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Podcast: Preview Stereo Chemistry’s new season featuring eight chemistry greats

First episode drops on Nov. 23

by Kerri Jansen
October 26, 2021


The words "coming soon" on a yellow background with the Stereo Chemistry podcast logo and a podcast microphone.
Credit: C&EN/Shutterstock
Credit: C&EN

Stereo Chemistry’s new season will launch on Nov. 23, featuring eight chemistry greats in conversation with . . . each other. In each episode, two sensational chemists will pair up for in-depth conversations moderated by a C&EN reporter. Listen now as show host Kerri Jansen reveals the lineup with new Stereo Chemistry team member Attabey Rodríguez Benítez.

Subscribe to Stereo Chemistry now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

The following is an edited transcript of the episode. Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.

Stuart Schreiber: If you’re a chemist, and you’re trained in chemistry, and you find something that strikes your curiosity and your passion and you advance knowledge, it’s chemistry, by definition. Chemistry evolves and it evolves through the actions of chemists.

Kerri Jansen: You’re listening to Stereo Chemistry, a podcast powered by the reporters and editors of Chemical & Engineering News. I’m your host, Kerri Jansen.

I’m excited to announce that the new season you’ve all been waiting for is coming on Nov. 23rd. The clip you just heard of chemical biologist Stuart Schreiber is an excerpt from the season.

Starting in November, we’ll be sharing a collection of episodes that features eight chemistry greats in conversation with . . . each other. Each of these four episodes pairs up two sensational chemists for an in-depth conversation moderated by a C&EN reporter. We heard that you loved our episode that featured a conversation between Frances Arnold and Jennifer Doudna. We really loved it too, so we thought we’d make a few more.

We’ll give you a glimpse of those conversations in just a moment. But first I want to introduce you to the person who will be my copilot as we embark on this new season of Stereo Chemistry. She is a chemical biologist and artist, and you may know her from social media as @ScienceBey. Welcome to the show, Attabey Rodríguez Benítez!

Attabey Rodríguez Benítez: Hello, Stereo Chemistry!

Kerri: So happy to have you joining us for this season, Attabey. Folks probably don’t know this, but although you are a new voice to Stereo Chemistry, you’ve actually been working with us at C&EN for a while.

Attabey: Yeah, that’s right! I’ve been working with the social media team to support community engagement and promote editorial stories.

Kerri: And of course, we’ll also be hearing from various C&EN reporters throughout the new season as well.

Attabey: Right, let’s tell folks about those new episodes.

Kerri: OK. To open the new season, we’ll join chemical biologists David Liu and Stuart Schreiber to discuss the research that excites them, the evolution of their field, and making connections in a freshman organic chemistry class.

David Liu: I went up to him afterwards and asked him a question. And I remember it was a very poorly formed question. Because what I was really trying to say was “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

Kerri: We’ll hear what it’s like to find yourself and your science the focus of millions of people looking for answers. Aerosol researchers Jose-Luis Jimenez and Kimberly Prather share how they’ve coped with the unexpected limelight and the fallout when they criticized some health officials’ messaging during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kimberly Prather: They’re killing people. And I said it and I got in trouble for saying it. I would say, “You guys are smearing a message, and people are dying.” And I got scolded for being that blunt. But it was true. And now I’m not pulling any punches. I’m saying it, over and over.

Jose-Luis Jimenez: If someone had told me two years ago that I will be posting things, accusing the WHO of misinformation and causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, I would be like, “What crack are you smoking? Me? How am I going to do that?” Now it’s like I do that every week.

Attabey: Then, we’ll hear from environmental engineers Jessica Ray and William Tarpeh on the surprising opportunities in wastewater and navigating work and life as a newly minted PI.

William Tarpeh: OK, assistant professors, we get a lot of advice. And that’s a great thing from mentors. And sometimes, honestly, you get conflicting advice. And you’re like, OK, what do I—how do I navigate these two pieces of completely diametrically opposed advice?

Jessica Ray: You do worry about how much time you have, how much money you have, and all of your many interests. And you have to be really careful about what you say yes to, what holes you want to decide to jump down and pursue further versus staying more close to home.

Attabey: And organic chemistry pioneers Sarah Reisman and Melanie Sanford will weigh in on managing priorities, finding joy in their work, and the changing reputation of organic chemistry.

Sarah Reisman: There are lots of different sciences that feed into putting a molecule together. And I think because of that, I do feel like there’s less of “this is an organic chemist.” Right? “This flavor of organic chemistry is the only flavor.”

Melanie Sanford: My sense is that pharma is actually helping with this lately. I feel like now, they are recognizing—in a way that I think is really great—that, like, having people with different perspectives, actually, is super valuable to the overall enterprise.

Kerri: You’ll hear all of that and so much more, coming on Nov. 23rd. As always, transcripts of each episode will be available on C&EN’s website.

Attabey: So set your alarms and calendar reminders because you won’t want to miss out!

Kerri: This preview episode was written and produced by me, Kerri Jansen. The music you’re hearing now is “Different Kind of Love–Instrumental Version” by Anthony Lazaro.

Stereo Chemistry is the official podcast of Chemical & Engineering News. C&EN is an independent news outlet published by the American Chemical Society.

We’ll see you in November. Thanks for listening.


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