Podcast co-hosted by Doane biology professor up for national award
Doane biology professor Dr. Ramesh Laungani will be in elite company next Friday evening at the iHeartRadio Theater in Los Angeles, California, brushing shoulders with the likes of Conan O’Brien, Joe Rogan, Bill Simmons, Colin Cowherd, Malcolm Gladwell, and Rachel Maddow, to name a few.
That’s because “Warm Regards,” a podcast focused on climate change and its various impacts, co-hosted by Laungani and Dr. Jacquelyn Gill, is one of five podcasts nominated for “Best Green Podcast” at the second annual iHeartRadio Podcast Awards in LA.
Warm Regards, originally started in 2016 by Gill, has nearly 500,000 listens since its inception. The podcast is one of the longest-running climate change podcasts in the marketplace and has always been independently operated. Gill is an Associate Professor of Paleoecology and Plant Ecology at the University of Maine. From her bio, she states, “my work takes a community ecology approach to help understand how species and their interactions have responded to interacting drivers (like climate change and extinction) through time.”
Gill and Laungani first connected on Twitter two years ago, a platform in which Gill has a large following. Laungani asked Gill if she would like to be a keynote speaker at a science communication conference held at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in the spring of 2018, an invitation she happily accepted.
The purpose of the conference was to discuss how to effectively communicate science to non-scientific audiences. Because Gill had a stellar reputation as both a scientist and a science communicator, Laungani thought she would make an excellent keynote speaker paired with Joe Palca, science correspondent at NPR.
Laungani believes there is a gap in understanding between the scientific community and the general public on a number of critical scientific topics, with one of those being climate change. Shrinking that gap is one of the driving forces behind the Warm Regards podcast. After the SciComm conference at UNL, Gill and Laungani stayed in touch and later that year, Gill asked Laungani if he would like to join the podcast as a co-host.
Climate Change Biology is one of a handful of courses Laungani teaches at Doane and finding ways to mitigate climate change is one of his most passionate areas of research. Additionally, Doane has recently established a climate change emphasis option for undergraduate students in the biology department.
During his time as co-host on the podcast, Laungani has interviewed a wide array of people ranging from scientists to climate change activists, policy makers, and religious leaders. The experience has been very beneficial, he says, and has further enhanced his science communication skills, increased his knowledge, and allowed him to identify new ways to communicate the impact of climate change with his students.
“Not only do my communication skills around this topic get better because I’m pushing myself to ask questions about an angle of climate change that I wouldn’t normally deal with in a scientific sense but I’m also able to bring those answers back into the classroom,” Laungani said. “Our students are able to see that climate change isn’t just a scientific issue. It’s an economic issue, political issue, religious issue, and social justice issue.”
Through his work on the podcast, Laungani has had an impact on and engaged with a number of people he would have never met without this platform and the reach it has. An example of this was a listener who emailed Laungani after one of the episodes, asking “How do you maintain hope in all of this?” The two emailed back-and-forth and the listener, who is originally from Lincoln, met Laungani in person after a science communication event he held at a bar in Lincoln.
“I’m thankful to have an impact on a topic that requires a lot of voices,” Laungani said. “I’m proud to be a part of these diverse conversations and be a part of increasing the reach of climate change knowledge in our society.”
Gill added, “It’s an honor to be named alongside some of my favorite environmental podcasts — not just because it means that we’re having a positive impact, but also because it means there’s a growing ecosystem of conversations about climate change and other impacts to our planet. These are conversations that need to be happening, and there’s something really powerful about podcasting to help bring accessible, diverse perspectives to a broad audience.
“I’m so proud of the amazing work our team has done to bring compassionate, heartfelt discussions to the table and I’m proud of our guests for being willing to share their own stories and expertise about the most pressing problem facing our generation.”
Laungani, Gill, and two other contributors to the Warm Regards podcast will be at the iHeartRadio Podcast Awards on Friday, January 17. The awards ceremony will begin at 10:00pm CT and will be broadcast and streamed live across iHeartMedia stations nationwide.
The awards show will honor the most entertaining and innovative podcasts over the last year with nominees from 30 categories. The public will vote on the “Podcast of the Year” award and a panel of podcast industry leaders, creatives, and visionaries will determine the winners across the remaining categories.
For more information on the iHeartRadio Podcast Awards, visit www.iheart.com/podcast-awards.