Francis Smith, PhD, during an interview with Bone Lab Radio. Photo by Jeannie Bailey.

Reconstructing Lives with Bone Lab Radio

Contributor
Graduate Division

When Francis Smith was born, nobody knew whether he would survive. The doctors would come to realize that he had a severe, rare craniofacial syndrome called Treacher Collins, and his parents were in such a state of shock that they immediately abandoned him.

Somehow, Smith found the strength to overcome a lot of incredible struggles and achieve things that no one expected. Today he is a passionate PhD scientist studying the very same syndrome with which he was afflicted (and he’s a skilled musician and artist to boot).

Smith is featured in the first episode of Bone Lab Radio, a new podcast founded by UCSF graduate students Kate Woronowicz and Jenny Qi and UCSF-affiliated academic researchers Jeannie Bailey and Jennifer Fish.

The team believes that bones have qualities that capture the imagination — whether fossilized, x-rayed, cataloged in a museum, or just helping us move around, bones have stories to tell. The podcast aims to tell stories about bones and the people who study them.

Bone Lab Radio’s first episode features Smith’s detailed drawings comparing his skull at birth with an average human skull.

He also provided photos with the singer Cher and a clip of himself playing the piano. (These extras are featured on the website.)

Tune in to Bone Lab Radio for future episodes featuring interviews with National Geographic-affiliated researchers, archaeologists and anthropologists and a political activist-turned-science communicator.

The podcast is sponsored by the American Association of Anatomists, and the group is collaborating with Mission Science Workshop, a group that works with teachers in underserved communities to bring bones into the classroom.

Yoiu can also find Bone Lab Radio on Facebook and Twitter.