Sanden Totten

Host, Brains On

Contact Sanden Totten

Sanden Totten is a host and co-producer of American Public Media's Brains On!, a podcast for kids and curious adults about the scientific mysteries of the universe. Prior to that he was KPCC's Science Reporter, where he covered everything from space exploration and medical technology to endangered species and the latest earthquake research.

Before joining KPCC's Science Desk, Sanden was a producer for Take Two and the Madeleine Brand Show. He began his career in journalism at Minnesota Public Radio where he co-created the show "In The Loop," and helped develop the Public Insight Network, a crowd-sourcing tool designed to bring unique perspectives to the news.

Sanden is the winner of several honors, including the Radio and TV News Association’s Golden Mike for “Best Radio Medical and Science Reporting” and the National Entertainment Journalism's award for “Best Radio News Story.” In 2011 he was a Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT, he graduated from Oberlin College in 2004 with a BA in Psychology and English.

Sanden has lived in Sweden and Japan and speaks both languages. He's a fan of comics, fast music and movies about time travel.

Stories by Sanden Totten

Sriracha odor: Why chili pepper particles spread so easily

Chili peppers, like the kind used in Sriracha hot sauce, carry microscopic particles that trigger pain receptors and are easily air borne, researchers say.

The downside of Southern California's rain: Debris flows

Southern California hasn't had a serious rainstorm in years. That means many riverbeds are full of sediment that could lead to dangerous debris flows.

Drought: How NASA tracks underground water levels from space

NASA is meeting with state officials in Sacramento this week to figure out ways the space agency can use its satellites to help California deal with drought.

Scientists test kelp for traces of Fukushima radiation

Scientists plan to see how much radiation from the Fukushima nuclear disaster has reached the West Coast by collecting kelp.

Zit bacteria found in grapes named for Frank Zappa

Researchers were inspired by the counter-culture crooner who once sang of 'sand-blasted zits'

The scientific mystery of your Valentines' Day flowers

Scientists have long puzzled over why flowers suddenly became so widespread on Earth around 100 million years ago. New research may have some answers

Good news and bad news about California's drought

Forecasters say the high-pressure zone that's blocked rain from the state may be breaking up in some places. Unfortunately, Southern California isn't one of them.

Wilshire Grand builders attempt record setting concrete pour

This Saturday construction workers for the planned 73 story Wilshire Grand tower will attempt to set a record for the largest single concrete foundation pour ever.

Studying mysterious 'atmospheric rivers' from the sky

This weekend scientists will fly above a weather phenomenon known as an atmospheric river to learn more about these important sources of water.

'Mega-drought': Could California's drought last years? A century?

The state's dry spell is bad, but the state had prolonged ones centuries ago. Scientists worry these "mega-droughts" could happen again.

California drought: High pressure ridge to blame, not likely to change soon

A high pressure zone has hovered over the West for so long some meteorologists are calling it the "ridiculously resilient ridge." It shows little sign of leaving.

Mars rover at 10: Opportunity still makes discoveries

Ten years ago this week the Opportunity rover landed on Mars, and it's survived long past its expected expiration date. And what's up with that mystery rock?

Northridge: Digital dependence leaves us vulnerable

Some experts worry a digital blackout of longer than a few days could harm the local economy for decades.

Northridge: Despite retrofits, are homes any safer now?

Cities have encouraged homeowners to voluntarily retrofit their dwellings. But some engineers estimate that as many as half of all retrofits are not adequate.

Northridge: Calif. quake warning system runs on shoe-string budget

The massive quake that hit Southern California in 1994 came without warning. How close is California to an earthquake warning system?