The PI Playlist – Prof. Dave Evans

Welcome to the hotly demanded spin-off of The PhD Playlist – The PI Playlist! The format is similar, with the spotlight being put on a group leader here at the Norwich Research Park to pick three songs: one song for their current research/job, one song for their life as a PhD student and that final much needed motivational song. So turn the volume up and discover the soundtrack to a science career.


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I had a fairly traditional upbringing in Kent. Although not musical myself I have always enjoyed a diverse range of music. If I remember correctly, the first band I saw was Lindisfarne (ca. 1973) and the first festival experience was ‘The Picnic at Blackbushe Aerodrome’ in 1978 when, amongst others, both Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton performed. In Cardiff, where I got a BSc (1980) and PhD in Chemistry (1983) at the age of 23, there was an active music scene. One of my flat mates was in the Screen Gemz, this band metamorphosed into Freur (initially identified only with a symbol, long before Prince did the same), two members of which, Karl and Rick, went on to establish Underworld. I’m fortunate to have seen many great acts over the years and still get out there when I can; the latest event was the Hot 8 Brass Band in Sheffield, a highlight being bumping into them in KFC the afternoon before the show, and this summer it will be Elbow and The Killers in Hyde Park.

The PhD Song – Legalize it by Peter Tosh

“Recollection of my PhD days might best be described as ‘hazy’. To begin with, I was living in a shared flat that seemed to be the hub of Cardiff social life, attracting all sorts of interesting people, and on occasion bands that had been playing at the Student’s Union. It was also the time for protest: CND, Anti-Nazi League, Anti-Thatcher, amongst other causes. Later my girlfriend, Paula, (now my wife of 34 years) came down from London so we moved into our own flat that was a little calmer. As was expected in those days I submitted my thesis within three years. This was before word processors and email. The thesis was written longhand and then a secretary typed it up. Diagrams and other images were drawn using Rotring pens, stencils and Letraset (you may need to Google this). My supervisor had returned to Australia for the last six months of my PhD so drafts were sent and returned by post. However, I also had the time to marry and spend three weeks Interrailing/backpacking around Europe for the honeymoon. Seven papers were published from the thesis: one not being published until thirteen years later! On completion of the thesis, it was off to Tucson, Arizona for the first of two postdocs, the second being in York, before my career with the AFRC (later the BBSRC) began.”

The Current Job Song – Should I Stay or Should I Go by The Clash

“Having an enjoyable, reasonably comfortable yet challenging job as the Head of School of Mathematics and Physical Sciences in a University, should I stay or relocate back to Norwich to head up Postgraduate Research for the NRPDTP and NBI? A no brainer, it’s good to be back.”

The Motivational Song – Born Slippy by Underworld

“Screen Gemz, Fleur then Underworld: an example of if you have a passion and persevere then great success can come and wonderful things can happen. The lyrics may not be motivational but the beat sure gets me going!”


The PhD and The PI playlist is the brainchild of Millie, whose obsession with making playlists is almost as great as her obsession with science. Follow her on twitter: @milliestanton and drop her an email if you’re interested in being featured!

The (kinda) PhD Playlist – Freddie M.

Each week we put the spotlight on a PhD student at the Norwich Research Park and get them to share three songs in a desert island disc-style game: one song that captures their project (expect some very tenuous links), one song that captures their life as a PhD student and a final motivational song because – let’s face it – we all need it.

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Freddie is an undergraduate from Manchester Metropolitan University (a metropolitan?! In THIS lab?!), he came to the JIC to work as an intern for a year to gain some experience and level up. He has tried to do as much as physically possible, joining in with almost every event and documenting it all in his pile of notebooks. He enjoys research, mass spectroscopy and pretending he knows what he’s doing.


The Project Song – Yield by Formidable vegetable sound system 

“Before I started I was just doing the normal, boring, run of the mill biology – but then I was introduced to the wonderful world of plants… and the frustrating world of science. Some things worked, and some things most things made no sense, but I had a great time doing it all. The aptly named group ‘Formidable vegetable sound system’ has a very funky song all about not getting too stressed but getting on with life, specifically with vegetables – I hope that it will resonate with a few of you reading this now. My project was a fantastic chance to try out anything and everything I could but sometimes I just couldn’t obtain a yield.”

The PhD Life Song – Strong Coffee by The Cat Empire

“Even though I’m not a PhD student I think I can say I definitely saw behind the scenes, and if there is something I think a fair number of you have in common, is that you run on a passion to find answers, fear of not hitting your targets, but really… lots and lots of strong coffee.”

The Motivational Song – Down the Road by C2C

“Motivation… well usually I need only a poster of a cat hanging off a tree, or maybe an inspirational boxing quote to get me through the day. Sometimes though, this isn’t enough! I think something that shocked me is that you can end up listening to entire albums multiple times when you’re sitting there in a flow cupboard, stacks of plates looming next to you whispering in your ear “you can’t leave until I’m finished”. When its days like those, just suck it up, pull a fresh pair of gloves over my sticky, sweaty fingers and then down the road I go.

I owe a fair bit to those I admit who helped me through, appreciate it, I do – 10/10 would intern again*.

Ps. As a side note, my project was on soil, so a different project song choice would have to be ‘I like dirt’ by the Red Hot Chili Peppers!

*Did you notice the rhyme? I have too much time.”

The PhD playlist is the brainchild of Millie, whose obsession with making playlists is almost as great as her obsession with science. Follow her on twitter: @milliestanton and drop her an email if you’re interested in being featured!

The PhD Playlist – Thom B.

Each week we put the spotlight on a PhD student at the Norwich Research Park and get them to share three songs in a desert island disc-style game: one song that captures their project (expect some very tenuous links), one song that captures their life as a PhD student and a final motivational song because – let’s face it – we all need it.

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Thom is a 3rd year PhD student in Molecular Microbiology at the John Innes Centre. He is researching the specialised metabolism of bacteria in the hopes of understanding how drug-like compounds are synthesised. He is also interested in the evolution and ecology of these pathways. Originally from Preston, Thom has also worked in London at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and the Government Office for Science. When not in the lab, he is most likely in the pub or round the table playing board games.

Twitter: @BoothThom


The Project Song – Killer Queen by Queen

Bacteria make all kinds of compounds to utilise as chemical weapons and there is no doubt that Streptomyces is the ‘Killer Queen.’ The diversity of Actinobacterial specialised metabolites is impressive – one might say it’s guaranteed to blow your mind… Is that tenuous enough?!”

The PhD Life Song – Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked by Cage the Elephant

Let’s face it, PhD students work hard. We’ve all been in the lab at ridiculous-o’clock taking a time course, trying to finish a particularly complex protocol or scrambling to finish a report/presentation before the deadline. I feel this song really sums up that feeling of resignation, while making it seem pretty rock and roll at the same time. Also, the final verse is a nice reminder that even people who look like they’ve got it all together are still struggling with the same pressures as everyone else.”

The Motivational Song – Bad Motherf*cker by Biting Elbows

There are loads of songs I could have picked for this category. Sometimes you need a song that will show you the bright side of life. Sometimes you need a song that will improve your focus and get you in the zone. Occasionally though, you just need reminding that you’re a bad motherf*cker!”


The PhD playlist is the brainchild of Millie, whose obsession with making playlists is almost as great as her obsession with science. Follow her on twitter: @milliestanton and drop her an email if you’re interested in being featured!

The PI Playlist – Dr Steph Bornemann

Welcome to the hotly demanded spin-off of The PhD Playlist – The PI Playlist! The format is similar, with the spotlight being put on a group leader here at the Norwich Research Park to pick three songs: one song for their current research/job, one song for their life as a PhD student and that final much needed motivational song. So turn the volume up and discover the soundtrack to a science career.


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I only spoke German until I went to nursery in Yorkshire where I learned English. I went to school in Wales at a time when my older brother exposed me to a huge range of music via the Old Grey Whistle Test and John Peel. As a sixth former and student in London and Warwick, I played in several bands including Gods Lonely Men, the Fat Ballerinas and Clenched Fish, which did not make me rich. While in London, and in Reading when working in industry, I went to an extraordinary number and range of gigs and lost my Welsh accent. As a post-doc, I had no more time for playing in bands, but continued to write and record music. As a project leader, I didn’t have time for that either, but I put my tracks on Soundcloud. None of these tracks have made me rich. These days, I have limited time to even listen to music, let alone go to gigs or play instruments. The silence is nevertheless broken by my daughters.

The PhD Song – Egg by Mr Bungle

My PhD (1989-1992) had its ups and downs. The ups and downs of this track from 1990 sum it up. I published 6 papers from my PhD with 4 first-author, which might not have happened because I seriously considered quitting after a few months. I had a lot of autonomy throughout, which taught me a lot, but I had to wait three months on one occasion to have a meeting with my supervisor because he was so busy. I had to change my research project half way through but still managed to submit within three years, which was the default length of a PhD in those days. My supervisor wrote “good” in red ink next to a figure in my draft thesis. This was the highlight of the feedback I received in my time there. After my viva, the examiners left the room to inform my supervisor of the outcome without considering to tell me. I had to sit down to avoid fainting, and when my blood pressure recovered I summoned the courage to find them. It turned out be just a few typos that needed correcting. Phew! Shortly after, and on the day I had to return to my new job in another part of the country, my supervisor took his group out to lunch for my leaving do. A lovely thought, except they neglected to tell me which pub they were going to. This was in the days before mobile telephones. Great! I then made the mistake of leaving the 10 or so corrected pages of my thesis outside his locked office door with a note to swap them over in his copy. This was unwise. He wrote a damning letter to me for being so rude and not presenting him with a bound final version of my thesis. Many years later at his retirement celebration when I thought all was forgiven and forgotten, I thanked him for taking me on as a PhD student. He said it wasn’t him that wanted to recruit me, but one of his colleagues in the funding consortium. At least my PhD put the chemistry in my biochemistry.”

The Current Research Song – Love the Life (Live) by Midnite

“The aim of my current project is to ensure that the postgraduate students at JIC have a much better experience than I did. The life one lives and the life one loves change with time. The studio version of this track is not currently available on Spotify, so here is the live version.”

The Motivational Song – The Life Devine by Carlos Santana and John McLaughlin

There are occasions when music invokes goosebumps. This is the track that does it regardless of the mood I’m in, bringing energy and focus.”


The PhD and The PI playlist is the brainchild of Millie, whose obsession with making playlists is almost as great as her obsession with science. Follow her on twitter: @milliestanton and drop her an email if you’re interested in being featured!

The PhD Playlist – Billy T-B.

Each week we put the spotlight on a PhD student at the Norwich Research Park and get them to share three songs in a desert island disc-style game: one song that captures their project (expect some very tenuous links), one song that captures their life as a PhD student and a final motivational song because – let’s face it – we all need it. Screen Shot 2017-06-08 at 11.43.57

Billy is a first-year PhD student in Lars Østergaard’s lab. He is a local boy, from rural Norfolk. His first visit to the JIC was when he was 15 as part of a school visit. Billy remembers hearing of students spending 4 years studying the same small weed and being dumbfounded. Despite trying to escape Norfolk (and England) by moving up to St. Andrews for his undergraduate, Norfolk has drawn him back to its sandy embrace. Needless to say, Billy’s opinion of the small weed that people spend so much time studying has changed. His project is on the radial to bilateral symmetry change during gynoecium development; specifically how the cell cycle is controlled during this process. When not in the lab he spends his time thinking about birds (the flying variety), beer, his wife and football (not in that order).


The Project Song – The Circle of Life by Elton John 

“Studying the cell cycle makes this song an obvious choice. The cell cycle underpins development and disruptions can be fatal. Since starting my PhD the complexity of gynoecium development has fascinated me. The lyrics ‘There’s far too much to take in here, more to find than can ever be found’ is poignant, and I like to think that Elton John was thinking of Arabidopsis genetics when writing these lyrics.”

The PhD Life Song – Three Little Birds by Bob Marley & The Wailers

“One of my hobbies is bird-watching, and I wish that three (different species of) little birds would come to my doorstep every morning. I picked this song because everything that can possibly go wrong whilst doing a PhD generally does. At some point, you have to shrug your shoulders and blast this song out whilst in the lab. In my mind’s eye, I see myself walking in slow motion along a chaotic street with the buildings exploding around me and this song playing over the top.”

The Motivational Song – Always Look on the Bright Side of Life by Monty Python

“When you are a bit down in the dumps, a ‘Cheer up, Brian’ is always sufficient to lift your spirits. If you are struggling with anything just remember that it isn’t as difficult as doing the can-can on a crucifix. Doing a PhD can be tough, so blast this out when you are feeling insufficient. Count your blessings, change your perspective and I expect to hear whistling filling the labs of JIC over the next week.”

 


The PhD playlist is the brainchild of Millie, whose obsession with making playlists is almost as great as her obsession with science. Follow her on twitter: @milliestanton and drop her an email if you’re interested in being featured!

The PhD Playlist – Joanna

Each week we put the spotlight on a PhD student at the Norwich Research Park and get them to share three songs in a desert island disc-style game: one song that captures their project (expect some very tenuous links), one song that captures their life as a PhD student and a final motivational song because – let’s face it – we all need it. 

Screen Shot 2017-06-02 at 11.36.05Joanna is a 1st year Rotation PhD student from Edmonton, AB in Canada, working in Jonathan Jones’ lab at The Sainsbury Laboratory. Her project involves suppressor screens to look for novel genetic components of downstream immune signaling in plants. When she’s not obsessing over phytopathology she’s playing bluegrass guitar and mandolin, or she’s at the gym.

Twitter: @jofeehan


The Project Song – Shimmy Shimmy Ya by Ol’ Dirty Bastard

“Here I am at the beginning of my PhD, having just a week or two ago decided on a final lab and project after rotating. Yeah, “oh, baby I like [my data] raw”, is on the nose as any data I have is pretty crude, but really, this song is all about getting hyped on myself for the next three years. Thanks, ODB.”

The PhD Life Song – One More Dollar by Gillian Welch

“This song resonates with my current situation; moving far away, from my beautiful home in Alberta, to pursue an adventure (hard labor) with plants (apple picking). And the fear of ending up destitute and having to make money through gambling (in the stock market) seems like a real possibility.”

The Motivational Song – Eye of the Tiger by Survivor

“A classic. Whenever I’m feeling like my PhD needs to be put in its place, I’ll just put this song on and montage myself running PCRs and westerns and lunging down the hallways of TSL. I have definitely not done that yet.”


The PhD playlist is the brainchild of Millie, whose obsession with making playlists is almost as great as her obsession with science. Follow her on twitter: @milliestanton and drop her an email if you’re interested in being featured!

The PhD Playlist – John

Each week we put the spotlight on a PhD student at JIC and get them to share three songs in a desert island disc-style game: one song that captures their project (expect some very tenuous links), one song that captures their life as a PhD student and a final motivational song because – let’s face it – we all need it. 

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John in a 1st Year PhD student working in Paul Nicholson’s lab. He’s looking at a number of approaches to control Fusarium Head Blight in wheat. More specifically, he’s working on identifying important plant hormone signalling pathways including hormone manipulation strategies by Fusarium, and combining these with fungicide application. John is half Greek and Spanish but lived in Oxford for most of his life. He loves a good game of squash every now and then.


The Project Song – Invaders Must Die by The Prodigy

“Despite the different nature of this song to my other choices, I felt its title best describes the theme of my project. In order to stop the ever-growing horde of invading pathogens, a combination of control strategies need to be used. With my project, limiting infection and development of Fusarium when wheat is at is most susceptible is one key way to control the invasion.”

The PhD Life Song – Precious Time by The Maccabees

“Unfortunately, time is a constraint to all PhD projects. Time is always on my mind from designing experiments to seeing if its lunch yet. Despite having four years to complete my PhD, I feel like its relatively short and every second of it is precious. It is also amazing that for every deadline, we somehow manage to get things done on time!”

The Motivational Song – Learn to Fly by Foo Fighters

“Who doesn’t like a bit of Foo Fighters in their life! This song can be played at loads of occasions and always manages to improve the mood (especially if you watch the Rockin1000 video!).”


The PhD playlist is the brainchild of Millie, whose obsession with making playlists is almost as great as her obsession with science. Follow her on twitter: @milliestanton and drop her an email if you’re interested in being featured!