This week, we’re presenting stories about unexpected friendships in science, whether they’re formed in the field or at Burning Man.
Part 1: Looking to connect with new people, mathematician Seth Cottrell sets up an ‘Ask a Mathematician’ booth at Burning Man.
Part 2: When herpetologist Joseph Mendelson gets his an opportunity to do fieldwork in Guatemala during his first year of graduate school, he struggles to connect with the locals.
Seth Cottrell earned his PhD in mathematics from the Courant Institute at NYU. His research is in quantum information and he teaches at New York City College of Technology. For ten years, Seth has talked to complete strangers about math and physics and written about it at askamathematician.com. His new book is “Do Colors Exist?: And Other Profound Physics Questions.”
Joseph R. Mendelson III has been studying amphibians and reptiles for more than 30 years, concentrating mostly on Mexico and Central America. Most of his work has involved evolutionary studies and taxonomy―including the discovery and naming of about 40 new species. Other studies have included ecology, biomechanics, and natural history. Formerly an Associate Professor in Biology at Utah State University, Mendelson transitioned his career to balance his energies between research and conservation, while still teaching at the university level. Currently he is Director of Research at Zoo Atlanta and Adjunct Associate Professor of Biology at Georgia Tech University, where he teaches regularly. He also is Past-President of the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, the world’s largest professional herpetological society. Joe has published more than 100 technical papers in peer-reviewed journals such as Science, Biology Letters, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Journal of Experimental Biology, Journal of Herpetology and Molecular Ecology. He has also authored a number of articles and essays. His work has been featured in media outlets such as National Public Radio, National Geographic, Nature, New York Times, CNN, and Comedy Central’s Colbert Report. Additionally, Joe is a guitarist in the Atlanta-based science punk-rock band Leucine Zipper and the Zinc Fingers.
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