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


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. 

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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). 

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Trash to Treasure with Dr Stephen Wallace

December, 2022

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. 

Research mentioned by Stephen in the episode

And keep an eye out for his TED Talk from this year’s TEDxVienna. 

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The Origins of Antimicrobial Resistance with Dr Brian Wee

November 30th, 2022

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. 

 Rose Doyle 

Carys Redman-White  

Dr Brian Wee 

If you want to learn more about Brian’s work on whole genome sequencing across Nairobi, check out his paper:

Population genomics of Escherichia coli in livestock-keeping households across a rapidly developing urban landscape

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! 

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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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Loeske Kruuk

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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