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The Hidden Costs of Science

Listen 49:15
A tired and stressed student with his head down on a pile of books holding up a

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In science, we tend to focus on the destination, not the journey. But for every big breakthrough, every historic discovery, there are countless contributions that no one notices: the forgotten grunt workers, research that came to nothing, even lives lost in the pursuit of progress. Today’s episode is about the hidden cost of science — the price of doing business that we rarely think about. We hear stories about the mental health toll of graduate school, the literal cost of research, and the environmental impact of scientific progress.

Also heard on this week’s episode:

  • J’Nese Williams — a historian of Modern Britain and lecturer at Stanford University — tells the story of the enslaved workforce that built the botanical garden on the tropical island of St. Vincent. She did some of her research on this topic during a fellowship at the Linda Hall Library in Kansas City, Missouri.
  • We talk with diabetes researcher Antentor Hinton Jr. about learning to say no, and his tips for succeeding and thriving in graduate school.
  • Each year, universities spend millions of dollars on a hidden cost: access to research and scientific journals. But that’s starting to change thanks to the Open Access movement. Reporter Liz Tung talks with University of California librarian Jeffrey MacKie-Mason about what’s changing and why.
  • Many scientists are passionate about the use of animals in their research. They feel empathy for the animals, but they also believe that this work is necessary, and serves a greater purpose. Reporter Jad Sleiman explores this complicated relationship.

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