SEND ME YOUR DIRT! IAmA Dr. Robert Cichewicz, director of the University of Oklahoma's Citizen Science Soil Collection Program and subject of the 4/6/18 Endless Thread Reddit NPR Podcast. AMA!
I am the director of the University of Oklahoma's Natural Products Discovery Group and the Citizen Science Soil Collection Program. Our researchers have teamed up with the public in a drug discovery partnership. We use the fungi obtained from soil samples collected by volunteer citizen scientists to find new natural products that halt cancer cell growth, stop the spread of infectious pathogens, and kill life-threatening parasites. The data we uncover is made available to the public and for further research purposes. Following a viral Reddit post in 2015, the Citizen Science Soil Collection Program has been featured in various publications including Science Friday, Scientific American, Discover Magazine, and more. Joining me is Aidan, who made the 2015 reddit post. He also participated with me in the April 6th, 2018 episode of NPR's Official Reddit Podcast "Endless Thread", which featured our program.