Planet PhD
Sunjeev Kamboj: On the other side…..being a PhD Supervisor

Sunjeev Kamboj: On the other side…..being a PhD Supervisor

June 29, 2020

For the first time on Planet PhD, we welcome a real life Professor onto the podcast. Prof Sunjeev Kamboj researches clinical psychopharmacology and experimental psychopathology (count how many times we get that wrong) at UCL, London.

He joins to tell us what it’s like on the other siiiide -- as a PhD supervisor. We ask Sunjeev about how supervisors and PhDs can best work together towards a positive PhD experience. Spoiler: communication, baby. He gives us his tips and we discuss things we’ve found difficult from our side, as PhD students.

Gigi’s commitment to sound quality brings her from a blanket tent somewhere in Brighton and we analyse Sunjeev’s Zoom bookshelf.

In this episode we mention a previous Planet PhD with Vanessa Hennessy, whose PhD is supervised by Sunjeev. One our most popular episodes - in which Vanessa injects her husband with Ketamine *N.B. as part of a research study*. Listen to 'Vanessa Hennessy: Modifying Memories" for more on the awesome research going on in Sunjeev’s lab! 


Planet Lockdown: How to survive a global pandemic

Planet Lockdown: How to survive a global pandemic

May 18, 2020

We're back! Hope you are all excited for a special lockdown themed episode of Planet PhD! Obviously what you need in self isolation is two highly qualified PhD students discussing how to keep yourself sane during these troubled times. 

We have all the tips on how to keep yourself motivated, how to stop yourself from burning out and of course, most importantly, what TV to watch.

We tell you what we've been up to during this time (we know you've been wondering) and give you some funny lockdown stories. Quick disclaimer, as we are being good humans and self isolating this podcast was recorded on Zoom so the sound quality isn't amazing, sorry about that!

We hope you enjoy our special themed episode and please get in touch if you have any questions, any music or TV recommendations or just fancy a chat!



Anna Korzeniowska: Cross modality in dogs

Anna Korzeniowska: Cross modality in dogs

January 6, 2020

In this episode, yes you guessed it, we're talking all about doggos! We chat to Anna Korzeniowska from the University of Sussex about her most recent paper (yay!) on cross modality in dogs.

Don't worry, she explains what cross modality is (very well). We then talk about her amazing finding that dogs associate high pitch with high elevation, and vice versa, just like with humans. She gives us some reasons why that might be the case, explains her studies' interesting methodology and gives us a cracking answer to her favorite dog name.  

If you like dogs (and who doesn't) and want to hear some interesting research as well as some adorable stories, then this is the episode for you!


You can access her paper here:

Coping at Conferences (special guest: Owen Middleton)

Coping at Conferences (special guest: Owen Middleton)

December 19, 2019

In this episode, recorded while we attend a big scary meeting of lots of academics in Belfast, we chat about how to cope at conferences with a very special guest, Owen Middleton. We discuss our mixed experiences of conferences, and share tips on how to get the most out of them while staying healthy and happy.

Owen is our networking expert, and tells us how to make friends – and how to keep them after the conference ends. We also discuss organisation, nerves, preparing for and giving a talk, coffee, being out of your comfort zone, socialising, and, importantly, how to look after yourself and your mental health.

As ever, send us any questions and follow us and Owen on Twitter: @PlanetPhD | @OwenMiidleton

We mention Gigi's conference talk on ivy bee sting pain, which features in a previous episode: Ouch! All about the ivy bee

Maruša Levstek: music for youth wellbeing

Maruša Levstek: music for youth wellbeing

December 11, 2019

Today we interview PhD student Maruša Levstek, who researches the psychological outcomes of participation in music and creative arts for young people. She works with the Our Future City programme in Brighton & Hove, which aims to improve youth wellbeing through creativity, while addressing inequality and lack of opportunity. In Maruša’s longitudinal study with young people in inclusive music groups, she measures a series of musical, personal and social outcomes.

We chat about the psychological benefits of music participation, barriers to engagement in creative arts and how sometimes, the young people who would most benefit from engagement are those least able to access it. Participation in creative arts is something Maruša is passionate about, and along those lines we briefly mention the upcoming election (very briefly, promise).


Maruša works in the School of Psychology at the University of Sussex, and is funded by the School of Psychology and Our Future City. Follow her research on Twitter.


Gigi Hennessy: Ouch! All about the ivy bee…

Gigi Hennessy: Ouch! All about the ivy bee…

December 2, 2019

Today Veronica interviews the one and only Gigi Hennessy, Planet PhD co-host, about her newly published research! Gigi’s new paper investigates the stinging risk and sting pain of the ivy bee, Colletes hederae, a relatively new member of the UK solitary bee fauna (also known in our lab as the ‘Marilyn Monroe bee’).

Ivy bees first came to the south of the UK in 2001, and have been spreading. Since they arrived, pest control officials have had repeated calls from people with ivy bees in their gardens. This little solitary bee can nest in large aggregations, with several bees flying close to the ground when they start to emerge in September… “the lawn looked like it was moving” was one comment. But does the ivy bee sting, is the sting painful, and is the bee a risk to the public – should we be calling the exterminator?

Tune in to hear about a slightly ‘out there’ methodology, the surprisingly fertile world of insect bite and sting pain research, and some important take home messages for bee conservation. We also discuss Gigi’s recent experience of the dark side of Twitter, and she gives us her tips for any researchers in similar situations.

 The paper is available here, or get in touch with Gigi with any questions and for a pdf version.

Disclaimer: do not tell your children to run around in barefoot in ivy bee aggregations. Which, by the way, the authors of the paper didn’t ever say.


Planet Bee-hD: Parasite bees

Planet Bee-hD: Parasite bees

November 18, 2019

In today's episode of Planet Bee-hD we delve into the weird and wonderful world of parasite bees!

Parasite bees account for 15% of the global bee species, yet most people don't even know they exist. Don't worry if you don't  know what we mean by parasite, by the end of the episode you'll be an expert, just like us. Let us talk you through some of the crazy lifestyles these species live using four (plus one sneaky bonus edition from Veronica) examples.

Learn about how bees smell, the epic battles fought by some species and of course some bee sex facts.

Twitter: @PlanetPhD 

Giada Brianza: how smells affect your body image

Giada Brianza: how smells affect your body image

November 11, 2019

This week we chat to Giada Brianza from Sussex Uni's Human-Computer Interaction Lab. Giada tells us about her research into olfactory cues and body image, specifically how different scents like lemon and vanilla can influence how we perceive our bodies. This could have a therapeutic role in the future, which is increasingly important since problems arising from body misconception, including eating disorders, are on the rise.

We speak about other fascinating sensory ‘cross-modalities’. What does a lavender scent ‘feel’ like? What scents are linked with piano music, compared to brass instruments? What colour is the taste of peppermint?

Giada gives us her tips for PhD life - especially a moratorium on any decision-making on Sundays…


Find out more about the SCHI lab here: and on Twitter: @schi_lab

Noora Nevala: Colour vision in Zebra fish

Noora Nevala: Colour vision in Zebra fish

November 4, 2019

In this week episode we talk to Noora Nevala from the University of Sussex on her work on colour vision in Zebra fish. 

We chat all about how the light environment an organism lives in may influence its colour vision, how colour vision actually works in fish and the most important question of all, why is a Zebra fish called a Zebra fish?

We have a very fishy fun fact discussing the deep sea fish Macropinna microstoma (we highly recommend you look it up) and Gigi finally learns how fish mate.


Follow Noora on twitter @noornev

Patricio Saavedra: beyond peaceful protest

Patricio Saavedra: beyond peaceful protest

October 28, 2019

This week Patricio Saavedra from Sussex University tells us about his research into political protests around the world. Specifically, Patricio has studied the controversial issue of protester violence, and how public support for any non-peaceful action by protesters is affected by the ‘political openness’ in their country, i.e. the level of state repression.

 *** NB: this episode was recorded just before the recent protests in Chile ***

We speak about protests in the UK, Chile, Europe and Hong Kong, and police repression methods including water cannons, tear gas and infiltration. We also discuss the fascinating role of both media and social media in defining public attitudes towards protesters. How important is public approval for protesters’ actions? Has technology changed modern protests compared to past actions? How can social media help to mobilise protesters, bear witness to actual events, and document the brilliant creativity displayed in protest actions?  

Patricio also tells us about his research into student wellbeing, and gives us both his evidence-based and personal advice for PhD students - including the importance of building a community both at work and outside of work. 


For more on this topic, see Patricio’s latest Open Access paper:

Find Patricio on Twitter


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