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Campus & Community - Science & Technology

#COVIDCalls and the Academy of Natural Sciences

August 12, 2020

The panelists from the June 23 discussion.
The panelists from the June 23 discussion.

In June, Drexel University Professor and head of its Department of History Scott Knowles, PhD, hosted a series of special episodes on his #COVIDCalls podcast (which he started early on in the pandemic) to talk to experts from the Academy of Natural Sciences about COVID-19.

“I was looking to do a series of #COVIDCalls discussions with the Academy and [its President and CEO] Scott Cooper very kindly welcomed the idea — even though it was (and is) a busy time for them,” said Knowles, who was named one of the recipients of the University’s Rapid Response Research and Development Fund in April. “I worked with [ANS Vice President of Marketing] Jane Taylor to develop five hour-long discussions that placed the many different activities of ANS researchers, educators, and staff into the context of COVID-19.”

Every Tuesday in June, Knowles virtually sat down with ANS experts (12 total, plus the director of the Penn Museum) to discuss COVID-19 as it relates to biodiversity, water quality, environmental justice and maintaining museums and their collections.

“One of my very favorite moments — one that brought some light in the midst of a dark time —was on June 2, when in a discussion of biodiversity and COVID-19, ornithologist Jason Weckstein (on his computer at home) heard and identified a woodpecker in MY yard in New Jersey in the midst of our video discussion,” said Knowles. “It was a small moment that meant a lot to me — showing how we can use this medium to connect over distance and find ways to allow our common curiosities and concerns bring us together.”

See below to watch and learn more about the five episodes, or download the podcast through Apple Podcasts and watch on YouTube.

June 2: “Academy of Natural Sciences Part 1: Biodiversity & the Pandemic” featuring:

  • Ichthyology Collection Manager Mariangeles Arce H., PhD.
  • Associate Professor in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Biodiversity, Earth and Environ Science (BEES) and Academy Associate Curator in the Department of Ornithology Jason Weckstein, PhD
  • BEES Professor and Academy Curator of Botany and Director of the Center for Systematic Biology and Evolution Richard McCourt, PhD.  

June 9: “Academy of Natural Sciences Part 2: Maintaining the Collection” featuring: 

  • BEES Professor and Academy Director of Library and Archives Ted Daeschler, PhD.  
  • Academy Interim Curator of Ichthyology Mark Sabaj, PhD
  • Academy Chief Learning and Engagement Officer Niki Ciccotelli Stewart

June 16: “Academy of Natural Sciences Part 3: COVID-19 and Water Quality” featuring:

  • BEES Assistant Research Professor and Watershed Ecology Section Lead of the Academy’s Patrick Center of Environmental Research Stefanie Kroll, PhD 
  • BEES Department Head and Professor and Academy Vice President of the Center for Academy Science David Velinsky, PhD

June 23: “Academy of Natural Sciences Part 4: Environmental Justice” featuring:

  • Mariangeles Arce H., PhD
  • BEES Assistant Research Professor, Academy Director of the Environmental Studies and Sustainability Program and Dolan Fellow for Innovation in Water Science, Patrick Center for Environmental Research Alexis Schulman, PhD                          
  • Director of the Academy’s Patrick Center for Environmental Research and Delaware River Watershed Initiative Roland Wall, PhD 

June 30: “Academy of Natural Sciences Part 5: The Pandemic and the Museum” featuring

  • ANS President and CEO Scott Cooper, PhD
  • Williams Director of the Penn Museum Julian Siggers, PhD