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3.2 Charles and Rianna - listen now

Guests Charles Cockell and Rianna Walcott talk about woolly mammoths, deep sea gigantism and knowing your place in the family hierarchy.

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Transcript for 3.2 Charles and Rianna

About our guests

Charles and Rianna

Charles Cockell 

Chosen object: a piece of woolly mammoth

Recording location: living room

Charles is Professor of Astrobiology at the University of Edinburgh. His group focuses on the study of life in extreme environments and understanding the diversity, processes and biosignatures of life in extremes, and the potential habitability of extraterrestrial environments.

In 2011 he set up the UK Centre for Astrobiology. Their activities have ranged from establishing an underground astrobiology lab, to studying life in the deep subsurface, to launching education projects in Scottish prisons and experiments in the International Space Station.

He has written a number of popular science books. ‘Impossible Extinction’ (Cambridge University Press) explores the tenacity of microbes on the Earth, ‘Space on Earth’ (Macmillan) investigates the indivisible links between environmentalism and space exploration and ‘The Equations of Life’ (Basic Books) presents a groundbreaking argument for why alien life will evolve to be much like life here on Earth. 

Charles runs the popular free open online course ‘Astrobiology and the Search for Extraterrestrial Life’ on Coursera.

Charles's staff profile

Free online course: Astrobiology and the Search for Extraterrestrial Life 

Rianna Walcott

A piece of woolly mammoth in a padded box and a clock with a painting of a person holding their palm to their face.
Charles's piece of woolly mammoth and Rianna's artwork clock

Chosen object: an artwork clock by her sister, Maïa Walcott

Recording location: living room at home in London

Rianna is a PhD candidate at King's College London researching Black women's identity formation in digital spaces, and a graduate twiceover from the University of Edinburgh.

She co-founded Project Myopia, a website that promotes inclusivity in academia and a decolonised curriculum. She frequently writes about feminism, mental health, race and literature for publications including gal-dem, The Skinny, The Guardian, The BBC, Vice, and Dazed. Rianna is co-editor of an anthology about BAME mental health - The Colour of Madness, and in the time left over she moonlights as a professional jazz singer. 

Rianna's website

Project Myopia

Find more artwork by Rianna's sister, Maïa Walcott, on her website

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Host: Richenda Rae

Theme music: Nathan Webb

Producer: Kate Stewart