Biological Sciences


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

BioPOD banner

Latest Episodes

Primate Evolution with Dr Katerina Guschanski

In this first episode of a two-parter with Dr Katerina Guschanski, Neelakshi Varma finds out about the intricacies and quirks of primate evolution, specifically around guenon monkeys. We also learn about how Katerina accidentally found her way to working with primates, the difficulties and exciting aspects of field work in Madagascar and why you can’t really define a species.

Katerine Guschanski on Research Explorer

Listen now

Science communication and education with Andrea Paterlini

In this episode Anna and Andrea Paterlini talks about the approach to education of genetics and his experience developing a course for 2nd year bachelor students.

They discuss diversity and inclusion in science and what remains to be done to be scientifically accurate when it comes to these sensitive topics in education as well as everyday life. Andrea also mentions what he and other scientists did to address the statements of the secretary of state for science.

Open Letter to the Government about EDI in Science

We've also linked the website for the author that Andrea mentioned, Adam Rutherford, below. 

Adam Rutherford's website

Listen now

Let’s chat, meet Prof. Thorunn Helgason, new head of Biology School at the University of Edinburgh

November 6th, 2023  

In this episode, Haomiao chats with Professor Thorunn Helgason, the head of the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Edinburgh. It’s been a year since Thorunn started her post here in August 2022, let’s meet her and hear how she sees the past academic year in the School, and how she expects the future to happen. And, have you also wondered what was Edinburgh Uni like years ago? Well, Thorunn doesn’t just see the University thriving today, she also witnessed the changes happening since she first stepped into the University as a student. 

We also asked her advice for students and young professionals. So why not grab a tea and sit down with us to talk about the past, present and future, about our School and yourself?

Listen now

Dr. Sandy Hetherington: Plant fossils and the story they tell

October 4th, 2023 

In this episode Neelakshi talks to Dr. Sandy Hetherington about the work in plant paleobotany and evolution.

They discuss what plant fossils are, how and where they are formed and what they can tell us about plant history today. Sandy focuses on plant root evolution as part of his research and introduces one of the best-preserved plant fossil deposits here in Scotland, called Rhynie chert.

Listen now

Circadian Rhythms of Algae with Dr Gerben van Ooijen

May 30th, 2023

Why do you think you are awake right now? You might be aware that your circadian rhythm determines your sleep cycle. But how does your body keep time? Can a cell have a clock? And how can this system survive perturbations? 

Gerben van Ooijen and his lab work on finding out some of the cellular mechanisms that are behind the ability of an organism to keep time. They study modified algae that give off light during some phases of the circadian clock, to shine some light on the particularities of time-regulated genes. 

Listen now

Green Bioactives: A biomanufacturing spin-out company with Professor Gary Loake

May 6th, 2023

In this episode, Apple Chew chats to Gary Loake, a Professor at the Institute of Molecular Plant Sciences at the University of Edinburgh. His group researches the immune responses of plants.

Gary is also the founder and chief scientific officer of the biotech startup Green Bioactives. Since plants can produce immune-related products with sometimes useful properties and up to 25% of pharmaceuticals trace back to plant natural products, his company develops a biomanufacturing platform to efficiently churn out valuable products.

Green Bioactives

Listen now

Campus Conservation with Dr Sophie Haupt

April 1st, 2023  

Where do plant scientists get their plant materials from? How do you best grow a new species? In this episode, Haomiao sits down with Dr Sophie Haupt, the manager of the plant growth facility at the University of Edinburgh. As part of the facility team, she supports research and teaching projects by growing all kind of plants in grow domes, glass houses, and of course outside.  

Sophie is also working on a conservation project on campus, to provide a safe and biodiverse habitat for native wildlife such as hedgehogs to return to campus. As part of this project, they have even planted some berry bushes and have started a little vegetable garden. 

Listen now

PhD Advice from the New Director of Grad School

March 4th, 2023

In this episode, Liz Gaberdiel chats to Gerben van Ooijen, postgraduate advisor and Director of the Graduate School at the University of Edinburgh. They discuss the role of postgraduate advisors and how they can help during PhD studies. We hear what situations postgraduate advisors can help with and Gerben gives us some vital advice on how to maintain a productive, healthy and enjoyable PhD journey.  They also discuss his work as the Director of the Graduate Schoo and illustrate the key role he plays in maintaining the high standards of Edinburgh's PhD programmes. 

Listen now

PhD Advice from Postgrad administrators Karen Woodcock and Mairead Rae

January 31st, 2023

In this episode Liz Gaberdiel interviews Karen Woodcock and Mairead Rae, the Postgraduate Programme Administrators of ICB, IQB3 and IEB, IIIR, IMPS, respectively, in the School of Biological Science at the University of Edinburgh. They share their experiences working with postgraduate students, what insights they accumulated from that work and share top tips on a successful PhD. They also introduce a wide range of support they can provide and share useful resources for a successful PhD. 

Institue of Academic Development

Get in touch with Karen or Mairead by email:

You can also drop by their office at Mary Brück Building: from Monday-Thursday and alternate Fridays (at the time of the recording, restrictions on in person meetings were in place). 

Listen now

Find BioPOD across different platforms

You can find BioPOD wherever you get your podcasts: 


Contact details


Meet the team

Find out more about the BioPOD team.

Download archive

Missed a show? You can download past episodes from the archive.