campus news

Driven to Discover podcast explores connection between inspiration, innovation

LaGarrett King.

In the final Driven to Discover podcast of the 2022-23 academic year, LaGarrett King talks about the real meaning of “history,” why it’s important that every student learn Black history, and the innovative ways UB's Center for K-12 Black History and Racial Literacy Education is advancing Black history education around the world. Photo: Meredith Forrest Kulwicki


Published May 31, 2023

“Driven to Discover brings to life the passions motivating UB faculty to do incredibly impactful work, and that has enabled us to connect with listeners. ”
John Della Contrada, vice president for communications

A National Geographic recording of the moon landing. Family visits to the zoo. Social studies lessons that just didn’t make sense.

Each of these was a spark that, decades ago, ignited a child’s curiosity, and each of those curious children is now a faculty expert at UB.

Aerospace engineer John Crassidis, who played that moon landing record so many times it eventually broke, is now working with NASA and the Air Force to clear the skies of space junk.

Biological anthropologist Stephanie Poindexter, who started and ended every visit to the zoo watching the primates — endlessly intrigued by how similar they were to us — is now a leading authority on the fascinating but little understood slow loris.

And Black history scholar LaGarrett King, who loved social studies in elementary school but couldn’t comprehend a narrative in which plantation owners were kind and enslaved people were happy, now runs UB’s Center for K-12 Black History and Racial Literacy Education, a thriving hub of research, professional development, networking and advocacy aimed at understanding Black history and advancing its teaching around the world.

All of these experts are guests on Season One of Driven to Discover, a podcast from University Communications that explores UB research through frank conversations with the researchers about their inspirations, their goals and the journey that led them to where they are now.

Rounding out the first season are environmental chemist Diana Aga, inspired to do her part to clean up the planet after watching the pristine river where she swam and fished as a child turn black with pollution, and climate resiliency expert Nicholas Rajkovich, who was so enamored of building as a child that he constructed a wastewater plant in his parents’ basement.

Available on UBNow and on multiple platforms including Apple, Buzzsprout, Google and Spotify, the podcast is on hiatus for the summer after a successful start, with a download rate placing it in the top 50% of podcasts, according to Buzzsprout Platform Stats.

“Driven to Discover brings to life the passions motivating UB faculty to do incredibly impactful work, and that has enabled us to connect with listeners,” says John Della Contrada, vice president for communications. “We look forward to growing the audience even more next semester.”

Season Two will kick off with guest Arin Bhattacharjee, a pharmacologist whose scientific discoveries are behind the development of a promising alternative to opioids for chronic pain.

His inspiration? Tune in Aug. 29 to find out.