Unicorns versus Narwhals | I’m on Public Radio!

OK, so this isn’t a new interview, but I thought I would post it retrospectively. In #scicomm class this week we talked about being interviewed. Aaron’s interview is HERE and Sheril has tons of interviews online. We noticed a lot of variation in interviewer skill and how “excited” each of us sounded. Here are a couple things I did that the class agreed worked OK:

  • I tried really really hard to not do the up-voice thing at the end of sentences
  • I said “this is really cool” and “the most exciting thing” as many times as I could
  • I tried to explain jargon on the fly

I did this interview over the phone and I wish I had had a better set up–sound quality makes a huge difference in how good thing sound.

My interview about the mythical “Oxygen-tolerant Nitrogenase” aired on “Stateside” Michigan Radio March 7, 2016 with the following blurb:

  • You could argue that research scientists today chase unicorns: If they are able to prove the existence of some myth, they could make the world a better place. Maren Friesen has done exactly that


I admit it, I like unicorns. (Who doesn’t like unicorns?) But I like narwhals better, because they’re real. I own a stuffed narwhal named Nar-walter. I recently received a narwhal tea-infuser. And a pair of socks with a narwhal crossing horns with a unicorn. But the main message that barely got across in the interview is that we DID NOT find the unicorn. Or rather, we found it and it was a narwhal that doesn’t fix nitrogen in the presence of oxygen.

Narwhal beats Unicorn! Go Science!

It would be really great if there were enzymes that could fix nitrogen without being so sensitive to oxygen, but so far it looks like we need to keep exploring within the classical Mo, V, and Fe enzymes that are known.