Inspired in Higher Ed podcast

With the many exciting and innovative projects and research happening all over campus, it can be difficult to keep up. Faculty members Hayley Blackburn, Ph.D., and Grant Clayton, Ph.D., are making it a little easier to stay informed with their podcast “Inspired in Higher Ed.”

The show features episodes of about a half hour with each focusing on a different faculty member and research concentration. Their debut had Kelli Klebe, Ph.D., of the Psychology Department, as the episode guest with a conversation centered around statistics.

“One of the things I’ve always enjoyed about higher education was really smart people researching interesting problems,” said Clayton. “This seemed a great way to share the great things people on campus are doing.”

Other episodes have featured Jon Caudill, Ph.D., speaking about criminal justice, Anna Faria, Ph.D., on economics and Emily Skop, Ph. D., in a conversation about geography. The show often has accompanying publications that complement the topics and are cited for those interested in diving deeper into a subject, while the 30-minute episode length gives listeners a concise overview of each topic and acts as a starting point.

“Our guests have ​done ​an amazing ​job ​making topics – sometimes really technical ones – accessible,” noted Clayton. “And ​Hayley’s done ​an ​amazing ​job ​of including the ​actual ​academic ​articles for those wanting that deeply ​academic ​backbone and to explore the finer nuances, but editing our episodes to be super accessible and fun.”

Though Blackburn and Clayton’s dynamic gives the impression that they’ve worked together for years, theirs is a newer partnership that began when Clayton approached Blackburn with the idea for a podcast.

“I ​was ​listening to this NPR research ​segment ​and ​thought, ‘​we ​should ​totally ​do ​this ​for ​UCCS,’ but focus on all different areas on campus,” said Clayton. “I felt Hayley would be perfect with her technical communication background and reached out to her with this hairbrained scheme. ​I ​think ​she’d ​met ​me probably half ​a ​dozen ​times ​total, ​and ​I threw the idea out there, figuring there was a good chance I ​scared ​her ​off.”

Despite Clayton’s concerns, Blackburn met his enthusiasm and came back with plenty of ideas and suggestions.

“Next thing ​I ​know, ​she has ​all ​these ​great ​ideas and ​she ​had just ​ran ​with it, already planning things with the framework and infrastructure,” Clayton laughed. “And I thought, ‘yes, ​this ​is ​the ​right ​partner. ​She ​knows ​what ​this ​stuff ​means.'”

“I ​was ​so ​excited ​and ​just ​really ​grateful ​that ​he ​brought ​the ​idea ​and saw ​some ​potential ​in ​me ​as ​well,” said Blackburn. “​My ​​dissertation ​had ​been ​on ​podcast ​culture, ​and ​I’d mentioned ​that ​in ​some ​of ​the ​meetings ​Grant ​and I ​had. It’s ​one ​thing ​to ​have ​studied ​and written ​about ​people ​producing ​podcasts, and another ​to ​do ​it ​in ​that ​applied ​sense. ​But it’s ​been ​exciting ​to ​bring ​the ​highly academic ​version ​into ​this ​​applied ​version ​of ​my ​knowledge, and ​to ​then ​circle ​back ​around ​and ​reinforce, ​teach ​and ​share ​all ​this ​really ​cool ​academic ​knowledge.”

“​I ​keep ​​saying, ‘​I ​really ​appreciate ​your ​boldness,’ ​because ​I ​just ​walked ​up ​and ​said, ​’do ​you ​want ​to ​do ​something ​completely ​out ​of ​the ​ordinary?​’ And ​she ​went ​along ​with ​it,” added Clayton.

The pair plans to continue the podcast for the foreseeable future, with upcoming interviews lined up and a goal to release at least one episode per month. With all the content and extra material left on the cutting room floor, they’re also considering specialty episodes to share with listeners.

“As the archive fills up, there’s so many things that had to be cut out but are amazing topics,” said Blackburn. “So, I’m looking forward to also doing bonus episodes, like a compilation of advice our guests gave or one for all the content that had to be cut.”

The show has been a great opportunity for the hosts to learn more not only about the research projects across campus, but about their fellow colleagues and each other as well.

“It’s fun to talk to people about things and realize how much research truly is a human enterprise and collaboration with other people,” said Clayton. “And to see our guests excited about the research they’ve dedicated large parts of their life to. They make it super engaging and you can hear the animation in their voice.”

“One of my ​favorite ​things ​from ​the show and hosting together ​is how ​much ​I’m ​learning ​from ​both ​Grant ​and ​our ​guests ​every ​time, ​especially ​when ​it’s ​not a topic ​in ​my ​immediate ​comfort ​zone,” added Blackburn. “I ​really ​enjoy the ​conversations on disciplines I haven’t engaged with as heavily, and how they expand my knowledge, but it’s also been great when we talk to people that are closer to my field and I am able to contribute to the conversation more.”

Listen to “Inspired in Higher Ed” on YouTube and Spotify, and keep an eye out for upcoming episodes featuring faculty from the fields of engineering, chemistry, physics and more.