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

Do you know what a sedimentary scientist does?  If your answer is “not much”, you misheard me.  Not sedentary...sedimentary.  It’s someone who pretty much digs in the dirt and looks for answers. Today on The Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk to a sedimentary scientist and geo-chemist who is searching for the origins on life on Earth..in the Earth.

We’ll also spend an academic minute with plants that don’t need an dirt at all...at least they didn’t a few million years ago.

The Health Show #1272

Aug 17, 2012

In the wake of the mass shootings last month in a movie theater in Colorado, a lot of important questions are being asked.  Many are about guns and gun laws...valid questions that we will not address here.  No, we’re going to talk about another obvious topic in the discussion: mental health.  On today’s Health Show, is there are way to spot a psychopath?

We’ll also talk about the state of children’s hospitals in the US...and find out what vegetarians, who also eat meat, are being asked to try.

OK, here’s a statement that reeks with obvious-ness: Students with diabetes have special needs.  The American Diabetes Association is working to train teachers and staff around the country to help with those needs.  Today on The Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear about the association’s Safe at School program.

We’ll also hear about the scientist who figured out how to study cell division, meet the music man of Durham, North Carolina who keeps band students going with teaching or playing a single note...and spend an academic minute inside your brain.

The Health Show #1271

Aug 10, 2012

Just about every day you are faced with questions about what you eat.  Questions like: Is honey better for you than sugar? Is milk necessary for strong bones?  Are eggs bad for your heart?  And those are just the ones you ask before breakfast!  Now there’s a book that takes your food questions and does some research to find answers.  On today’s Health Show, we’ll talk to the author of “Coffee Is Good For You”.

We’ll also hear the story of an uninsured accident victim’s journey through the health care system...and how she turned it into a one woman show.

Talking about race is never easy.  Talking about inequality among racial groups, and things start getting awkward.  Putting all that into the context of schools and education...congratulations you’ve started an argument.  The fact is that there is educational inequality in the US for many reasons.  Today on The Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll have a conversation about race, culture and inequality in two countries with difficult racial histories: the US and South Africa.

We’ll also spend an academic minute in a galaxy far, far away.

The Health Show #1270

Aug 3, 2012

Surprising reports have been coming in over the past six months or so about people contracting disease from dirty or reused needles.  The surprising part is that these are not IV drug users...these people are medical and dental patients and the injections were from health care professionals.  On today’s Health Show, we’ll talk about the state of injection safety in the US.

We’ll also hear about a new HIV/AIDS drug that’s being touted as a way to prevent infection with the virus.  And we’ll find out which California city is becoming the Golden State’s pot capital.

Some parents dread the empty nest syndrome...that time in life when all their children have graduated school and moved off to make a life of their own.  Hey...some parents look forward to it!  One thing is certain...a whole lot of nests aren’t as empty as they thought.  Today on The Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll college grads moving back in with the folks.

We’ll also spend some time with the new president of the University of Vermont...and spend an academic minute developing a social memory.

The Health Show #1269

Jul 27, 2012

Stop me if you’ve heard about one: Tuberous Sclerosis.  Yup, I don’t see too many people holding up stop signs.  Only a few thousand people in the US are living with this condition, and they know all too well the complications and endless medical procedures it brings along.  On today’s Health Show, we’ll learn about Tuberous Sclerosis.

You learn from your mistakes.  That’s a little nugget of wisdom that’s been passed down through the years...and has the advantage of being true.  At least according to children’s author Barney Saltzberg. Today on The Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear about Saltzberg’s book celebrating the well placed mistake: “Beautiful Oops”.

We’ll also celebrate the 65th anniversary of the best selling children’s books ever: The Little Golden Books.  And we’ll spend an Academic Minute with some young puzzlers.

The Health Show #1268

Jul 20, 2012

Unintended consequences. That’s what seems to be happening to a number of morbidly obese patients who get bariatric surgery...and end up developing problems with alcohol abuse.  On today’s Health Show, we’ll talk to the lead author of a study on the topic and find out if there is any real relationship between weight loss surgery and alcohol use disorders.

We’ll also learn about a company called “A Place For Mom”...who help care givers around the country find the right place for an elder relative in need of special care.

This computer ‘question answering system” took the country by storm when it won on a popular game show.  What is Watson?  Today on The Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear how clinical laboratories are converting this computer technology into Dr. Watson.

We’ll also hear how students with Autism are being given help to make their way independently through life.  Find out about the importance of music education in school...and spend an Academic Minute learning how a musician’s wife paved the way for his lasting musical legacy.

The Health Show #1267

Jul 13, 2012

Think about what a family would have to go through if one of their children needed a heart transplant.  The doctor visits, the waiting for a donor, the surgery and recovery.  Now, multiply that by two.  On today’s Health Show we’ll hear about a pair of brothers in Northern New York who are both living with other people’s hearts...and how they are spreading the word about organ donation.

We’ll also hear from a heart transplant surgeon about what it’s like on the other side of the operating table.  And we’ll learn about an effort by 4-H to keep kids around the country healthy.

Survival of the fittest.  British philosopher Herbert Spencer coined that phrase back in the 18 hundreds and its been used as an interchangeable description of Darwin’s term “natural selection”.  But there are new theories that say life flourished on earth by cooperating...not competing. Today on The Best Of Our Knowledge, our Origins of Life series takes a look at survival of the most cooperative.

The Health Show #1266

Jul 6, 2012

The court challenges are over, the decision has been handed down and now the arguing about the Affordable Care Act is finally over.  Ah, if wishing made it so.  On today’s Health Show we’ll take another look at the Supreme Court’s decision and look ahead to what another 30 or 40 million people with insurance means for the health care system.

Plus we’ll talk to a health provider in Massachusetts about that state’s experience with health reform...and we’ll find out if the country’s farm policy is making us fat.

Today, we’re going to talk about civics.  Now wait, before you get ready for a snooze or worse, change the station...hear me out.  There’s a new book out that says the only way to bridge the education gap between the rich and inner city schools is to realize that there is also a gap in those student’s life experiences.  Today on The Best Of Our Knowledge, why schools should say No Citizen Left Behind.

We’ll also find out why a group known for farm life and education is building robots...and spend an academic minute helping older drivers.

The Health Show #1265

Jun 29, 2012

Medical errors is a pretty general headline on a lot of different problems.  From lost documents and test reports to hospital acquired infections and amputation errors...the problem goes from bad to extremely bad.  And some of the efforts made to solve the problems haven’t really helped.  On today’s Health Show, we’ll talk to an editor of the new book “First Do Less Harm “First, Do Less Harm - Confronting the Inconvenient Problems of Patient Safety”.

We’ll also explore the concept of shared living...and how it’s helping seniors remain independent by relying on each other.

I think it goes without saying that on this program, we value knowledge.  The fact that we put that word in the title of the show is probably a dead giveaway.  But today we are going to hear from a Columbia University professor who thinks that ignorance hasn’t been given its due.  Today on The Best Of Our Knowledge, is ignorance the driving force behind science?

We’ll also head to Minnesota and meet a high school chess champion...and we’ll spend an Academic Minute learning how cooperation is just how us humans roll.

The Health Show #1264

Jun 22, 2012

Nothing like opening up the show with a barrage of numbers...but these are some seriously eye opening numbers.  The Alzheimer’s Association has estimated that by the year 2050, more than 16 million Americans will be living with Alzheimer’s Disease at a cost to the economy of over a trillion dollars...a year.  On today’s Health Show we’ll talk about Alzheimer’s Disease from a scientist’s point of view...and with some people from the association.

You can’t see them...but they’re there.  Billions of microscopic life forms just waiting for their chance to grab hold of something and start to grow.  And that includes you.  Today on The Best Of Our Knowledge, our astrobiology series gets small with a look at the tiniest life on the planet...and how it fares while off the planet.

We’ll also spend an Academic Minute dealing with the issues caused by space travel.

The Health Show #1263

Jun 15, 2012

Remember last year when everyone was talking about vitamin D and the great things it can do for you?  Well there are other vitamins...and every one of them is important to living a healthy life.  Let’s take Vitamin B-12, for example. You can take all the vitamin B-12 you want...if your body can’t absorb it, it’s not doing you a bit of good.  And B-12 is a vitamin that does a lot of good.  On today’s Health Show we’ll talk about vitamin B-12, and the consequences to your body to not getting the amount you need.

Death and English class often go together...and yes, you’re welcome to insert any joke about your English test scores right here.  The fact is when studying English, you encounter death from the first time you pick up Shakespear.  But how often are students encouraged to write about their own experiences with death. Today on The Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear from the author of Death Education In The Writing Classroom.

We’ll also spend an Academic Minute exploring death and a host of other events that can cause grief.

The Health Show #1262

Jun 8, 2012

Is the American health care system being corrupted by big pharma’s endless search for the next blockbuster drug?  That’s what author David Healy thinks and whether or not you agree...the picture he paints isn’t pretty.  On today’s Health Show, is American medicine on its way to Pharmageddon?

Then we’ll hear a compelling commentary about suicide...and the broken hearts and dreams it leaves in its wake.

Making sure a child is getting the best education possible has its challenges...not the least of which is struggling to get through to a child with a history of disruptive behavior.  Finding a way to crack this code of disruptive behavior could make a huge difference.  Today on The Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk about The Behavior Code.

We’ll also find out about a new effort to grade the nation’s school’s of education. And we’ll spend an Academic Minute with some nice, round numbers.

The Health Show #1261

Jun 1, 2012

The first vaccine against Pertussis was developed in the 1930s.  By the 1940s it was being used nationwide and the number of cases of pertussis, or whooping cough began to fall.  But those numbers are now rising and some outbreaks around the country are alarming.  On today’s Health Show, we’ll look at the explosion of whooping cough cases in Washington State.

We’ll also see how a warming climate is affecting the health of elders.

Find out that you’re never too old to donate parts.

And find out why many people get caught in the “fat trap”.

OK, try to wrap your head around this little chain for a minute.  As the population ages, our doctors are ordering more and more labs tests to screen for disease.  So we need more and more labs and lab technicians to perform and read these teats.  But there’s another population that getting older - lab technicians.  Today on The Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear about the coming shortage of laboratorians and what’s being done to train technicians to take their place.

The Health Show #1260

May 25, 2012

The great thing about spring is the chance to get outside and enjoy nature...do some gardening or play some ball.  The bad part about spring is all of the above...because outside and nature is where the ticks are.  Over the past decade or so the number of tick borne disease cases have risen in the US and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.  On today’s Health Show we’ll talk to a public health entomologist about how to protect ourselves from ticks.

There’s a place in northern New York...a girl scout camp in the woods...where, for years, girls have gone to learn about nature and the outdoors...and about the value of loyalty and friendship.  That camp ran into financial problems and had to close, but now a group of the camp's supporters have given it new life. Today on The Best Of Our Knowledge, the story of Camp Little Notch.

We'll also cross the ocean and visit a European kindergarten in the woods...and we'll spend an Academic Minute finding out why western forests in the US are feeling the heat.

The Health Show #1259

May 18, 2012

During the months leading up to the passage of the Affordable Care Act...a lot was heard about the groups who very loudly opposed the bill.  But the major force fighting for the bill was a coalition formed in 2008 called Health Care for America Now.  On today’s Health Show we’ll talk to the man who was a very public face of that group during the campaign for health care reform.

We’ll also learn more about a concept that’s getting a lot of attention in health care circles called the medical home.  And we’ll learn about alcoholism’s lost decade.

A lot of people like to relax on a warm day, puttering around alone in their garden.  However...you might not be as alone as you think.  Today on The Best Of Our Knowledge, our Astrobiology series goes into Microbiology mode to explore the origins of the unseen life around us.

And we'll spend an Academic Minute learning about the complex chemistry that goes into making a gourmet dinner.

The Health Show #1258

May 11, 2012

Diabetes is an important health issue in the US today.  Pregnancy and the complications of pregnancy are also a topics that have always been of great importance.  Put those two issues together and you have gestational diabetes...the number one complication of pregnancy.  On today’s Health Show we’ll talk to a dietician about this growing health problem.

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