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.
Trash to Treasure with Dr Stephen Wallace
Fossil fuels are used everywhere, in our clothing, our medicine, and even our cooking. Wouldn’t it be great if we could use another source to synthesise these necessary molecules. Maybe something that’s very abundant and unwanted, such as waste streams from other processes?
In this episode, we’re diving into how microorganisms could be useful in synthesising biomaterials. Even better, they can be used to clean up waste products and turn them into something useful. Severina Pociunaite sits down with Dr Stephen Wallace to discuss his work and his goals for a sustainable future.
Check out some of the research mentioned by Stephen here: https://wallacelab.bio.ed.ac.uk/publications-1
And keep an eye out for his TED Talk from this year’s TEDxVienna.
The Origins of Antimicrobial Resistance
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!
iGEM2022 Petalution - How to clean our water using synthetic biology
In this very special episode, we hear from Dev, Charity, and Diana, who are part of a team competing in this years’ iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machine) competition. Students from the University of Edinburgh and from the University of Health and Allied Services in Ghana joined forces to develop synthetic biology projects to solve local problems. The local problem they want to tackle? Heavy metal and plastic pollution in water bodies. Detecting pollution in rural areas can be difficult, so the team was working on a cell-free biosensor that can detect a variety of dangerous metals. To then remediate the problem, they designed a cellulose hydrogel to “mop-up” contaminants in water. Additionally, they address plastic pollution by investigating an enzyme cocktail for biodegradation of PET plastic. We also hear about what they learned during the competition and how they enjoyed being part of an international collaboration.
iGEM wiki: https://2022.igem.wiki/edinburgh-uhas-ghana/index.html
Beetlejuices – How beetles take care of their offspring
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?
Academia Through Time
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.
Spore Wars - Microbial Biotechnology in Space with Dr Rosa Santomartino
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?