The Bench Warmers Podcast lets current and former graduate students tell stories about the misadventures and victories of a life in the sciences. The podcast is similar in format to This American Life and The Moth. Although the podcast is centered around science, it is non-technical, and is meant to be enjoyed by anyone with an interest in what it is like to survive the intense emotional and mental challenges of Grad School. Expect a new episode on the 1st of each month!

The Podcast is produced and edited by Madeline Sofia and Karl J. P. Smith.


American Gothic

Karl J. P. Smith is a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in Biophysics, Structural, and Computational Biology at the University of Rochester. Karl does research on silicon nanomembranes as part of the Nanomembrane Research Group (NRG). His work focuses on modeling the clogging and filtration behavior of these membranes using both theory and experiment. This work should make cutting edge therapeutic biotech products such as monoclonal antibodies (which can be used to treat everything from many cancers to arthritis to Crohn’s disease) cheaper and more effective. He is expecting to graduate from the U of R in June 2016. After graduating, he plans to transition from academia to the field of science communication and science journalism.

Karl is also the director of The Pocket Radio Theater – a loosely organized audio theater troupe comprised of fifty amateur voice actors, audio engineers, and musicians. The group writes, records, and edits audio dramas that are released as podcasts through iTunes and their website, pocketradiotheater.org. Karl previously worked for two seasons as a storyteller and historical interpreter at Philmont Scout Ranch, the world’s largest outdoor youth camp, in Cimarron, New Mexico. He is a Sproull Fellow, and received his B.S. in Physics and English from Allegheny College in 2011, and his M.S. at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in 2013.

Here is his CV. Here is his linkedIn profile: www.linkedin.com/in/karljpsmith . Email him at karl@benchwarmerspodcast.org . Check out his twitter @10centstories .

He believes in make the world a stranger, more whimsical place.


Madeline Sofia is a fourth-year Microbiology Ph.D. candidate in the Dziejman lab at the University of Rochester. Maddie is a fervent advocate of scientific research and understands the importance of making scientific findings understandable and exciting for all audiences. As a graduate student she developed two courses offered at the University of Rochester aimed at helping scientists effectively communicate named “Careers in Scientific Communication”, and “Science Communication for Diverse Audiences”.  Her ultimate goal is to bridge the gap between the scientific community and non-scientific community through discussion, story-telling, and advocacy. Madeline received her B.S. from the University of Mount Union in 2011 and her M.S. at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in 2014.


Contact us at contact@benchwarmerspodcast.org