Ryan and I met after I transferred high schools in my junior year (upon being “released” from the International Baccalaureate school that I’d been unsuccessfully attending). I joke that we’ve been “frenemies” ever since. He went off to Florida State University wanting to become a mathematics teacher, though I was less sure of what I wanted to do in life and bounced around several schools. Eventually, after not making the cut for film school, I ended up at FSU for the final year of undergraduate. We reconnected, roomed together, and — as he’s a year older than me — Ryan became my “minesweeper” in graduate school. That is to say, he encountered and overcame obstacles far in advance of when I’d too face the same in our Masters’ and doctorates in the field of instructional systems.
After earning our PhDs, Ryan landed at George Washington University in Washington, DC, with me taking a position at Pepperdine University in Los Angeles. Then, in 2011 (and again following in Ryan’s footsteps), I became a visiting scientist at the National Science Foundation in the DC-metro area. He and I linked up once again and kept in regular contact after I returned to Pepperdine two years later. I now work predominantly in the university’s leadership doctorate programs, with my research interests being psychometrics, machine learning, and science communication.
After participating in the 2017 March for Science rally (he in DC; me in LA), Ryan called to pitch an idea: “How about we do a podcast in which scientists discuss the stories behind their research?” My response: “That’s a terrible idea. After all, relatively few people actually read articles, so who’d be interested in hearing people talk about them?” But, ever patient, Ryan let me turn it over in my head until I fooled myself into thinking it was my idea, and the next month we got started interviewing our first guest (Ryan Kelly).
I believe our podcast helps translate the often necessarily dense and academic language of research articles into stories that are interesting and accessible to scientists and non-scientists alike. Indeed, as part of my commitment to science communication, I hold press credentials through the International Science Writers Association, and regularly participate in events advancing the latest breakthroughs (and sometimes breakdowns) in science. I hope you enjoy listening to Parsing Science as much as Ryan and I do making it!