Paw'd Defiance: The UW Tacoma Podcast

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The title of our show is more than just a clever play on words. The name reflects a philosophy, one that is committed to telling interesting stories about the people, research, initiatives, community partnerships and other issues related to UW Tacoma and higher education. It also speaks to our interest in the greater Tacoma community. Point Defiance is inexorably linked to the Grit City. Also, “defiance” is a fun word and, either intentionally or not, speaks to Tacoma's history as the “other” city in the Puget Sound region.

Thank you to Doug Mackey at Moon Yard Recording Studio for his recording support and Senior Lecturer Nicole Blair for our theme music. The first season of this podcast was made possible by funding from the UW Tacoma Strategic Initiative Fund.

You can find Paw'd Defiance on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, Pocket Casts and Spotify. You can also click here to listen: Paw'd Defiance




Brendan Nelson, president, Hilltop Action Coalition


Loving Hilltop

Hilltop Action Coalition President Brendan Nelson has spent most of his life living in or near Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood. Nelson serves in a volunteer position with the Hilltop Action Coalition. In his regular job, Nelson works for Tacoma’s Peace Lutheran Church. In this episode, Nelson talks about his love of the Hilltop. He also discusses the issues facing the neighborhood including lack of affordable housing, rising home prices, and gentrification.

UW Tacoma Professor Carolyn West


Violence, Sexuality and Black Women

UW Tacoma Professor Carolyn West has spent her career looking at issues affecting Black women. In her early career, she focused on domestic violence and how larger forces like historical trauma play a role in domestic violence perpetrated against Black women. In this episode, we talk about West's research into intimate partner violence. We also talk about her work as an expert witness in court cases involving intimate partner violence. Finally, West talks about how Black women are portrayed in the media and what impact these tropes and stereotypes have on Black women and on society as a whole.

Paw'd Defiance, the UW Tacoma podcast


Three Questions

This mini-episode is part of a much longer episode we plan on airing during Earth Week in April. We asked faculty, students, and staff at all three University of Washington campuses to answer some questions related to sustainability. First, we asked folks to give their definition of sustainability. Next, how has the pandemic impacted their ability to be sustainable? And finally, in what ways are they practicing sustainability in their day-to-day lives. We’ll hear everyone’s responses in full during our Earth Week podcast in which we explore sustainability and the challenges of being sustainable during a pandemic.

Paw'd Defiance, the UW Tacoma podcast


The Black Student Union at UW Tacoma

Black Student Unions took root on college campuses across the country in the mid to late 1960s. These student organizations provided connection but they were also a potent force in the push to reform higher education. Students in Black Student Unions held sit-ins and protests to demand greater representation both in the classroom and in the curriculum. In this episode, we hear about the founding of UW Tacoma's Black Student Union through a collection of oral histories. These stories were collected by the UW Tacoma library as part of its UW Tacoma Oral History: Founding Stories project. Founding Stories is a growing collection that captures the first-hand accounts and perspectives of individuals who played significant roles in the shaping of the campus community and identity.

'The Book of Andy' title image


All the World’ a (Virtual) Stage

“The Book of Andy,” by playwright Michael J. Mejia, is UW Tacoma’s first virtual theater performance. The play will be presented as chapters on successive Saturdays starting Feb. 13. In this episode, five cast members, including four UW Tacoma students, talk about what it’s like putting together a virtual performance. The group discusses the challenges and opportunities that come when the stage is also one’s home. The performances are free and open to the public but you’ll need to register via the Tacoma Arts Live website. (Running time: 23:40)

Illustration of 2020


The Longest Year: Part III

This is the last in our series of reflections about 2020. In this episode, we’ll hear from UW Tacoma’s Lorraine Dinnel, Joel Larson, and Maria Tania Bandes B. Weingarden as they discuss everything from remodeling a home to building a home office, to organizing a virtual theater performance and completing a doctorate. (Running time: 25:19)

Book cover - Becoming Nisei, by Lisa Hoffman and Mary Hanneman


Becoming Nisei

In this episode, we discuss the thriving Japanese community that lived in Tacoma prior to World War II with UW Tacoma Professor Lisa Hoffman and UW Tacoma Associate Professor Mary Hanneman. Hoffman and Hanneman have written a new book called “Becoming Nisei: Japanese American Urban Lives in Prewar Tacoma.” The book is a result of a years-long project to document and preserve the experience of Japanese immigrants and their descendants in Tacoma. We’ll talk about what brought immigrants from Japan to Tacoma, what life was like for their children, and how their history was almost erased both during and after World War II. (Running time: 52:46)

UW Medicine Assistant Dean Edwin Lindo


Racism, Medicine and the COVID-19 Vaccine

Medicine has played a key role in the development of racist ideas, policies, and practices. Swedish scientist Carl Linnaeus developed a system of organizing plants and animals known as taxonomy. Linnaeus and other scientists used taxonomy to disseminate racist ideas about those who weren’t white. In this episode, we talk about Linnaeus with University of Washington Assistant Dean Edwin Lindo. We also talk about other historical examples of medical racism and how these ideas still impact medicine and the larger society. Finally, we discuss how this history impacts the current effort to vaccinate members of Black and Brown communities against COVID-19. (Running time: 42:25)

Illustration of 2020


2020: The Course

2020 is over, but the impact of the chaotic, stressful, and challenging year remains. The University of Washington did something unique. Vice Provost and Dean of Academic Affairs Ed Taylor pulled together a course about 2020 that allowed students to analyze the year in real-time. The course was offered in the fall across all three campuses and featured lectures from UW Tacoma faculty. Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Success Bonnie Becker participated as did Assistant Professor Sharon Laing, and Professor Carolyn West. In this episode, Becker and Laing talk about the course and how 2020 impacted both their personal and professional lives. (Running time: 53:29)

Illustration of 2020


The Longest Year: Part II

2020 is over, but many of the issues we faced last year remain with us. In this episode, members of the UW Tacoma community reflect on their 2020. They talk about loss and loneliness but they also tell us about starting a new job, growing a garden, and reconnecting with friends and family. (Running time: 38:49)

TeyAnjulee Leon, UW Tacoma completion coach


The Longest Year: Part I

We’re devoting the next few episodes to 2020. This has been a challenging year and we wanted to spend some time thinking about what we experienced during the past 12 months. In this episode, we hear from UW Tacoma Completion Coach TeyAnjulee Leon. Leon is frank in her assessment of 2020. She calls this the “hardest year of her life.” Leon recounts with blunt honesty her struggle with anxiety and depression. She also discusses her experience as a Black woman and mother of two small children. (Running time: 21:38)

UW Tacoma alumna Hien Hong


Yoga, Meditation and Representation

UW Tacoma alumna Hien Hong teaches yoga and meditation in the Tacoma area. Her courses are geared toward members of the BIPOC community. We’ll talk with Hong about the lack of diversity in the wellness community. We’ll also talk about how she’s tackling these issues head-on through the courses she offers. (Running time: 25:53)

Sticker reading "I Voted"


The Sacred and Deeply Personal Act of Voting

In this episode members of the UW Tacoma community talk about why they vote and why they think voting is important. For some, it’s civic duty, while for others voting is a way to honor those who’ve gone before. Their stories take us to North Korea and to the Jim Crow-era South and serve to remind us why voting is so important. (Running time: 11:42)

UW Tacoma Reads The Raven


UW Tacoma Reads The Raven

In this episode of the pod, “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe. This relatively short piece — it’s only 100 lines — of narrative poetry was first published back in 1845. “The Raven” was the 19th century equivalent of a viral sensation. There are stories that children would follow Poe around and flap their arms like wings until he turned and exclaimed “Nevermore.” The poem remains popular today. ”The Raven” has been referenced in “The Simpsons” and there”s even an NFL team named after it. Well, we”ve decided to put our own spin on this classic tale of loss, grief, and possible descent into madness. A group of 18 UW Tacoma faculty, staff, and alumni came together to read sections of “The Raven.” (Running time: 11:09)

UW Tacoma alumna and staffer Ashley Walker


Ashley Walker is Enough

In this episode of the podcast, we discuss identity, perfectionism, and higher education with UW Tacoma Academic Advisor Ashley Walker. A self-described, "multi-racial mother of two," Walker holds both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from UW Tacoma. Her success wasn’t easy. Walker had to overcome societal expectations and lingering self-doubt to get to where she is today. (Running time: 27:14)

Scary neon jack-o-lantern-type face.


The Monstrous

From villains with razorblade gloves to mad scientists and everything in between, the monstrous, or monsters, are big business. The horror genre is very popular but behind the jump-out-of-your-seat scares and the gore lies something else. In this episode, we'll talk about the monstrous with UW Tacoma Associate Professor Ingrid Walker and UW Tacoma alumnus Dustin Annis. Walker teaches a course called "Monstrous Imagination." We'll delve into what monster stories say about us as individuals and as a culture. We'll also discuss what these stories can teach us.  (Running time: 43:13)

Jevin West, Associate Professor, University of Washington Information School


Misinformation & The Election

The 2020 election is fast approaching. As the race heats up, so too does the level of disinformation. In this episode, we talk with Jevin West. West is the director of the University of Washington's Center for an Informed Public. West and his team study misinformation. We'll discuss the misinformation surrounding mail-in voting. We'll also talk about deep fakes and the very real possibility that it may take a while to determine who won the presidential election and how bad actors might take advantage of this situation to undermine the results. Finally, we talk about the corrosive role misinformation plays in society.  (Running time: 47:26)

Tacoma community activist Katrina Johnson, cousin to Charleena Lyles, who was shot and killed by Seattle Police.


In the Vanguard

Katrina Johnson planned on becoming a nurse. Instead, she has become a public figure in the movement to bring more accountability to policing. In 2017, Johnson's cousin Charleena Lyles was shot and killed by Seattle Police who were responding to a burglary call made by Ms. Lyles. The shooting prompted Johnson to get involved in police reform. In this episode Johnson talks about her role in helping turn Initiative 940 into law as well as her role on Governor Jay Inslee's task force. Johnson also talks about how her life has changed in the last three years and what life is like in the spotlight. (Running time: 23:33)

UW Tacoma alumnus Omari Amili


Changing the Narrative

Omari Amili earned a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from UW Tacoma. He is the author of three books — a memoir and two children’s books. Amili is a sought after speaker and regularly gives talks through Humanities Washington. Amili grew up in poverty. His parents struggled with drug addiction. The young Amili bounced around from place to place. He attended 15 different schools before dropping out. Amili got involved with a check cashing scheme and ended up serving time in prison. In this episode we talk about Amili’s childhood, his books and how he found success post-incarceration. We’ll also discuss his love of basketball, including a time Charles Barkely bought him dinner. (Running time: 35:46)

UW Tacoma Assistant Professor Sharon Laing and UW Associate Professor Wendy Barrington


Racism is a Public Health Crisis": Part II

The COVID-19 pandemic laid bare the inequities built into the U.S. healthcare system. In this episode of the podcast we continue our conversation with UW Tacoma Assistant Professor Sharon Laing and UW Associate Profesor Wendy Barrington. We talk specifically about how the pandemic has disproportionately impacted communities of color. Laing and Barrington also discuss the health impacts of racism and why racism should be deemed a public health crisis. (Running time: 35:23)

UW Tacoma Assistant Professor Sharon Laing and UW Associate Professor Wendy Barrington


Racism is a Public Health Crisis": Part I

On this episode of the podcast we talk about the social determinants of health with UW Tacoma Assistant Professor Sharon Laing and UW Associate Professor Wendy Barrington. Laing and Barrington research how different factors, including racism, impact a person's health. We'll talk about how racist policies and practicies negatively impact health outcomes for people of color. These outcomes include higher instances of certain diseases and a lower average life expectancy. (Running time: 37:14)

Paw'd Defiance Logo


For the Good

Pro Bono means 'for the good.' In this sense we're talking about the public good or the common good. In this episode of the podcast we talk UW Tacoma Legal Pathways Director Patricia Sully and Tacomaprobono's Ashley Duckworth. Tacomaprobono provides free legal services to Pierce County residents. We'll talk about those services and as well as the different career opportunities within the legal field. We'll also address the pandemic and the looming eviction crisis as states across the country, including Washington, lift moratoriums on evictions.  (Running time: 37:15)

*Note: This episode was recorded before Governor Inslee extended the eviction moratorium until October 15.

UW Tacoma Associate Professor Jane Compson



UW Tacoma Associate Professor Jane Compson joins us to talk about mindfulness. Compson researches mindfulness and has created a program to help caregivers manage stress. We'll talk about her work and her efforts to incorporate mindfulness into the classroom. Compson will also walk us through a short mindfulness meditation. (Running time: 37:23)

Tacoma Urban League President & CEO T'wina Nobles


Make Black Count

The Tacoma Urban League has been serving the Grit City for more than 50 years.The Urban League's mission is "to assist African Americans and other underserved urban residents in the achievement of social equality and economic independence." In this episode we talk with the Urban League's President & CEO T'wina Nobles about differrent programs and services the organization offers. We also discuss the Black Lives Matter Movement, the effort to Make Black Count and how Nobles overcame homelessness and hardship to get to where she is today.  (Running time: 55:11)

Former Tacoma Mayor Harold Moss


“Where Was I Gonna Go?”

Harold Moss is a local icon. The civil rights advocate and businessman became Tacoma's first African-American mayor in 1994. Moss recently sat down with UW Tacoma part-time lecturer Kim Davenport to talk about his life, including his experiences with racism in Tacoma and the death of George Floyd. (Running time: 46:53)

A graduation cap


Cause for Celebration?

In this episode we hear from three members of the class of 2020. Raihab Baig, Aaron Johnson and Stacey Fernandez reflect on their time at UWT. They also discuss the challenges of this past quarter as COVID-19 forced all instruction to go online. Finally, the three talk about graduating from college at a time of so much uncertainty. (Running time: 28:02)

A graduation cap


Congratulating the Class of 2020

This is a special episode of the podcast. We asked the UW Tacoma community to help us congratulate the class of 2020. A number of faculty, staff and even some parents responded with their messages. Enjoy! (Running time: 21:52)


Talking About the Hard Stuff

The COVID-19 pandemic brought out the best in people and the worst. In this episode we talk about racism directed at members of the Asian American community. We spoke with students, faculty and staff at UW Tacoma to get their perspectives on racist insults and attacks targeting Asian Americans. Rachel Endo, the Dean of UW Tacoma’s School of Education helps put what we’re seeing now into a larger historical perspective. Staff Psychologist and avid runner Paolo Laraño discusses racism he’s experienced while out for a jog. He also discusses the murder of fellow runner Ahmaud Arbery. Finally, UW Tacoma students Melissa Atienza and Joseph Daynot provide insight into their everyday experiences as Asian Americans.  (Running time: 55:43)


Archiving The Sounds of The American West

Jeff Rice is the Managing Editor at the Puget Sound Institute at the University of Washington Tacoma. As a wildlife sound recordist, he serves as the program director for the Acoustic Atlas, one of the largest online archives of sounds of the American West. Rice has a background in journalism and public radio, as well as an MFA in Electronic Music and Recording Media. Rice has successfully found a way to marry his love for nature, storytelling and audio engineering in his work while also making an impact on the world around him.   (Running time: 17:14)

Riki Thompson


Survival Dating

In this episode we chat with Riki Thompson. Thompson is an Associate Professor of Rhetoric and Writing Studies at UW Tacoma. We talk with Thompson about her research into online dating, specifically what makes a "good" profile as well as the differences between how men and women use online dates sites and apps. In the second part of the conversation we talk about how "survival dating" during the COVID-19 pandemic.  (Running time: 38:21)


Finding a Silver Lining Part 2 - COVID Connections

A follow up to the episode "Finding a Silver Lining In a Time of Pandemic," host Sarah Smith reconnects with friends overseas in Spain, Australia and Norway again to find out what's changed in their country, how they've adapted to life during a pandemic, and their perceptions of what's happening here in America. A big thanks to Nick Roden, Ph.D., Leslie Ihnot, Raul Moran and Anne Chappel for their contributions to this podcast.  (Running time: 20:25)

Maria-Tania Bandes-Becerra Weingarden


Crowded Isolation

Like a lot of people, UW Tacoma Lecturer Maria-Tania Bandes-Becerra Weingarden is working from home right now. And, like a lot of us, Bandes-Becerra Weingarden is figuring out how to find a work-life balance when work and life happen all in the same space. In this episode she talks about living in a house with six other people. Bandes-Becerra Weingarden also discusses her thoughts about the future of theater, concerns for her mother in Nicaragua, the mental ups and downs of life in a pandemic and, finally, a never ending pile of laundry that threatens to consume all of her time.  (Running time: 27:32)

Jevin West, Associate Professor, University of Washington Information School


Misinformation & COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has created what the World Health Organization calls an "infodemic." Technology has made it possible for information to travel quickly around the world. Combine that with a virus that isn't fully understood and you get a information ecosystem where it can be difficult to separate fact from fiction. In this episode we talk with Dr. Jevin West. West is the Director of the University of Washington's Center for an Informed Public. The center studies misinformation and works to promote an informed society while strengthening democratic discourse. West talks about the role misinformation has played in our current public health crisis. He also discusses conspiracy theories surrounding COVID-19 as well as advice on how to judge whether a source is reliable or not.  This episode also features a commercial for the different funds UW Tacoma has created to help students during this crisis.  (Running time: 43:52)

Tony Perone, UW Tacoma School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences


Keep Giving & Loving

In this episode we hand over the microphone to UW Tacoma Lecturer Tony Perone and his mom Magda. Madga is a nurse in Yonkers, New York. She's spent the past few months helping patients with COVID-19. The conversation between mother and son is, at times, sad but it's also loving and even joyful. Magda talks about what it's like to be with a person during their final hours and she reflects on her decision, at age 40, to pursue her dream of becoming a nurse.  (Running time: 12:03)

Robin Evans-Agnew


Environmental Justice in the Time of COVID-19

On this episode of the podcast with UW Tacoma Associate Professor Robin Evans-Agnew. Evans-Agnew researches asthma and environmental justice. He's part of a project along with Assistant Professor Christopher Schell called Voices Unbound. Voices Unbound uses different methods, including post cards and podcasts to get input about environmental issues from groups that are often ignored by policymakers. In this episode Evans-Agnew talks with People for An Environmentally Friendly Kenmore (PERK) about an asphalt plant on Lake Washington. PERK maintains the plant impacts air quality in the area and has been working for years to fix the situation. Governor Inslee's stay at home order and the closure of non-essential businesses opened up a new front in their efforts to improve air quality in the Kenmore area.  (Running time: 23:39)



Finding a Silver Lining in a Time of Pandemic

Over the past few weeks, we've collectively experience a pandemic that's required a strength and resourcefulness many of us didn't know we were capable of. We've made sacrifices, moved our lives indoors, and we're still unsure of what's to come.

Host Sarah Smith: "Since I started at UWT, life has become busier, and as a result, I've lost touch with some friends. But when the realities of life with COVID-19 started to sink in, I thought about all those people, and I was worried about them. Especially my friends overseas. I wondered, what was it like where they lived? Could they still go outside? Were they having shortages in their grocery stores? Could they find toilet paper? But most importantly, were they safe and well? I decided to reach out and give them a call. Actually, a Zoom call that I recorded."

Raul lives in Madrid, Spain - a city that's been hit hard by the coronavirus. Nick and Leslie live in Bergen, Norway, a city that's a few weeks behind our timeline in the U.S. Anne lives in Adelaide, Australia and shares a story from her family's history of living through the flu pandemic in 1919. We wanted to share these conversations to inspire our UW Tacoma community to reconnect with their loved ones and find the silver lining in a time of pandemic, because we're all in this together.   (Running time: 28:45)

Tamiko Nimura and Rosa Franklin


Lift As You Climb

Rosa Franklin is a local icon. She was the first black woman elected to the Washington State Senate, serving the 29th Legislative District in the Tacoma area. Born in the Jim Crow-era South, Franklin moved to Tacoma in the 1950s. Franklin holds bachelor's degrees in biology and English and a master's in social science and human relations. She worked as a nurse for 40 years before joining the Washington State Legislature in 1990. Franklin recently teamed up with local historian Tamiko Nimura on a new book, an oral history called Rosa Franklin — A Life in Health Care, Public Service, and Social Justice. In this episode we'll talk with Franklin and Nimura. We'll discuss Franklin's life growing up with her aunt and uncle in South Carolina as well as her career in nursing and why she decided to run for office. We'll also talk about the housing discrimination Franklin faced when she first moved to Tacoma. Finally, Nimura tells us about what drew her to this project and why oral histories are so important.  (Running time: 40:54)

Robin Minthorn


Indigenizing Higher Education

UW Tacoma Ed.D. Director Robin Starr Zape-tah-hol-ah Minthorn (Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma, Apache, Nez Perce, Umatilla and Assiniboine) recently wrote an article for Higher Education Today where she discussed ways colleges and universities can better meet the needs of its Indigenous students. We'll talk about her recommendations. We'll also discuss a paper Minthorn co-wrote about a theoretical campus tour that provides a fuller understanding of an institution's history. Finally, Minthorn discusses a new agreement between UW Tacoma's School of Education and the Muckleshoot Tribe.   (Running time: 34:04)




We're joined by UW Tacoma Associate Professor David Coon and Destiny City Film Festival's Executive Director Emily Nakada-Alm to discuss how movies play a part in shaping our culture, and the way our social identities are reflected in and affected by the movies we watch. We'll also talk about film festivals as an important format for storytelling outside of the media industry, as well as what makes a movie "good."   (Running time: 33:25)

Mother and child


Motherhood (Part II)

UW Tacoma Associate Professor Natalie Jolly and Assistant Professor Sarah Hampson join us to talk about their research. Both Jolly and Hampson have looked into life in the military for mothers. We'll discuss their work and we'll also get into a conversation about motherism, the wage gap, the new Paid Family & Medical Leave act in Washington State and the possibility of having the Equal Rights Amendment added to the United States Constitution.   (Running time: 34:54)

Washington Black book cover


Novel Idea

A common book is used by colleges and universities to get students on the same page - literally. The idea is to have students in different classes read the same book. UW Tacoma used to employ common books but shelved the idea a few years ago. The project has been revised with a particular emphasis on creating community. Indeed, the renewed effort is referred to as the "community book." In this episode we'll talk with UW Tacoma Lecturer Annie Nguyen about this year's community book Washington Black by Esi Edugyan. We'll discuss why this book was chosen and plans to host the book's author on campus.  (Running time: 11:29)

Ali Modarres


What to Inherit, What to Leave Behind

The importance of the U.S. Census, how cities are built and life growing up in Iran are just some of the topics covered during this episode with UW Assistant Chancellor for Community Partnerships Ali Modarres. Modarres is well-known in the Sound Sound. Besides being an assistant chancellor, Modarres serves as Director of the School of Urban Studies at UW Tacoma. Modarres is an expert on cities, specifically how they're built and who they're built for. He has focused a significant portion of his public scholarship on economic development through an equity lens. Modarres is also on the board of the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation and has been active in helping that organization spread the word about how the census impacts Pierce County.  (Running time: 45:35)

Thanksgiving table spread


Dawg Tales - Tradition

A Thanksgiving dinner gone awry, a homemade game of Jeopardy devoted to better understanding one's family and an ornament collection that's been growing steadily for nearly 30 years. These are just some of the stories told to us by UW Tacoma students, faculty and staff. Everyone now and then we're going to hand over the microphone and ask you to tell us a story around a certain theme. We're calling this series Dawg Tales. For this first episode in the series we decided to focus on stories about tradition.  (Running time: 18:53)

Parking lot


Finding A Spot: Parking at UW Tacoma

In this episode we talk about parking in and around UW Tacoma with Associate Director of Maintenance & Operations Tessa Coleman, Program Operations Manager James Sinding and ASUWT President Vincent Da. UW Tacoma's urban setting presents different challenges and limitations when it comes to parking. We talk about those. We also discuss a new parking lot that is scheduled to open in the spring along with other possible solutions that could help open up spots on campus. Finally, we chat about a new transportation survey that students, faculty and staff are encouraged to complete.  (Running time: 22:50)

Mother and child


Motherhood (Part I)

UW Tacoma Associate Professor Natalie Jolly and UW Tacoma Lecturer Annie Nguyen talk about the role of motherhood in the United States. Jolly and Nguyen are both mothers and discuss their experiences as working mothers. They also discuss how motherhood is viewed in the Amish community and in other parts of the world. Finally, Jolly and Nguyen address what changes need to be made to better support mothers and parents in general who are either working or going to school.  (Running time: 34:18)

Polluted lake


Arsenic and Old Lakes

The Asarco smelter shutdown more than 30 years ago but the plant's legacy is still being felt. Lead and arsenic emitted from the smelter's smokestack contaminated the soil and found its way into local lakes. UW Tacoma Associate Professor Jim Gawel joins us to discuss his work. Gawel and a team of researchers is examining arsenic in local lakes including Lake Killarney in Federal Way. Gawel will also talk about the importance of getting students into the field and the chair in his office that's so nice no one will sit in it.  (Running time: 29:31)

Bonus material: Why is Jim Gawel considered the Susan Lucci of Pies? EPISODE 24

Wildfire smoke in Downtown Tacoma


Climate Change in the Pacific Northwest

Warmer temperatures and rising sea levels are only part of the story when it comes to climate change in the Pacific Northwest. Decreased mountain snow pack could lead to drought and more wildfires. On the flip side, heavy rains may lead to more frequent and intense flooding. We'll talk about the local impact of climate change and climate resiliency with the University of Washington's Amy Snover. Snover serves as both director of the Climate Impacts Group and university director of the Northwest Climate Adaptation Science Center. She is also an affiliate associate professor. Joining us in the conversation is UW Tacoma Senior Lecturer Ellen Moore.  (Running time: 40:31)

Bonus material: Ellen Moore talks about her experience as a scholar activist. EPISODE 23

Speak Lushootseed sign


Learning Lushootseed

The Lushootseed Language Institute (LLI) is a collaboration between the Puyallup Tribe of Indians and UW Tacoma's Professional Development Center. The LLI is one part of the Puyallup Tribe's larger effort to revitalize Lushootseed. Up until the early 1800s, Lushootseed was the only language spoken by indigenous peoples living in an area from present day Olympia in the south to Skagit Valley in the north. The Puget Sound and the Cascade Mountains provided the eastern and western borders. In this episode we hand over the microphone to UW Tacoma student and Puyallup Tribe member Shelby Cross as she works her way through the LLI. We'll hear her struggles and successes as well as her personal reasons for wanting to learn Lushootseed.  (Running time: 14:48)

Math Science Leadership Program logo


Water is Life

On this special episode of Paw'd Defiance we hand over the microphone as students and staff in UW Tacoma's Math Science Leadership program explore Mt. Rainier. MSL serves youth in grades 7-12 that are historically underrepresented in STEM. The program works to connect students to different STEM fields through activities and field work. MSL is traditionally held over a three-week period in the summer. This year is a bit different. Students spent a week on campus and at different locations around the area exploring the idea that "water is life." They will return to this idea during two day sessions in the winter and spring. Note: this is a field recording so expect to hear some wind and other natural sounds in the background.  (Running time: 11:23)

Tamandua pup from Point Defiance Zoo


It's All Happening at the Zoo

Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium's Alan Varsik and Karen Povey stop by the show to talk about conservation and sustainability. Varsik and Povey also discuss misconceptions people have about zoos. Varsik weighs in on recent changes to the Endangered Species Act and Povey provides background information the Grit City Carnivore Project. The project is a collaboration with UW Tacoma Assistant Professor Chris Schell.   (Running time: 43:37)

Bonus material: Read about Assistant Professor Christopher Schell's research on urban wildlife

Altaf Merchant and Katherine Felts


A Green Cookie Monster

Think back to your childhood or a time in your life you really enjoyed. What do you see? Chances are your memories of that particular time are attached to a song, movie, product, etc. Nostalgia can be a powerful feeling which is why companies use it in their advertising. UW Tacoma Assistant Professor Altaf Merchant studies nostalgia. He'll discuss how it works and how study participants responded to the idea of a green Cookie Monster.   (Running time: 35:05)

Bonus material: Should Cookie Monster adopt a healthy lifestyle or continue to indulge? Insights into brand icons

Ben Meiches


Room for Debate

A conversation about debate with UW Tacoma Assistant Professor Ben Meiches. Meiches is a former national debate champion. Meiches along with UW Tacoma junior Zaira Rojas and UW Tacoma alumnus Eric Ballentine talk about the importance of debate in terms of skill development and how they're working to break down barriers in a space that has historically excluded people of color. Rojas and Ballentine will also the settle the age old argument about which is better: dogs or cats.   (Running time: 32:41)

Bonus material: Assistant Professor Meiches talks about his new book which discusses how the defintion of the word genocide has changed over timeEPISODE 17

Kim Davenport


Grit City Music History

UW Tacoma Lecturer Kim Davenport takes us on a magical history tour of music in the City of Destiny. Davenport is a professional musician who has written articles and books about different aspects of Tacoma's history, including music. We'll hear some original recordings of Tacoma booster songs which were designed to bring people to the city. Davenport will also discuss different artists who lived in Tacoma as well as famous artists who played here.   (Running time: 31:57)

Bonus material: Read more about Tacoma music history

Lori Tharps


Hair That Won't Be Quiet

The history of Black hair in the United States with Temple University Associate Professor Lori Tharps. Tharps co-wrote the book Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America with Ayana Byrd. Tharps' work has been featured in the New York Times,, The Columbia Journalism Review and Time Magazine. She also hosts the podcast My American Meltingpot. Tharps and guest host Katherine Felts discuss the importance of hair in African communities prior to contact with Europeans. Slavery and institutional racism in the United States transformed what it meant to have Black hair. The cultural revolution of the 1960s ushered in a new era of pride in Black hair. Tharps and Felts discuss this and the current natural hair movement.   (Running time: 57:56)



Winter, Spring, Summer, Fire and Fall

Wildfire season is here. During each of the past two summers a thick blanket of smoke from wildfires covered large parts of Western Washington. Thousands of wildfires in the American West and Canada burned millions of acres. UW Tacoma Assistant Professor Maureen Kennedy talks about how climate change has contributed to a prolonged fire season. She'll also talk about the role of fire in forests and how fire suppression practices that were created to protect forests lead to larger and more destructive wildfires.   (Running time: 29:57)



Using a Robot to Measure Stress in Teens

UW Tacoma Assistant Professor Emma Rose and UW Tacoma student Christina Nelson discuss Project EMAR, a social robot designed to help address teen stress. Project EMAR (Ecological Momentary Assessment Robot) is a cross campus partnership between UW Tacoma and UW Seattle. Rose and Nelson will talk about why they decided to use a robot to help with teen stress and how they are involving teens in the design process.   (Running time: 31:09)

Bonus material: Read more about EMAR and the research that is helping teens



Microplastics in the Water

UW Tacoma Senior Lecturer Julie Masura along with student researchers Tracie Barry and Abby Deaton talk about their work with microplastics in the waters of the Pacific Northwest. Masura's work in this area began a few years ago. She helped pioneer a method for collecting and analyzing microplastics that is used around the world. Masura also discusses the role students play in advancing research at UW Tacoma.  (Running time: 29:18)

Bonus material: Listen to Julie Masura talk about her love for jigsaw puzzlesEpisode 11

Omari Amili


Building a Prison to College Pipeline

UW Tacoma Assistant Professor Chris Beasley and UW Tacoma alumnus Omari Amili talk about their experience with incarceration. Beasley and Amili turned their lives around and are now working to build a prison to college pipeline. They discuss the challenges formerly incarcerated people face. Beasley and Amili also talk about the challenge of making college more accessible to those who served time in jail or prison.  (Running time: 45:55)

Bonus material: Watch Omari's TacTalks presentation on how he turned his life around

Fence image


Credible Fear

UW Tacoma Professor Marian Harris and graduate student Zea Mendoza spent a week helping women and children at the family detention center in Dilley, Texas prepare for their credible fear hearings. Harris and Mendoza talk about their experience at the facility including what they saw and heard. They also talk about how the work impacted them on a personal level.  (Running time: 40:29)

Bonus material: Listen to a summary of this episode in Spanish.

Scales of justice image


Community Builders

During the past year a group of UW Tacoma students have worked to organize an immigration conference on campus. The result is "Our Tacoma Story: Education, Advocacy and Building Communities". Among other things, the two day event will feature a legal clinic where participants can speak with an immigration attorney. There will also be a panel featuring Washington State Supreme Court Justice Steven Gonzalez and Senator Claire Wilson. During this episode UW Tacoma student Karla Michelle Vargas will talk about her personal reasons for wanting to host this conference and what she hopes the community will take from it. Assistant Professor Sarah Hampson offers insight into the budding law community on campus.  (Running time: 18:33)

Bonus material: Listen to a summary of this episode en Espanõl. Episode 7

UW Tacoma Assistant Professor Ellen Bayer running in the snow.


The Ultra-Marathon Educator

UW Tacoma Assistant Professor Ellen Bayer has a passion for the outdoors. Bayer's love of nature guides her work both in and out of the classroom. She teaches literature courses at UW Tacoma and leads her students on excursions into the natural world. Bayer recounts the story of a student who'd looked at Mt. Rainier her entire life but had never actually seen the mountain up close. This experience lead Bayer to include field trips in her curriculum. Finally, Bayer discusses why she took up running in her mid-thirties and recounts the difficulties she faced while competing in her first 100-mile ultra-marathon. (Running time: 34:48)

Photo: Glenn Tachiyama

Bonus material: Dr. Bayer explains the connection between Edgar Allan Poe and English Ivy.

T Rex is staring at you


A Podcast Episode 65 Million Years in the Making

UW Tacoma Assistant Professors Uba Backonja and Christopher Schell discuss their mutual love of the 1993 film Jurassic Park. Schell and Backonja credit the movie for cultivating their love of science. The pair also talk about their career paths and how students in college now can find inspiration in unlikely places. Oh, and there's at least one dinosaur impression.  (Running time: 30:19)

Bonus material: See Christopher's Jurassic Park sweater

First Gen Fellows graphic


Be the First

Amanda Figueroa, Director of Student Transition Programs, and Yanira Pacheco Ortiz, First Generation Student Initiatives Coordinator, talk about what it means to be a first-generation college student. Figueroa and Pacheco Ortiz relay their experiences as first-generation students and discuss ways in which universities can support students who are the first in their families to attend college.  (Running time: 35:54)

Bonus material: Meet some of our first-generation students, faculty and staff

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Generous and Welcoming

UW Tacoma Assistant Professor Danica Miller and her father, Puyallup Tribal Chairman Bill Sterud come to the studio to talk about the Indigenous history of the Tacoma area. Miller and Sterud provide context to our historical understanding of the area by discussing, among other things, the Medicine Creek Treaty and the Boldt decision. UW Tacoma sits on ancestral Puyallup land. Miller and Sterud talk about the campus' founding and how that revitalized the Downtown area.  (Running time: 54:11)

Bonus material: You can learn Lushootseed this summer and help keep the language alive

The opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of the University of Washington or UW Tacoma.