biology

#385      30 min 34 sec
Outbreak! Human pandemics and how to manage the inevitable

Prof Eddie Holmes

Virologist Eddie Holmes explains how viral and bacterial pandemics of the type that spawned the Black Death and Ebola remain an unpredictable and inevitable part of our future. Professor Holmes describes how new technologies like genomic sequencing help us explore the origins and evolution of pathogens linked to pandemics as far back as Ancient Rome, and how evolving biosecurity and surveillance systems offer us a chance of containing outbreaks. Presented by Dr Andi Horvath.

#384      22 min 09 sec
Exploring the impact of city lights on birds, and building better detergents

Mitchell Nothling
Anne Aulsebrook

In our annual PhD episode, we chat with two young researchers on their diverse investigations. We hear from bioscientist Anne Aulsebrook, who is looking at how urban lighting and light pollution is impacting the health and behaviour of wild birds that make their home in our cities. We also speak to chemical engineer Mitchell Nothling about his research into how enzymes like those found in our digestive systems could be harnessed to create sustainable and more efficient detergents. Presented by Dr Andi Horvath.

#382      33 min 27 sec
Going viral: Global food security under threat from crop and livestock diseases

Prof John Fazakerley

Virologist and infectious diseases expert Prof John Fazakerley details the myriad threats to the global food supply from pathogen infestations in crops and livestock, and how new genetic and surveillance technologies are lending hope to keeping them in check. Presented by Dr Andi Horvath.

#371      33 min 01 sec
Slippery descent: Untangling the complexity of our evolutionary history

Prof Bernard Wood

Renowned paleoanthropologist Bernard Wood explains how continuing research into fossil and other evidence of our evolutionary history produces insights but also reveals how much we have yet to learn. How good, for example, are we at telling our recent ancestors and close relatives from those of the apes? How can we know how many species preceded our own? And can we tell which of those species are our ancestors, and which are non-ancestral close relatives? Presented by Dr Andi Horvath.

#369      39 min 00 sec
The necessity of kindness: Altruism in animals and beyond

Prof Lee Dugatkin

Evolutionary biologist and historian of science Prof Lee Dugatkin joins Dr Andi Horvath to discuss displays of altruism in insects, animals and humans, and how the often harsh evolutionary imperatives of survival can actually accommodate, promote or depend on acts of kindness and justice.

#368      31 min 43 sec
Decision neuroscience: Emerging insights into the way we choose

Prof Peter Bossaerts

Decision science researcher Prof Peter Bossaerts argues that investigating brain activity as we make decisions is generating new insights into how we deal with uncertainty and risk. Once the domain of economists and psychologists, the study of human decision-making is increasingly taking a neuron-level view, with implications well beyond economics and finance. Presented by Eric van Bemmel.

#360      29 min 26 sec
Can't give it up: The science behind addiction and the brain

Prof Andrew Lawrence

Behavioral neuroscientist Prof Andrew Lawrence joins host Dr Andi Horvath to discuss addictive and compulsive behaviors around drug and alcohol use, the power of psychological dependence, and how the brains of addicts differ from those of the rest of us.

#357      19 min 45 sec
Germ warfare: Young researchers seeking answers to diverse microbe threats

Claire Gorrie
Rebecca Vandegeer

In our annual PhD episode, two young science researchers discuss their investigations of microbes that threaten, respectively, human health and our food supply. We chat with Claire Gorrie about aspects of the drug-resistant bacterium Klebsiella pneumoniae, and how it's implicated in serious infections. And Rebecca Vandegeer tells us how the Barley Yellow Dwarf virus strips our wheat crops of their defences, posing a threat to food security. Presented by Dr Andi Horvath.

#355      35 min 43 sec
Hello, Pet!: Our love can hurt our animal friends

Prof Peter Sandøe

Bioethicist Peter Sandøe discusses our complicated relationship with animals and associated moral dilemmas, including how our love for companion animals can actually cause harm and the difference between society’s treatment of pets and production animals. Presented by Peter Clarke.

#354      34 min 17 sec
Brain in a dish: The therapeutic potential of stem cells and organoids

Dr Mirella Dottori
Assoc Prof Steve Petrou

Epilepsy researcher Steve Petrou and developmental neuroscientist Mirella Dottori discuss the potential of organoids -- miniature immature organs grown in dishes -- for future epilepsy and autism research. Presented by Dr Andi Horvath.