Series to Explore Impact of Research

Aug 28, 2020

‘Research and Real Life’ begins Sept. 10 and is presented by Cal U’s Center for Undergraduate Research.

lauren ober

Lauren Ober

The connection between research and career preparation is the subject a fall series hosted by the Center for Undergraduate Research at California University of Pennsylvania. 

“Research and Real Life” will begin at 11 a.m. Sept. 10, when Lauren Ober speaks about her acclaimed podcast, Spectacular Failures. Her presentation will be followed by a workshop with students from Dr. Christina Fisanick’s capstone course for English majors. 

The public may view the Sept. 10 event at and students may join at

“I want Cal U students to understand what research can mean to their discipline,” said Dr. Azadeh Block, the director of the Center for Undergraduate Research. 

“I focused on the arts and bringing in nearby people with interesting jobs as a place to start our series because of the sometimes-boring stigma associated with the word ‘research.’” 

I'm hoping this series can help to change that perception.” 

Ober is the host and producer of Spectacular Failures from America Public Media, which examines business failures and what could have been done to avoid them. The podcast was ranked as the 10th best podcast of 2019 by 

Season 1 garnered more than 2.5 million downloads. 

She hosted and produced WAMU and NPR’s The Big Listen and was an award-winning producer for WAMU’s weekly newsmagazine, Metro Connection. Her stories have been heard on public radio shows like NPR’s All Things Considered and Morning Edition, as well as podcasts like Criminal and 99% Invisible

Block, associate professor of social work in Department of Health and Human Service Professions, plans to invite scientists, doctors, and attorneys to speak at future “Research and Real Life” events. 

“We want to make this accessible and fun, and I am trying to bring people to Cal U who have a voice that I think is something our student population wants,” Block said. 

“Hopefully, having experts with roots in southwestern Pennsylvania be the first to talk about research will make this concept much more open to our new students, transfers, and those that are thinking about graduate school.  

“All of our students need to see that research can be part of their career.” 

The series continues 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Oct. 1 with Alisha B. Wormsley, an interdisciplinary artist/cultural producer, and Divya Heffley, a public art advocate.