Author: VolcaKnowledge Podcast

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A podcast exploring how the world of volcanoes interacts across nature, culture and society
20 Episodes
We finish this season with a focus on training the next generation of geoscience communicators. We're joined by Sharon Backhouse, Director of the GeoTenerife research and training program based in Canary Islands. We talk about the program and also delve into tourism on volcanic islands, geo-sustainability, and public education of risk and hazards. I (Sharon) am a journalist and an ardent lover of communication and the Canary Islands. We set up GeoTenerife over a decade ago to provide quality learning experiences for international students and showcase these dramatic volcanic islands in the Atlantic we are so passionate about. We have evolved into a science training and research company, collaborating with a range of local, national and international institutions and experts, running field trips and training camps.  We make all of our research output freely available online via our project VolcanoStories. We focus on the three hot issues where we believe change is most needed: La Palma and the response to the 2021 eruption and reconstruction; volcanic readiness in the Canary Islands and sustainable tourism. We self-funded Lava Bombs, a film about the impacts of the 2021 eruption in Cumbre Vieja, to enable the lessons learned here to travel far and wide to advocate for change in the face of any future event. Shortly we will release Lava Bombs 2 on the reconstruction.  As a communicator, I strive to forge communication links between the key stakeholders: politicians, scientists, emergency managers, residents and the press. We all speak and hear differently, and it's vital to ensure messaging is helpful, particularly in times of crisis. We run free courses and events for residents, and interactive sessions where they can meet and question decisionmakers. We were at IAVCEI in New Zealand to show and run a panel discussion on Lava Bombs and will run various sessions at COV12 to bring all those voices to stakeholders in Guatemala and the wider community. The topics we tackle are emotive and difficult, but we advocate for constructive discussion and listening to ensure all viewpoints are respected and strive for change where necessary. All our training courses include a SciComm training element. Science is at its best when it's unlocked from closed academic circles at the service of the people. We empower our students to go out into the world and communicate effectively across boundaries. Website: VolcanoStories: Socials - Instagram, X, Facebook, YouTube, TikTok: @GeoTenerife Lava  YouTube:
What was your first geology or earth science class? Did you have someone that was an influence in your path? We're joined by community college geology professor Edith Rojas to talk about her personal journey from Nicaragua to the USA, changing career paths, and now passing on geological inspiration to a new diverse generation. Edith Rojas Salazar (she/her/ella) is an associate professor of Geology at College of the Desert. Edith’s area of expertise is volcanics and geochronology. Professor Rojas is a dynamic force in the geology field nestled in the picturesque Coachella Valley. As a passionate Latina Immigrant, professor Rojas brings a unique perspective to her role, infusing her love for science with a commitment to diversity and accessibility. Her dedication extends beyond the classroom as she engages in science communication initiatives,  striving to break down barriers and make STEM fields more inclusive.  Instagram: @Latina_geologist X: @LatinaGeologist
Did you know that there are volcanoes in Australia?! Well, it's time to take a journey down under for fascinating insight into the history of Australia's volcanoes, the importance of indigenous aboriginal history, and bringing together that knowledge with new physical scientific data.... and Dr. Heather Handley is the perfect guide for this journey! Dr. Heather Handley is an Associate Professor Volcanic Hazards and Geoscience Communication, University of Twente and Adjunct Associate Professor Monash University. Heather’s research takes a multidisciplinary approach to better understand how volcanoes work in order to reduce the risk from volcanic hazards. She is Co-Founder of the Earth Futures Festival, an international film and video festival uniting the arts and science to showcase the role of geoscience in sustainable development. Heather strongly advocates for Women in STEM, diversity and inclusion and is Co-Founder and Inaugural President of the Women in Earth and Environmental Science Australasia (@WOMEESA) Network. In her spare time she is writing a book on Australia’s little known but absolutely amazing volcanoes.  Twitter: @heatherkhandley @FacultyITC @MonashEAE Website:
Video games and volcanoes... who knew?! Ed and Jazmin take us through their gaming experiences as trained volcano scientists, and how they blended their two loves into educational research assessing the accuracy of geology in video games. No surprise, some are more accurate than others! What memories of volcanoes do YOU have in video games? Ed McGowan (he/him) is a PhD researcher at the University of Leicester. His project focuses on using geochemistry to correlate ancient caldera-forming pyroclastic flow deposits and determine their source vent location within the English Lake District. Additionally, Ed investigates geology within popular video games and how they could be used as an educational tool. Twitter - @The_Volcano_Guy Blue Sky - @thevolcanoguy Website – Dr Jazmin Scarlett (she/her) is a Flood Resilience Officer, involved helping communities prepare, respond and recover from flooding, maintenance of the flood warning service and reviewing flood alert and warning thresholds and assisting the Area Incident Team in emergency management. BlueSky - Video Games and volcanoes: Paper - Blogpost - Paper -
Iceland is a country of great volcanic interest with three eruptions in one area since 2021, which has been a hotspot for tourism. We speak with Jorge Montalvo about educating and informing the public safely in one of the most popular volcanic countries in the world. Let's meet Jorge - Geologist, Secondary School Teacher, and Science Communicator. I am a Colombian-born Icelandic geologist with a lot of interest in Natural Hazards (particularly volcanic hazards) and how to mitigate their negative impact on vulnerable populations. My inspirations for this career path were the eruptions at Nevado del Ruiz in 1985 and Heimaey in 1973. In recent years, I have been mostly involved in research and teaching at High School level here in Iceland. I am currently on a slightly different path but aiming at, eventually, making my way into Civil Protection. IG: @gordo21is Twitter: @gordo21_Island ResearchGate: Jorge Montalvo-Jónsson LinkedIn: Jorge Montalvo
We're joined this week by Anais Vásconez Müller from Ecuador to talk about a personal journey from growing up inside a volcanic caldera to becoming a volcanologist working at a observatory studying the same volcano! What a circle! My name is Anais Vásconez Müller (she/her) and I am a German-Ecuadorian hybrid who after an internship at IG-EPN in Ecuador in 2016 decided that I wanted to be a volcanologist. Since I had spent lots of my childhood inside the Pululahua crater, I wrote both my bachelor's and my master's theses about this volcanic complex. Two years after obtaining a MSc in Volcanology at the University of Bristol, in 2022, I finally got the job I had been aiming for at IG-EPN and now work on monitoring and analyzing volcanic ash. ResearchGate:
It's time for our first DOUBLE-GUEST episode! We're joined by geoscience communication specialists Wendy Bohon and Beth Bartel to talk all about the importance of science communication and training scientists to convey their messages to the public, especially when it comes to natural hazards! Dr. Wendy Bohon (she/her) is an earthquakes geologist who studies earthquakes and works to improve the communication of science. In particular, she is interested in improving the communication of hazard and risk before, during and after rapid onset geologic hazards like earthquakes. Website: Socials: @DrWendyRocks TikTok: @Dr.WendyRocksIt Dr. Beth Bartel (she/her) is a social volcanologist and studies communication and decision-making processes for risk reduction in response to natural hazards. She specializes in volcanoes and the people who live and work around them. Her favorite plate boundary is a subduction zone! Website: Socials: @EatTheCrust
In episode 3, Monique Johnson from the University of West Indies Seismic Research Centre (UWI-SRC) talks to us about the challenges and rewards of community education and training, and working with local children on volcanic islands. Monique Johnson (she/her) is an Earth scientist exploring the impacts of geological hazards in the Caribbean including the barriers and capacities for disaster risk reduction in Caribbean Societies. She has spent the last 15 years supporting communities living with geo-hazards through projects with regional development agencies and collaborators towards the implementation of climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction strategies. Her focus has also been on improving science communication, building community engagement and participation. Monique is currently exploring interdisciplinary and participatory methods to improve understanding of how Afro-indigenous communities navigate risk at the intersection of the socio-political, geological and ecological landscapes. Changing landscapes: Instagram @changinglandscapessvg
In our first guest episode of season 2, Robin George Andrews takes us into the wild weird world of science journalism. How do you write a compelling and truthful story about volcanoes for the general public?! Dr. Robin George Andrews (he/him) is a freelance science journalist with a doctorate in volcanology. He is often found writing about the Earth, space, and planetary sciences for the Atlantic, the New York Times, Quanta Magazine, National Geographic, Scientific American, the Washington Post, Vox, and many others. In 2022, he was awarded the EGU’s Angela Croome Award for continued excellence in science journalism and the AGU’s David Perlman Award for Excellence in Science Writing—News. He is the author of two books: Super Volcanoes (2021) and the upcoming How to Kill An Asteroid (2024). He lives in London, UK. Website: Instagram / Twitter(X)
After a year away, we're FINALLY back with a whole new season! Our host Sam Mitchell will be chatting with our producer Huw James, reviewing last season and teasing some of the exciting topics coming up in this new season! We'll also take a dive into some volcanic activity over the last few years and the new direction we'll be going on... VolcaKnowledge is a podcast all about how volcanoes interact across nature, culture and society, hosted by volcanologist Samuel Mitchell and produced by science presenter Huw James.  Every week will feature a new guest exploring their unique work and experiences with volcanoes all around our planet and beyond! You can find out more information about VolcaKnowledge through our website: ⁠⁠ And get to know more about Sam and Huw through their websites: ⁠⁠ and ⁠
In our final episode for Series 1, we're stepping off this world as Dr. Natalie Starkey takes us on a journey to volcanic activity across the solar system, and how she came to write a book all about it: Fire and Ice. Dr Natalie Starkey (she/her) is an accomplished science communicator and currently an Outreach and Public Engagement Officer for Physical Sciences at The Open University. Natalie’s work focusses on promoting the physical sciences to under-represented groups by using outreach and public engagement activities in schools and public settings. Natalie moved into science communication following a decade-long research career focussing on geology and space science. She has since written two popular science books on space science, Catching Stardust and Fire & Ice, as well as writing popular science articles for leading publications. Natalie has hosted shows for Neil deGrasse Tyson’s popular StarTalk Radio in New York on which she is also a regular science expert guest, and has appeared on television and radio as a science expert and presenter. In 2019 Natalie was the scriptwriter for the Hayden Planetarium’s space show, Worlds Beyond Earth, at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, crafting the narrative of the show which was narrated by the award-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o. Website: Instagram/Twitter/Facebook: @StarkeyStardust Books: Catching Stardust: Fire & Ice:
In this episode, we talk with Professor Christopher Jackson about the power of TV, media, and public lectures, as outreach tools to engage people from all backgrounds with the geosciences. Join us for a special discussion that takes us to the summit of one of Earth's largest lava lakes! Chris Jackson (he/him/his) is Chair in Sustainable Geoscience at the University of Manchester. Chris works in the general area of sedimentary basin analysis. When not studying rocks, Chris gives geoscience lectures to the public and in schools, having appeared on several, Earth Science-focused, television productions and podcasts. Chris is engaged in efforts to improve equality, diversity, and inclusivity in Higher Education. Royal Institution Christmas Lecture 2020: Expedition Volcano (BBC): Audible series: Twitter: Instagram:
In this episode, we talk to Dr. Natasha Dowey (she/her) about her journey through the geoscience industry, work as a volcanologist, and the developing of networks to address issues and the future of geoscience and sustainable development. Natasha Dowey is a geoscientist passionate about hazard analysis, geoscience for sustainable development, and equity in geoscience. Her career has taken some twists, with a PhD in volcanology leading to a seven-year career as a research geoscientist in the energy sector. She returned to academia in 2019 as a Lecturer in Geology at the University of Hull, and joined the team at Sheffield Hallam University in 2021. She is currently Course Lead of Sheffield Hallam's Environmental Science degree. In her spare time, she leads the Geoscience for the Future initiative, is trustee of the charity Geology for Global Development, and does her best to juggle academia, parenthood and as much time outdoors in the Peak District as possible. Twitter: website: insta/twitter: VOICES: GfGD:
In this episode, Dr. Jeffrey Marlow takes us from the inside of lava lake craters to the bottom of the oceans to tell us about the extreme environments that life can develop AND thrive. Microbes can actually live right next to lava lakes!! Dr. Jeffrey Marlow (he/him) is an Assistant Professor of Biology at Boston University, where his lab studies microorganisms inhabiting some of Earth's most extreme environments, from the deep sea to active volcanoes. He is particularly interested in mapping the metabolic activity and interactions of distinct cells using microscopy and stable isotope probing approaches. Dr. Marlow is also a science writer, a science policy advisor, and the executive director of the Ad Astra Academy, an educational organization that harnesses the power of exploration to inspire young learners around the world. Marlow Lab website: Twitter page: Lab instagram: Marum lava lake research:
In this episode, Sam speaks with Dr. Cansu Culha about her combined passions of dance and science, and turning volcanic processes and earth science into an art form. What would your research look like if you danced it?! Dr. Cansu Culha (she/her) earned her B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley and her Ph.D. from Stanford University in geophysics. She researches fluid and thermodynamic processes in Earth Sciences. One of her favourite applications is in understanding volcanic processes. Her mother is from the foothills of Erciyez Volcano in Turkey, and thus, her ancestral relationship with volcanoes fuels her excitement and curiosity for researching them. Ironically, her first time seeing a volcanic eruption was after she defended her Ph.D. thesis on volcanic processes. Dr. Culha’s research spans a wide range of topics, from lava flow mechanics to magma reservoir convection. Her research has been recognized through various awards like the Lieberman and NSF’s Graduate Research Fellowship Awards, but she is most honoured to be working with other budding scientists. In addition to her research efforts, she has co-founded an initiative called Art as Science Communication Initiative (Art-SCI), where members find creative ways to engage with their research and communicate them to others. Instagram: @cansu44 Twitter: @CansuCulha2 Website: Art-SCI: Apokalani music: Kumu Pa'a i Ka 'Aina:
In this episode, Sam talks to Diamond Tachera about how volcanoes have influenced the native history, culture, education, and even water supply, of the Hawaiian Islands for thousands of years. Diamond Tachera (she|her) is a PhD candidate in the Department of Earth Sciences in the School of Ocean and Earth Sciences and Technology (SOEST) at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. She is kanaka ʻōiwi (Native Hawaiian), born and raised on the island of Oʻahu. Her dissertation focuses on the geochemical changes of water as it moves through the water cycle, to better understand the source, flow, and interconnectivity of aquifers in Hawaiʻi. She is also very passionate about linking her Hawaiian heritage and culture within her scientific work in geology and hydrology. Instagram: @dmndkt Website:
In this episode, Sam talks with Leif Karlstrom about his work combining geophysical signals (from geysers and volcanoes) with visualization and sonification, inspired by his background as a musician. Who knew that the Earth made such amazing music?! Dr. Leif Karlstrom (he/him), University of Oregon,  is an associate professor in the Department of Earth Sciences. He studies fluid motions in and on volcanoes, landscape evolution, glaciology, and geodynamics. Leif also has an active professional music career as a classically trained violinist. Personal website: , VLP site: , twitter handle: @VolcanoListener
In this episode, Sam talks to Dr Jazmin Scarlett (She/Her) about seeing volcanic eruptions through the eyes of history, social science, and local island communities. Jazmin takes us on a personal journey of how her research on past eruptions can help communities today. Dr Jazmin Scarlett is a Historical and Social Volcanologist, researching how people lived in the past and the present with active volcanoes. Previous research has researched the people and volcanoes of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Montserrat, Germany and Italy. She also has interests in heritage studies, hazard analysis, disaster studies concepts and theories and science communication and outreach pedagogy. Dr Scarlett did her undergraduate in BSc (Hons) Geography and Natural Hazards at Coventry University, MSc Volcanology and Geological Hazards at Lancaster University and PhD in Earth Science at the University of Hull. She has been a visiting researcher at Aarhus University in Denmark, previously a Lecturer in Physical Geography at Newcastle University and is currently working for Queen Mary University of London in Student Support. Blog: Twitter: @scarlett_jazmin
In this episode, Sam talks to Dr. Janine Krippner about the advantages and challenges of communicating volcano science and natural hazards through the world of social media. There are more volcanologists on Twitter than you might have thought! Dr Janine Krippner (she/her) is a volcanologist based in New Zealand, working remotely for the Global Volcanism Program as well as projects on Ngauruhoe volcano (Mount Doom!) with the University of Waikato. Her passions are all things volcanoes and helping people understand what they do and how to stay safe. On top of her job, her communication work includes a blog, a podcast, a YouTube video series, media interviews, and using platforms like Twitter to connect with people about this beautiful yet dangerous part of life on our planet. Twitter: Website: Youtube: Blog: Global Volcanism Program:
Welcome to VolcaKnowledge! A new podcast all about how volcanoes interact across nature, culture and society, hosted by volcanologist Sam Mitchell and produced by science presenter Huw James.  Every week will feature a new guest exploring their unique work and experiences with volcanoes all around our planet and beyond! In this episode, Sam and Huw talk about the inspiration behind this podcast series, their personal connections to the world of volcanoes, and what volcanoes mean to us as a society. You can find out more information about VolcaKnowledge through our website: And get to know more about Sam and Huw through their websites: and