The Center for Africana Studies is a resource housed in the College of Arts and Sciences but available for all Oklahoma State University students, faculty and staff to gain knowledge about Africa and its Diaspora. That obviously covers a lot, so the center’s new director, Dr. Erica Townsend-Bell from the Department of Political Science, has a big job. We talk about that, race-related issues in America and globally, and why the terms used on the Census form are more important than you might think.

Dr. Toby Nelson, an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry, was inspired by his hometown hero – Ronald McNair, the second Black astronaut. Dr. Nelson talks about that and how he is working with RPX Technologies, a Stillwater-based company founded by OSU alumni, to save lives with a product called DRACO. And he explains his view that chemistry is awesome, with highlights from his other research areas, which are based on melanin. You will learn that it can do a whole lot more than you think.


Lori Allen Walke earned a 2005 political science degree and a 2006 master’s in health care administration at OSU, where she was a Cowgirl basketball player and Miss OSU. She went on to earn a law degree and passed the Oklahoma Bar exam, but changed her career path and completed a Master of Divinity. After becoming an ordained minister, she added a Doctor of Ministry. Today she is the Senior Pastor at Mayflower Congregational Church in Oklahoma City. We talk about lessons she learned at OSU, what it’s like being married to a politician, and how the couple advocates for what they believe in. She also tells the story of how the final seconds of her basketball career became one of the best feel-good moments in the history of Gallagher-Iba Arena.

Hannah Ratigan was the type of student who walked around campus when she had free time – which was rare. So the way her undergraduate experience finished, with COVID-19 restrictions, was especially disappointing for her. As the Orange Gown Recipient for the College of Arts and Sciences, she did enjoy leading her peers in the School of Media and Strategic Communications to their smaller ceremony. We talk about what strategic communication is, her philanthropic work and how a fateful trip to Chipotle changed her life.

Jason Collington is a Stillwater native who grew up reading the Tulsa World. After his 1998 graduation from OSU in what is now the School of Media and Strategic Communications, he worked for the Associated Press before being hired by the World. He spent the next 21 years climbing the company’s ladder, reaching the top to became the publication’s new editor on Oct. 1, 2020. About 60 days later, we talked about the future of journalism, his goals for the Tulsa World, and his advice for up and coming communicators. He also explained why he tells everyone they should be a quitter.

Imagine you work at a nonprofit, where the hours are long, the cause is so big that it can feel overwhelming, and the pay is less than what is available in the corporate world. But you believe so deeply in the idea of nonprofits that you decide to leave your job, which has been stable for a decade, to start your own business, partnering with nonprofits to increase the amount of good they do. And then, as your approach the date of this career transition, a global pandemic causes an economic recession. Would you still make the leap? Becky Endicott and Jon McCoy, a pair of CAS alumni, did. On January 1, they left the Integris Foundation to create We are for Good, which produces podcasts and courses along with its for-hire services in branding and design, storytelling and writing, and consulting. They started with a bang, debuting at No. 1 on Apple Podcast’s chart of nonprofit podcasts. We talk about why they went ahead and made the leap, how OSU helped prepare them for success, and what they wished more people understood about the world of nonprofits.


We are in the midst of a national conversation about many topics related to the American legal system. Though virtually everyone agrees that a just system is ideal, there are disagreements over how fair our current system is and what changes might improve it. Michelle Estes, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Sociology, conducts research on wrongful convictions. We talk about what happens to people who have been exonerated, how they were wrongfully convicted in the first place, and what they want people to know about them.

As COVID-19 became a global pandemic, Governor Kevin Stitt asked experts across Oklahoma to create models projecting how it would affect the state. One of those models came from a team at OSU, which included Mindy McCann, head of the Department of Statistics. She joined us to talk about the difficulty of making predictions about COVID-19, how much confidence we should have in the data, what it shows about the effectiveness of masks, and the importance of critical thinking.

Jennifer Rudd has studied pandemics and respiratory infectious diseases for years. She is a CAS biology graduate who went on to earn two more degrees at OSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine, where she is now a faculty member. After completing her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, she practiced for years before returning to OSU to pursue a doctorate in respiratory infectious diseases. Her research focuses on the excessive immune response seen with pandemic viral pneumonias and ways to improve clinical outcomes through targeting the immune response. We talk about the best way to end this pandemic, what makes COVID-19 unique, and why you should put a veterinarian on your zombie apocalypse team.