Reflective Waves: The Office Hours Podcast: Sharing SEISMIC Stories and Successes

By Ashley Atkinson

Edited by Nita Tarchinski

The Office Hours Podcast Series, created and hosted by Sabrina Solanki and Anna James, explores SEISMIC and SEISMIC-related work to help both members and broader audiences learn more about the work being done in STEM higher education. The five episodes of the podcast were filmed in 2021, and I had the opportunity to edit each one in 2022. The episodes are now available on our MiVideo channel, which also hosts videos from our previous events, including annual meetings and the Weeks of SEISMIC. As part of the Reflective Waves series, I asked co-host Solanki if she had time to chat about her experience working on the Office Hours Podcast.

In 2021, Solanki, currently the Research and Program Director for the Postsecondary Education Research & Implementation Institution (PERI²) at the University of California Irvine, was a lecturer within UCI’s School of Education. Being inspired by podcasts she listened to herself, she wondered if there was a way to create her own podcast, featuring experts that discussed topics she taught to her students. “I wanted to provide my students with content that they would find engaging,” Solanki says. In addition to this, her idea was to introduce different perspectives on topics she covered so her students could better understand them. “It gives [students] a chance to hear information from another individual.”

Office Hours Podcast Co-Host

Sabrina Solanki

Office Hours Podcast Co-Host

Anna James

Solanki’s pilot podcast was a hit, and she was motivated by this success. She wanted to create a second podcast, hosting episodes focused on efforts SEISMIC members were engaging with. Solanki invited Anna James, currently Teaching Professor within the Marine Science Institute at the University of California Santa Barbara, to be a co-host on the podcast. At the time, James was a postdoctoral scholar within the Marine Biodiversity Observation Network at UCSB. Additionally, James and Solanki had volunteered to be SEISMIC’s Theme Leaders, who work to develop themes that tie together knowledge gained through projects and encourage collaboration across working groups. Establishing the podcast as an official Theme, the two decided that the aim of the episodes should be to increase the exposure of ongoing efforts within the collaboration.

Together, Solanki and James thought about the current SEISMIC projects and how they could inform members about what their colleagues are doing. At the same time, they also wanted to make the podcast accessible to a broader audience. “We also wanted to have a diverse group,” Solanki says. “Not only asking folks that many members [already] know, but also reaching out to folks that maybe are not as known within the community.”

Filming the podcast episodes themselves was a breeze, Solanki recalls. She enjoyed interviewing guests and having the opportunity to help share research with listeners. “Everyone was so gracious with their time and excited to talk about their research and share their experience with us.” It was also useful to have a co-host to bounce ideas off, and go back-and-forth with during interviews. Additionally, having someone to share hosting responsibilities helped with the overall workload.

The Office Hours Podcast consists of five episodes. Below is a table summarizing each episode:



1: Undergraduate Research

Katelyn Cooper and Nikeetha Farfan D’Souza share their work related to undergraduate research. Cooper discusses persistence in undergraduate research and D’Souza discusses cultural and educational disparities in undergraduate student experiences and research.

2: Mentorship

Mike Wilton and Vanessa Woods provide their perspectives on the significant impact of mentorship in STEM education, emphasizing its role in fostering equity and inclusion.

3: Leadership

Natasha Turman and Brian Sato highlight the value of interdisciplinary collaboration and shared leadership in STEM education. They discuss their insights on building successful teams.

4: Institutional Change

Linda Adler-Kassner discusses her work and shares insights on the role of innovative teaching methods and collaborative efforts in fostering more effective learning environments.

5: Technology in the Classroom

Perry Samson describes two of his projects (LectureTools and Backchannels) that are aimed at enhancing student engagement in large lecture halls.

In addition to learning about the work of many SEISMIC members, Solanki also learned more about the process of creating a podcast. “[The episodes] require a lot of effort on the host, you know, to read about the person and read their material,” Solanki says. While she enjoyed the process and was enthusiastic throughout, she acknowledges that not having a production team increased the workload significantly.

If SEISMIC 2.0 were to have a podcast of its own, Solanki believes it’s important to feature experts from a variety of fields, and keep the content accessible and interesting for a broad audience. However, she acknowledges that this pursuit isn’t without challenges: “What’s hard is finding topics that are enjoyable and interesting to a broad audience.” Still, she believes that by asking members what they’re interested in hearing about and who they’d like to hear from, plenty of suitable interview candidates can be found. “The podcast is less about dissemination of one specific intervention and more about being another way to talk to experts,” Solanki says. As SEISMIC has a diverse community filled with experts in various topics, there are plenty of members to highlight, and I’m hopeful that the opportunity to do that through a podcast comes in SEISMIC 2.0.


Ashley Atkinson

Ashley Atkinson is a Program Assistant for SEISMIC Central, ensuring that SEISMIC initiatives have the help they need to run smoothly. Her primary responsibilities include maintaining the SEISMIC website, managing the Newsletter, and supporting projects. As an alumnus of Michigan State University, Ashley is passionate about equity and inclusion in STEM alongside science communication. She is currently pursuing an MA in Science Writing and Johns Hopkins University.