Bob Barrett

Host/Producer, The Best Of Our Knowledge

Bob has been a part of the WAMC family since 2001.  He currently produces and hosts National Production's The Best Of Our Knowledge.  Over the years, Bob has produced The Environment Show and The Health Show for National Productions and hosted weekend mornings on WAMC for a decade. He is currently a reporter and on air host at WUWF Public Radio at the University of West Florida in Pensacola. 

Ways to Connect

If there’s any occupation that needs continuously updated education it’s medicine. With constant updates and advances, physicians need smart, innovative ways to keep pace. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, a look at new technology and adaptive learning for physicians with Dr. Ulrik Christensen, the Chairman of the Board of Area 9 Learning. He is also a member of the executive management team of McGraw-Hill Education team striving to reimagine education through adaptive and personalized learning.

Usually when we talk about class on this program, it’s one of those things they have in school.  Today, not so much. 

During election season we hear the term middle class thrown around like crazy by all sorts of politicians who have no idea what the term means. Most other time, class is just not something we talk about in the US.  But ignoring the issue doesn’t change the issue…class matters. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk to the author of a new book about class in the US…and a new study which focused on the class divisions in the activist community.

fredricklane.com

How did we ever get along without the internet? 

I’m sure you’ve heard that line more than a few times over the last decade or so. The amount of information on line has been a great tool for educators. But there are also cyber traps that more and more teachers are falling into. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge we’ll talk about the new book “Cyber Traps for Educators”.

Then we’ll meet a student from the UK who has overcome cyber-addiction and is trying to help others do the same.

University of Vermont

Whenever you saw Alan Alda on the big screen or the small, he usually played a practical, well-spoken character who knows how to communicate to the audience.

Now he is working to make sure that scientists around the worlds have those safe communication skills when getting their ideas across to the public. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge we’ll hear about the Alda Center for Scientific Communication…and find out where they are setting up shop.

University of West Florida

Through the years some artists have gotten their inspiration through science.

Scientists getting inspiration through art is another thing all together and could, perhaps, create a whole new discipline. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge we’ll hear from an art professor who uses art as an exo-discipline.

Then we’ll try to find out why an overwhelming majority of students in Veterinary School are woman. And we’ll spend an academic minute exploring the coral reefs.

wordfire.dot

If you were with us last week, you heard a fascinating conversation about the universe and the great cosmic voids of outer space and time.

I figured this week we’d stay out there, only instead of voids we’d have talking robots and laser battles. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge we’ll talk to Kevin J. Anderson, one of the most prolific and bestselling science fiction authors working today.

Then we’ll come back to Earth and hear how student in Oregon are using language to learn just about everything else.

And we’ll spend an academic minute with…uh….writers block.

If you’re a fan of Seinfeld, you know that was always called a show about nothing.

Well we won’t be nearly as funny as Jerry and the gang, but today’s program is about a whole lotta nothing. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk to an astrophysicist and cosmologist, it’s the same guy, about huge spaces in the universe called “cosmic voids”…and see how studying them might bring answers to some very fundamental questions about the universe.

Over the years we’ve heard about the fight against Big Oil, Big Tobacco and, everyone’s favorite, Big Government. Well now we’re hearing about Big Data. Companies are using your data to sell you stuff…but scientists are using it in other ways. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, a discussion on how clinical scientists are using big data.

We’ll also hear how fertility treatments have worked miracles for women and couples trying to have children. But those treatments have also opened up other doors, including the ability to manipulate genes and quote: build a better baby.

Virginia Union University

Black History Month began as Negro History Week back in 1926. It was held the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Fredrick Douglass. It was officially recognized as Black History Month in 1976 as part of the United States Bicentennial Celebration. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll celebrate first with a conversation about historically black colleges and universities in the US with Dr.

Our lives are changing faster than in just about any period in human history. And, if you’ll excuse the pun, that’s not going to change anytime soon. And some of the biggest changes have come from the ways we create, and consume, the arts. While music and literature are now more available than ever, it’s become almost impossible for someone to make the arts their life’s work…at least if they want to keeping, you know, eating.

Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, a look at how the advances of the 21st century are pounding the creative class.

The DREAM Act, legislation that would allow the children of undocumented immigrants to legally remain in the United States and gain resident status, has been introduced into both house of congress various times in various forms since 2001. It has yet to pass, or even be voted on in the senate. President Obama has put some aspects of the act into effect with executive orders, but there are students around the country who still hope the full act will someday become law.

Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we'll hear from a potential "Dreamer".

Arizona passed a law this month that made it the first state in the nation to mandate high school students pass a test in civics. we've been hearing about the decline of civics education for years...and one issue keeps arising: is it possible to keep politics out of civics?

For that matter, is keeping politics out of the classroom a good idea at all?

You may have noticed that as he approaches his final two years in office, President Obama is trying harder to put his imprint on life in the US…and with his recent proposal on making two years college available to everyone, he has started a whole new conversation on the importance of school beyond grade 12.

Today on The Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear about the president’s plan for universal community college.

We’ll also open up the political science classroom and talk about the situation in France with a professor who specialized in European politics.

College costs money.  A lot of money! And that’s one of the many reason that community colleges are becoming more popular with students.  There are over 12 million students enrolled in community colleges in the US. That’s over 45% of all college students. And over the past decade those numbers have been growing. But are community colleges getting the attention…and the money…they need to serve those students?

Today on The Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk about the state of community colleges in the US…and what needs to happen to keep them healthy and growing.

You meet the most interesting people when putting together a radio show. Week after week we get to sit down and chat with remarkable people who have accomplished, well, remarkable things. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we'll look back at a couple who really made an impression.

First we’ll play back our visit with Captain William Shepherd, the first commander of the international space station. Then it’s our chat with a mother and daughter who have written a superhero…where the heroes fight school bullies.

We’ve talked about some pretty important topics this year and as 2014 winds down we’d thought we’d take a couple of weeks and revisit some that really got your attention…and lit up our inbox.

We’ll start with a show from February. Four or five decades ago, a college education wasn't worth that much.  Sure, getting a degree opened a lot of doors and many parents encouraged their children to continue their education...but there were plenty of well paying jobs waiting for people with a high school diploma, or less. Today, that's not nearly the case.

Bob Barrett / WAMC News

43 years ago this month, President Richard Nixon signed the National Cancer Act of 1971, effectively starting the so-called War on Cancer.

The law greatly increased the amount of money earmarked for cancer research and scientific study. So, how’s that war going?

Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, a conversation with the chief science officer of the American Cancer Society about the past, present future of cancer research.

We’ll also visit a high school in Niagara Falls that is devoting a lot of time and money into STEM education.

Mayo Clinic dot org

We’ve talked a lot about genetic testing on this program over the past year or so. The amount of data that can come from the human genome seems to be growing by the day.

And there are companies that are using that data to market genetic tests for home use. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear about a test called 23 and Me…and find out why the FDA has banned it from being used as a genetic health screen in the US.

Even with all the innovations and new teaching techniques schools have introduced in the last few decades, the actual school day has looked pretty much the same.  Students go to class, listen to a teacher and take notes, then are off to do homework or study for an exam.  But there is a trend starting to take hold in some schools that reverses that school day. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear about schools that are flipping classes…and how it has succeeded where other innovations have failed.

Moving from one temporary home to another with an occasional stint living in a car isn't exactly the roadmap to academic success. In fact, it makes it almost impossible. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we'll hear the story of a homeless student in Washington State.

We'll also find out that all those times your teacher told you to sit up straight, well it was good advice. And we'll spend an academic minute separating the good exercise from the not so good.

Ever drive down the road and pass one of those historical markers a lot of places erect and wonder what it's all about?

You can do that a lot...and if you stopped at all of them you'd never really get anywhere. Not to worry and, please excuse me for using this way overused line but...there's an app for that. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we'll talk to the people behind Next Exit History, and learn how a stop for coffee on a road trip turned into nationwide historical database.

Do you remember the movie "Mean Girls"? The screenplay to the 2004 film was written by Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock star Tina Fey, who also had a role in the film.

The movie was a worldwide hit and remains almost a cult favorite 10 years later. But did you know it was based on a non-fiction book called "Queenbees and Wannabees"? Now the author of that book has left the world of girls and has headed over to the boys.

Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, a conversation with author Rosalind Wisemen about her book about boys' world: Masterminds and Wingmen.

Emory University

Emory University in Atlanta is one of the top private universities in the US, with over 14 thousand students and an endowment in the billions.

And in the past few weeks its had something else of national importance: Ebola patients. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we'll talk to some people behind the scenes of treating, and curing, patients with Ebola at Emory.

We'll also hear why the CDC pushing even harder for your school age kids to be vaccinated, follow a family from a life in the fields to life on campus.

The advances made in the past decade or so in genetic testing have been astounding…and research in this area continues to go forward in labs and universities across the country. But there’s another place genetic tests are starting to pop up: homes. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear about the growth of in-home genetic testing and why this d0 it yourself trend may not always be a good idea.

We’ll also hear the story of a couple a veterans who are using training of the mind to leave the battles of war behind.

Princetown University Press

It takes a lot to survive a zombie apocalypse: speed, endurance, cunning…and apparently a working knowledge of calculus.

Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk to the author of the new novel Zombies and Calculus and see why surviving a zombie attack takes brains.

We’ll also hear an essay about running away from your school bully straight into adolescence. I’ll talk to a Florida ROTC teacher who recently wrote a book about how to get into the college of your choice…and pay for it.

Diane Ravitch dot com

It seems like every other day someone in the media is talking about the American education system being "broken". They say it...and everyone nods in agreement. But one of the foremost authorities on education in the US says that public schools are doing fine...the real problem is the  growing trend towards privatization.

Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we'll talk to former US Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch, who calls the privatization movement a Reign of Error.

The Gilded Age in the US has also been called the Golden Age of Journalism. You probably couldn't convince President's Teddy Roosevelt or William Taft of that. Those two men had a special relationship between each other...and with the writers of the day...that defined their time in the White House...and after it.

Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we'll hear from Pulitzer Prize winning author and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin about Taft, Teddy...and the golden age of journalism.

We’ll also spend an academic minute finding out how robots communicate, with each other.

Order the same dish and three different restaurants and you’ll probably get three different flavors. No big deal, right? But it seems if you send a blood sample off to three different clinical labs for test results…you may get three different results.  And that IS a big deal. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk about the need for harmonization of laboratory methods and results.

We’ll also hear an interview with a professor of journalism and government about the need for knowledge-based journalism…and how could we resist that on this program.

University of West Florida

For a political science professor, following the recent vote on Scottish independence was the Olympics and World Cup rolled into one.

And when you start a conversation on the topic…it’s likely the subject will drift a bit. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk to a professor of political science to learn the history and the teachable moments from the vote in Scotland.

We’ll also spend an academic minute with a refreshing walk in the park.

Think back with me now…when was the last time you opened an encyclopedia…and no, Wikipedia doesn’t count. Well there is a fairly new one out that could just save your life…or not. It seems like you can’t listen to the news at all without finding something else that will eventually kill you.  Sunshine, artificial sweeteners, natural sweeteners...there’s no escaping it; they are all gunning for you. And according to this book...it’s even worse than we thought.  Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, a conversation with an author of The Encyclopedia Paranoiaca.

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