Life Sciences podcast
Ceri Harrop

Ceri Harrop

Based here in the Faculty of Life Sciences, Ceri Harrop is the Public Engagement Programme Manager for the Cell-Matrix Research Centre as well writing, recording and producing the FLS Podcast.


Tia Bowman

Tia Bowman

Tia Bowman is the newest member of the podcast team. After completing her undergraduate degree in Zoology and her masters in Integrative Biology at the University of Manchester, she has developed a keen interest in science, science communication and specifically the research conducted within the faculty. She will be writing, producing and presenting the podcast.

Greg Counsell

After studying for his undergraduate degree in Zoology here at The University of Manchester, Greg Counsell is currently working in science policy with the British Ecological Society as well as writing, producing and presenting the Life Sciences Podcast.

In our fortnightly podcasts we aim to keep you up-to-date with the most recent and exciting biological discoveries.

Our podcasts are presented by Ceri Harrop, Tia Bowman and Greg Counsell. If you'd like to get in touch, please email: podcast@manchester.ac.uk.

Download The Life Sciences Podcast from iTunes.

Series 3

Episode 14 - The passions of a science podcaster

This final podcast of the series is all about a science podcaster’s passions. As I’m a zoology graduate, these passions include amazing animal adaptations and science communication. We find out how certain animals, such as the freshwater turtle and crucian carp, are able to live in the absence of oxygen for up to six months with Dr Gina Galli. From living without oxygen to life in the freezer, we speak to Dr Jonathan Codd about his research looking at breathing and locomotion in the Svalbard ptarmigan.

Finally, we hear from the prolific science writer and blogger Ed Yong, speaking about his passion for science communication and blogging with Quentin Cooper, a successful science presenter and journalist, at a PhD conference held at the University earlier this year.

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Episode 13 - Underwater Wonders

In this episode we take a dip into the underwater world with researchers here at The University of Manchester. Firstly, we hear from Dr John Fitzpatrick, about his unique research looking at the evolution of reproductive traits in response to postcopulatory sexual selection in marine organisms.

Following this, we shall be discussing the impact of anthropogenic factors, such as climate change with Dr Holly Shiels and metal pollution with Dr Keith White, on our marine and freshwater ecosystems and the species that thrive within them.

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Episode 12 - EGGS: The evolution of genes, genomes and systems

Evolution occurs and generates diversity at every level of biological organization, from species, individual organisms to DNA and proteins. So, in this podcast, we zoom into molecular evolution.

We speak to Dr Cathy Walton about how genetic variation is generated and the evolutionary processes that can then act upon our genes to drive phenotypic diversity. We’ll also be discussing how proteins and complex systems evolve, how protein function can place evolutionary constraints on genomes and how novel genes and novel function can arise, with Professor Simon Lovell and Professor David Robertson from The University of Manchester.

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Episode 11 - Drug discovery and development: How it’s done

In this week’s episode, we shall be travelling through the drug discovery and development process. This podcast spans from how we identify potential drug targets to discovering and designing new drug candidates, evaluating safety and toxicity of drug compounds, all the way to conducting clinical trials.

Our guests include:

Professor Andrew Doig, co-founder of a drug discovery company spun out from The University of Manchester called Pharmakure; Professor Ian Kimber, Chair of Toxicology and Associate Dean for Business Development here in the Faculty and finally, Dr Karen Cosgrove, an FLS researcher and Dr Indi Banerjee, Consultant in Paediatric Endocrinology at Royal Manchester Children's Hospital, both of whom have worked on a recent clinical trial using purified fish oils to help treat congenital hyperinsulism.

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Episode 10 – Food for thought: What is the relationship between obesity and the brain?

This week’s podcast focuses on the intricate relationship between obesity and the brain. We will be answering questions such as: Why is it so difficult to lose weight, even when you eat less? Is it bad to diet when you are pregnant? And is being obese harmful to the brain? Professor Simon Luckman discusses how our brain regulates energy balance.

We find out how maternal nutritional status can directly affect the propensity for the offspring to develop obesity in later life from Professor Anne White and Dr Catherine Lawrence reveals how obesity can affect brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s and stroke.

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Episode 9 - The helminth and its host: Are parasitic worms helpful or harmful?

In our latest podcast, we wriggle into the world of the parasitic worm and discover how the immune system and parasitic worms interact with one another. We learn about the immune response required to expel parasitic worms and what goes wrong to allow the development of chronic helminth infections. We also discuss the striking relationship between parasitic worm infections and allergies and autoimmune diseases and the possibility to use helminthic therapy to treat these diseases.

Our guests include Professor Andrew MacDonald, Dr Sheena Cruickshank and Dr Mark Travis from The University of Manchester. We also speak to Dr Rowann Bowcutt, a current postdoctoral researcher at NYU, who is involved in conducting clinical trials using pig whipworm eggs to treat ulcerative colitis.

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Rowann Bowcutt's interview in full:

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Episode 8 - Open access publishing

In this episode we discuss the controversial topic of open access publishing in scientific literature as we speak to key stakeholders from all sides of the debate.

Our guests this week are: evolutionary biologist and champion of the open access movement Professor Jonathan Eisen; Alicia Wise from commercial publisher Elsevier; Andrea Baier from the British Ecological Society; and finally, Jan Wilkinson, Director of The John Rylands Library here at The University of Manchester, and deputy librarian Simon Bains.

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Episode 7 - Cute killer primates and conservation

Welcome back to a new year of the life sciences podcast. In this episode, we firstly delve into the world of the venomous slow loris with Prof Anna Nekaris, a Professor in Primate Conservation at Oxford Brookes University. We also speak to George Madani, a wildlife ecologist, who regales us with his first hand experience of slow loris venom!

Finally we catch up with Stephanie Landymore, a Manchester graduate and a guest on the previous podcast. We discuss her journey into conservation, from graduating to her current position as parliamentary campaigns officer for the RSPB.

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Episode 6 - The badger cull debate: Not so black and white

Due to the controversy surrounding the two extended badger cull trials, and potentially the widespread use of badger culling as a bovine TB control measure, this week we interviewed four guests from different backgrounds to find out the truth behind the badger cull.

Harry Martin, a Zoology student, studied the ecology of badgers during his placement year. Kat Finch, a student who’s family is in the cattle farming industry, and Stephanie Landymore, a Manchester Zoology graduate and now a RSPB Parliamentary Campaigns Officer, provide both their personal opinions and a farmer's perspective on the badger cull. Dr Kieron Flanagan, a lecturer in Science and Technology Policy at the Manchester Business School, gives us insight into the Government’s decision-making process in this controversial trial.

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Episode 5

During November, there are two major cancer campaigns - Movember and Lung Cancer Awareness Month. Hence, this episode we tackle the topic of cancer. Firstly we speak to Dr Cathy Tournier, molecular cancer studies research group leader, about the molecular basis of cancer and why it is so difficult to treat.

We then focus on the current campaigns by talking to two PhD students who are both raising awareness and fundraising for Movember. We discuss what makes a successful campaign and get both a historical and social perspective on cancer and cancer research from Dr Carsten Timmerman, a senior lecturer at the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine.

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Episode 4

This week’s episode is all about award-winning science in cells. We speak to Dr Lisa Swanton about this year’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. We find out how award-winning scientists discovered the molecular machinery governing the movement of molecules in, around and out of cells and why this discovery was fundamental for advancing our understanding of cell physiology.

Our next guests are members of the Manchester iGEM team, who won ‘Best Human Practices’ at the World Championships of the iGEM competition with their synthetic alternative to palm oil. We discuss ‘E. c(oil)i’ (their product), the environmental and economic impacts of their project and how it felt to win at the World Championships!

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Episode 3 - Jurassic Park Special

Inspired by the film Jurassic Park, this episode asks the question, are there facts behind the fiction? Firstly, we speak to Dr David Kirby, a senior lecturer in Science Communication, about how science has shaped movies like Jurassic Park, and how these movies have impacted real science.

We then catch up with zoologist Dr Bill Sellers, who reveals how fast the Cretaceous king (T. rex) could run. Recreating dinosaurs using ‘dino-DNA’ from insects trapped in amber is the heart of Jurassic Park science. We speak to both Dr David Penney and Professor Terry Brown, who have sadly confirmed this element of Jurassic Park will, in all likelihood, remain fictitious in recently published work.

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Episode 2

In light of the recent media storm surrounding the latest IPCC report on climate change, we thought we’d get our hands dirty and unearth some of the less glamorous but no less fascinating aspects of climate change science. Ecologist Professor Richard Bardgett reveals that to understand how terrestrial ecosystems will respond to climate change and changes in land use; we need to dig deep within the soil.

We also speak to the proud winners of this year’s Society of Biology Science Communication Awards, Dr Sheena Cruickshank and PhD student Rebecca Williams who tell us about their current projects and their love for sharing science with the public.

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Episode 1

In the first episode of the new series:

We talk to Dr Susanne Shultz, a faculty researcher who, along with a team of scientists from the universities of Manchester, Oxford, Auckland and University College London, has offered new insights into the evolution of social monogamy in primates.

Our second guest is Professor Daniel Davis, author of the recently published book, ‘The Compatibility Gene’. We discuss the global scientific adventure that has spanned 60 years and uncovered many potential roles of the compatibility genes. These include roles in health and in finding a life partner.

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Previous series

All of the podcasts from our previous series. Click the titles to expand/contract.

Series 2 podcasts
Series 1 podcasts