Alanna Greene and Rachel Fricke
University of Washington
Alanna Greene (L) and Rachel Fricke record the Earthtones Podcast weekly using the studio attached to The Daily office

Rachel Fricke and Alanna Greene don’t just want you to know about UW’s scientists, they want you to like them too. That’s what’s driving the two seniors at The UW’s School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences to broadcast Earth Tones, a weekly podcast dedicated to showcasing University of Washington science grads and the stories naturally emerging from their research.

The podcast is a labor of love for Fricke and Greene, who both believe that the human stories associated with scientific research—the personalities, pitfalls and the comedy—are often as relevant as the core findings more commonly published. “Science is a human-driven profession,” explains Fricke. “This storytelling format, that includes the stress that [grad students] face and the failures that have come along with their research—it’s interesting!” says Greene.

Each episode of Earth Tones runs for around 20 minutes and pins some of UW’s most groundbreaking environmental research to current affairs and issues affecting the Pacific Northwest. Since the first episode went live in February, Earth Tones has attracted hundreds of listeners and examined the work of six UW grad students and their journeys covering topics ranging from wildfires in the Pacific Northwest to the intelligence levels of Seattle’s crows. “As scientists, we do really complicated and difficult work, [but] it doesn’t eliminate the fact that we are humans with normal lives and personal motivations outside of academia,” says Fricke.

More than half of the scientists featured in this first season of the podcast are women, which points to the growing number of female voices in the local science community, and the shift in communication approaches they bring. Fricke and Greene point to several female role models within the College and suggest that these women can bring a uniquely empathetic approach to the practice of environmental science. “It’s really exciting to be a woman in the sciences right now,” says Fricke. “It’s been really cool to see women who are young, in a predominantly male faculty, inspire so many people,” adds Greene.

The latest episode of Earth Tones, ‘The Songs of Science’,  features Judy Twedt, a UW PhD who creates stunning music using large sets of climate data. It’s a refreshing way to express the science of climate change and shows how female voices are enhancing the field of science communication.

While the last episode is scheduled for early spring 2019 and the students have no immediate plans to continue the series, they hope their interviews will continue to be heard and shared by those seeking approachable and relatable stories about science. “I personally find a lot of comfort in knowing that there are a lot of really smart people doing important work on these issues,” Says Fricke. “I hope that people listening to our podcast find comfort in that as well.”

Listen to the Earth Tones podcast below here and follow the show on Twitter.