Hunter Johnson ‘20 and Luke Rhoades ‘20 are both recent graduates of Purdue University. Hunter majored in Mechatronic Engineering Technologies in the Purdue Polytechnic Institute with minors in Electrical Engineering Technologies and English while Luke majored in Mechanical Engineering Technology. With their continuing interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), they found themselves constantly talking about new discoveries. In May 2020, they started their own podcast called E.P.I.STEM: “Exploring Papers in STEM.”
Although neither of them have participated in their own independent research project, they seek out research papers and topics through an app called Researcher or take suggestions from their listeners. They try to focus on papers that have been published within the past few months to keep their podcast up-to-date with current literature on a specific topic.
Their first podcast of 2021, “The Roots of Research,” featured two Purdue undergraduate researchers, Carl Russell ‘22 and Zach Lamantia ‘23. The episode surrounded the topic of how the research process works and the roles in which they take when conducting this research. For an undergraduate researcher, this could look like assisting graduate students or professors until they are more experienced. Zach explains his research on cancer and using ultrasound technologies for gene delivery while Carl talks more about his research about Chronic Kidney disease, CKD. Carl also gives insight to the reason behind choosing CKD; his mother is diagnosed with stage 3 CKD. Research topics can stem from personal issues or a simple interest or curiosity in something.
Hunter and Luke want to emphasize that they are a “listener-oriented [and] lister-supported” podcast who are “spreading awareness of what great research is happening around the world”.
They want to focus on connecting research to the everyday person. As they are now moving into their second season, they are focusing on making their content more approachable by trying to make their content more laid back while also researching methods that will help expand their audience. They also have stickers coming soon which will be a great form of advertisement and publicity for them.
Hunter and Luke’s podcast can be a great place to start for future undergraduate researchers. It gives the perfect opportunity to see what kind of critiques or reactions non-researchers have to certain types of research. It also gives insight to other published works and what kind of additional information would be useful and beneficial. This could also help inspire future researchers to critique and comment on published works themselves which could enhance their own research skills.