Anderson University is home to experts within a wide range of fields. Among these esteemed educators are Dr. John Millis, assistant professor of physics, and Dr. Donald Boggs, professor of communication arts and general manager of Covenant Productions® and WQME. For many years, Boggs and Millis each have worked to build their professional experience so they are better informed on the topics they teach. Through a new podcast partnership with redOrbit.com, the two are now combining seemingly unrelated subjects to further grow as professionals.
In September, Millis was named vice president of content development for redOrbit.com, an online scientific community working to provide engaging content involving space, technology, science, and health.
“John is an absolute blast to work with,” said redOrbit Associate Managing Editor Jedidiah Becker. “He loves science, he knows his stuff, and he cares deeply about the integrity and accuracy of the information we present to our readers. He’s always brimming over with ideas for new projects, ideas for improving existing processes, and ideas for improving our content.”
Because of Millis’ strong ability to formulate new ideas and initiatives, as well as his connections in the professional and academic worlds, he brought new and exciting aspects to the online community that have helped advance redOrbit’s mission.
“I have written about space and astronomy for many years,” said Millis. “When I took the job at redOrbit.com, I realized I could use my connections to help universities get the word out about research their faculty are doing in a manner that was mutually beneficial to each party.”
One of Millis’ ideas was born out of the objective of partnering with universities across the country in a more accessible way. After trying a few options, Millis decided to explore the opportunity of creating podcasts. Because he was unfamiliar with the process, Millis turned to Boggs to help turn his vision into reality.
“When John came to me with this idea, I had to ask myself, ‘How do I best present this program to its audience?’” said Boggs. “Today, there is so much vying for our attention, and I had to come up with a way to engage redOrbit’s consumers in the first few seconds of the program, helping to ensure they would continue listening. We decided the best way to do this was through ‘teasers’ at the introduction of each podcast.”
Through their initial meeting, the vision of Millis’ podcasts took flight. Each podcast is a conversation-based interview between Millis and a professional within a specific scientific field, the first being David Schlegel, an astrophysicist with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, on the subject of dark matter. Because Berkley was happy to work with them, and since the first podcast went so well, it allowed Millis to continue, working with professionals from other universities including Vanderbilt University and the University of Alabama.
“The podcasts provide redOrbit with two really important opportunities. They let us engage with our readership in a whole new way that you simply can’t do with news articles, and they provide an opportunity to get closer to the research community and to promote what they’re doing,” said Becker.
The success of the first podcast led Millis to create a layout for each podcast, consisting of three 20-minute segments. Millis records the podcasts in WQME’s studios, calling on the help of senior marketing major and WQME Production Director Brock Bell.
“Working with Dr. John Millis is great,” said Bell. “I am both happy and excited to be a part of redOrbit’s podcast process and to know they will help educate people on scientific topics.”
Millis, redOrbit, Boggs, and Bell are all key elements in both the planning and execution of the podcasts. “It is delightful when things come together like this, and really that is our mission,” said Boggs. “It is a great advantage that Millis is an expert in his field, along with being in education, because he is used to taking difficult topics and making them understandable.”
— Hannah Schumacher is a senior from Bluffton, Ohio, majoring in communications arts and writing. Schumacher is an associate with Fifth Street Communications®, writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of University Communications.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of about 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, music, nursing, and theology.