Biological Sciences


BioPOD is the official podcast of the School of Biological Sciences, produced and presented by enthusiastic student volunteers.

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Latest Episodes


iGEM2022 Petalution - How to clean our water using synthetic biology

October 11th, 2022

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


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Beetlejuices – How beetles take care of their offspring

September 27th, 2022  

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

August 30th, 2022

In this unique episode, Hend (@Hypatia_EG) and Julie (@grossesommer) 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 (@LoeskeKruuk), and Dr Helen Alexander (@HelenKAlexander) 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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Spore Wars - Microbial biotechnology in space

July 27th, 2022

In this episode, Rose Doyle (@RoseDoyle_) talks to Dr Rosa Santomartino (@RosaBiorosa) of the UK Centre for Astrobiology (@UKAstrobiology) about her research that’s “out of this world”. Rosa talks about her journey to become an astrobiologist, specifically Astromicrobiology: the study of microorganisms and their behaviour in an extra-terrestrial environment. We hear about her work on sending microbes to space to mine precious metals from asteroids. She then discusses the potential—and current limitations—of sending microbes to space.  

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Biology Without the Wells with Dr Nadanai Laohakunakorn

June 28th, 2022  

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!

​​​​Dr Nadanai Laohakunakorn



Art by Louis, intro and editing by Hend and Severina.



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Cell differentiation: When DNA met Sall4 with Raphael Pantier and Kashyap Chhatbar

June 12th, 2022  

Have you ever wondered what neglected regions of the genome do? In this episode we hear about the search for AT rich region binding proteins.

Jack Suitor talks to Raphael Pantier and Kashyap Chhatbar from the Bird lab at the University of Edinburgh about their work on the DNA binding protein Sall4. They discover that Sall4 binds to AT rich regions which affects large scale gene expressions and enables differentiation.

Jack Suitor 

Raphael Pantier 

Kashyap Chhatbar 

Sall4 could help time cellular differentiation as part of embryonic development and is therefore implicated in developmental disease. By getting more insight into proteins that bind AT rich regions we could learn more about the cause of some diseases.

Art by Chris Donohoe, intro and editing by Apple Chew.

Chris Donohoe

Apple Chew

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Psychoacoustic explorers: turning proteins into sounds with Edward Martin

May 31st, 2022 

In this episode, Rose Doyle (@RoseDoyle_) talks to BioPOD alumnus and PhD student Eddie Martin (@Sonifyed). 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.

Link to the paper

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PhD Advice from recent PhD grad Dr Lizzie Wadsworth

April 26th, 2022

In the second episode of our PhD advice series, Liz (@LizGaberdiel) talks to Dr Lizzie Wadsworth (@LizzieWadz), 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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