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BioPOD

BioPod Edinburgh

Explore the edges of known biology and meet the people - a podcast direct from the PhD students at the heart of university research. BioPOD is the official podcast from the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Edinburgh.
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In this episode, Chris Donohoe (@dono_heptane) chats with PhD students Casey Patmore (@paseycatmore) and Georgia Lambert (@GALambert3) about the fascinating world of the behavioural ecology of burying beetles. They discuss how to "keep calm and carrion" when researching beetles, who need carrion to raise their progeny. What factors affect their parenting behaviour and what can it teach us about the complex responses of insects to effectively care for their offspring?

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Academia Through Time

BioPOD

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08/30/22 • 50 min

In this unique episode, Hend and Julie chat with scientists at different career stages and backgrounds about changes that have been happening in Academia over the years. We hear from Prof. Jim Kaufman and Dr Nisha Philip of the Institute of Immunology and Infection Research, and Prof. Loeske Kruuk, and Dr Helen Alexander of the Institute of Ecology and Evolution. How was Academia when these scientists began their careers and how have their lived experiences shaped who they are now as academics? What are their thoughts on the “two-body problem” in Academia? What advice can they give to academics who are also trying to carve their own scientific careers? We hear about their answers to these questions and more.
Although the qualities of being a scientist are still the same, the world of Academia has changed. Things like collaboration has become more prominent. Working with colleagues across the world has become easier with technology. Awareness for mental health and work environments has also been given considerable focus. On the negative side, the biggest challenges for current academics are job and financial security. Diversity in available careers should be highlighted: not everyone wishes to be a Principal Investigator so training for these alternate career paths should be highlighted.

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In this episode, Rose Doyle talks to Dr Rosa Santomartino of the UK Centre for Astrobiology about her research that’s “out of this world”. Rosa talks about her journey to become an astrobiologist and what she does as a researcher in Astromicrobiology: the study of microorganisms and their behaviour in an extra-terrestrial environment. We hear about her work on sending microbes to the International Space Station to mine precious metals from asteroids, the excitement and the difficulties of setting up experiments in space. She then discusses the potential—and current limitations—of sending microbes to space.
In the coda this week, Apple Chew tells us all about cell cultured meat: Why we should care about reducing our meat consumption and what exciting technological advancements are being made by companies trying to help us achieve that. Who knew that you can get already eat cell cultured sushi?

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In this episode, Louis and Liz chat to Dr Nadanai Laohakunakorn about his journey from a background in physics to now leading a group in synthetic biology. He describes how he adapted his thinking when he changed disciplines, interdisciplinary culture shocks, and how different sciences are taught. We then hear about his current research on building cell-free systems – building a functional cell from the ground up – and how this can be used to synthesise proteins.
How are these systems built, how can they be optimised and how can they be used in manufacturing? Can we eventually make individualised drugs on a bench? Tune in to hear more!
Art by Louis, intro and editing by Hend and Severina.

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In this episode, Rose Doyle talks to BioPOD alumnus and PhD student Eddie Martin. They discuss different ways of visualising protein structures and how sound can help us get more information from protein sequences. In his research, he turns a protein sequence into a short melody. From this melody, it is then possible to “hear out” some distinct features of the protein. Eddie also explains the intricacies of sound design and how to best convey the variations between different amino acids.

Artwork by Chris Donohoe and editing by Ruby White.

Link to the paper: https://bmcbioinformatics.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12859-021-04362-7

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In the second episode of our PhD advice series, Liz talks to Dr Lizzie Wadsworth, who recently finished her PhD at the University of Edinburgh. Looking back on her experience she gives very valuable advice to new and current PhD students about how to address common struggles with a graduate degree. She shares with us how she got started with her PhD, tips on how to have a good relationship with your supervisor, and strategies to deal with mental health issues. We also get to hear about her current work as a teaching fellow and discuss some less well-known career paths in academia.

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In the second episode of our COP26, Chris chats to Dr Annis Richardson about her research on food security. With climate change causing extreme weather, crop growth is getting increasingly difficult, so of course food security is a major topic of research. Annis Richardson works closely with the agricultural department on understanding how plants grow and how much food the plant then produces, so that we can more effectively feed the world.

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In this episode of our COP26 series, Chris talks to Prof. Louise Horsfall, Chair of Sustainable Biotechnology at the University of Edinburgh, about her participation in the COP26 conference in Glasgow. We get to hear about her experience as a scientist hearing the sometimes conflicting ideas of politicians and companies. Prof. Horsfall also talks about how her lab uses engineered microbes to recycle metals from battery waste.

Resources mentioned:

Faraday Institution: the UK’s battery research programme https://www.faraday.ac.uk

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Right on the heels of the 2022 World Antimicrobial Awareness Week, this episode covers a broad overview of the key topics associated with antimicrobial resistance. Rose Doyle from BioPOD teamed up with Carys Redman-White from the new Edinburgh antimicrobial resistance podcast EdiAMR to chat to Dr Brian Wee about his work. We hear his thoughts on the best tools and tactics to combat the rise of antibiotic resistance as well as a deep dive into one decade-long research project about the spread of antibiotic resistance in Kenya. Art by Annis Newman, intro and editing by Severina Pociunaite.

If you want to learn more about Brian’s work on whole genome sequencing across Nairobi, check out his paper here: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41564-022-01079-y
This episode is a collaboration between BioPOD and the University of Edinburgh's new antimicrobial resistance podcast, EdiAMR. If you’re interested to find out more about AMR, follow @EdiAMR on twitter for updates!

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