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Podcaster and NASA intern, Margot Wohl, on cultivating passions outside the lab

Margot Wohl: Creator of the Rad Scientist Podcast

Margot Wohl recently defended her PhD in neuroscience at UC San Diego. While doing her research at the Salk Institute, she also started the Rad Scientist Podcast — a KPBS Explore series that examines the lives and research of San Diego’s raddest scientists. And today, Rad Scientist kicks off its third season! 

A Creative Outlet During Grad School

Many grad students feel that there isn’t room for anything other than science in their lives. This was true for Margot, too. She enjoyed doing outreach, but otherwise found herself stuck in lab without a creative outlet. Over the course of those many hours spent doing experiments, Margot came to appreciate the beauty of podcasts, which kept her company as she worked.

Of course, it’s very difficult to pursue projects while also working on a thesis, let alone start a brand new podcast on your own when you’ve never done it before. So Margot sought out some collaborators that worked in A/V and communications at the Salk. With the right equipment, she created a few 5-minute episodes, submitted them to a KPBS contest, won, and suddenly had a real podcast with an NPR affiliate. It started as a way to have fun with science, and has turned into a career; she’s now an intern with NASA’s narrative podcast Curious Universe.

Promoting Inclusivity in STEM

Margot loves the art of storytelling. In addition to podcasting, she’s a driving force behind San Diego’s very own science storytelling group, SASSY (short for San Diego Science Storytelling, Y’all). While her own stories have been featured on science storytelling platforms like Story Collider, she prefers to be the listener. “When I first started [the podcast], I wanted to keep my voice totally out of it,” Margot admits. While you will hear her voice providing valuable context for her podcast episodes, her goal is primarily to amplify the voices of others. Stories are Margot’s vehicle for learning about cool science and intimate human stories all at once, and we are fortunate enough to come along for the ride.

The third season of the Rad Scientist Podcast premieres today — September 2, 2020. This season focuses more on a theme than its predecessors; in recognition of the historical era during which it was recorded — a time characterized by a global pandemic and widespread social unrest — season 3 of Rad Scientist will feature the stories of Black scientists and tackle the crucial need to build an inclusive academic environment. The season will culminate in a scientific perspective on why science is a more welcoming environment for some than others.

Everyone should feel like they belong in science.

Margot Wohl

Margot believes that “everyone should feel like they belong in science.” That is the central message of Rad Scientist’s next season (with some fun science along the way, of course). Check it out today!

Margot’s Favorite Books

Once a Scientist is made possible by support from our listeners! Each week, we ask our interviewee to tell us about their favorite books. If any of these reads catch your eye, you can support the show by using the links below to buy a copy for yourself!

Notes for this episode were written by Caroline Sferrazza.

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