On this episode, host Gillian King-Cargile (@gkingcargile) explores the gene editing tool CRISPR, used to create the breakthrough mRNA vaccines for COVID-19. First, she talks with biographer Walter Isaacson (@WalterIsaacson), author of Leonardo da Vinci and Steve Jobs, about his new book The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race. The book chronicles the discoveries surrounding CRISPR and the brilliant scientists racing toward publications, patents, and prizes.
Next, Gillian talks to Mike Jones (@StemNinja), a science teacher at the Thomas Metcalf School in Normal, Illinois. Jones’ 8th grade class just spent six weeks studying everything from CRISPR’s molecular structure to its implications for medical ethics. We’ll also hear from some of his students, who will share their thoughts and insights on how CRISPR could edit humanity’s future.
The STEM Read podcast is produced in association with WNIJ. Support for the STEM Read podcast comes from NIU STEAM and Northern Illinois University.
- Get to Know CRISPR
- Read The Onion’s take on the obviousness of creating an mRNA vaccine.
- Walter Isaacson
- GMOs and Transgenic Crops from Nature Education
- The Double Helix, written by James Watson, gives his personal account of the discovery of the structure of DNA. It’s a fascinating and flawed read that The Guardian ranked one of the best non-fiction books of all time.
- Jurassic Park the book and movie that launched thousands of careers in genetics and paleontology!
- Gattaca portrays 1997’s fears over the Human Genome Project and the possibility of designer babies
- Mike Jones
- Thomas Metcalf School at Illinois State University
- DIY CRISPR? “Mail-Order CRISPR Kits Allow Absolutely Anyone to Hack DNA”
- What does Futurism.com think CRISPR can accomplish? Well, everything!
- Embrace the future with NIU’s Future Telling: Science + Fiction Webinars. Our next guest is author Jeff VanderMeer on April 21.
- Teens can explore connections between STEM and storytelling at STEM Read’s Virtual Summer Camp “Science + Fiction” this July. It’s one of NIU’s many STEAM summer camps that will help fuel curiosity and foster the next generation of Jennifer Doudnas!