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Further Together, the ORAU podcast

Further Together, the ORAU podcast

Join your hosts Michael Holtz and Jenna Harpenau as they discuss all things ORAU, through interviews with our experts who provide innovative scientific and technical solutions for our customers. They’ll talk about ORAU’s storied history, how we’re impacting an ever-changing world, as well as our commitment to our community.

Learn more about the first year of the podcast in a special Q&A with the hosts.

The Further Together episode guide below will allow you to listen to each edition on You can also find Further Together on the Apple Podcasts app for iOS devices, Google Podcasts, TuneIn and Stitcher.

Episode 47:  The Gratitude Show 2020

Episode 47: The Gratitude Show 2020

Talking about how rough 2020 has been borders on cliche at this point, but makes it no less true. From a global pandemic seemingly raging out of control to the economic fallout of decisions made to protect people to personal challenges that have occurred for many of us on top of all of that, 2020 has been difficult. But, as you'll hear in this special episode of Further Together, the ORAU podcast, there is a silver lining if you are willing to look for it. And, there is always, always something for which to be grateful. We hope you enjoy this episode. Thank you to the ORAU employees who shared their stories. Thanks to everyone in our audience for listening. Happy Thanksgiving!

Listen to Episode 47 Transcript for Episode 47

Episode 46: Among the Quiet Professionals: Meet Dr. Mark Ervin, new associate director of REAC/TS

Episode 46: Among the Quiet Professionals: Meet Dr. Mark Ervin, new associate director of REAC/TS

Dr. Mark Ervin has experienced a lot of firsts in his career, but joining REAC/TS as the new associate director in the middle of a pandemic certainly stands out. In this episode, you'll learn about Dr. Ervin's background, work experience, hopes for the future of this ORISE crown jewel, and even hear about the Zen of fishing without bait. Jenna and Michael had a great conversation with Dr. Ervin for this episode of the ORISE Featurecast. We hope you'll join us.

Listen to Episode 46 Transcript for Episode 46

Episode 45: Protecting the health of energy workers: ORAU and the NSSP program

Episode 45: Protecting the health of energy workers: ORAU and the NSSP program

The National Supplemental Screening Program (NSSP) provides free medical screenings to Department of Energy workers from any DOE site around the country who may have been exposed to hazards in the workplace. The NSSP collects data to help identify if these former workers have developed any health conditions related to exposures that they had in the workplace, as well as identify any health conditions that arise as these workers age. ORAU manages this program for the DOE. In this conversation, we talk to Zac Hubbell, Ph.D., a research associate for the program, and Dr. Lee Newman, director of the Center for Health, Work, and Environment at the Colorado School of Public Health. The CHWE recently named ORAU it's 2020 Partner of the Year for the work our organizations do together for the NSSP.

Listen to Episode 45 Transcript for Episode 45

Episode 44: ARC STEM programs are key to Appalachian economic development

Episode 44: ARC STEM programs are key to Appalachian economic development

Every summer for the last 31 years, ORAU has managed a High School Summer Math-Science-Technology Institute and a Middle School Science Academy for the Appalachian Regional Commission. In ordinary times, both of these programs are residential in nature, with students and teachers traveling to Oak Ridge, Tenn., to work alongside researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, tour the area and more. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the programs had to be conducted remotely but participating students and teachers still got the high-quality experience for which these programs are known. In this conversation, Michael talked to Jennifer Tyrell from ORAU's K-12 team, and Wendy Wasserman, communications director for the ARC. We learned that the ORAU-managed programs have served as a template for other educational programs offered by ARC, and that these programs are vital to the economic development work ARC conducts across the region.

Listen to Episode 44 Transcript for Episode 44

Episode 43: ORISE and WAGI Labs help student learn to solve problems in their communities

Episode 43: ORISE and WAGI Labs help student learn to solve problems in their communities

This episode of the ORISE Featurecast is a conversation with Chic Thompson, founder of WAGI Labs, and Kayla Canario, ORISE K-12 program manager. ORISE and WAGI Labs are working together to help students learn the concepts of design thinking, entrepreneurship and empathy so they can solve problems in their communities. Together, ORISE and WAGI Labs have created a free game that helps students learn these concepts. Learn all about during this episode of the ORISE Featurecast.

Listen to Episode 43 Transcript for Episode 43

Past Episodes

  • The coronavirus pandemic has upended so much of how we live, learn, work and play. It has also impacted how we give. In this episode, Michael Holtz and Jenna Harpenau talk to Naomi Asher, executive director of the United Way of Anderson County, and representatives from three agencies supported by UWAC -- Michael Yates from Ridgeview Behavioral Health Services, Annie Cachiero from Aid to Distressed Families of Appalachian Counties, and Brent Waugh from Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee. We talk about the services each of these agencies provides, how those services have been impacted by the pandemic, how the need is greater now as a result, and how we can all help serve people in need in our communities. Join us for an uplifting conversation!

    Listen to Episode 42 Transcript for Episode 42

  • In May, ORISE  launched a mobile app called ORISE GO. The app offers college students, recent graduates and postdoctoral students a mobile tool to search and apply for hundreds of science, technology, engineering and math internships, fellowships and research opportunities at national labs and facilities across the United States. The ORISE GO app also provides a platform to remain engaged, connected and informed during the ORISE experience—from application, to offer, through the appointment and even as an ORISE alum. Join hosts Michael Holtz and Jenna Harpenau as they invite Leslie Fox and Chelsea Gibson to hang out around the virtual coffee table.

    Listen to Episode 41 Transcript for Episode 41

  • While most employees and the general public know of the ORAU Diversity Council through annual events like Heritage Day and Veterans Appreciation Day, the council is more than the events they produce. The council serves as a sounding board for employees who may have a concern about diversity related issues throughout the company. In this episode of Further Together, Michael talks to Mae Mosley, director of employee relations and diversity; Chanel Sudderth, employee relations and diversity specialist; and Dee-Dee James and Ann Gonzalez, two members of ORAU's Diversity Council. Together, they discuss the council's history and role at ORAU, the roles of the council members and how being visible is more important now than ever before.

    Listen to Episode 40 Transcript for Episode 40

  • The waste we flush down the toilet can serve as a leading indicator of the prevalence of COVID-19 in a community, whether it's a city or a university campus. In this episode of Further Together, the ORAU podcast, Michael Holtz discusses wastewater surveillance with Dr. Kunal Rambhia and Dr. Monique Mansoura of The MITRE Corporation. They are joined by Ken Tobin, vice president of ORAU's University Partnerships Office, and Cathy Fore, senior university partnerships specialist. The conversation covers the importance of wastewater surveillance as a tool in tracking COVID-19 spread, particularly as universities prepare to welcome students back to campus. We also discuss the COVID-19 Healthcare Coalition, of which ORAU and MITRE are members; and the partnership between the organizations and a means of facilitating relationships, research and work between government and academic institutions.

    Listen to Episode 39 Transcript for Episode 39

  • When Exercise Builder Nuclear was first discussed as a concept in the spring of 2012, Don Hanlon, ORAU EBN project manager, did not fully realize the extent to which the platform would come to support national nuclear security. Today, EBN supports more than 53% of the nuclear industry with its nuclear security drills and exercises and is being offered in web and mobile app formats. EBN is an online platform used by emergency preparedness managers in the nuclear power industry to manage the many drills and exercises required by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to prepare plants to meet any type of threat.

    Listen to Episode 38 Transcript for Episode 38

  • Sean Crabbe says The Hurt Locker, the 2008 Academy Award-winning film that follows an Iraq War ordnance disposal team, comes pretty close to following the approach he and his team take when conducting forensic DNA analysis for the Defense Forensic Science Center. In this episode, Crabbe talks about the work he and his team do, his background and what awaits him when pandemic travel restrictions are lifted. Don't miss this conversation!

    Listen to Episode 37 Transcript for Episode 37

  • Jill Latchana says it's the little things that bring her joy, like a dance party with her five children to celebrate 15 years of marriage to her husband, Neil.  Here five children each have different ethnic backgrounds, all are adopted or being fostered, and they clearly bring her joy. You'll hear in her voice as she talks about balancing work, life and caring for her kids during the COVID-19 lockdown in Maryland. Latchana manages the Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Program for ORISE. Jenna and Michael talk to Jill about how she and Neil balance work with life as foster parents (they've fostered 18 kids), how they made the decision to adopt, how they pour love into the lives of their foster kids, and so much more. Life is always interesting, and Jill says it takes a village. She talks about her village people too.

    Listen to Episode 36 Transcript for Episode 36

  • States have loosened stay-at-home and safer-at-home restrictions. People are getting their hair done, going out to eat, shopping—all of the things that came to a halt in mid-March. What have we learned and where do we go from here? Should we remain vigilant about possible exposure to the coronavirus? Are we facing the prospect of a second wave of illness in the fall, assuming the first wave comes to an end? That's the conversation Michael Holtz had with ORAU public health, preparedness and communication experts Freddy Gray, Julie Crumly, Rachel Vasconez and Jennifer Burnette.

    Listen to Episode 35 Transcript for Episode 35

  • As the nation and the world take steps to reopen for business after weeks of safer at home/stay at home practices, the subject of contact tracing is making headlines. What is contact tracing, how does it work, and why is it important? These questions and more are addressed by ORAU health communication and marketing team members. Freddy Gray, Julie Crumly, Rachel Vasconez and Jennifer Burnette join hosts Michael Holtz and Jenna Harpenau for this important and timely conversation.

    Listen to Episode 34 Transcript for Episode 34

  • ORAU employees have been teleworking for nearly two months because of the coronavirus pandemic. In this special episode of Further Together, some employees share how they've celebrated life's important milestones, taken up new hobbies and lessons learned about life with a commute from the bedroom to their in-home workspace. Health, joy, laughter, love and gratitude haven't stopped in a mostly closed world. Special thanks to the employees who shared their stories with us.

    Listen to Episode 32 Transcript for Episode 32

  • Dr. Eric Abelquist, executive vice president and chief research officer, discusses the importance of ORAU's research enterprise, including an explanation of how the ORAU-Directed Research and Development program works, and the organization's research priority areas. Conversations with Eric are always interesting and engaging, and this one is no different. Sit back and enjoy the conversation.

    Listen to Episode 32 Transcript for Episode 32

  • How can 3-D printers help medical personnel in our community who are on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic? Renee Powell, winner of the 2019 ORAU Extreme Classroom Makeover, and members of ORAU's K-12 STEM education team are using 3-D printers to produce personal protective equipment components, like N95 masks, ear guards for disposable masks and face shields. Powell and ORAU's Kayla Canario share what led to their decisions to offer help in this important way. 

    Listen to Episode 31 Transcript for Episode 31

  • Cries of "fake news" seem to be everywhere these days, especially in the political world. Who is most vulnerable to believing and/or sharing misinformation or disinformation that has no verifiable facts, sources or quotes? And how can we keep ourselves from sharing information that isn't true. ORAU social scientist Tiffani Conner, Ph.D., who has worked with Penn State University on fake news research, discusses her work, and some of the steps we can all take before sharing something on social media that sounds too good to be true. While this conversation took place before the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, it's very relevant to the situation.

    Listen to Episode 30 Transcript for Episode 30

View the full Further Together Podcast Archive

Our Experts

Meet the hosts of ORAU's Further Together podcast

Michael Holtz

Michael Holtz

Michael is a senior marketing and communications specialist for ORAU.

Jenna Harpenau

Jenna Harpenau

Jenna is a marketing and communications specialist for ORAU. 

Contact us

Pam Bonee
Work: 865.576.3146 
Cell: 865.603.5142 

Wendy West
Work: 865.576.0028 
Cell: 865.207.7953