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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.

A Specialized IED - Improvised Explosive Device - Clearing Truck

Episode 37: Riding into the danger zone: the work of ORAU’s forensic DNA examiners

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

Episode 36: Love Lives Here: Jill Latchana on balancing work and caring for five kids.

Episode 36: Love Lives Here: Jill Latchana on balancing work and caring for five kids.

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

Episode 35: COVID-19: what do we know now and where do we go from here?

Episode 35: COVID-19: what do we know now and where do we go from here?

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

Episode 34: Contact tracing and COVID-19: What it is and why it's important

Episode 34: Contact tracing and COVID-19: What it is and why it's important

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

Episode 33:  Adventures in telework: ORAU employees share stories of working from home

Episode 33: Adventures in telework: ORAU employees share stories of working from home

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 33 Transcript for Episode 33

Past Episodes

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

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