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Portraits of UC Davis Unfold Podcast Season 2 Hosts Amy Quinton and Kat Kerlin
Hosts Kat Kerlin (left) and Amy Quinton (right) explore climate change in season 2 of UC Davis' Unfold podcast. (Karin Higgins/UC Davis)

Season 2 — Science & Climate

The Earth’s climate is changing. Temperatures around the world are rising. Traditional weather patterns are shifting, and extreme weather events are happening more often. In Season 2 of Unfold, hosts Amy Quinton and Kat Kerlin will talk to researchers who believe this unprecedented crisis calls for unprecedented solutions, including projects that pull CO2 out of the air. From carbon farming to electric cars, we’ll examine the best ways to transition to a low-carbon future. We’ll travel from California to Kenya to examine how climate change is punishing the world’s poor and how insurance might protect them when drought hits. We’ll also examine what the coronavirus crisis is teaching us about the climate crisis.

Episode 9 — How climate change is punishing the world's poor


In Kenya, climate change is threatening a way of life for pastoralists. It’s driving families deeper into poverty. When drought hits, men travel for weeks in search of water and greener pastures for their livestock herds. The women and children are left behind with no stable source of food or income. UC Davis agricultural economists are researching the pairing of two intervention programs, including a type of climate insurance policy, to keep these vulnerable populations from falling so deep into poverty that they have no way to recover.

In this episode:

Michael Carter, professor of agricultural and resource economics, and director of the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Markets, Risk and Resilience at UC Davis, with research in Kenya funded by USAID.

Tom Lenaruti, Project Coordinator, BOMA Project

Nathan Jenson, economist at the International Livestock Research Institute

Episode transcript

Episode 8 — Transitioning to low-carbon transportation


In California, 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions comes from transportation. Emissions from this sector will make it difficult to meet the state’s 2030 climate goals. There is a myriad of solutions: electric vehicles, public transportation, ride share, e-scooters and more. But people’s behaviors and habits as well as bad land-use planning make this one of the most difficult sectors to decarbonize. In this episode of Unfold, we’ll look at how we can transition to low-carbon transportation.

In this episode: 

Giovanni Circella, Director of 3 Revolutions Future Mobility Program, Institute of Transportation Studies at UC Davis

Lew Fulton, Sustainable Transportation Energy Pathways Program Director, Institute of Transportation Studies at UC Davis

Dan Sperling, founding Director of the Institute of Transportation Studies and California Air Resources Board Member

Episode transcript

Bonus Episode 7 — Decarbonizing energy


A quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions comes from heating and electricity. In this episode of Unfold, we talk with Alissa Kendall, professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering about our energy use. We’ll discuss renewable energy and other decarbonizing technologies and the importance of life-cycle analysis when discussing climate change solutions. 

In this episode:

Alissa Kendall, professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Episode transcript

Episode 6 — Oceans under a changing climate


Oceans have always done us a favor, absorbing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. But now rising greenhouse gases are warming the ocean and changing its chemistry. All of this is putting marine species and ecosystems at risk, threatening food security and the livelihoods of people along its shores. In this episode of Unfold, we’ll take a deep dive into the ocean to examine the effects of climate change.

In this episode:

Priya Shukla, Ph.D. student at Bodega Marine Laboratory, Department of Environmental Science and Policy

Tessa Hill, professor and oceanographer, Bodega Marine Laboratory.

Episode transcript

Episode 5 — Rock dust: a climate change solution?


Agriculture is responsible for 24 percent of our global greenhouse gas emissions. Despite this, UC Davis researchers say agriculture holds huge potential to be one of the biggest solutions to climate change. Carbon farming may hold the key. In this episode of Unfold, we examine how scientists are adding rock dust to crops to see if it can sequester carbon while also increasing yields for farmers.

In this episode:

Ben Houlton, affiliate faculty member, former director of the John Muir Institute of the Environment at UC Davis

Maya Almaraz, program manager in the Houlton Lab and terrestrial biochemist

Iris Holzer, graduate student in the Houlton Lab

Derek Azevedo, executive vice president, Bowles Farming Company in Los Banos, California

George Dias, Specialty Granules in Ione, California

Episode Transcript

Bonus Episode 4 — E-commerce and climate change


It’s so easy. One click of your mouse and you’ve ordered just what you want, delivered to your doorstep in just a few days or even a few hours. Since COVID-19, our online shopping habits, particularly all those groceries, have increased dramatically. What that has meant for our carbon footprint might just surprise you. Miguel Jaller with the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies will unfold all the complexities of e-commerce in this brief bonus episode of Unfold.

In this episode:

Miguel Jaller, Co-director of the Sustainable Freight Research Center at the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies

Episode Transcript

Episode 3 — California wildfires under a changing climate


California wildfires burned millions of acres in 2020, destroying entire towns and killing people. As wildfires become more difficult to control and more deadly, scientists say it will only get worse. Now, wind-driven wildfires like the Santa Anas that Southern California experiences, are moving further north and striking when conditions are hotter and drier. This episode of Unfold examines how fire is changing California’s landscapes and how we might manage this going forward.

In this episode:

Malcolm North, UC Davis associate professor and research forest ecologist, United States Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station

Andrew Latimer professor, Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis

Derek Young, postdoctoral researcher, Andrew Latimer Lab, Department of Plant Sciences

Hugh Safford, affiliate faculty in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy, United States Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region

Emma Underwood, research scientist at the Information Center for the Environment, Department of Environmental Science and Policy

Episode Transcript

Episode 2 — Becoming Arizona


By 2100, Sacramento is expected to feel much like Phoenix, which last year had more than 100 days over 100 F. In this Unfold episode, co-host Kat Kerlin discusses her “Becoming Arizona” series, which looks at how to prepare for a hotter future. We also examine how cities nationwide are dealing with triple threats: rising temperatures, racial inequities and a pandemic. And we’ll discuss the efforts needed to build socially just, climate-resilient communities. 

In this episode:

Mary Cadenasso, professor, and landscape and urban ecologist at UC Davis

Stephen Wheeler, professor of landscape architecture and urban design at UC Davis

Helene Margolis, associate adjunct professor in the Department of Internal Medicine, UC Davis School of Medicine

Adrienne Lawson, senior director for the UC Davis Office for Health Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Victoria Dearborn, graduate student in the Cadenasso Landscape and Urban Ecology Lab 

Victoria Vasquez, South Sacramento NeighborWoods organizer, Sacramento Tree Foundation

Episode Transcript

Episode 1 — Coronavirus and climate change


The coronavirus pandemic stay-at-home orders and lockdowns resulted in a huge drop in global greenhouse gas emissions — the largest reductions since World War II. The reductions were short-lived as the U.S. and other countries opened back up, but there are lessons we can take away from the pandemic about global climate change and how we’re handling both crises. In this episode of Unfold, we look at surprising similarities between the climate crisis and the coronavirus pandemic.   

In this episode:

Fraser Shilling, co-director, Road Ecology Center at UC Davis

Ben Houlton, affiliate faculty member, former director of the John Muir Institute of the Environment at UC Davis

Helene Margolis, associate adjunct professor in the Department of Internal Medicine, UC Davis School of Medicine

Tracey Goldstein, associate director, One Health Institute at UC Davis

Episode transcript

Unfold, a UC Davis podcast that unfolds complicated problems and discusses solutions. Listen to Unfold episodes free, on demand. Hosted by Amy Quinton and Kat Kerlin. It is produced by Cody Drabble. Original music for Unfold comes from UC Davis alumnus Damien Verrett and Curtis Jerome Haynes.


Season 1 — Feeding a Growing Population

Bonus Bite 4 — What happened to flavor?

Breeding for pest and disease resistance in plants is common practice in modern agriculture. Scientists typically focus on breeding for traits that result in higher yields and a longer shelf-life to keep up with supply and demand. But in this Bonus Bite episode, we shift into a conversation about breeding for flavor, a mostly neglected trait up until now. Flavor breeding is considered “the last frontier of plant breeding” by some experts and could bring tastier products to our tables. This episode covers the work of UC Davis researchers in search of a tastier fruit.

In this episode:

Steve Knapp, director of the Strawberry Breeding Program. His research focuses on the breeding, genetics and genomics of strawberries.

Florence Zakharov, flavor expert and associate professor of plant sciences. Her research focuses on the development of fruit aroma and the chemical elements and objective assessment of fruit flavor.

Episode transcript

Bonus Bite 3 — Climate through the grapevine

California wine country tempts visitors from across the globe with its famous fruit. But the California produces more than 80 percent of U.S. wine and comes in fourth in world wine production, generating more than $57 billion in state economic impact. With those numbers, it’s easy to see why it’s important for California’s vineyards to stay healthy. This Bonus Bite episode explores the future of California wine under a changing climate. Grape geneticist Andy Walker chats with Unfold about the role Texas could play in helping California vineyards adapt to warmer temperatures.

In this episode:

Andy Walker, grape breeder, geneticist and professor of viticulture and enology. His research focuses on developing disease and pest-resistant rootstocks, as well as breeding table, raisin and wine grapes with resistance to Pierce’s disease and powdery mildew.

Episode transcript

Bonus Bite 2 — The Father of Wine

California wine country tempts visitors from across the globe with its famous fruit. But the Golden State wouldn’t be able to boast its world-class bounty without UC Davis wine scientist, Maynard Amerine. This Bonus Bite episode centers around the pioneering researcher and his contributions to the California wine industry. The former professor and viticulture chair passed away in 1998 but left behind a legacy of work including his co-development of the Winkler Index, which is still used to determine optimal wine grape growing regions. Amerine is also credited with helping develop an objective way of judging wine quality, elevating the market for wine.

In this episode:

Axel Borg, subject specialist librarian for Researcher Services at the UC Davis Library​.

Episode transcript

Bonus Bite 1 — Stranger beers with Charlie Bamforth

After nearly 40 years in the beer business, Charlie Bamforth holds the crown as “The Pope of Foam.” The now-retired UC Davis professor kicks off Unfold’s first Bonus Bite episode in a light-hearted discussion about the hoppy beverage. Bamforth describes some of the strangest beers he’s come across throughout decades in the business and takes some playful jabs at beer’s rival, wine.

In this episode:

Charlie Bamforth, Anheuser-Busch Endowed Professor of Malting and Brewing Sciences Emeritus.

Episode transcript

Episode 6 — Food politics

As we discussed the topic of how to sustainably feed two billion more people on the planet by 2050, one thing became perfectly clear to us: food is controversial. Everyone has an opinion about what you should or shouldn’t eat and why. In this episode, we explore why we get into heated debates and arguments when we talk about food.

In this episode:

Charlotte Biltekoff, associate professor of American studies and food science and technology at UC Davis. Author of “Eating Right in America: The Cultural Politics of Food and Health.”

Episode transcript

Episode 5 — Is the chicken local?

Imagine you could know exactly where your food comes from, how it was grown, what kind of soil it was grown in and how it was handled and distributed. What if you could find out whether you should eat it based on your dietary needs or how you should cook it based on your own preferences? UC Davis experts are helping build this food information superhighway, known as the Internet of Food. In this episode, we’ll talk to a UC Davis expert working to engineer the new computable infrastructure about how the Internet of Food will help make food more transparent, traceable and personalized.

In this episode:

Matthew Lange, food and health informatician at UC Davis and principal investigator of IC-Foods. He’s assembling, designing and building the Internet of Food.

Episode transcript

Episode 4 — The future of food

Genetic modification may get a lot of consumers’ attention, but plant breeders have newer tools for creating crops. Food that’s been gene-edited using CRISPR is now on store shelves. In this episode, we look at biotechnologies such as gene-editing and CRISPR and how they could potentially help reduce food waste and create higher-yielding or disease-resistant crops. We’ll examine how these new techniques could produce a healthier potato and a longer-lasting tomato. And we’ll look at what  biotechnology could mean for animal agriculture. We’ll talk to UC Davis experts working with these new tools and discuss what their work could mean for the future of food.

In this episode:

Diane Beckles, an associate professor and associate postharvest biochemist. She is researching the molecular factors that lead to postharvest chilling injury in the tomato and other fruit.

Alison Van Eenennaam, extension specialist in animal biotechnology and genomics with the Department of Animal Science. She uses DNA-based biotechnologies in beef cattle production and agriculture systems.

Episode transcript

Episode 3 — You've come a long way, baby carrot

A California carrot farmer invented the baby-cut carrot while trying to reduce food waste. Perhaps he knew that nearly one-third of all the food grown or produced in the world is wasted. In this episode of Unfold, we’ll examine how and why food gets wasted on the farm and in the supply chain. We’ll take you to a landfill to show you what happens to the food that you scrape off your plate. The episode examines the unexpected reasons why we waste so much food and how finding solutions to the problem can help feed a growing population.

In this episode:

Edward Spang, assistant professor of food science and technology. His work focuses on food loss and waste and the efficiency of linked water, energy and food resource systems.

Elizabeth Mitcham, director of the Horticulture Innovation Lab and a UC Davis postharvest expert.

Eric Oddo, program manager, Western Placer County Waste Management Authority

Episode transcript

Episode 2 — GMO, OMG

How much do you know about GMOs? If you’re like most consumers, you’re probably aware of the non-GMO label that appears on so many organic foods. Organic farming and genetic engineering appear be on opposite ends of the political debate in agriculture. But in this episode of Unfold, we talk to two UC Davis experts who believe that organic farming and genetic engineering don’t have to be so antagonistic. They argue a blend of both types of agriculture is key to helping sustainably feed more people.

In This Episode:

  • Pam Ronald, UC Davis professor of plant pathology in the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences
  • Raoul Adamchak, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Coordinator

Episode transcript

Episode 1 — What's the beef with beef?

Cattle have been getting a bad rap as environmentally unfriendly sources of climate-changing greenhouse gases. They belch methane, which is shorter-lived than carbon dioxide but more potent in warming the atmosphere. These facts have advocates urging the public to eat less beef. But animal-sourced food also plays a vital role in global nutrition. In this episode, we look more closely at cattle’s environmental hoofprint and look at how UC Davis scientists are researching ways to make livestock more sustainable.

In This Episode:

  • Pat BrownCEO and founder of Impossible Foods
  • Frank MitloehnerUC Davis Department of Animal Science​ professor and air quality specialist
  • Ermias Kebreab, professor and Sesnon Endowed Chair with the Department of Animal Science
  • Ken Tateprofessor and rangeland watershed management extension specialist

Episode transcript


Unfold - Season 1 Trailer

Listen to Unfold episodes free, on demand. Unfold, a UC Davis podcast. A podcast that unfolds complicated problems and discusses solutions. Hosted by Amy Quinton and Alexa Renee.

CASE Award of Excellence - Gold

From the Judges

This podcast is exceptionally well done, indistinguishable from podcasts being produced by the big names in podcasting. The marketing mix among the social media platforms and website is tightly integrated and beautifully designed. The storytelling in the podcasts and the balance of airtime among the hosts and the UC Davis experts gives you a feel of being at a dinner party with fascinating and insightful individuals who bring you deep into a conversation that opens your perspective and makes you think. The music and ambient sounds provide both "visual" context to the story and also brief pauses to let the provocative ideas sink in.