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Titi Shodiya and Zakiya Whatley host Dope Labs, which is part of Spotify’s growing podcast network.

Dope Labs is founded on the belief that science is for everyone, not just academics locked away in ivory towers. The show is all about revealing the science behind stories and topics that are trending right now - everything from coronavirus, to plant based meat substitutes and even vibranium, the fictional metal from the Black Panther movie. By ditching the usual jargon and replacing it with compelling narratives and on-point pop culture references, Titi and Zakiya are bringing important research to a much wider audience.

In 2018, the pair entered Dope Labs in Spotify’s “Sound Up” competition - which is an accelerator program dedicated to lifting and amplifying the voices of women of colour in podcasting. After being selected as finalists from a pool of more than 18,000 applicants, Titi and Zakiya eventually went on to be crowned winners. Since then, they’ve worked with Spotify to produce and distribute Dope Labs. The show is currently in the middle of its third season.

In this interview, James Deeney talks to Titi and Zakiya about winning Sound Up, creating Dope Labs, and the important intersection between science, society, and culture. They discuss:

  • 02:00 - How Titi and Zakiya met at Duke University
  • 06:00 - Balancing podcasting with full-time jobs
  • 07:45 - Entering and winning Spotify’s Sound Up program in 2018
  • 14:45 - How to embrace and promote greater diversity in podcasting
  • 19:00 - Titi and Zakiya’s process for producing episodes of Dope Labs
  • 22:00 - The unexpected challenges of recording vox pops
  • 24:30 - Learning to communicate effectively as co-hosts
  • 27:00 - Exploring the concept of “Big Friendship” in season 3
  • 30:30 - Titi’s role as co-host of Dissect with Cole Cuchna
  • 33:30 - Rethinking the way science is presented in the classroom
  • 37:30 - Does social media help or harm scientific literacy?

Selected Links From the Episode

Dope Labs Podcast: Website | Instagram | Twitter

Connect with Titi: Instagram | Twitter

Connect with Zakiya: Website | Twitter

Spotify’s Sound Up Program

Diversity in the Podcast Industry, Forbes

What About Your Friends?, Dope Labs - Semester 3

Big Friendship, Aminatou Sow & Ann Friedman

Don’t Pass The Corona, Dope Labs - Semester 2

Dissect, Cole Cuchna

Communicating Science with Social Media, Ant Lewis

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