Episode 34: Being Agile at 130

This week we spoke to Josh Ghaim, CTO of Johnson & Johnson. We were interested in how at around 130 years old, one of the largest organisations on the planet can stay nimble, forward facing, and seek out innovation in new places. We met Josh at the Hello Tomorrow conference last year, and were interested in how important that kind of face time is with budding healthcare innovators. We were keen to break down the role of J&J Innovation, an arm of the company that seeks to develop healthcare through entrepreneurship. This includes the international JLabs and JLinx accelerators.

Josh also spoke about their Africa Innovation Challenge, which offers budding founders up to $100,000, in the areas of early childhood development and maternal health to name a few.

Episode 33: From Lab Bench To Marketplace

This week we spoke to Katie Rae, the CEO of The Engine, a Cambridge (Mass.) based deep tech accelerator that provides the physical workspace to develop the companies, the Cambridge brain trust to guide the founders, and the financial backing to make each transformative idea a reality. The companies range from robotics, energy, medical devices, and biotech. Prior to The Engine, Katie was the served as Chairman and Managing Director of Boston TechStars.

The Engine, solves an enormous problem in taking these deep tech companies from ideation to realisation. That is, despite the enormous interest from investors in these areas, it's simply too difficult for these companies to access the resources they need - you can't just build a quantum computer in a WeWork...

The Engine Room is the nexus of The Engine concept; an online platform that provides the lab space and equipment for the founders to build their companies. But beyond the resource-poor founders, the Engine Room encourages external organisations that wish to support seedling companies by providing equipment to sign up too.

We were keen to hear about the innovation- and collaboration-focussed Kendall Square area, the difference in working with typical tech companies and the kind of deep tech startups The Engine brings in, and why deep tech can both be incredibly lucrative but also rewarding to fully realise a truly transformative company out of the lab.

You can see more on what The Engine is all about here:

Episode 32: Truth, Beauty, Science

Our latest episode is with Tom Zeller Jr the Editor in Chief of Undark (formerly at the New York Times). Undark was set up as way of applying hard hitting investigative journalism to the intersection of science and society. Supported by the Knight Foundation, Undark is unbeholden to advertisers which allows them to tackle the cases they want to. 

We think their description blows anything we could say out of the water...

"" The name Undark arises from a murky, century-old mingling of science and commerce — one that resulted in an industrial and consumer product that was both awe-inspiring and, as scientists would later prove, toxic and deadly. We appropriate the name as a signal to readers that our magazine will explore science not just as a “gee-whiz” phenomenon, but as a frequently wondrous, sometimes contentious, and occasionally troubling byproduct of human culture.

As such, the intersection of science and society — the place where science is articulated in our politics and our economics; or where it is made potent and real in our everyday lives — is a fundamental part of our mission at Undark. As journalists, we recognize that science can often be politically, economically and ethically fraught, even as it captures the imagination and showcases the astonishing scope of human endeavor. Undark will therefore aim to explore science in both light and shadow, and to bring that exploration to a broad, international audience.

Undark is not interested in “science communication” or related euphemisms, but in true journalistic coverage of the sciences. ""

We were keen to discuss what we see as the current failings on how science is communicated, such as are we failing the general public by only communicating the end result of the science? Undark treats science as a process that has wide reaching impacts far beyond the publication that's typically reported, covering corruption in science, academic discrimination, and research censorship.

Outside of Undark we were interested in Tom's time at the New York Times, the inspiring work environment, the grinding to meet deadlines, and being one of the "children and geeks" at the embryonic New York Times website.

Episode 31: Curating Creativity

This episode we chatted to Hugh Forrest, the newly minted Chief Programming Officer of South by South West (SXSW). This role puts Hugh in charge of one of the most dynamic and diverse conferences around, covering around 1300 panels & talks, approximately 2000 bands, and roughly 300 films (many making their premieres at SXSW). Hugh's been at SXSW since the "stone ages" of the conference (way back in 1989...) - in fact he was the first paid employee! 

We were keen to see how SXSW has evolved over time by incorporating new tech and science streams, committing to the city of Austin, and bringing in some of the most sought after speakers - Vice President Joe Biden and CRISPR co-inventor Jennifer Doudna made an appearance this year.

We were fascinated by how SXSW has come to be the engaging and inclusive conference that people come back to year on year. And more specifically what can science conference organisers learn from the SXSW model.

Episode 30: The Reinvention of Research

This week we chatted to Chris Hartgerink a PhD metascientist (the science of science) and open access advocate, whose core focus is on data fraud. Chris was recently featured in this Guardian piece - he ruffled plenty of feathers when he modified and implemented Statcheck, a tool developed by fellow metascientist Michèle Nuijten that scans tens of thousands of research papers and analyses the credibility of the findings. We talk data fabrication, the unfortunate resistance to skepticism in science, how to separate criticisms of research findings from personal attacks, and how we can reinvent science with what we know now.  

Episode 29: Bringing Science to the Senate

This episode we chatted to Michael Eisen (@mbeisen), a Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of California, Berkeley. Michael is a core advocate of the Open Science movement Co-Founding the Public Library of Science (PLOS). He is also, as of this April, an aspiring Senator (you can follow his alter-ego at @SenatorPhD). We spoke about bringing science down from its ivory tower, the merits of being a politically engaged scientist, and how the issue of diversity in science (..and politics) is far from solved. 

Episode 24: Everyone Needs a PostDoc Steve

This episode we spend time with the brilliant Vivian Chan, Co-Founder of Sparrho, a platform that allows researchers to stay up to date with cutting edge research curated by AI & the Sparrho community. We chatted about support networks inside and outside of research, Vivian's journey to Founder & her thoughts on how AI will disrupt research.

Episode 22: Science's Digital Toolbox

We spoke to Alon Vitenshtein Co-Founder of LabWorm, a newly launched, crowd-sourced platform for scientists in the digital age. LabWorm wants to make research more efficient by taking the stress and randomness out of the search for useful research tools. Whether you're seeking image analysis software, resources for cutting edge proteomics, or even a great podcast that reaches out to the brilliant scientific innovators (...yes we're featured on the site) - LabWorm have got you covered! 

Episode 21: The Science Diplomats

Recorded a week after Trump's Inauguration, this week's episode is with Richard Burge, Chief Executive of Wilton Park - an executive agency of the Foreign Office who helps coordinate Global political discussions - about the diplomacy of science. We chat chemical weapons, bioterrorism and nuclear treaties; we discuss why there are historians and classicists in policy but so few scientists; and how we ensure those who are making International decisions are clued up on the latest discoveries and advancements. This one's a goody...