The Microscopists

The Microscopists

The Microscopists is a podcast from Bitesize Bio and ZEISS Microscopy that takes you into revealing, entertaining, and personal meetings with the great microscopists of our time. Your host is Dr Peter O’Toole. Peter will help you understand what drives great, successful scientists, what really inspires them and what they enjoy most in life. This set of candid, fun, and engaging interviews serves not only to help inspire upcoming scientists but to show how career tracks and work-life balance are managed by some of the best. Not only are they great at work, but they have some amazing stories to tell about their lives outside science. Browse all The Microscopists episodes here:


January 20, 2023 78 min

#60 — In this episode of The Microscopists, Peter O'Toole is joined by three representatives of bioimaging networks in Africa: Caron Jacobs of the African BioImaging Consortium (ABIC), Ben Loos of the South African BioImaging Community (SABI) and Mahmoud Maina of the Biomedical Science Research and Training Centre (BioRTC) at Yobe State University. They discuss how their communities operate, and what the challenges are for...

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#59 — Aydogan Ozcan is Chancellor’s Professor and HHMI Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UCLA Samueli School of Engineering. Aydogan joins Peter to talk about how advances in imaging technology could make security screening less invasive, the importance of communicating science to the public, and why you need to take ownership of your research.

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December 16, 2022 62 min

#58 — Laura Waller is Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at UC Berkeley. In this episode of The Microscopists, Laura joins Peter O'Toole to talk about how she got interested in optics and engineering and what it's like to run a lab. She also talks about her unusual extreme reading hobby, which has seen her read scientific papers atop mountains, on an elephant, and in zero gravity!


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December 2, 2022 65 min

#57 — Michael Albiez is CEO of Carl Zeiss Research Microscopy Solutions. He chats to Peter O'Toole about how Zeiss Microscopy recently won the German Future Prize live on national TV, and he shares what it's like to connect with many different researchers who all use microscopy in their work. We also hear about his aspirations to become a teacher, and his musical experience playing in a jazz trio.

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November 18, 2022 62 min

#56 — Stefan Hell is Director at the Max Planck Institute for Multidisciplinary Sciences in Göttingen and at the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research in Heidelberg. In this episode of The Microscopists, Stefan tells Peter O'Toole about his quest to overcome the diffraction barrier, why he doesn't think of himself as a microscopist, and staying motivated after winning a Nobel Prize. They also chat about food, hiking in...

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#55 — Emma Lundberg is Associate Professor of Bioengineering at Stanford, Professor in Cell Biology Proteomics at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, and Head of the Subcellular Section of the Human Protein Atlas. Emma joins Peter O’Toole to talk about crowdsourcing image analysis for the Human Protein Atlas program within the EVE Online virtual game. We also hear how she manages research groups in two time zones and her lo...

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October 21, 2022 61 min

#54 — Florian Jug is Research Group Leader and Head of the Image Analysis Facility at Human Technopole, Milan. Florian joins Peter O'Toole to discuss his research using AI and machine learning to better analyze and quantify biological data. They chat about his early ambitions in computer science, and he tells us why he enjoys teaching various courses across the globe. We also hear about his hobbies of running (sometimes ov...

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October 7, 2022 61 min

#53 — Christian Eggeling is Head of the Department of Biophysical Imaging at the Institute of Photonic Technologies (IPHT, Jena). In this episode of The Microscopists, Christian joins Peter O'Toole to discuss his varied career to date, starting with a degree in physics, a short stint in a biotech company, followed by faculty positions in Oxford and then Jena. They discuss the importance of scientific freedom and failures—a...

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September 23, 2022 65 min

#52 — Wah Chiu is Wallenberg Bienenstock Professor, and Professor of Bioengineering, and Microbiology and Immunology at Stanford University. In this episode of the Microscopists, Wah chats with Peter O' Toole about his pioneering cryoEM work and his research goals of understanding the structural biology of organelles.

They also discuss careers in academia versus industry, the role of AI and alpha fold in structural biology,...

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September 9, 2022 67 min

#51 — Antje Keppler is the Director of Euro-BioImaging Bio-Hub. In this episode of The Microscopists, Antje joins Peter O'Toole to discuss the recent explosion and expansion of techniques in microscopy and how Euro-BioImaging is helping researchers access these. They also chat about fishing in Scandinavia and her reaction after being told girls shouldn't learn chemistry!

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August 26, 2022 61 min

#50— Michael Sheetz is the Robert A. Welch Distinguished University Chair in Chemistry at the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) at Galveston. In this episode of the Microscopists, Michael joins Peter O'Toole to tell us about his new exciting work on cell senescence, and his time living in Singapore—and he gives us some great scientific advice.

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#49 — In this episode, we talk to Elisabeth Bik, former microbiome researcher turned scientific integrity consultant. Elisabeth spends her time searching biomedical literature for inappropriately manipulated photographic images and plagiarized text, and often discusses these on Twitter at @MicrobiomDigest.

Following her successful scientific career in the lab, a stolen sentence she authored led her to become a scientific s...

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June 24, 2022 67 min

#48 — In this episode, we talk to David Piston, Professor and Head of Cell Biology and Physiology at the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis.

David's first love was physics—until he was made to take a quantum mechanics class in graduate school! He now has a super successful career in biology, using innovative imaging and biochemical methods to identify new therapeutic targets for diabetes. And he puts this...

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June 10, 2022 49 min

#47 — From an early start in the lab at just 14 years old, to running one of the largest neuroscience groups in the world, Ed Boyden is a Professor and group leader in the Departments of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT, and an HHMI investigator.
In this episode, we hear all about how despite his recent awards and huge success, he initially struggled to get a permanent role in academia, and how he believes you ...

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May 27, 2022 64 min

#46 — Stefan Terjung is operational manager at the Advanced Light Microscopy Facility in Heidelberg, one of the first microscopy core facilities established at the EMBL. We discuss new microscopy techniques, his favourite school subjects and guilty TV pleasures.

We also chat about the excellent networking opportunities conferences can provide, fun nights out and dreams of retiring by the sea.

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#45 — Eija Jokitalo is the Director of the Electron Microscopy Unit at the University of Helsinki, whose work focuses on understanding organelle structure during cell division. We chat about why she believes imaging is key to solving biological problems, alternative career pathways inside a core facility and her outreach work in schools.

We also hear about how she juggled a career in science with parenthood, the joy of mode...

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#44 — Gail McConnell, Professor of Biophotonics at the University of Strathclyde chats to Peter O'Toole about her groundbreaking work developing new imaging techniques on the Mesolens, discusses her career highlights, and remembers the time she once got into trouble at an international conference.

We'll discuss creating good work-life balance, and how the first ever female professor of physics at the University of Strathcly...

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April 15, 2022 63 min

#43 — Elizabeth Villa, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at UC San Diego talks to Peter O'Toole about the benefits of collaborative projects, the advantages and disadvantages of new microscopy techniques, and establishing fun lab traditions. We'll chat about her early career as a Fulbright Scholar, her movement into biology to work with microscopy rock stars in the US and Europe, and understanding the social s...

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April 1, 2022 64 min

#42 — Claire Brown, Associate Professor & Director of the Advanced BioImaging Facility at McGill University, talks to Peter O'Toole about the importance of taking care of your staff, how she successfully set up a lab as a single mom and why simpler techniques are often the better choice.

We'll also discover why she got involved with Global BioImaging, her struggles being at the interface of biology and chemistry, and ho...

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#41 — Ralf Jungmann, Professor and group leader at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry and LMU Munich joins Peter O'Toole in this episode of The Microscopists to discuss the most frightening time in his career, how moving back to Germany from the US was the biggest culture shock and why writing grants is so important.

Ralf also shares how 80s TV influenced his career, his obsession with the direction of air vents and ...

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