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 PhD Playlist – Aisling


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. 

Screen Shot 2017-05-18 at 11.27.13Aisling is a 3rd year Rotation PhD student working in Myriam Charpentier’s lab. Her project looks at the evolution of symbiosis in land plants and involves growing a lot of liverworts and molecular phylogenetics. Originally from Dublin she likes fluffy animals and making cakes

Twitter: @liverwortlife


The Project Song – Closer by Tegan and Sara

My research looks at arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis, where fungi in the soil supply plants with mineral nutrients in exchange for fixed carbon (mostly delicious fats). This relationship between plants and fungi is really very close indeed because the fungus has to grow into the cells in the middle of a plant to exchange nutrients. Plants don’t always want to trade away their lovely fixed carbon though – they might be getting enough minerals by themselves – but the fungus always wants to “get a little bit closer” with the plant because it isn’t able to get food any other way.

 This song also reminds me of symbiosis because it’s about the moment just before two people touch. In AM symbiosis, the plant and fungus exchange signals and start changing gene expression before they physically come into contact. It’s a pretty important time for both of them!”

The PhD Life Song – Boy Problems by Carly Rae Jepsen

“Really, this would better describe my PhD life if the title was PCR Problems, not Boy Problems. That said, this is a really upbeat, sassy song  – everyone has boy (PCR) problems at some point but, after you whinge about it to your friend, you realise that your boy (PCR) problems aren’t really so bad. You break up with your boyfriend (order some new PCR primers), stop lurking in your bedroom and move on. Eventually you and your female friends (fellow PhD students, of all genders) are happily dancing together, surrounded by glitter. Or you go for a drink after work on Friday. Anything is possible.”

The Motivational Song – My Shot from the Hamilton soundtrack

“Look, if Alexander Hamilton can rise from a penniless, orphaned immigrant to the first secretary of the treasury of the United States of America, I can probably power through an afternoon of hairy root transformations, right? And hey, Alex might still be a work in progress, he may not have his degree yet but he’s not going to stop working and writing and picking fights with the other founding fathers until he makes it. So I’m going to carry on writing my scientific reports, even though I’m actually a bit tired and frustrated with my referencing software. (Hamilton didn’t even have referencing software.)”


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!