What is So Nat?
The Southern Naturalist podcast explores the interconnections of nature by providing listeners an immersive experience of what it feels like to be on the trail with the experts.
The podcast will follow Dr. Bob Thomas and Dr. Aimee Thomas; the father-daughter scientist duo along with special guests as they teach listeners the natural history, science and discuss their observations of natural areas across Louisiana.
The goal of this podcast is to spark curiosity and educate listeners as a way to deepen their connection to nature. The episodes will teach applicable concepts and language that change the way listeners see and describe their surrounding environment, whether it be their backyard or an unexplored state park. Listeners, may they be young students or well seasons naturalists will gain a deeper understanding of the natural world by being in the field virtually with scientists, park rangers, hunters and other nature lovers.
There are scientifically proven benefits to our mental and physical health and community from spending time in nature, yet studies show we are becoming increasingly distance from the natural world. We hope to encourage more people to experience the healing power of the beautiful and diverse ecosystems surrounding us in Louisiana, and we believe this connection will promote a stronger will to protect it as one's home.
"Before my first nature walk with Dr. Bob and Dr. Aimee Thomas in college, I had no idea how much you could find when you slow down, listen, and observe with a "naturalist's eye". The tree frogs hiding under bent palmettos, the oval shapes of barred owls on low branches, the life cycles occurring in those bumps (galls) on leaves. Nature becomes a puzzle. The wonderment and pure joy of Bob and Aimee putting those pieces together was contagious and changed the way I see the world around me. If everyone could have that rare experience I think the world would be a better place."
- Emma Reid, Producer of The Southern Naturalist
Meet the Team:
Host, Robert A. (Bob) Thomas, Ph.D. is professor of Mass Communication, holds the Loyola Distinguished Scholar Chair in Environmental Communication, is adjunct professor of Biological Sciences, sits on The Environment Program Faculty, and is the Founding Director of the Center for Environmental Communication at Loyola University New Orleans. He was Founding Director of the Louisiana Nature Center, where he served as the liaison for the community in information pertaining to science education, environmental issues, and natural history.
He has published many papers in the fields of herpetology (reptiles and amphibians; specializing in the Neotropical snake fauna), environmental communication, and nature center administration. As mentioned, his most avid interests are in environmental communication, restoring America’s WETLAND (Louisiana’s coastal wetlands), tropical natural history/interpretation, and nature center-based environmental education.
Host, Aimée K. Thomas, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and Director of the Environment Program at Loyola University New Orleans. She has an interest in promoting environmental awareness by researching the natural history of invertebrate species, particularly local and tropical spider communities, and effective communication of science through community-engaged learning research, teaching, and outreach.
Recent projects have focused on spider communities in Belize, New Orleans City Park, and Jean Lafitte National Park, insect pollinators in urban landscapes, using urban landscapes as a learning lab, and STEM education in informal learning environments.
She served as Co-PI on the NSF-funded project "OUTSIDE: Over, Under, and Through: Students Informally Discover the Environment”. The project goals were to improve content knowledge, stimulate interaction with nature, train naturalists, and integrate technology into an informal science education experience for middle school students.
Producer, Emma Reid is a Documentarian, Videographer and a Digital Media Producer at Louisiana Public Broadcasting. Her films focus on environmental issues and culture in Louisiana. Reid co-produced the Telly Award-winning documentary, Finding Common Ground with Dr. Bob Thomas. The film was about TEK, communication and coastal restoration in Louisiana. She was awarded the LWF Conservation Communicator of the Year in 2019 for her documentary, In the Blind about the role duck hunters play in conservation.
Reid received her degree in Environmental Studies and Environmental Communication from Loyola University New Orleans and was a student of Dr. Bob and Dr. Aimee Thomas. After college, Reid joined the Institute for Environmental Communication at Loyola and the Louisiana Master Naturalists of Greater New Orleans. She has a passion for nature and leads educational swamp tours for New Orleans Kayak Swamp Tours.