Melissa Gerr | WYPR

Melissa Gerr

Producer

Melissa Gerr is a producer for On the Record.  She started in public media at Twin Cities Public Television in St. Paul, Minn., where she is from, and then worked as a field producer for Oregon Public Broadcasting in Portland. She made the jump to audio-lover in Baltimore as a digital media editor at Mid-Atlantic Media and Laureate Education, Inc. and as a field producer for "Out of the Blocks."  Her beat is typically the off-beat with an emphasis on science, culture and things that make you say, 'Wait, what?'

Courtesy Johns Hopkins Solomon H. Snyder Department of Neuroscience

The tiniest creature with the deadliest of bites … Professor Chris Potter's lab at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine is working to understand why mosquitoes are attracted to humans, in order to quell diseases such as malaria and Zika, both transmitted by mosquito bite. By studying its sense of smell, Potter hopes to alter the way mosquitoes perceive human scent and flavor--in an effort to make us less appealing as a meal. Want to see what happens when a mosquito stops for a bite? Watch this. To see all that Potter's lab is up to visit his site.

Photo by Amy Berbert

Two years ago Baltimore City homicides soared to nearly one a day -- the city’s deadliest per capita on record. The statistic grabbed national attention and the focus of Amy Berbert, a student at UMBC. To her, the number represented the tragic anonymity of lives lost. In response Berbert conceived her final senior project, “Stains on the Sidewalk,” for which she’s documenting the 318 homicides of 2016. She returns on the one-year anniversary, at the exact time and location where the violence occurred, to make a photograph, and then shares it on social media.

Just Married!

Jun 21, 2017
Photo by Will Kirk

A wedding ceremony may be the union of two souls, but the day represents so much more--encompassing families, cultures and communities. Tracie Guy-Decker, Jewish Museum of Maryland associate director talks about what we can read into dresses, documents, chuppas and cake-toppers -- some of what's featured in the new JMM exhibit, "Just Married! Wedding Stories from Jewish Maryland."

Courtesy CHANA website

There are more senior citizens every year, and more are victims of elder abuse -- last year 6, 300 cases were investigated in Maryland. The abuse can be financial, physical, sexual, emotional--or just neglect. We talk to Valarie Colmore, of Adult Protective Services are the Maryland Department of Human Resources and Nancy Aiken, executive director of the domestic-violence resource CHANA about who commits elder abuse, who should report it and how and what might prevent it. CHANA is sponsoring a program, on Tuesday June 13 at 8:15 a.m., featuring keynote speaker Dr. Leana Wen. Find out more here. You may register (free) for the World Elder Abuse Awareness Day conference here. The toll-free state hotline to report elder abuse is 1-800-917-7323 and CHANA’s number is 410-234-0030.

Photo by Edwin Remsberg Photographs

The folk arts weave a culture together, but can get lost in a fast moving digital world. The Maryland Traditions Apprenticeship Award helps preserve them. Ahead of Saturday’s Folklife Festival, we speak with two Apprenticeship Award winners: Jazz bass clarinetist Todd Marcus and waterman Captain Ted Daniels. We also talk to the director of Folk and Traditional Arts at the Maryland State Arts Council, Chad Buterbaugh, about why it’s important to conserve a craft.

Courtesy University of Maryland Medical Center website

Most teen car crashes occur because of driver inexperience. Research shows that clocking hours behind the wheel, with an experienced driver present, increases a teenager’s confidence and capability to react in an emergency. We speak with two advocates for the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital “Practice Driving with Your Teen” sticker campaign: emergency pediatric-medicine resident Dr. Lahila-Carina Ojeda, and Cliff Tompkins, whose 7-year-old son died in a crash involving a teenager’s inexperience. Learn more about the campaign here and connect to an emergency driving course here.

Courtesy United Way website

We speak with two working moms who know all too well what United Way learned when it analyzed, county by county, what workers make and what it takes to pay basic monthly bills. About one-third of Maryland households are seriously struggling to make ends meet. Victoria Cox, an administrative coordinator and mother of two young sons, and Heather Housand, a dental office manager and mother of three, share details of their daily lives, and the successes and challenges that have come their way. You can also read about the ALICE report (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) here.

Monday is Memorial Day, when the nation remembers those who sacrificed their lives for the security of our country. In that spirit, we speak with Dario DiBattista, a writer, educator, and veteran-Marine who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. DiBattista describes his military experience and teaching writing to combat veterans as a form of post-trauma therapy. He says the stories of veterans are transformative not only for them … but for other Americans to understand what democracy costs. You can purchase Retire the Colors, an anthology of those stories, here.

Veteran Catharine Dietch tells her Stoop Story about enlisting in World War II and the travels that ensued. You can find her story and others at stoopstorytelling.com. If you'd like to pledge to #GoSilent, a digital campaign to remember and honor fallen troops with a moment of silence on Monday, Memorial Day, at 3pm local, you can find more information here.

Courtesy A Workshop of Our Own website

The phrase ‘women’s work’ rarely conjures images of a woman wielding a mallet and chisel, navigating a jigsaw or gliding a power sander as she puts the finishing touches on a dining table or dresser. But two woodworking professionals are planning to make that image more commonplace. We meet Sarah Marriage, founder of Baltimore's new “A Workshop of Our Own," a cooperative space for women and gender non-conforming furniture makers. We also hear from Nancy Hiller, a nationally known cabinet and furniture maker who has been subverting male dominance of the woodworking field for more than three decades. She recently published a  humorous memoir, “Making Things Work.”   She speaks at A Workshop of Our Own on Friday, May 26 and you can learn more about that event here.

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