Decrease font size Reset font size Increase font size

Accidental Intellectual podcast sets out to personalize healthcare and humanize academia

By Perry King

January 28, 2020

Members of the Accidental Intellectual team (from left to right): Bronwyn Lamond, Harrison McNaughtan, Ariana Simone, Stephanie Morris, Lee Propp and Rachael Lyon. All of them, except Lyon, are doctoral students in Department of Applied Psychology and Human Development at OISE (all photos by Perry King).

On the second floor of the OISE building, inside one of the larger library study rooms, a small group of PhD students aren’t exactly studying.

Wires surround them, microphones are tested and ready. The six-person team, a newly-assembled production crew for the Accidental Intellectual podcast, are primed to produce their next episode – which, in many cases, feature conversations about success and setbacks with University of Toronto students and faculty.

The podcast, launched this past fall by co-host Lee Propp, set out to personalize healthcare – a mission set out in the podcast’s tagline: humans behind the experts. Seeking out movers and shakers in the healthcare space, the team wanted to show a side of an academic that is rarely seen – something beyond their ideas and their contributions to society.

“We’ve heard from a number of the interviews we’ve done already that breaking down that wall of the dispassionate, far-removed clinician is the key to connecting with patients and clients, conveying empathy – which are all really important to being a good clinician,” said Propp, a PhD student in School and Clinical Child Psychology.

From Jeffrey Ansloos, an assistant professor in OISE’s department of applied psychology and human development, to Julia Hanigsberg, the President and CEO of Holland Bloorview Rehabilitation Hospital, the show wants to highlight people that students look up to – who they may think have never failed at anything in their life. “Far from it,” says Propp.

“They have been falling flat on their face, probably more times than you have. And they’ve picked themselves up and started again,” she said.

And as someone who grew up not liking school, Propp sees herself going on her own accidental adventure. Writing in the Globe and Mail in 2018 she’s had to overcome many personal challenges – disclosing that she had undiagnosed ADHD. “Finishing my first degree was, you know, a feat in and of itself,” said Propp, whose PhD focus is on the biological and psychological underpinnings of Disruptive Behaviour Disorders in children.

“Now on my third [degree], I think it’s come a real full circle.”

Propp quickly assembled a team with a variety of skills – from media production to interview skills – and are able to play off each other’s strengths. Propp praises Bronwyn Lamond, a co-host, and her masterful organizational skills.

Listen to Accidental Intellectual’s conversation with Professor Ansloos

Bronwyn Lamond with executive produer and co-host Lee Propp. 

Drawing inspiration and training tips from podcasters like Ira Glass (the host of long-running This American Life), the podcast team wants to continue growing in the short term. Episodes are available now on your favourite podcast app. The first season will run until June and the team will be back for a second season next September.

They also plan on doing live podcast recordings and more interactive conversations on social media.

In the meantime, the team has learned new and surprising things about their guests.

“It’s been so surprising what we’ve learned about these people,” says Lamond, a 2nd year PhD student in School and Clinical Child Psychology. “We’re strangers to everyone, but asking and having so many people say yes immediately to being on the podcast alone – and then getting really deep into these personal stories – has been really eye opening.”

And the team has learned a lot about themselves. “When I stumble in an interview, I feel bad about it,” says Lamond, whose PhD research focuses on student and teacher perceptions of assistive technology. “But then the very successful host also stumbles and I’m like, ‘Yeah, this is normal. I shouldn't be so hard on myself.’”

Learn more about the Accidental Intellectual team on their new episode, "The Humans Behind the Podcasters"

The full Accidental Intellectual team includes:

  • Lee Propp, executive producer and co-host, 2nd year PhD student at OISE; research focus: the biological and psychological underpinnings of Disruptive Behaviour Disorders in children.
  • Ariana Simone, social media manager and co-host, 2nd year PhD student at OISE; research focus: self-harm in adolescence and emerging adulthood.
  • Bronwyn Lamond, chief executive organizer and co-host, 2nd year PhD student at OISE; research focus: student and teacher perceptions of assistive technology.
  • Harrison McNaughtan, digital coordinator and co-host, 1st year PhD student in School and Clinical Child Psychology; research focus: romantic consent in adolescents and emerging adults with autism.
  • Rachael Lyon, accessibility expert and co-host, 1st year PhD student in Clinical Developmental Neuropsychology at York University; research focus: the developmental course of psychopathology and cognition in children and youth with neuropsychiatric disorders.
  • Stephanie Morris, production assistant, 1st year PhD student in developmental psychology and education at OISE; research focus: on interpersonal relationships and identity development.

More OISE news

Education and innovation: OISE alum Beverley Biggar brings together elements that enhance learning, the student experience

Professor Cassie J. Brownell creates the space for children to talk about serious issues