Access to Excellence Podcast

A podcast All Together Different

Join George Mason University President Gregory Washington as he invites experts, change-makers, innovators, and thought leaders to engage in meaningful conversations about the greatest challenges of our time.

Listen and learn from audacious people from Mason and beyond who represent the diversity of insight, the agility of collaboration, and the tenacity required in the struggle for a better future that is at the essence of the Mason Nation.  

President Gregory Washington hosts each episode of the Access to Excellence podcast, recorded on the campus of George Mason University.

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Latest Episode

Are we headed for an internet apocalypse?

Peter Becker Access to Excellence Podcast, EP: 54

Peter Becker, a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy in George Mason University’s College of Science, talks with Mason President Gregory Washington about how an increase in solar storm activity could be a prelude to an “internet apocalypse.” Can we prepare? What could be the consequences? What are the economic implications? A $14 million federal study Becker is leading with the Navy could provide better predictive capabilities and help us better understand exactly what’s at stake. Listen now.

"A very large event could take the internet out for as long as a month, and there's additional damage to the power grid, too. So if you lose the internet, the economic damage in the U.S. alone is considered to be on the order of about $10 billion per day.  And so if that escalates, you pretty rapidly run into an economic disruption that's larger than COVID, let's say, as an example."

Peter Becker
Access to Excellence, Episode 54

Peter Becker, Access to Excellence Podcast, Ep: 54
Meet our guest
Meet our guest

Peter Becker is a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy in George Mason's College of Science.


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  • December 1, 2023
    Peter Becker, a professor in the Physics and Astronomy Department in George Mason University’s College of Science explains, talks how a predicted major increase in solar storms could be a prelude to an “internet apocalypse, and how a $14 million federal study he is leading with the Navy could provide better predictive capabilities and help us better understand exactly what’s at stake.
  • November 13, 2023
    Melissa Perry, dean of Mason’s College of Public Health, is an ardent proponent of virtual reality as a tool to help solve the nation’s health challenges. But she also worries that technology has helped create an “epidemic of loneliness” that has heightened the importance of a shared humanity and “being present for each other.”
  • September 11, 2023
    Karina Korostelina, a professor of conflict analysis and resolution in Mason’s Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution, conducts remarkable research with global implications that not only applies to countries and groups in conflict but societies as well. Ukraine’s war with Russia, at its end, she says, will present enormous problems with the reconciliation of people and territories.
  • August 4, 2023
    Nikyatu Jusu, an assistant professor of directing and screenwriting in Mason’s College of Visual and Performing Arts, talks about her hit movie “Nanny,” which won the grand prize at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. The horror genre is not all “jump-scares,” she says. Just as often, the monster is a commentary on human nature and the way we treat each other and ourselves.
  • July 8, 2023
    Andrew McCabe, the former deputy and acting director of the FBI, and a Distinguished Visiting Professor, gives a masterclass on the indictment of Donald Trump under the Espionage Act, goes deep into some of the most controversial and important moments in his career, and explains why he so appreciates teaching at Mason.
  • June 2, 2023
    Foteini Baldimtsi, an assistant professor in Mason’s Department of Computer Science, and James Casey, an associate professor in Mason’s Computer Game Design program, help us understand what the metaverse is, or will be, and how the volatile world of cryptocurrency fits in.
  • April 28, 2023
    Paula Sorrell, associate vice president for innovation and economic development at Mason, and Ajay Vinzé, dean of Mason's School of Business, discuss how Mason Enterprise is an economic engine for Northern Virginia, and how the School of Business is changing the way business is taught.
  • February 15, 2023
    Lawrence Jackson says colonialism brought an end to authentic African dance. But the associate professor of dance who in 2011, co-authored a special edition on Black dance in the Journal of Pan African Studies, explains how Black dance keeps those African cultural traditions alive and is an affirmation of identity and independence.
  • January 25, 2023
    Missy Cummings, one of the country’s first female fighter pilots and the director of Mason’s autonomy and robotics center, calls herself a tech futurist, charged with making tech work and helping it get better. She isn’t shy about calling out bad tech either, including the vision systems in self-driving cars and Tesla’s Autopilot.
  • December 13, 2022
    Helon Habila, a professor of creative writing, and an acclaimed international author, has never shied away from important issues. The author of four novels and a factual account of the 2014 kidnapping in Nigeria of 276 young girls by the terrorist group Boko Haram, Habila says he strives to describe history through the eyes of ordinary people.
  • November 16, 2022
    When Gail Christopher, executive director of the National Collaborative for Health Equity and a Mason senior scholar, talks about “ensuring a future,” she’s really talking about creating a system of equity that produces opportunities for everyone to “actualize their potential.”
  • October 18, 2022
    Are the midterm elections the most consequential of our time? Maybe, maybe not. Jennifer Victor, associate professor of political science in Mason’s Schar School of Policy and Government and Mason president Gregory Washington wrestle with that, and you might be surprised at the answer. Want more surprises? Then hear why high voter turnout could be a double-edged sword for our democracy.