This World of Humans is a science podcast dedicated to recent advances in biology and social science. TWOH is a collaboration with Visionlearning and includes resources to aid science instructors in using this podcast and its featured science in their classrooms. Here we ask the fundamental question, “Why are we the way we are?”

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  • Episode 10: Taurine, Addiction, and the Brain
  • This episode of TWOH explores the incredibly complicated research on taurine, the amino acid supplement commonly found in energy drinks. Dr. Kaliris Salas-Ramirez explores the many affects of taurine on the central nervous system of rodents and has made surprising discoveries when it comes to addiction, memory, and other cognitive functions. The effects of taurine appear to be widely different effects based on age, sex, and interaction with other drugs. The theme of this fascinating episode is: It's complicated.

  • Episode 9: Attraction and Mate Choice
  • This episode of TWOH explores the issue of romantic and sexual attraction, an important field of study within psychology. Joining us is Dr. Daniel Conroy-Beam from the University of California at Santa Barbara who is the author of a new study in this field. Dr. Conroy-Beam has developed a new computational method for understanding how the various components of attraction combine in the human brain to a single feeling of attraction.

  • Episode 8: Hate Crimes and Suicide in LGBT Adolescents
  • This episode of TWOH explores the relationship between LGBT-targeted hate crimes in a given neighborhood and suicide among LGBT adolescents in that same neighborhood. Joining us is Dr. Dustin Duncan, a spatial epidemiologist from New York University, who explains the science of how this kind of public health research is carried out. Dr. Duncan and his colleagues hypothesized that high prevalence of hate crimes directed at the LGBT population would cause an increase in suicide attempts and suicidal ideation and then conducted a groundbreaking study in Boston, MA that confirmed that hypothesis.

  • Episode 7: Children and Lying
  • This episode of TWOH focuses on when, how, and why children tell lies. We all begin life as perfectly honest little babies, but as our brains develop more complexity, we discover that we don't always have to tell the truth. Our guest is Dr. Angela Crossman, chair of the Psychology Department at John Jay College and a developmental psychologist who focused on truthfulness in children. While she often focuses specifically on how to best prepare children for honest eyewitness testimony in court, she also studies lying and truthfulness more generally. Her research group recently published an article that looks at lying and its connection to other problem behaviors as well as how different parenting styles do and don't correlate with lie-telling and that's what we discuss in this episode.

  • Episode 6: Detecting Natural Selection
  • This episode of TWOH discusses a new technique designed to detect spots in our genome that have been under recent natural selection. The human lineage and the chimpanzee lineage split around 7 million years ago and, during that time, we have accumulated very few genetic differences despite our very big physical and mental differences. Therefore, discovering and exploring the few genetic differences between humans and chimpanzees is key to understanding what makes us human. Helping us make sense of this complicated work is one of the authors of the study, Dr. Michael C. Campbell from Howard University.

  • Episode 5: Immigration and Crime
  • This episode features a recent meta-study combining the results of many similar studies analyzing the effect of immigration on crime rates. Joining us are Dr. Charis Kubrin from the University of California at Irvine and Dr. Daniel Stageman from John Jay College (CUNY).

  • Episode 4: Aging and Relationships in Rhesus Monkeys
  • This episode features a new study examining the value of social relationships in Rhesus monkeys as they age. This work was published by a group of animal behavior scientists including Dr. Angelina Ruiz-Lambides from the University of Puerto Rico and Dr. Lauren Brent from the University of Exeter. This research took place at the Caribbean Primate Research Center on Cayo Santiago, off the coast of Puerto Rico. Since this interviewed was recorded, the CPRC, like the rest of Puerto Rico, suffered devastating damage and is now struggling to rebuild. Please help if you can.

  • Episode 3: Traffic Pollution and Children’s Chromosomes
  • This episode features a recent study showing that air pollution from automobiles can cause shortening of telomeres, the extreme ends of chromosomes, in children and adolescents. This work was published by Professor John Balmes from the University of California at San Francisco and was conducted on children and adolescents in Fresno, California.

  • Episode 2: Labor Conditions and Patient Health
  • This episode features a recent study linking the working conditions of low-wage healthcare workers and the health outcomes of their patients. TWOH host Nathan Lents interviews one of the main authors of this study, Dr. Grace Sembajwe of the CUNY School of Public Health. Professor Sembajwe explains why providing family-supportive and flexible policies for healthcare workers actually improves health outcomes for the patients they serve.

  • Episode 1: Junk DNA
  • This episode features a new study estimating that at least 75% of our DNA has no function at all.

Funding for these pilot episodes of This World of Humans was provided by John Jay College Office for the Advancement of Research, The CUNY Office of Research, and Visionlearning.