NASA's Curious Universe

In my current role at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, I produce the agency's flagship podcast, Curious Universe — a show that brings you mind-blowing science and space adventures you won’t find anywhere else. Explore the cosmos alongside astronauts, scientists, engineers, and other top NASA experts who are achieving remarkable feats in science, space exploration, and aeronautics. Learn something new about the wild and wonderful universe we share. All you need to get started is a little curiosity.

Sun miniseries

Meet the Sun. Even if you think you know our star, our new miniseries from NASA’s Curious Universe will show you why Sun science is heating up in 2024—and why NASA experts have so much more to discover. Get ready for the hair-raising experience of a total solar eclipse, and learn how anyone can pitch in through citizen science. See the vibrant and sometimes chaotic close-up details of the Sun, and hear how NASA keeps astronauts and spacecraft safe from solar outbursts. And go inside a pioneering mission to touch the Sun’s atmosphere and investigate some of its biggest unanswered questions.

Sun Series: You (Yes, You!) Can Help Study the Sun

How often do you think about your nearest star? Though it may not seem like it from here on Earth, our trusty Sun is a place of mystery. Take a good look at its influence on our planet – through the otherworldly experience of eclipse, maybe, or the aurora – and you might get sucked in… to a citizen science project, that is. Join NASA Sun scientists like Liz Macdonald and volunteers like Hanjie Tan to listen to crickets fooled by the false night of an eclipse, discover new colors in the aurora, and hunt for comets hiding in the plasma of our Sun’s atmosphere. And learn how you can get involved in NASA science while experiencing our nearest star firsthand. This is episode three of the Sun and Eclipse series from NASA’s Curious Universe, an official NASA podcast.

Sun Series: How to Experience a Total Solar Eclipse

On April 8, 2024, the Moon will pass in front of the Sun, casting a shadow across a long swath of Mexico, the United States, and Canada. Total solar eclipses have fascinated human beings for thousands of years. Watching the Moon eclipse the Sun is a surreal, multisensory experience that you’re not likely to forget. But Eclipses also offer unique opportunities for NASA to study the relationship between our star and home planet. Learn how to experience a Total Solar Eclipse. Join current and former NASA sun scientists Kelly Korreck, Fred “Mr. Eclipse” Espenak and Cherilynn Morrow on a journey through time and space to solve eclipse mysteries.

Sun Series: The Sun, Our Star

The Sun is our closest star. Billions of years ago, it shaped the formation of our home planet and the beginning of life on Earth. Today, it provides the heat and energy that powers our civilization, but it can also disrupt our technology and spacecraft through explosive outbursts of radiation. Join NASA Sun scientist Joe Westlake on a journey from the surface of Earth to the Sun’s core to learn how intricately we’re connected to our star and the progress we’ve made unraveling its mysteries. This is episode one of the Sun and Eclipse series from NASA’s Curious Universe, an official NASA podcast.

Season 6

In season six, meet researchers who are using sounds from the Sun to unlock new details about our star, explore the “dark side” of the universe with scientists who study dark matter and dark energy, and get a behind-the-scenes look at the first NASA mission to deliver an asteroid sample to Earth.

Special Delivery from Outer Space

On September 24, 2023, a capsule from space parachuted down into the Utah desert. Tucked inside it were 4.5-billion-year-old bits of rock and dust from a faraway asteroid named Bennu collected by the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. These pristine space rocks, which contain carbon and other building blocks of life, could rewrite scientists’ understanding of our solar system. In this episode, sit in mission control and ride aboard helicopters with asteroid mission leaders like Dante Lauretta and Mike Morea

Tiny but Mighty

What do air pollution, thunderstorm clouds and climate change have in common? Aerosols! These tiny particles, generated by everything from desert dust storms to car exhaust, play a huge role in our atmosphere, affecting our health when we breathe them in and even changing the weather. Globally, they play an even bigger role, changing how much sunlight gets through to Earth’s surface and heating or cooling our entire planet. Through new satellite missions, NASA atmospheric scientists like Kirk Kn

Hum of the Sun

What does space sound like? It’s a question that has fascinated composers and scientists alike throughout history. Through a process called data sonification, heliophysicists are using NASA satellites like audio recorders to listen to the electromagnetic symphony our Sun plays on the strings of Earth’s magnetic field, and making new discoveries along the way. Learn how you can join heliophysicist Mike Hartinger and sonification specialist Robert Alexander in listening to Earth’s “magnetic harp”

Season 5

In season five, join us as we fight wildfires, defend the Earth from asteroids, and explore the invisible world of gravitational waves.

WBEZ Chicago's Reset with Sasha-Ann Simons

As a production intern for WBEZ Chicago's live daily news talk show, Reset, I covered science and environmental stories in Chicago and throughout Illinois. Here are a selection of segments I pitched, scripted and produced.

Deutsche Welle's Living Planet

As a U.S.-based freelance foreign correspondent for Germany's public broadcaster, Deutsche Welle, I report on environmental stories from my home country of international interest.

Augustana College/WVIK's Lives of the Mind

Lives of the Mind was my first foray into journalism. It was a student-run podcast at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois produced in cooperation with WVIK, Quad Cities NPR. The show was dedicated to closing the gap between academia and society by telling the human stories behind academic research through interviews with professors and visiting scholars from various disciplines. I was the podcast’s main producer and host from 2018-2020. The podcast's website no longer exist, but here's a permanent archive of some of my favorite episodes:

COVID-19 Reflections – Augustana President Steve Bahls
In this episode, student host and LoM Producer Christian Elliott sits down with Augustana College President Steve Bahls in WVIK’s (emptier than usual) studio to talk about the school’s response to COVID-19.

The Future of the Free Press – Dame Frances Cairncross

In this episode, student host Christian Elliott sits down with Dame Frances Cairncross, former columnist for The Guardian, senior editor at The Economist, and head of Exeter College at Oxford University. In the episode, Cairncross discusses her long career and the recent review of high quality journalism she produced for the British government in February of 2019, the Cairncross Report.

Reclaiming ‘Faitheism’ – Chris Stedman

In this episode, student hosts Christian Elliott and Mikaylo Kelly sit down with Chris Stedman at the studios of WVIK as a part of his visit to Augustana’s campus for Symposium Day this month. Chris Stedman is an atheist and humanist community organizer, interfaith activist, and writer living in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is the author of Faitheist: How an Atheist Found Common Ground with the Religious.

Augie Strikes for Climate Action – Bonus Episode

On September 20th, 2019, 7.6 million people took to the streets on all seven continents to strike for climate action in the biggest climate mobilization in history. Youth across the world were inspired to action by 16 year old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg. On the campus of Augustana College, senior students Hunter Ridley and Robert Burke organized a local strike as part of the national movement with the help of Dr. Jennifer Burnham.

The event drew hundreds of students, as well as representatives from local news networks. Surrounded by a crowd holding signs reading “Fight for Augie’s Future,” “Augie Strikes Back,” and “Why are we Studying for A Future we don’t have” Students, faculty, and children spoke passionately and recited poetry while calling the college administration to take definitive climate action.

Two weeks after Augie’s strike, a few of our members traveled to Iowa City to see Greta Thunberg, the young activist who started it all. We were able to record her address to the thousands who gathered at the intersection of Dubuque and Iowa street in downtown Iowa City on October 4th, 2019.

We’re thrilled to provide recordings of both events as this month’s bonus episode of Lives of the Mind!

Chasing Epidemics – Dr. Amanda Tiffany

In this episode, student hosts Christian Elliott and Ethan Conley-Keck talk with Dr. Amanda Tiffany (’04) as part of a new series on Augustana College alumni! An Augie alumna, Dr. Tiffany has worked all over the world, from investigating HIV/AIDS in the Democratic Republic of Congo with the CDC to conducting Ebola surveillance for Doctors Without Borders in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

The Cultural Geography of Gardens – Dr. Christopher Strunk

In this episode, student host Christian Elliott sits down with Dr. Christopher Strunk, an associate Professor of Geography at Augustana College. In the episode, Dr. Strunk discusses his graduate school research on Bolivian refugee incorporation in Washington D.C. and more recent work with refugee community gardeners in Rock Island, Illinois.

From FYI to Foreign Service – Melinda Pavek

In this episode, student hosts Christian Elliott and Charlie Nawara sit down with Augustana alumna Melinda Pavek (’92) at the studios of WVIK, Quad Cities NPR. Since graduating, Melinda has worked in U.S. embassies across the world with the U.S. Department of State. Currently, she’s the Director of Science, Innovation, and Development at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, Japan. The episode covers the value of a liberal arts education, the nature of U.S.-Japan relations, and why it’s okay if you don’t pass your exams on the first try!

Leisure and Death – Dr. Adam Kaul

In this episode, student hosts Christian Elliott and Maura Karr interview Dr. Adam Kaul, an associate Professor of Anthropology at Augustana College. In the episode, Dr. Kaul delves into the collaborative work on his newest publication: Leisure and Death. Exploring the way dark tourism has evolved, specifically in Ireland at the Cliffs of Moher, Kaul analyzes how the intersection of leisure activities and death has shaped the surrounding area and even his own ideas about dying.

Water and Environmental Justice in Louisiana – Bonus Episode

Augustana College recently made the switch from trimesters to semesters. This January was the school’s first crack at intensive J-Term courses, many of which included trips throughout the country and abroad. In this special bonus episode, we go behind the scenes of one of the College’s new J-Term experiences–a Geography course called Water and Environmental Justice focused on the Louisiana Gulf Coast region of the United States and led by Augustana Associate Professor of Geography Dr. Christopher Strunk. The course begins and ends with an on-campus component, with a seven day trip to Louisiana as its centerpiece. In the middle of January, 2020, 15 Augustana students traveled from snowy western Illinois throughout warm Louisiana, including stops in Baton Rouge, Lafayette, and New Orleans. Along the way they learned about the impact of coastal land loss, pollution, and environmental hazards, as well as efforts to build more sustainable and socially just communities.

Students in the course recorded interviews with experts from research organizations and community advocacy groups along the way, focusing on a variety of topics like coastal land loss, “Cancer Alley,” and Cajun culture, which were edited together to create this bonus episode. We hope you enjoy it!

This episode was edited and produced by Christian Elliott. The voice-over was written and recorded by Thea Gonzalez. Special thanks to Dr. Christopher Strunk, Hunter Ridley, and all the students involved in the project.

Let's get social