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Fugitive Red

Amy Butler Greenfield

Cochineal, a parasitic insect native to Mexico, is the source of a vibrant red dye called carmine, which Spain’s Conquistadors encountered for the first time in 1519. Greenfield is the author of A Perfect Red: Empire, Espionage, and the Quest for the Color of Desire, about the history of this highly sought-after commodity that eluded pirates, scientists, and kings.

8 mins

Chemist and the Conservator

Kristin Wustholz, College of William & Mary and Shelley Svoboda

When restoring priceless works of art, conservators often want to know the origins of the paint. One chemist works with art curators to trace the molecular “fingerprints” of rare paint pigments and has produced a technique that allows precise chemical analysis from a single near-microscopic particle excised from the painting.

8 mins

The State of Physics

Gail Dodge, Old Dominion University

Nuclear physicist has taken a leading role in atom-smashing experiments. Dodge, who won an Outstanding Faculty Award from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, is also devoted to growing the number of women in a field that is still dominated by men.

11 mins

Imagining a Scientist Part 1

As part of our ongoing series about STEM education, we ask: what does a scientist look like? Short, tall, black, brown, male or female?

4 mins

The Double Bind

Shirley Malcom, American Association for the Advancement of Science

We discuss why women and minorities continue to face barriers to entering STEM fields.

8 mins

Women Engineers

Laura Puaca, Christopher Newport University

We also hear about what might be keeping American girls out of laboratories and the WWII history of Edna the Engineer.

4 mins

Imagining a Scientist Part 2

William and Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science

In 2009, fewer than 2% of physical science degrees—like physics and chemistry—went to African-Americans. Considering African-Americans make up 12% of the U.S. population, these numbers are shockingly low. And they’re getting even lower.  We talk to four young scientists about their outreach project.

7 mins

In this hour we hear about the secret behind red dye. Then we discuss the challenges to making STEM fields more representative.

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