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View the full Orie Shafer interview transcript.



Highlights from This Episode

  • 11:08 – “Asking a series of simple questions, one after another; accepting the answers as they come; and changing your mind about how things work to get a better picture. It’s just that simple. That’s really what we’re talking about here–we’re not talking about sophisticated machines and techniques and geniuses operating on high levels. We’re talking about just knowing enough to ask the next question.”
  • 17:36 – “It’s a shocking understanding. That this is mostly failure, but that’s what makes it so fantastic. I mean, how many other people do you know who can so freely admit that they don’t have a handle on exactly what’s happening? And you know what? They don’t succeed most of the time. And yet, this is actually by definition how you succeed in science.”
  • 24:11 – “Now, the problem is that we have a society that is built for the early bird. Our society is based on getting up, being at work by 8:30 or 9:00, and as it turns out, if you are biologically a late type, and like most people, are forced to live as an early type, you’re much more likely to be obese, to abuse drugs and alcohol, to smoke, and to be depressed.”
  • 30:56 – “The fruit fly has a spectacular history of informing us about very, very important things. I mean, what could be more fantastic than the fact that all animals start off as a single cell that somehow turns into a functional organism? We go from no patterning to this amazing pattern. We have two arms, we have two legs, our vertebrae are these beautiful chain of bones that protect our spinal cord.”
  • 33:22 – “This is how progress is made. This is why jet airplanes fly and magic carpets don’t. This is progress. We understand the universe better. We can do things that we couldn’t do before.”



Scientist Bios

How to Science host Monica Dus is a professor in LSA’s Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology (MCDB) who studies how the brain responds to the presence and absence of sugar. She wants to figure out how neurons sense and respond to the nutrients eaten as food. Her research relates to feeding behavior, energy balance, physiology, and obesity. She loves her three dogs, whose names are Cupcake, Sprinkles, and Brioche.

Learn more about Monica Dus’s research.

Orie Shafer is a professor in MCDB who obsesses about biological clocks, which determine rhythms of activity in organisms. He studies networks of clock neurons in the brain to figure out how they orchestrate rhythmic behaviors.

Learn more about Orie Shafer’s research.




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Podcast produced by Elizabeth Wason and Monica Dus
Illustrations by Julia Lubas
Photo of Orie Shafer by Lunna Anna Archey