Dope Labs

By Spotify Studios

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Dope Labs is a new podcast from Spotify Studios hosted by best friends (and two of the dopest scientists you will ever meet), Titi and Zakiya. In each episode, they serve up scientific principles with a healthy dose of tea. From cuffing season to Cardi B, they’ll take what’s trending and put it under the microscope with the help of some very smart (and cool) scientific friends. At Dope Labs, we believe “science is for errybody” and our mission is to bring out the inner scientist in YOU.

Episode Date
Lab 036: Shoot Your Shot - A COVID Update
In the final Lab of Semester 3, Titi and Zakiya give a highly requested coronavirus update. They’ll highlight the advances in science and the public health plans with guests Dr. Rupali Limaye and Molly Sauer from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Read Titi and Zakiya’s editorial in Scientific American here:
Dec 03, 2020
Lab 035: You Know the Vibes
With 2020 coming to a close, there is a LOT to celebrate. In this Lab, Titi and Zakiya dissect the sociology of celebration, talking about why we celebrate, and how to celebrate this year even though we can’t be together. For more info visit
Nov 12, 2020
Lab 034: Presently Futuristic
Like everyone else on the planet, Titi and Zakiya have been obsessing over Lovecraft Country. It’s the latest in what could be called a renaissance in Afrofuturism and Black horror, along with Watchmen, Get Out, and Black Panther. In Lab 034, they do a deep dive on all things Afrofuturism, and how to distinguish it from other popular genres like science fiction and horror with our guest Dr. Kinitra Brooks. Actor Levar Burton also drops in to give his perspective on the importance of developing diverse stories in media. For more info visit
Oct 29, 2020
Lab 033: Supermarket Sweep
Remember in the beginning of the pandemic when grocery stores ran out of a lot of pantry staples? We also saw a lot of food waste during that time, for example, farmers dumping a lot of produce that had gone bad. In Lab 033, Titi and Zakiya explore the complexities and scale of the United States food system to understand how these things are all connected. Guest: Dr. Marie Spiker. For more info visit
Oct 15, 2020
Lab 032: Life Avalanche
All the stress we are feeling in 2020 is leading to what feels like worldwide burnout. In Lab 032, Titi and Zakiya talk about what causes burnout, most common burnout behaviors, and how you can recognize burnout when it happens to you. Guest: Dr. Anne Helen Petersen. For more info and show notes, visit
Oct 01, 2020
Lab 031: Persuadables
Are you seeing political ads everywhere? We are! This week we talk to guest experts Dr. Chryl Laird and Jenna Golden about the advertising machine behind the 2020 elections. Listen to learn about ad strategy, the resulting political behavior, and how social media is making you a prime target . Check out for more info.
Sep 17, 2020
Lab 030: Signed, Sealed, Delivered
It’s time to support the USPS, whether it’s buying stamps, or writing more handwritten letters. In this Lab, Titi and Zakiya unpack the benefits of writing by hand, how reading handwriting is different than reading type, and what happens in the brain when you see and process letters. Guest: Dr. Robert Wiley. For more info and show notes visit
Sep 03, 2020
Lab 029: The Roof is on Fire!
In Lab 029, we’re talking about how COVID-19 has magnified the housing shortage into a housing crisis with our guest, Michael Neal from the Urban Institute.
Aug 20, 2020
Lab 028: There’s Something in the Water
The ocean covers 70% of the earth's surface, but we know so little about it and how it affects our lives. In this Lab, Titi and Zakiya bring the ocean to your front door, exploring how the ocean is impacted by climate change and how it fights back. Guest: Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson
Aug 06, 2020
Lab 027: Here Comes the Boom
To add to the list of reasons why 2020 is trash: fireworks have been keeping us up all night. We may not be able to stop the fireworks from happening, but at least we can understand more about how they work. Guest: Fran Scott
Jul 23, 2020
Lab 026: What About Your Friends?
Friendships are especially hard when we're all socially distanced. So join Zakiya and Titi as they explore the psychology behind being a good friend. This lab features a special appearance from the hosts of the podcast Call Your Girlfriend, Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman, who talk about their new book, Big Friendship. Guest Expert: Dr. Marisa G. Franco. 
Jul 09, 2020
Lab 025: Skin Deep
Titi and Zakiya kick off Semester 3 by holding up a mirror to the scientific community, unpacking the history of science and racism. Guest: Angela Saini
Jun 25, 2020
Semester 3 Starts June 25th!
Who needs some good news? Dope Labs is coming back for Semester 3 on Thursday, June 25th! 2020 has been a YEAR and there is a lot to unpack. If you have an idea for an upcoming Lab, call us at 202-567-7028 and leave a message.
Jun 19, 2020
Lab 024: BHM: STEM Edition
It's the one year anniversary of Dope Labs AND it's Black History Month. To celebrate, Titi and Zakiya are turning the microphone on YOU, our amazing Dope Labs listeners, who are doing some incredible things in all areas of STEM: engineering, biology, management and more! Join us for our Semester 2 finale as we celebrate all things Black and STEM.
Feb 20, 2020
Lab 023: Don’t Pass the Corona
The Coronavirus is in the front of everyone’s minds and misinformation is being spread faster than the virus itself! In this lab Titi and Zakiya breakdown what the coronavirus is, where it came from, and what we can all do to help prevent its spread. Guest: Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett.
Feb 06, 2020
Lab 022: This is NOT a Drill
The fires in Australia are raging and a lot is being lost. In this lab, Titi and Zakiya discuss how the fires started, why they are different from ones in the past, and how climate change has played a role. Guest: Dr. Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick.
Jan 23, 2020
Lab 021: New Bank Account, Who Dis?
It’s a new year and there are plenty of broken resolutions to go around. One common resolution is getting your finances in order. In this lab, Titi and Zakiya discuss some of the latest “fintech” available to help you achieve your 2020 financial goals. Guest: Dr. Bill Maurer.
Jan 09, 2020
Lab 020: Our 2019 Mixtape
It’s the end of the year, so Dope Labs is giving you a special treat for Lab 020: a mixtape to celebrate all of Titi and Zakiya’s top pop culture moments of 2019! From Megan Thee Stallion’s knees to social media apps aging us 50 years, they are breaking down the science behind it all.
Dec 19, 2019
Lab 019: What's Beef?
Plant-based meat substitutes have come a long way since frozen veggie patties with big chunks of carrots and sharpie grill marks. Now, companies like Impossible Foods are making plant-based burgers that look, smell, taste and bleed like real meat. In this Lab, Titi and Zakiya learn about what new ingredients are making these burgers more like real meat, and the scientific process of mass producing those ingredients using biology, genetics, and engineering. Guest: Dr. Christina Agapakis.
Dec 05, 2019
Lab 018: Truth Pie
With Thanksgiving right around the corner, Titi and Zakiya discuss the huge impact of European colonialism in North America, not only from the severe depopulation of Indigenous peoples, but also the relationships they cultivated with the plants, animals, and the environment around them. Guest: Dr. Nicholas Reo.
Nov 21, 2019
Lab 017: Fall Back
Daylight Saving time has just ended and we are NOT happy! In this lab Titi and Zakiya take a closer look at this yearly practice to find out whose bright idea this was, what time is, and if anything is REALLY saved with daylight saving. Guest: Dr. Laura Grant.
Nov 07, 2019
Lab 016: Haunt Me
It’s officially Titi and Zakiya’s favorite time of year! SPOOKY SEASON! So they called on the hosts of the Travel Channel’s Ghost Brothers: Haunted Houseguests to walk them through the tech they use for hunting ghosts, and then break down the science of paranormal activity. Guests: Juwan Mass, Marcus Harvey, and Dalen Spratt.
Oct 24, 2019
Lab 015: Big Poll Energy
The primary election is in full swing, and our feeds are full of political polls that are surveying everything from who’s on top, to each candidates favorite comfort food. In this episode, Titi & Zakiya dive into polling to understand survey methodology (how polls are designed) and how to make sense of the results. Guest: Dr. Rachel Bitecofer.
Oct 10, 2019
Lab 014: Art of Con
Whether it’s robocalls, catfishing, Tekashi 6ix9ine, or Aunt Becky - it seems like everyone is out here scamming!! But why do WE keep falling for them? We turned to Dr. Lasana Harris to help us understand human motivations and interpersonal behaviors making us susceptible to these schemes.
Sep 26, 2019
Lab 013: Predator
Our city boy/hot girl summers are coming to a close, and while we will miss summer, there’s one thing we won’t miss - mosquitoes. We all were bitten by mosquitoes…A LOT. But mosquitoes don’t just make us itchy - a recent New York Times article called them “the deadliest human predators on the planet.” In this episode, we put mosquitoes under the microscope - why do they need our blood in the first place, what kind of illnesses do they carry, and why do some people (Titi) get bitten more than others.
Sep 12, 2019
We're Back!
Dope Labs is back for Semester 2 on September 12, with a whole new batch of episodes dropping every other Thursday. And we want to hear from you! Call us at 202-567-7028 and tell us what you think we should dissect this semester. 
Sep 05, 2019
BONUS: Semester One Bloopers!
From Wakanda to vaccines to Safaree’s hairline, there was a lot to talk about in Semester One… but there was also a lot of material that hit the cutting room floor. In this post-Semester special, T & Z take you through their favorite bloopers and outtakes from Semester One. Don’t forget to tune in for Semester 2 on September 12th!
Aug 16, 2019
Lab 012: The Cookout
It’s the Semester Finale! And Titi & Zakiya would like to invite you to their virtual cookout. In this Lab, they dive into the science of taste, flavor, and neurogastronomy and serve it up right alongside the mac and cheese and potato salad (without raisins).  Show Notes:
Jul 18, 2019
Lab 011: I Look Like Bae
From the BET awards to the NBA awards folks are coming out looking GOODT from head to toe! Getting dressed up is easy, but Titi and Zakiya want to know how everyone's faces look so flawless. So, in this episode they dive into the chemistry, material science and biology of looking like BAE. And for a little help, they enlist all-star beauty expert Joanna Simkin, whose clientele includes Issa Rae, Marsai Martin and Regina Hall. Show Notes:
Jul 04, 2019
Lab 010: It Was All a Dream
Titi and Zakiya take a trip down memory lane but... it seems like their recollections are VERY different! In this episode they dive into the psychology and sociology or memory and try to understand why their memories of the same thing are so different. Show Notes:
Jun 20, 2019
Lab 009: How NOT to Get Away with Murder
If you are into true crime this lab is for you! For decades, the “Golden State Killer” case had zero leads. Then, in 2018, investigators found a suspect using an online genealogy database. In today’s Lab, Titi & Zakiya dive into all things commercial genetic testing to find out how all of these at-home DNA kits are getting your 3rd cousins locked up! Guest: Erin Murphy, JD Show Notes:
Jun 06, 2019
Lab 008: Fair Play
Caster Semenya lost her case against the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF). Titi & Zakiya take a deep dive into the world of hormones, specifically testosterone. What makes it so special? How does it affect performance? How does the IAAF decide cutoff values? What in the policing women’s bodies hell is going on here?!? They have questions and want to see the IAAF's lab notebooks! Guest: Dr. Anthony Hackney Show Notes:
May 23, 2019
Lab 007: Show Me the Money
Prompted by Elizabeth Warren's bold proposal, the 3,582 Democratic Primary candidates are starting to get serious about addressing the student loan crisis. T & Z use economics and policy (yes, it's science!) to better understand the root of the problem, and what we can do to fix it. Guest: Colleen Campbell Show Notes:
May 09, 2019
Lab 006: Starchella
Beyonce just dropped Homecoming, basically forcing us all to bow down to the EPITOME of a star. But Titi and Zakiya want to know, what do the stars in our galaxy have in common with the biggest star on Earth? Guest: Amy Steele Show Notes:
Apr 25, 2019
Lab 005: Wakanda Forever
We want vibranium and we want it now! Titi and Zakiya explore the depths of vibranium's capabilities and try to find things in the world that come close. Guest: Dr. James Kakalios. Show Notes:
Apr 11, 2019
Lab 004: Protect Ya Neck
After being eradicated in the US in 2000, measles is back with a vengeance. There are already over 250 confirmed cases in 2019. What's next, the Black Plague is back?! In this week's lab, Titi and Zakiya apply the sciences of epidemiology, medicine, and communication to better understand all of the back and forth that's happening around viruses and vaccines, and how various influences, including celebrity (ahem, Jenny McCarthy) and social media can affect our health behavior. Guest: Dr. Rupali Limaye of Johns Hopkins University. Show Notes:
Mar 28, 2019
Lab 003: Lie to Me
The internet has become a petri dish for lies and we are SHOOK. So we decided to unpack all kinds of scientific theories around why we lie, and what we can do to stop it. Guest: Iyamide House of Sabanoh Mental Health. To learn more, visit Show Notes:
Mar 14, 2019
Lab 002: Edges Snatched

It’s not just women wearing weaves and wigs! Thanks to Safaree and Tyga, men are no longer keeping their hair restoration procedures a secret. Titi and Zakiya use psychology, biology and genetics to get to the root of what’s going on with our hair, or lack thereof. Guest: Dr. Monte Oyd Harris. To learn more about Dr. Harris, visit here .

Show Notes:

Feb 28, 2019
Lab 001: Cuffing Season
Valentine’s Day traditionally marks the end of Cuffing Season, which means that today, cuffers and cuffees everywhere are scrambling to figure out whether or not to seal the deal. In their very first lab, Titi and Zakiya dissect cuffing season using the sciences of biology ethology, and ecology. What is it? How did it start? And what can we do to strategize better the next time cuffing season rolls around? Guest: Dr. Paula Alejandra Trillo Show Notes:
Feb 14, 2019
Welcome to the Lab!
Dope Labs premieres on February 14th, with new episodes dropping every other Thursday. Follow us on Spotify, or wherever you get your podcast fix.
Feb 13, 2019