79 episodes

Science! with Friends is a podcast exploring life, the universe, and everything through the eyes of the scientists who study it. In interviews and discussion pieces, hosts Jocelyn Bosley (SciTalker) and Bradley Nordell (The Quantum Dude) highlight the personal side of science—the weird, awesome, surprising, humorous, and inspiring stories that make science meaningful in all our lives. What’s your science story?

Science! With Friends Science! With Friends

    • Science
    • 5.0 • 25 Ratings

Science! with Friends is a podcast exploring life, the universe, and everything through the eyes of the scientists who study it. In interviews and discussion pieces, hosts Jocelyn Bosley (SciTalker) and Bradley Nordell (The Quantum Dude) highlight the personal side of science—the weird, awesome, surprising, humorous, and inspiring stories that make science meaningful in all our lives. What’s your science story?

    #79 | Lexi Walls | Vaccine Nation

    #79 | Lexi Walls | Vaccine Nation

    Dr. Lexi Walls is a biochemist, not a prophet—though, admittedly, it can sometimes be hard to tell the difference.

    Six years ago, when Lexi started researching coronaviruses, they were an understudied and poorly understood class of viruses. When Lexi wrote about the “tremendous pandemic potential of coronaviruses” in December 2019, no one realized that the seeds of the COVID-19 pandemic had already been sown. When Lexi completed her doctoral dissertation that same month on the structure of coronavirus spike proteins, she couldn’t have imagined how large those spike proteins soon would loom in our public consciousness, and in our efforts to develop effective vaccines against COVID-19.

    In this episode, Lexi joins Jocelyn and Bradley to share the surreal experience of doing “basic” research that turned out to have swift, profound, and far-reaching applications. She explains how the use of cryo-electron microscopy enabled her to characterize the structure of coronavirus spike proteins in great detail, and why this is so important for understanding how these viruses infect cells, how our immune system recognizes and responds to them, and how the emergence of variants could affect the course of the pandemic. She also explains the differences between mRNA vaccines and vector vaccines, as well as how these compare to more traditional types of vaccines. Finally, Lexi shares exciting news about a COVID vaccine she and her colleagues have developed using synthetic protein nanocages (!), and the friends discuss the future of pan-virus vaccines that might make us better prepared for the next pandemic.

    Follow Lexi on Twitter @coronalexington, and learn more about her amazing work at the links below!
    The Veesler Lab:
    Designed Protein Nanoparticle Vaccine:

    Further Reading:
    “Multitude of coronavirus variants found in the US — but the threat is unclear” (Ewen Callaway, Nature): https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-00564-4
    “What Do Vaccine Efficacy Numbers Actually Mean?” (Carl Zimmer and Keith Collins, The New York Times): https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/03/03/science/vaccine-efficacy-coronavirus.html
    “Here’s Why Johnson & Johnson’s Vaccine Only Requires One Dose” (Emily Mullin, Medium): https://coronavirus.medium.com/how-does-johnson-johnsons-vaccine-work-a17524d85edd
    “Variant-proof vaccines — invest now for the next pandemic” (Dennis R. Burton and Eric J. Topol, Nature): https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-00340-4

    “Self-assembly: From Nanowaffles to Nanostructures!”: https://funsizephysics.com/from-nanowaffles-to-nanostructures/

    “Forming Nanostructures: Froot Loops, Legos, and Self-assembly”: a...

    • 1 hr 3 min
    #78 | Hannah Gavin | Big Little Life

    #78 | Hannah Gavin | Big Little Life

    Life: our planet is teeming with it. The staggering diversity of the biological world is visible everywhere, from tiny insects to sprawling trees, from orchids and corgis to mold and lemurs and banana slugs and oyster mushrooms and . . . you get the idea. But even the boundless wonder of the macroscopic world may pale in comparison to all the life we cannot see.

    Jocelyn and Bradley are joined this week by Dr. Hannah Gavin, a veritable Willy Wonka of microbes, who introduces us to a vast, complex world of dazzling drama invisible to the naked eye but present all around us—and even within us. Hannah shares how being “professionally curious” led her to research questions at the intersection of microbiology, ecology, and human health. She discusses the far-reaching potential of the gut microbiome to impact our physiology; what differentiates “beneficial” bacteria from pathogens; and how microbes can perform valuable environmental services like digesting plastic. Along the way, she explains the differences between viruses and bacteria and bacteriophages (oh my!), and how viruses challenge our understanding of life itself. The friends also discuss how the COVID-19 pandemic has opened new spaces for dialogue between scientists and non-scientists, creating opportunities for us to learn together about the sometimes terrifying, sometimes beautiful, always awe-inspiring power of the microbiological world.

    Follow Hannah on Twitter @micro_cultured, and learn more about her amazing work at the links below!
    Harvard’s Microbial Sciences Initiative: https://msi.harvard.edu/
    SEA-PHAGES program: https://seaphages.org/
    “World of Viruses” exhibit (Harvard Museums of Science and Culture): https://hmsc.harvard.edu/world-viruses
    “A Fascinating World of Viruses” (Hannah on the HMSC Connects! podcast):https://hmscconnects.podbean.com/e/a-fascinating-world-of-viruses-with-microbiologist-hannah-gavin/
    “The Deadliest Being on Planet Earth – The Bacteriophage” (Kurzgesagt): https://youtu.be/YI3tsmFsrOg
    Related episodes:
    Turkey, Stuffing, and Other Gastronomic Experiments (Soon Kiat Lau): https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/24-soon-kiat-lau-turkey-stuffing-other-gastronomic/id1471423633?i=1000458033346

    Our Soils, Ourselves (Yamina Pressler): https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/39-yamina-pressler-our-soils-ourselves/id1471423633?i=1000469510259
    Everyone Has Herpes (Lisa Poppe): https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/8-lisa-poppe-everyone-has-herpes/id1471423633?i=1000446370166

    • 1 hr 12 min
    #77 | Kristi Montooth | Fruit Flies, Fedoras, and Endless Forms Most Beautiful

    #77 | Kristi Montooth | Fruit Flies, Fedoras, and Endless Forms Most Beautiful

    We’re counting down to Darwin Day, and you’re all invited to the par-TAY!

    This week, Jocelyn and Bradley celebrate the origin of Origin of Species author Charles Darwin with evolutionary geneticist and frequent (fruit) flier Dr. Kristi Montooth. Kristi regales us with tales of her work with model organism extraordinaire Drosophila, explaining why it’s hard to get some flies drunk, and why they owe their survival and ubiquity to the properties of their magical membranes. She also discusses the pivotal role the humble fruit fly played in the so-called “modern synthesis” of evolution and genetics that has yielded one of the most powerful and comprehensive explanatory frameworks in the history of science. More broadly, Kristi explains how the synthesis of many different types and sources of information is a hallmark of her work, and the friends discuss the chaotic, beautiful, joyously fractalesque nature of the living world and our attempts to understand it.

    Follow Kristi on Twitter @narhol, and learn more about her amazing work at the links below!
    “RIPping and RAPping at Berkeley” (David M. Rand, Genetics): https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1205242/pdf/ge13241223.pdf
    xkcd, “DNA”: https://xkcd.com/1605/
    “What If (Almost) Every Gene Affects (Almost) Everything?” (Ed Yong, The Atlantic): https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/06/its-like-all-connected-man/530532/
    Personalized Genetics Education Project: http://pged.org/
    Lords of the Fly: Drosophila Genetics and the Experimental Life (Robert Kohler): https://www.amazon.com/Lords-Fly-Drosophila-Genetics-Experimental/dp/B00DT68BQ2
    Related episodes:
    "I have a theory"... do you, though‪? (Discussion): https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/33-discussion-i-have-a-theory-do-you-though/id1471423633?i=1000465426271
    That is How an Evolutionary Biologist D‪o (Matt Wilkins): https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/32-matt-wilkins-that-is-how-an-evolutionary-biologist-do/id1471423633?i=1000464730144
    Sweet Dreams Are Made of Bee‪s (Anna Tatarko): https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/76-anna-tatarko-sweet-dreams-are-made-of-bees/id1471423633?i=1000506815152
    Birds Spark Hop‪e (Scott V. Edwards): https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/75-scott-v-edwards-birds-spark-hope/id1471423633?i=1000505997761
    Wild Lif‪e (Carin Bondar): a href="https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/71-carin-bondar-wild-life/id1471423633?i=1000501865084"...

    • 1 hr 13 min
    #76 | Anna Tatarko | Sweet Dreams Are Made of Bees

    #76 | Anna Tatarko | Sweet Dreams Are Made of Bees

    Fruit flies in straightjackets. Bees at slumber parties. Climate change in Game of Thrones.

    Everybody’s looking for something, and this episode has something for everyone!

    A plant ecologist turned pollinator physiologist, Anna Tatarko tells Jocelyn and Bradley about the exciting methods she is using to study bee brains, and how this work is helping scientists to understand how bees smell, sleep, learn, dance, and possibly dream. In particular, she shares her research on how some pesticides interfere with bees’ olfactory processing, explaining how she hopes to extend her work to focus on the impact bees’ gut microbiomes may have on the health of bee populations. Whether you want to know what you can do to help preserve and protect pollinator populations or are just wondering what bees dream about, you’ll be buzzing about this episode.

    Learn more about Anna’s amazing work at http://www.annatatarko.com/ and at the links below!
    The Leonard Lab at University of Nevada, Reno: http://www.anneleonard.com/
    “Bees aren't getting enough sleep, thanks to some common pesticides”: https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/21/europe/bee-sleep-pesticide-intl-scli-gbr-scn/index.html
    “Bees learn while they sleep, and that means they might dream”: http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20160621-do-bees-dream
    “Bees understand the concept of zero” (Science): https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/06/bees-understand-concept-zero
    “Fungus provides powerful medicine in fighting honey bee viruses”: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/10/181004100044.htm
    “A Mushroom Extract Might Save Bees From a Killer Virus”:
    Nerd Nite:
    Nerd Nite Lincoln: https://www.facebook.com/groups/nerdnitelincoln/
    Nerd Nite Reno: https://www.instagram.com/nerdnitereno/?hl=en
    Nebraska native plants: https://plantnebraska.org/plants/resources.html
    Related episodes:
    Bee Meets Girl (Bridget Gross): https://podcasts.apple.com/mt/podcast/18-bridget-gross-bee-meets-girl/id1471423633?i=1000453740563
    Birds Spark Hope (Scott V. Edwards): https://podcasts.apple.com/mt/podcast/75-scott-v-edwards-birds-spark-hope/id1471423633?i=1000505997761
    That is How an Evolutionary Biologist Do (Matt Wilkins): https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/32-matt-wilkins-that-is-how-an-evolutionary-biologist-do/id1471423633?i=1000464730144

    • 1 hr
    #75 | Scott V. Edwards | Birds Spark Hope

    #75 | Scott V. Edwards | Birds Spark Hope

    “Hope” is the thing with feathers -
    That perches in the soul -
    And sings the tune without the words -
    And never stops - at all -

    Emily Dickinson was clearly onto something when she penned these famous lines. Across countless generations, birds have captivated our imaginations with their incredible beauty, their staggering diversity, and their unique talents. For Dr. Scott Edwards, birds are fascinating organisms with a rich and complex evolutionary history, but they are also harbingers of hope at a moment when we sorely need it.

    Scott joins Jocelyn and Bradley to discuss his work as an ornithologist, evolutionary biologist, and curator at Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology. He explains how he uses a variety of techniques—even applying cutting-edge genomic analysis to specimens collected during the Lewis & Clark expedition!—to trace the evolution of new traits in birds. In addition, he shares stories of his cross-country bike trip inspired by #BlackBirdersWeek, and the friends discuss how the “tree of life” is not only a powerful metaphor for understanding evolutionary relationships but also for thinking about diversity, unity, the history of life and humanity’s place in it.

    Follow Scott on Twitter at @ScottVEdwards1, and learn more about his amazing work at the links below!

    Scott’s bike journey across America:
    Systemic Racism in Higher Education (Science letter): https://science.sciencemag.org/content/369/6510/1440.2
    Harvard Dept. of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology: https://oeb.harvard.edu/
    Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology: https://mcz.harvard.edu/
    Where Song Began: Australia’s Birds and How They Changed the World: https://www.amazon.com/Where-Song-Began-Australias-Changed/dp/0300221665
    Related episodes:
    That is How an Evolutionary Biologist Do (Matt Wilkins): a href="https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/32-matt-wilkins-that-is-how-an-evolutionary-biologist-do/id1471423633?i=1000464730144"...

    • 1 hr 6 min
    #74 | Nidhi Gupta | Hindsight --> Insight --> Foresight

    #74 | Nidhi Gupta | Hindsight --> Insight --> Foresight

    What the hell just happened? What does it all mean? And where do we go from here?

    If 2020 left you with a few lingering questions, you are not alone. Fortunately, London-based physician and filmmaker Dr. Nidhi Gupta is here to put it all in perspective. Nidhi tells Bradley and Jocelyn about her work on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK, and she describes her own battle with the virus. She shares her journey from medicine into filmmaking, including the genesis and goals of her current documentary film project, Start. Stop. Repeat, in which she explores the causes, effects, and possible legacies of the COVID-19 pandemic. The friends discuss the “trust gap” science and scientists face at this critical inflection point in our history; whether film is a medium uniquely suited for scientists to connect with a broad audience; and whether and how COVID-19 might ultimately be galvanized as a force for positive social change.
    NOTE: This episode was recorded in December 2020, prior to the latest surge and new COVID mutations were discovered in the United Kingdom.)

    Follow Nidhi on Twitter at @busydoctor, and learn more about her amazing work at the links below!

    Start. Stop. Repeat. https://greenlit.fund/project/start-stop-repeat
    “Redbridge doctor creates trailblazing documentary inspired by her experience of Covid-19”: https://www.westessexlife.co.uk/people/stop-start-repeat-documentary-on-covid-19-1-6896877
    Other podcasts featuring Nidhi:
    Drunk Women Solving Crime: https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/97-dr-nidhi-gupta-the-unfit-husband/id1425174819?i=1000483419641
    The Other 50%: http://theotherfiftypercent.com/blog/ep-204nidhigupta
    Femme Regard: https://www.radio.com/podcasts/femme-regard-podcast-29226/busy-doctor-bringing-the-documentary-realness-with-nidhi-gupta-315111874
    Spanish flu: A warning from history: https://youtu.be/3x1aLAw_xkY
    #hellomynameis campaign: https://www.hellomynameis.org.uk/
    Related episodes:
    Pandemic: A Letter from the Past (Gregg Mitman): https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/40-gregg-mitman-pandemic-a-letter-from-the-past/id1471423633?i=1000470227078
    The Deep Compassion of Mathematics (Discussion): https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/41-discussion-the-deep-compassion-of-mathematics/id1471423633?i=1000470889290
    We Are All Chimeras (Sam Illingworth): https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/53-sam-illingworth-we-are-all-chimeras/id1471423633?i=1000484115050

    • 1 hr 23 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
25 Ratings

25 Ratings


What a GREAT podcast!

Of all the science podcasts out there (many)
I enjoy listening to this the BEST ... like I’m a member of the family.

All Knowing McGill ,

Not a scientist

I am not a science person per se but really enjoy this podcast. They do a great job of explaining everything for us layman. They talk about many topics within the science realm.

Melindamelindammm ,


Listen here. (I didn't mean that to sound commanding, just to convey a sense of urgency and importance). You want to listen to this show. First hit's free, so why not try. They're actually all free and I can't even believe what an insane deal that is.
OK, so this show is incredible and I'm prepared to list, in great detail, why I believe this to be true.
1. The hosts of this show are so likeable. It feels like you are just hanging out and having a great time with your buddies, Brad and J (that's my nickname for Jocelyn because that's how much it feels like we're friends after listening to this show). In fact they could just as easily call this show "Hanging with Brad and J" or "Yelly Time in the Car With Friends," since I like to participate in their lively discussions. Even though no one listens to me. Sad emoji. I am also somewhat normal, I promise.
2. They spread the science word! I learn something interesting with every single episode. So I've learned at least 17 things already. And all for free and all while cry laughing on the freeway. Who has a good time on the freeway?? Well, I do, that's for sure.
2a. Yeah, it's my list so I get a 2a if I want. The science topics they cover are awesome sauce. There's a lot of physics, which goes over my head, but they are great about grounding conversations and making them interesting. With Jocelyn's training in the history of science, we always get to hear interesting context for the science being discussed. They make excellent points about science communication and how we can try to bridge the gap.
3. The funny factor. As mentioned in 2, I always laugh during this show. From an unnecessary obsession with Nicholas Cage to a random detailed synopsis of NBC's hit show Frasier, there's always something to laugh about.
4. Scientist origin stories. One of the problems we tackle in science communication is that there is a lack of awareness that scientists are just people. They are not scary weirdos that hide in underground labs to reanimate monsters. Not all of them, anyway. Some of them are completely normal people. Each interviewee is asked about how they became interested in science. It's great fun to hear about how they chose their paths.
All in all, this podcast has become a staple for me. Brad and Jocelyn pair extremely well together and really deliver education with entertainment and humor. They make me feel the opposite of how you feel when you eat peaches and drink milk. (listen to the causation episode if you want to understand what that means). Go forth and enjoy!

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