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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 30: Fake news: Who is most vulnerable and how can we stop spreading it?

Episode 30: Fake news: Who is most vulnerable and how can we stop spreading it?

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

Episode 29: COVID-19 and ORAU's pandemic preparedness capability

Episode 29: COVID-19 and ORAU's pandemic preparedness capability

As news and events continue unfold around the spread of COVID-19, questions continue to arise about how the disease is spread and how to prepare for what the World Health Organization has called a global pandemic. Further Together podcast host Michael Holtz had a conversation about COVID-19 and ORAU's pandemic preparedness capability with Wade Williamson, BSN, ORAU occupational health nurse, Freddy Gray, MPH, MCHES, director of health communication and preparedness, and Julie Crumly, Ph.D., health and education program evaluator. From how to protect yourself to our involvement in preparing communities for pandemic response, this is a wide-ranging and very timely conversation.

Listen to Episode 29 Transcript for Episode 29

Episode 28: What is the Joint Science and Technology Institute?

Episode 28: What is the Joint Science and Technology Institute?

ORISE manages two two-week summer residential programs for students interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and teachers who want to hone their STEM skills. JSTI APG will take place in Baltimore and JSTI ABQ will take place in Albuquerque. Students and teachers work side-by-side with researchers in academic or government research laboratory settings. Jennifer Tyrell and Kayla Canario of the ORISE K-12 team talk about everything students and teachers need to know about these programs. Applications are now open and the programs, including travel, are free.

Listen to Episode 28 Transcript for Episode 28

Episode 27: Shedding light on foreign national stay rates

Episode 27: Shedding light on foreign national stay rates

ORISE has been tracking stay rates for foreign nationals who come to the United States to earn doctoral degrees in science, engineering and other STEM-related fields since the 1970s. Why is this information important? What does it tell us about higher education in the United States? And what does the future look like for foreign nationals who come here to get their degrees? Leigh Ann Pennington and Mike Finn are experts at tracking this data, and explaining what it all means. Join us for an enlightening conversation.

Listen to Episode 27 Transcript for Episode 27

Ashley Golden

Episode 26: Preparing for the Silver Wave

As the population of seniors and pre-seniors continues to rise, cities across the country and around the world must be better prepared to meet their needs. Austin is an age friendly city, with an age friendly action plan, that allows seniors to age in the place of their choosing, while also cultivating a community of connection and support. For ORAU, the growing field of geroscience gives us opportunities to apply our capabilities in support of the aging population. We talk to Ashley Golden, Ph.D., ORAU biostatistician, and Tabitha Taylor, program coordinator for Austin's Age-Friendly City program about the nation's and the world's changing demographics.

Listen to Episode 26 Transcript for Episode 26

Episode 25: Helping Paws Animal Network: ORAU employees assist animals in dire situations

Episode 25: Helping Paws Animal Network: ORAU employees assist animals in dire situations

Helping Paws Animal Network is a non-profit organization that supports area animal rescue organizations pay vet bills, meet food needs, get shelter and more for animal found in dire situations. This week, HPAN will celebrate raising more than a quarter million dollars and helping well over 1,000 animals throughout the region. In this episode, we talk to Amy Starkey, a founding board member and treasurer of HPAN, and Lisa Hill, owner of Senior Dog Lodge and Animal Rescue, which is located in Sunbright, Tennessee. Senior Dog Lodge is one of the many rescue groups in Anderson and surrounding counties that HPAN has assisted over the years. This is a doggone good episode!

Listen to Episode 25  Transcript for Episode 25

Past Episodes

  • Craig Layman, Ph.D., associate director of workforce development for ORISE, is openly passionate about scientific workforce development, the people who work at every level of his organization, and their impact on the scientific workforce. In this wide-ranging discussion, we discuss K-12 STEM education, research participation programs at the Department of Energy and other federal facilities, longitudinal research studies and so much more. Get ready for an insightful episode of the ORISE Featurecast, a special edition of the Further Together podcast.

    Listen to Episode 24 Transcript for Episode 24

  • For two Christmas seasons running, Tommy the Elf has visited all of us at ORAU. He has learned about our capabilities and shared his knowledge on our social media channels. In this episode of the Further Together podcast, we turn the tables on Tommy and learn more about his life, including his favorite cookie, favorite thing about Christmas, whether anything in the movie "Elf" is real and whether he has gone on world-wide rounds with the big guy in the red suit. At turns informative and hilarious, this special edition is not to be missed.

    Listen to Episode 23 Transcript for Episode 23

  • Dr. Howard Hall is a member of the ORISE Distinguished Scientist Advisory Board, an external panel of recognized experts in scientific and technical disciplines that validates the ORISE vision is maximizing DOE's strategic objectives. Dr. Hall talks about trading his national laboratory career to work in academia at the University of Tennessee. Working for the DSAB combines the best of both worlds.

    Listen to Episode 22 Transcript for Episode 22

  • Desmond Stubbs was an academic late-bloomer. While working as a hotel cater waiter, a chance encounter sparked his pursuit of an academic career in chemistry. In November 2019, Dr. Desmond Stubbs was honored as this year's HBCU Pioneer by the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers. The award is given to those who have dedicated a substantial part of their career to the support of historically black colleges and universities, as well as to other underrepresented groups in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Stubbs is the director of diversity for ORISE, linking HBCUs with opportunities for students at federal research institutions around the country. Join us for a fun and fascinating conversation.

    Listen to Episode 21 Transcript for Episode 21


  • Could immersive virtual reality hold the key to increased flu vaccination rates among adults age 18-49? A study funded by an ORAU-Directed Research and Development grant and published in the journal Vaccine on Monday, December 2, 2019 sought to answer that question. We talked to Karen Carera, PhD, ORAU senior evaluation specialist, and Glen Nowak, principal investigator and director of the Center for Health and Risk Communication headquartered at the University of Georgia's Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. As you will hear in the episode, this ground-breaking research holds great promise and points to the need for more research in this area.

    Listen to Episode 20 Transcript for Episode 20

  • Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate all of the things for which we are grateful. In that spirit, Michael and Jenna turned the microphone over to employees from across ORAU and asked them to share what they are grateful for this year. From all of us at ORAU, Happy Thanksgiving. We hope you enjoy the show.

    Listen to the Gratitude Show Transcript for the Gratitude Show

  • The nation's unemployment rate is at a historic low. Meanwhile, large numbers of people in the federal scientific workforce are at or nearing retirement age. Opportunities may be plentiful for young and aspiring science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) workers, if they're not snatched up by big tech firms first. Michelle Goodson, group manager for workforce solutions at ORAU, talks about the challenges, the opportunities and where ORAU fits in the greening up of the American scientific workforce.

    Listen to Episode 18 Transcript for Episode 18

  • Julia Steed is a senior at Oak Ridge High School. She spent part of her summer alongside Katie Schuman, a research scientist who specializes in artificial intelligence at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Her experience in ORNL's Next Generation STEM Internship Program has fueled Steed's interest in computer science. She and Schuman discuss the research they conducted, the importance of mentorship for young scientists and the importance of the NEXTGENS program.

    Listen to Episode 17 Transcript for Episode 17

  • The ORAU strategic plan is not a hallowed document formulated by a committee of executives and then distributed to employees to follow. Rather, our strategic plan is developed, updated, implemented and thoughtfully discussed using Agile, an iterative, cross-functional approach to project management that relies on input from employees at all levels of the company. In fact, upwards of half of ORAU's employees were involved in the development of the latest strategic plan. Jamey Kennedy, ORAU strategic plan advisor, talks about our process, as well as some lessons about life she learned while on a harrowing trip to Norway in early 2019.

    Listen to Episode 16 Transcript for Episode 16

  • ORAU advances research and education through our very talented subject matter experts and thought leaders, many of whom work with our university partners on a wide range of research projects. In this episode, Arlene Garrison, vice president of university partnerships, and Cathy Fore, director of collaborative initiatives, discuss the history of ORAU's relationships with its university partners, the grant funding mechanisms available through the University Partnerships Office, some of the research being conducted, our new relationship with MITRE Corporation and so much more.

    Listen to Episode 15 Transcript for Episode 15

  • Imagine discussing internship and research opportunities with world-renowned scientists from your laptop or mobile device in the comfort of your living room while wearing pajamas. Virtual career fairs allow applicants to do exactly that, which reduces anxiety for applicants, saves money for organizations looking to place candidates, and lets recruiters spend more time with applicants. Amanda Hurley, ORISE section manager for workforce development, and C.J. Mitchell, social media and digital analyst, discuss the importance of virtual career fairs for ORAU, ORISE and our customers.

    Listen to Episode 14 Transcript for Episode 14

  • Josh Hayes, a doctoral student at Colorado State University, hopes wild boars from Fukushima will help lead to a faster process for determine radiation dose during a radiation incident. In addition to his laboratory research, Hayes has twice been to the forests surrounding the Fukushiima Daiichi nuclear plant, where a major radiation leak occurred in 2011. There, he helps trap and capture the boars used in his research. His work is made possible because of ORAU's Visiting Faculty Research Program.

    Listen to Episode 13 Transcript for Episode 13

  • Janie Kimble and Melissa Jones teach math and science, respectively, at Carlin Combined Schools in rural Carlin, Nevada (population 2,300). They have transformed STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education in their school, from how they teach to offering a STEM Club, a robotics team, and so much more. This transformation is possible thanks in part to the Joint Science and Technology Institute, a two-week residential program for high school students and teachers that exposes them to scientific research through hands-on projects. JSTI is managed by ORISE and is sponsored by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency's Joint Science Technology Office for Chemical and Biological Defense.

    Listen to Episode 12 Transcript for Episode 12

  • Wanda Gamble is vice president of business development at ORAU. With more than 20 years of experience in planning, operations, sales, business development and customer relationship management in the science and technology industry, Wanda is very passionate about her work and ORAU’s mission. Wanda loves social media, is an avowed War Eagle as a graduate of Auburn University, and is a big fan of “Game of Thrones,” as you’ll hear in this wide-ranging and fun conversation. 

    Listen to Episode 11 Transcript for Episode 11

  • Dr. Adayabalam Balajee, technical director for the ORISE Cytogenetic Biodosimetry Laboratory has had a storied research career, including a stint at the National Institutes of Health. In this conversation, Dr. Balajee talks about the important work of the CBL in helping determine whether someone has been exposed to radiation and how much; REAC/TS, the Radiation Emergency Assistance Center/Training Site, which trains medical professionals to respond in the event of a radiation emergency; as well as his research, which includes research with bioprinted tissue. Dr. Balajee's work is fascinating. You don't want to miss this episode!

    Listen to Episode 10 Transcript for Episode 10

  • Keri Cagle, director of peer review for ORAU and the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) uses a lottery analogy to discuss the role of peer review in helping organizations funding research and other grants determine which proposals should get funded. She calls peer review the unsung hero of the research funding and proposal evaluation process. Check out our enlightening conversation on an important and often underappreciated topic.

    Listen to Episode 9 Transcript for Episode 9

  • ORAU's experienced health communication professionals and award-winning evidence-based solutions have helped secure national and global health since 1946. Three of our experts discuss the projects their working on, which seem ripped from today's headlines. Kristin Mattson, Jennifer Reynolds and Diane Krause explore their work with on a CDC School Health Branch social media campaign, extensive opioid work in Appalachia and a social media listening project on vaccination messaging.

    Listen to Episode 8 Transcript for Episode 8

  • Picture it: A passionate science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) teacher discovers all of her educational supplies have been burned or smoke-damaged by a fire in the shed where they were stored. She considers giving up on STEM but her principal tells the teacher to keep her chin up because she just learned the teacher has won a $25,000 prize to build the classroom of her dreams. Renee Powell's story has all the hallmarks of a made-for-cable movie, and it's all true.

    Listen to Episode 7 Transcript for Episode 7

  • Andy Page, President and CEO, talks about his career, and his role as leader of ORAU. On the eve of the company receiving a philanthropy award from the Tennessee Board of Regents, Andy talks about the privilege of being a member of the community and the importance of giving back. ORAU contributes more than $300,000 a year to community and philanthropic initiatives. He also talks a bit about his favorite philanthropic initiative, Extreme Classroom Makeover, where ORAU gives $25,000 to one East Tennessee teacher to make over his or her classroom with new technology.

    Listen to Episode 6 Transcript for Episode 6

  • Jim Vosburg, the director of the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, which is managed by ORAU for the Department of Energy, talks about his varied career, the programs ORISE offers (scientific workforce development, scientific peer review, the Radiation Emergency Assistance Center/Training Site, worker health, and independent cleanup verification) and much more. This is an interesting and fun conversation not to be missed!

    Listen to Episode 5 Transcript for Episode 5

  • Eric Abelquist, executive vice president and chief research officer, discusses ORAU’s research enterprise. He covers everything from our storied history as a research institution to current and future programs that foster research among members of our university consortium as well as our own subject matter experts. There’s much to look forward to in this conversation.

    Listen to Episode 4 Transcript for Episode 4

  • Nice Murphy, ORAU K-12 education group manager, discusses the importance of educating students at a young age and how it correlates with building up the nation’s scientific workforce. She also talks about the value of partnering with businesses and community organizations to ensure STEM education reaches as many young people as possible.

    Listen to Episode 3 Transcript for Episode 3

  • Amanda Hurley, ORAU project manager, recruiter and subject matter expert for recruiting trends and technology, shares her background in marketing and recruiting, gives a great tip on using LinkedIn for finding your next job, and describes how she hunts “purple squirrels,” people with the right skills for difficult-to-fill positions.

    Listen to Episode 2 Transcript for Episode 2

  • Jeffrey R. Miller, Ph.D., CIH, CSP, senior scientist and head of ORAU’s Center for Safety Studies, talks about the subtle but important difference between nuclear safety culture and safety culture. He and his team have asked 30,000 people in the nuclear industry about safety culture, and Jeff talks about what they’ve learned, how he and his team help customers improve their safety culture, and the five dimensions of a strong safety culture. You won’t want to miss it!

    Listen to Episode 1 Transcript for Episode 1

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