Ep 17. Orchid hunting, bird spotting and book writing with Julia Cooke


“It seems to me that the natural world is the greatest source of excitement; the greatest source of visual beauty; the greatest source of intellectual interest. It is the greatest source of so much in life that makes life worth living”

– David Attenborough

All you need to do is look and you will find that the natural world holds endless wonders. Scientists that spend their careers studying the natural environment delve into a world beyond the superficial. The grasses and plants around us are not mere scenery, they tell the story of life, of the organisms that they are and the environments that they have formed in. On each leaf, within every stream and under every rock are more creatures, each with a dynamic life story of their own waiting to be be told by natural historians.

In an interview with In Situ Science Dr Julia Cooke takes us into her ‘little world’. On a walk through Lane Cove National park in search of duck orchids Julia takes us on a journey through the natural history of Australia and her passion for the elusive and beautiful creatures that are hidden all around us. In fact she even wrote a children’s book about it ‘My Little World’, illustrated by Marjorie Crosby-Fairall Her passion for discovery is matched only by her delight in sharing these stories with her family and friends, her students and the public.

Find out more about Julia and her work at www.juliacooke.net and follow her on twitter @CookeJulia

Find out more at www.insituscience.com

Follow us on twitter @insituscience

Music: ‘Strange Stuff’ by Sonic Wallpaper – www.sonicwallpaper.bandcamp.com

Ep 16. Exploration, Entrepreneurs and Abyss Solutions with Nasir Ahsan


Scientists can find their skills having enormous impacts beyond the walls of academia. In many cases people with scientific training make wonderful entrepreneurs. Their skills in developing ideas and managing projects, combined with their self motivation and dedication to long term goals has already prepared them for the dynamic challenges of business development and management.

Dr Nasir Ahsan began his scientific career researching and developing autonomous robots. The tantalising lure of the unknown led him to develop a passion for deep sea exploration and discovery. In this interview with In Situ Science he tells the story of how navigating a remote operated submarine to the unexplored depths of the ocean floor inspired him to start his own company, Abyss Solutions. Nasir and his team are developing underwater ‘drones’ that can navigate autonomously underwater and collect information about the environment around them. Using this technology they can monitor underwater infrastructure such as dam walls, reservoirs and pipelines. Using robots lets them use specialised sensors to explore areas too difficult or dangerous for divers.

For more information visit www.abysssolutions.co, follow them @AbyssSolutions, or visit their YouTube Channel.

Abyss Solutions are developing underwater drones to autonomously monitor submerged infrastructure. Image copyright: Abyss Solutions

Ep 15. Knödel, computing and tin foil hat stuff with Tim Kahlke


In this age of big data even scientists can struggle to keep up with the massive amounts of information available to them. With exponential advances in data storage and computation new fields of science are opening up and new types of scientific professionals are emerging. Bioinformatics is a rapidly growing field using computer programming to organise, analyse and interpret large scale datasets in new an exciting ways.

In an interview with In Situ Science, bioinformatician and marine ecologist Dr Tim Kahlke introduces us to the power of programming in science, but also talks openly about the responsible use of this power. Tim uses large datasets of bacterial genomes to understand the responses of microbial communities to climate change. He also makes a mean Knödel and is maybe a little bit freaked out about Skynet taking over the planet.

Follow Tim on twitter @TimKahlke and visit the Climate Change Cluster website.

Music: ‘Strange Stuff’ by Sonic Wallpaper – www.sonicwallpaper.bandcamp.com

Ep 14. Rage lizards, snake probes and turtle tunnels with James Baxter Gilbert


If you catch a scientist in action, chances are they will be doing something strange. After all the entire profession involves pushing the boundaries of human knowledge and conducting experiments that have never been done before. In this pursuit scientists find themselves coming up with creative solutions to new problems.

In this interview James Baxter Gilbert tells tales of his adventures trouble shooting snake probes, protecting threatened species and avoiding bear attacks. His journey as a scientist and herpetologist has taken him from his homeland of Canada to the holy land of reptiles that is Australia. He now spends his days chasing rage lizards in canoes and stealing their babies, best listen to the interview…

Follow James on Twitter @JamesBG_27 or check out http://www.whitinglab.com

Find out more at http://www.insituscience.com
Follow us on twitter @insituscience

Music: ‘Strange Stuff’ by Sonic Wallpaper – http://www.sonicwallpaper.bandcamp.com

Ep 13. Red light spider fights and scientific story telling with Leilani Walker


Scientist, communicator, singer, story teller and card shark Leilani Walker is an upcoming force in New Zealand science and exploration. Along with scientific illustrator Emma Scheltema, Leilani is launching a new initiative to raise awareness of New Zealand’s unique insect fauna by designing an insect themed set of playing cards. Pre-orders for the ‘Insects of New Zealand’ playing cards are online now!

Hear the story of how this initiative came about on the podcast here

Order your own set of Insects of New Zealand playing cards here

On the podcast Leilani philosophises on the use of language in science and how scientists are able to tell stories through their writing. Leilani put this in to practice herself as she shares her passion for science and exploration and how it has lead her to conduct a PhD studying the combative mating systems of sheet-web spiders.

Check out Leilani’s blog here or follow her on twitter @Lanipai

Find out more www.insituscience.com

Music www.bensound.com

Ep 12. Ants, ants and more ants with Ravindra Palavalli Nettimi


Doing a PhD can be a life changing experience. For Ravindra Palavalli Nettimi pursuing a PhD has meant travelling across the globe and challenging himself to expand and grow as a person.

In an interview with in situ Science Ravindra takes us through how the evolution of ant colonies have uncovered some remarkable solutions to some problems humans now face in our large interconnected societies.


Listen to the Podcast here –


Ravindra also hosts his own podcast ‘Just Questions’ where he discusses the importance of asking the right questions in science.

Visit Ravindra’s website here – http://rvndrpn.wixsite.com/ravindra

Follow Ravindra on twitter here – https://twitter.com/ravindra_pn

Listen to Just Questions here – https://soundcloud.com/user-951555253

Music – http://www.bensound.com


Ep 11. Faecal transplants, biological warfare and phage hunting with Heather Hendrickson

Antibiotic resistance is on the rise. The overuse of antibiotics has lead to the evolution of highly dangerous antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria. Dr Heather Hendrickson is a research scientist and science communicator from Massey University in New Zealand. Her research group is at the front line of understanding how other forms of treatment can be used as alternatives to broad spectrum antibiotics. In an interview with in situ science she takes us through her research into bacteriophage therapy: finding viruses that will target and kill pathogenic bacteria.

Listen to the podcast here…


The fun doesn’t stop there though as we continue on to discuss faecal transplants, science communication and how a child growing up in a conservative religious family becomes an influential evolutionary biologist.

Find out more about Heather’s research here and read her thoughts on the This Microbial Life blog.

Follow Heather on Twitter @DrHHNZ