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In this Brighton-based podcast, Veronica & Gigi take a break from studying bees to explore the strange worlds of other PhD students, finding out what they do and why. They report first-hand experiences of being a researcher, complete with misadventures, solidarity and topical issues. Full info for each episode & guest is at Supported by the Sussex Researcher Development Programme.

In this Brighton-based podcast, Veronica & Gigi take a break from studying bees to explore the strange worlds of other PhD students, finding out what they do and why. They report first-hand experiences of being a researcher, complete with misadventures, solidarity and topical issues. Full info for each episode & guest is at Supported by the Sussex Researcher Development Programme.
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In this Brighton-based podcast, Veronica & Gigi take a break from studying bees to explore the strange worlds of other PhD students, finding out what they do and why. They report first-hand experiences of being a researcher, complete with misadventures, solidarity and topical issues. Full info for each episode & guest is at Supported by the Sussex Researcher Development Programme.




Bruna Abreu: Green chemistry and drug synthesis

In this weeks episode we chat to Bruna Abreu from the University of Nottingham about her research in the synthesis of analogues of the antimalarial drug Artemisinin using flow chemistry techniques. Bruna obtained her bachelor degree in Chemistry at the University of São Paulo in Brazil, where she did research in the synthesis of natural products. She then did a placement at Cambridge University where she learned about flow chemistry. Listen to hear Veronica and Gigi struggle to grasp even...


The Importance of a PhD Community

Today we're talking about the importance of being part of a PhD community during a doctorate, in our second themed episode. Our guests are experts on this theme - Karolina and Abi are both Research Hive Scholars at the University of Sussex, where they work to build the PhD community. We discuss what makes a community, why being part of one is so important during your doctorate, and how this can help to counteract isolation and other issues that can often cause mental ill-health in PhD...


Veronica Wignall: Garden centres & pollinator-friendly planting - a missed opportunity?

This week we mix things up a bit and Gigi interviews Veronica about pollinator-friendly planting, following the publication of some exciting new research last week. The research is mainly exciting because it's V's first ever published paper... but the findings are pretty interesting too. In the new study, Veronica and co-authors (omg) aimed to find out how people currently feel about bees and other pollinators, and whether they're interested in pollinator-friendly planting. They...


Vanessa Hennessy: Modifying memories & preventing PTSD

Our special guest this week is a PhD student with University College London’s Clinical Psychopharmacology Unit, and also Gigi’s mum! Vanessa researches how biological, physiological and behavioural factors can affect susceptibility to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); as well as how modifying memory formation can prevent or reduce the distress that comes with PTSD. We talk about the prevalence of PTSD in war-torn areas and the need for new therapies, the surprising ways in which...


Joe Millard: Pollinator biodiversity in a changing world

In this episode we chat to Joe Millard all about his work on pollinator biodiversity. Don't worry, it's not just about bees! Joe is a computational ecologist based at University College London and the Institute of Zoology, studying the causes and consequences of global pollinator biodiversity change. We discuss what biodiversity actually means, all the crazy different pollinator species (spoiler, Justin Bieber is apparently not a pollinator), and you can hear a room full of pollinator PhD...


Elle Whitcroft: Race, dreams and childhood in children's comics

Today we interview Elle Whitcroft about her work on children's newspaper strips. Elle Whitcroft is a PhD student at the University of Sussex, researching how race, dreams and childhood are represented in children's comics. Working between literary history, cultural studies, and word-image theory, her thesis investigates the role of race and dreams from mid-nineteenth- and early twentieth-century newspaper comic strips. Not only do we discuss her PhD topic but she also gives us some tips on...


Daniel Hajas: Human computer interactions

Today we speak to Daniel Hajas, a second year PhD student at the Sussex Computer Human Interaction (SCHI) Lab. We talk to him about his work on the intersection of mid-air haptics, science communication and Human-Computer Interaction. We discuss the use of tactile experiences for purposes of provoking personal responses, which are known to be relevant in science communication, such as interest or enjoyment and how he hopes his research will make science more tangible, more 'real', and...


Zak Romaszko: Quantum Computing

Today we speak to Zak Romaszko, who studies something about quantum computing. Zak explains what quantum means, how ion trap technology can help develop the next generation of computers for massively enhanced processing power, and how he works with something called a 'Pringle' that isn't a delicious potato-based snack. We discuss the future of environmentally-friendly computing, and Zak gives us each a gift! Veronica has a cold and struggles to get her brain round anything; Gigi takes a...


Mental Health during your PhD

In our first themed episode, Mental Health during your PhD, we chat to the wonderful Sophie Valeix and Josh Hutton, both previous PhD students, about mental health and wellbeing during the doctorate*. As well as sharing their personal experiences of mental health issues during their PhD, our guests talk to us about why they think doctoral students are particularly vulnerable to developing problems with their mental health. We ask them to share their advice for anyone who is currently...


Planet Bee-hD #4: Solitary Bee Storytime

STORYTIME ALERT! Today we're talking about some weird and wonderful aspects of solitary bees in four short 'bee stories'. Tune in for a mega Bee Quest (and a moral dilemma), Tear-Drinking Bees, Mating Mess-Ups in which bees are tricked into mating with with flowers and beetles, and some of our shiniest and strangest solitary bees. ----------- Follow us on Twitter: @PlanetPhD


Jim Whiting: Stickleback evolution

In this episode we chat to Jim Whiting, a postdoc now working at the University of Exeter about his work on his PhD. Coming from a family of accountants, Jim opted instead to follow a passion for nature and completed a 4 year Zoology masters at the University of Sheffield. It was here Jim became interested in research and evolution. We discuss Jim's PhD on understanding why wild populations of fish exhibit different immune responses, how these evolved and whether evolution is repeatable...


Fiona Scott: Drug discovery

Today we're talking to Fiona Scot, a third year PhD student at Sussex Drug Discovery Centre at the University of Sussex. She works as a medicinal chemist developing chemical probes that may lead to better cancer drugs one day. We talk about the drug discovery process, kinases, why they're so important for cancer drug research and the future of drug testing with the potential advancement of 'organ-on-a-chip' technology. Fiona also discusses how her blog, Chemisty of a PhD, has sparked an...


Planet Bee-hD #3: Solitary Bees

Today we’re talking about the unsung heroes of bee world – solitary bees. Did you know there are 250 species of solitary bee in the UK alone? We talk about what ‘solitary’ means for bees, how these bees differ from the well-known honey bee and bumble bees, some of the amazing ways in which they nest and how important they are for pollination. We also answer listener questions including – are solitary bees lonely? Do they sting? What is haplodiploidy? And (of course) do they make honey?...


James Stubbing: Interstellar dust

Did you know that space is dusty? James Stubbing is an astrochemistry PhD student who studies interstellar dust, and surface processes that are relevant to space. His laboratory has a chamber that creates the conditions of space, at low temperatures and a trillionth of atmospheric pressure. Here he watches how particles bind to a graphite surface, giving us clues about catalysis, how life may have formed, and how it may form in the future. We talk about interstellar dust and what it's made...


Nicole Mennell: Shakespeare's Horses, Hawks & Hounds

Today we're talking to Nicole Mennell about the three "H"s - horses, hawks and hounds - in Shakespeare and other early modern plays. Nicole's animal studies PhD untangles how these animals are represented in plays, and how this related to politics & sovereignty at the time. We talk about Shakespeare's controversial coat of arms, why people faint while watching Titus Andronicus, and why, in the 21st century, Boris Johnson is often portrayed as a pig. We discuss widening participation and...


Francesca Kilpatrick: Climate Change & Activism

In this episode, released in solidarity with the the global #ClimateStrike, we interview Francesca Kilpatrick from Brighton University. Francesca researches how securitisation, the political move towards treating climate change as a threat to national security, affects climate activists. We speak about hope, sending the right message to younger generations about climate change, the incredible Greta Thunberg, post-apocalyptic fashion - and how working collectively can save the...


Mijke Van Der Zee: Genetics & Guppies

Happy International Women’s Day! Amazing female scientist Mijke researches population genetics in guppies, otherwise known as million fish or rainbow fish. Mijke tells us about her journey from cake waitressing to studying genetics, her current work with guppies, outreach work, and how she came to love coding. We also discuss what happens if your supervisor gets a job somewhere else… halfway through your PhD. --- Follow Mijke on Twitter @mvdz28


Planet Bee-hD #2: Bumblebees

Episode 2 of Planet Bee-hD is all about bumblebees. We talk about ‘buzz pollination’, bee-hunting badgers, the etymology of bumblebee and the ‘humble bee’, the largest bumblebee in the world - and share an extra exciting bee-related newsflash. Find out how you can get involved with bumblebee conservation, tips on how to look after them in your garden, and more! --- Follow us on Twitter: @PlanetPhD


Matt Smith: Creating trans-friendly cities

Matt researches trans and non-binary people's experiences of cities, seeking to bridge the gap between individuals' experiences and urban planning & policy. We talk about trans-inclusive spaces, Matt's embodied research methods including body mapping and community mapping, and an interesting experience while recruiting research participants through Grindr. Follow Matt on Twitter: @queeryingspace


Shaun Williams: Bikes bikes bikes

Shaun studies the use of big data in cycling infrastructure. We talk about how bikes could and should make commuting an enjoyable experience, rather than a stressful one, for people of all ages & abilities. Shaun tells us about his masters project which involved following cyclists around parks with a go-pro. We discuss the experience of being a PhD, including imposter syndrome and moving to a new city to study, and end with an extract from one of three ‘survival texts’.