I’m Dan Riskin, biologist turned Animal Planet/Discovery presenter (Monsters Inside Me; Daily Planet). AMA about science outreach, the biomechanics of bats, or the morbid kinkiness of Mother Nature.
I did my PhD at Cornell on the way vampire bats walk and run, then followed that up with a postdoc at Brown looking at bat flight, landing, and maneuvering. I really thought I was headed down the traditional science path, on my way to becoming a professor somewhere.
Along the way, though, I helped out with a TV show on Animal Panet called Monsters Inside Me, explaining all kinds of gross and fascinating things about parasites—like how botfly maggots like to burrow into the back of your head, or how foot-long worms can live in your butt. To promote the show, I was invited as a guest on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, and he’s since had me back five more times.
In 2011 I left academics to become a full-time co-host on Discovery Canada’s daily hour-long science show, Daily Planet. I also make multiple appearances each week on Canadian news shows to talk about science, and this year I published my first book, Mother Nature is Trying to Kill You, about the dirty things that happen in nature, like orangutans eating the brains of slow lorises, caterpillars launching their poop at 4.3 feet per second, and spiders ripping their own genitals off mid-mating.
This isn’t where I thought I’d be when I started grad school, but I’m sure having fun! AMA.
Hey everyone. This has been GREAT, but I have to go tape a show. I'll check in later this afternoon to try to answer more questions. In the meantime, please check out my book Mother Nature is Trying to Kill You. Thanks for the great questions. Bye for now!
Update: I'm back. Let's do this...
OK. I'm burned out. This has been a blast. It's been wonderful to hear about all the people who got turned to science by Monsters Inside Me and by Daily Planet. That honestly means so much to me, and to the people I work with every day. Thanks for those stories.
We should do this again some time. Until then, you don't have to buy my book, but please do recommend it to all your profs/teachers as a compulsory textbook. ;-) Wow. Front page. What a day. Thanks so much everyone. Bye for now!