The Buff Innovator Insights podcast offers a behind-the-curtain look at some of the most ground-breaking innovations in the world, along with the personal journeys that made those discoveries possible.
Join Terri Fiez, Vice Chancellor for Research & Innovation, for an up-close and personal look at how researchers, scholars and artists become global pioneers, why they are so dedicated to discovery, and their visions of the future in the wide range of fields they explore.
Buff Innovator Insights: Season 2
Ethnic Studies; Center for African and African American Studies (CAAAS)
In this episode, we meet Dr. Reiland Rabaka, Professor of African, African American, and Caribbean Studies in the Department of Ethnic Studies, and inaugural Director of the Center for African and African American Studies (CAAAS). Dr. Rabaka describes the mix of church, poverty, family and jazz that shaped his early years; the combination of mentors and educational opportunities led him to CU Boulder; and his vision for CAAAS.
Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences; LASP; Wave-induced Atmospheric Variability (WAVE) NASA DRIVE Science Center
This episode features Dr. Cora Randall, professor in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences and a faculty member in the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP). We’ll follow her journey from earning her PhD in chemistry to working on the Hubble Space Telescope and, now, to leading a new NASA DRIVE center working at the leading edge of next-generation space weather prediction.
This episode features Dr. Matthew Druckenmiller from the National Snow and Ice Data Center and Director for the Navigating the New Arctic Community Office, both hosted at CU Boulder. We’ll hear about how his family-centered upbringing in rural Pennsylvania formed the foundations for his lifelong work exploring the relationships between the physical environment and the communities—especially indigenous communities—that dwell there.
Center for National Security Initiatives; Hypersonics; Aerospace Engineering
In this episode, meet Dr. Iain Boyd, H.T. Sears Memorial Professor of Aerospace Engineering Sciences and Director of the Center for National Security Initiatives at CU Boulder. We’ll hear about how Dr. Boyd followed his early interest in math from Scotland to England, and then to the U.S., where he’s now regarded as pioneer in hypersonics and a key figure in deploying computation and technology to solve our most pressing challenges.
Qin (Christine) Lv
ASPIRE; Computer Science
In this episode, meet Dr. Qin (Christine) Lv, associate professor in the Department of Computer Science and CU Boulder Campus Director for “ASPIRE,” a new NSF center that is exploring transportation challenges facing our world today. Hear about Dr. Lv’s journey from China to Princeton and eventually to CU Boulder, where her interdisciplinary research intersects with domains such as Earth sciences, transportation electrification and sustainability.
Center for Microbial Exploration; Ecology & Evolutionary Biology; CIRES
This episode features Dr. Noah Fierer, a professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and director of the Center for Microbial Exploration at CU Boulder. We’ll learn about his natural curiosity for learning, and his unexpected and enduring passion for ... SOIL! Get a glimpse into the hidden world of microbes, the functions they serve, and how Dr. Fierer's research can help us understand and improve the health of our environment and ourselves.
Heather Reed & Pete Withnell
Emirates Mars Mission; Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics
Currently in orbit, the Emirates Mars Mission Hope spacecraft will spend two years gathering crucial science data on the planet's weather and climate systems. In this episode, we’ll learn from engineering and management team members—and married dynamic duo—Heather Reed and Pete Withnell about the extraordinary international collaboration that made this mission possible and more terrestrial effects of the mission on their family.
Odor2Action; Civil, Environmental & Architectural Engineering
In this episode, we’ll meet Dr. John Crimaldi, a professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering. We’ll learn about his early fascination with sailing and how it set the course for his lifelong interest in fluid mechanics. As the Network Lead for the ambitious Odor2Action project, he also tells us about this international network working to understand how brains organize and process information from odors to guide behaviors.
Buff Innovator Insights: Season 1
March 18: Margaret Murnane
JILA; Physics; STROBE
In the first episode of Buff Innovator Insights, we meet Dr. Margaret Murnane, one of the world’s leading experts in ultrafast laser and x-ray science. Join us to learn about her improbable journey from growing up in the Irish countryside to developing the microscopes of the future and cultivating the world’s next generation of physicists.
March 25: Jun Ye
JILA; Physics; CUbit Quantum Initiative;
In this episode, we meet Dr. Jun Ye, director of the CUbit Quantum Initiative. We’ll talk with Dr. Ye about his formative years in China, his transformation into a leading researcher in the US, and how his work is helping to realize the vast potential of quantum science and technology.
April 1: Lori Peek
Sociology; Institute of Behavioral Science; Natural Hazards Center; CONVERGE
Hear from Dr. Lori Peek about her formative years in small-town Kansas, how her research is helping us learn from disasters like Hurricane Katrina and the COVID-19 pandemic, and her love for teaching and mentoring students.
April 8: Sona Dimidjian
Psychology and Neuroscience; Renée Crown Wellness Institute
Dr. Sona Dimidjian is director of the Renée Crown Wellness Institute, which seeks to promote the wellness of young people and the systems and adults who support them through interdisciplinary research-practice partnerships. Dr. Dimidjian’s research focuses on cultivating mental health and wellness among women, children, and families by engaging people’s capacities for learning to care for themselves and their communities.
April 15: Evan Thomas
Civil, Environmental & Architectural Engineering; Aerospace Engineering; Mortenson Center
In this episode, we meet Dr. Evan Thomas, a professor of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering and Aerospace Engineering Sciences, and director of the Mortenson Center in Global Engineering. Dr. Thomas shares how his family’s interests in journalism, engineering and entrepreneurship, as well as his experiences with Engineering Without Borders, inspired him to tackle global poverty through his work and teaching.
April 22: Jennifer Ho
Ethnic Studies; Center for Humanities and the Arts
Meet Dr. Jennifer Ho, professor in the department of Ethnic Studies and director of the Center for Humanities and the Arts. Dr. Ho tells us about how growing up in an Asian-American family, along with more recent societal and personal transformations, has influenced her scholarship and emboldened her efforts to end racism.
April 29: Sidney D’Mello
Psychology; Computer Science; Institute of Cognitive Science; Institute for Student-AI Teaming
In this episode, we meet Dr. Sidney D’Mello, Associate Professor at the Institute of Cognitive Science and the Department of Computer Science at CU Boulder. Dr. D’Mello describes how his unique combination of education and research experiences led to his leading-edge work at the NSF National Institute for Student-Agent Teaming, which is reimagining the role of artificial intelligence in the classroom to better serve both students and teachers.
May 6: Jennifer Balch
Geography; Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences; Earth Lab
Meet Dr. Jennifer Balch, associate professor of geography and director of Earth Lab—a project at CU Boulder and CIRES. We’ll learn about how her work in places like Kenya and Amazon rainforests shaped her interests in the relationships between fire, Earth systems and people, and how she’s working to transform data into insights to help solve some of the world’s most challenging problems.