honest.

Bridget’s LinkedIn

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Credits: Album Art and Show Theme Music

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Episode 14 via STEMS and Leaves on BuzzSprout

Episode 13: Buying Time (COVID-19 Suppression Strategy)

Episode 13 via STEMS and Leaves on BuzzSprout

Hi friends.

The past few months and weeks have been rife with trials around the world with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The past week in Ohio, we have been home-bound following the governor’s ‘stay at home’ order. This first week has been rough, but I’m thankful to be surrounded (digitally) by dear friends and wise mentors.

In this episode, we discuss an article posted on Medium by Tomas Pueyo, ‘Coronavirus: The Hammer and the Dance’. It’s an overview of the current state of COVID-19 and a summary of what measures should be implemented now in order to provide the world with our best fighting change against the virus. Pueyo presents three strategies: Do Nothing, Mitigation, and Suppression. The author presents a compelling case for Suppression and recommends that readers that are moved to sign a petition to the White House that pressures our leaders to approach COVID-19 with a suppression strategy.

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Episode 12: Jason Pyles

Planning in Appalachia, convincing a community that you’re not taking their jobs, and the future of autonomous vehicles in rural places. My guest this week, Jason Pyles, and I discuss all this in more in one of my favorite interviews yet. As a kick off to our discussions centered around Geography and Geographic Information Science, I turn to Jason for his expertise.
Jason works for the Buckeye Hills Regional Council as one of two GIS professionals supporting the agency’s work. His position is unique in that he is sort of a one-man-GIS-show and does all the work entailed in GIS from top to bottom. He shared some great insights into what it means to serve his regional community through his role in technology.

Episode 12

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On Burnout, Recovery, and Taking a Break

Hello Friends.
This is STEMS and Leaves. A place where we explore intersectional stories in STEM. I’m the creator, Emme.
It’s been a hot minute since I’ve shared a new episode. This semester has been incredibly busy and I haven’t had the time I want to dedicate to researching new topics and interviewing guests. Honestly, I bit off more than I can chew this semester. Between research, an internship, a full course schedule, and just staying alive… I’m honestly burned out.

I think I got a little overconfident in my abilities to work and get things done coming off my summer in DC. When I was out there working for FMCSA, I was regularly putting in 9 and 10 hour days, touring the town, networking, and interviewing wonderful guests for the show. It was exhausting, but energizing. Like the ache your body feels after a good workout.

Beyond managing that hectic schedule, I also hit a lot of personal highs. Since moving out of my parent’s house a few years ago, this was the longest stretch of time I’d gone without seeing my family or close fiends. As someone who depends heavily on their support network, it was exciting to realize that I’m capable of managing myself solo and enjoying it too. For the past few years, I was really stuck in a cycle of following other people’s ideas of what my life should look like. Until this summer, I hadn’t realized how fantastic is to do whatever I want and take pride in it.

I can’t lie, it had me feeling really good. So when I returned to Columbus to wrap up my undergrad obligations, I figured it was safe to take on a lot more. Besides, now that I’m home and close to my friends and family and sleeping in my room full of plants and knick-knacks, it would be easier right?

Not really. As school started again and I got into my aviation research and a planning internship at MORPC, I found there really are not enough hours in the day. To eat three meals, exercise, go to class, do my research work, clean up, do chores, talk to a person, manage my cat, study for the GRE, draft application essays, script new episodes, research new guests, make time to run errands, etc etc and etc. Before I noticed how exhausted I was (am), I went numb.

Everything seemed okay, until it didn’t. Burnout has a way of creeping up on you. Problems and stressors are polarized. Each task on my daily to do list was either the most boring thing in the universe or it would change the entire trajectory of the universe forever. Little things that were easy start to become terrifyingly intense. Remembering to eat feels impossible and forgetting to eat is a three day guilt trip.

The exhaustion started to creep into my thoughts. I started feeling incredibly cynical about my research and internship. Both felt entirely pointless. I couldn’t bring myself to work on grad school applications. What’s the point of going to grad school if I’m going to be tired forever? Getting things done didn’t feel like victories or progress. It felt like avoiding failure.

When I started to realize that this semester might be taking more out of me than I had, I pumped the brakes. I suspended my work for STEMS and Leaves, took a few mental health days off from classes, and turned to my family for support. I’ve made some adjustments to my classes and have spent a lot of time shifting my own expectations about what I can get done this semester. In short, I can’t do everything.

I’ve got friends, family, and faculty supporting me in ways that I am beyond grateful for as I give myself space this semester to finish classes strong and investing in self-care. I’ve got a lot of things I want to do for STEMS and Leaves, but I can’t do them if I’m not my best self. So, I will be taking a break for the rest of this semester and putting the podcast on hold.

I hope you too take some time this semester and season to take care of yourself. Let’s all rest and recuperate and come back next year to keep creating amazing things and exploring stories together.

This is STEMS and Leaves. I’m Emme. Stay curious.

Episode 10: Tobi Otulana

This episode my friend and colleague Tobi Otulana chats with me about the field of planning and her path to sustainable planning. Tobi and I have known each other since spring semester, when we took a sustainable transportation class together. I recognized that Tobi is a super talented and passionate individual and I’ve been hoping our paths would cross again to allow that. Lucky for me, after graduating her MCRP program, she stayed local and has been with the Mid Ohio Regional Planning Commission for about half year now. I was super curious about her opinion on Ohio State’s MCRP program and how she expects her career trajectory to change.

Disclaimer: All views and opinions expressed in this episode are strictly those of myself and my guest. We in no way represent any organizations or agencies which we are currently or have previously been associated with.

Tobi’s Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tobiotulana/
MORPC: http://www.morpc.org

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Episode 9: Urban Foraging

This episode we discuss the practice of urban foraging. That act of harvesting wild grown food is a practice as old as humanity. From society’s earliest days, we have depended on the fruits, nuts, berries, and herbs we’ve found along the way to secure our food supply. Although, a recent surge in popularity of foraging in cities and a lasting legacy of racist and classist laws often prevent some groups from foraging in public spaces. This episode unpacks why and how we forage and recommends some interesting research papers that discuss an ideal future of foraging laws.


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Episode 8: Danceable Cities

This episode we chat about dance as a consideration in urban design. In China, millions of residents participate in urban dance as a way to enhance their health and foster social connection. These groups practice in parks and ‘waste spaces’ around cities, accompanied often by live music. However, this practice has run into some resistance from the central and city governments. Complaints of too much noise have forced cities to ban these dancing retirees to parking lots and bridge underpasses. But the dancers persist, sometimes as an act of resistance. We unpack all that an more this episode of STEMS and Leaves.


Designing the Danceable City: How Residents in Beijing Cultivate Health and Community Ties Through Urban Dance’  by Caroline Chen

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Episode 7: Dr. Sujata Emani

Ep 7: Sujata Emani

In this episode, Sujata Emani and I spend a good amount of time discussing women of massive determination and how we work everyday to emulate their example. Sujata also shares some insight into her identity as a caregiver for her grandmother; an identity that was chosen for her and certainly changed the trajectory of her life in her mid-twenties.

Discussed in this episode:
Beltway Science Podcast
American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
Department of Energy
National Labs
Research Article: Designing the Danceable City

Credits for album art and show theme song here

Episode 6: Coral Torres

Episode 6: Coral Torres

Coral Torres is without a doubt one of the coolest engineers I’ve ever met. She exudes confidence in herself and her work; all the while remaining truly humble. It was a pleasure to join her for an afternoon at the Surface Transportation Board offices and learn a bit about her niche in the industry. Coral’s official title is ‘Transportation Industry Analyst’, which she explains in this episode. More broadly speaking, she analyzes data to interpret railroad performance in a regulator capacity (if that sounds a little out of your depth, Coral explains it much better than I do!). She also shares how her identity as a Hispanic woman has shaped her experiences in Engineering. The transition from undergraduate studies in Puerto Rico to a master’s program in upstate New York was incredible and Coral describes some of the culture shock moments she experienced.

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Episode 5: Shauna

Episode 5

Another interview out of DC this week, my guest Shauna has worked as a freelance programmer for 9 years. She left neuroscience after a long reckoning with the uncertainty. Shauna found herself challenged by a big question: How do we quantify and understand the vast potential of human behavior with hard tools? Maybe we can’t. Or at least not in the ways we want to.
Shauna and I discuss these interesting ideas from her work and how she’s grown professionally. We also touch on the significance of queer identities in these spaces and handling mental health. I was curious to know how she keeps herself accountable and practices self-care in a sometimes isolating work space. Shauna tells me all her great tips and tricks as she continues her journey of growth and learning.
Discussed this episode:


Minority Postdoc

Galaxy Rise Consulting

Shauna on LinkedIn

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