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Andy Tay: Forbes, awards and championing diversity in STEM

Season 1, Ep. 12

In this episode, I speak to a very special guest. Winner of this year's Future Science Future Star award, Andy Tay is a fantastic example of an early career researcher who has seized every opportunity with both hands and is not content to leave science as he found it.


We discuss Andy's fascinating research into pain modulation using magnetic biomaterials, which got him included on the Forbes 30 under 30 list for 2019 and his work in science communication. Andy is a champion of diversity in STEM, something he embodies both in his science communication and in the organization of his lab. Here, he delves into the tactics he uses to promote diversity and gives us his tips on how to set up and run a diverse and inclusive lab.


Andy pairs all this information with some key tips for early career researchers who may be looking to emulate his success, giving us an insight into the key moments in his childhood and early career that lead him to where he is today and teaching us some lessons about the importance of curiosity.

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Returning to the contentious topic of the Reproducibility crisis –the inability of many study results to be replicated by different research groups or labs –this episode, supported by Zymo Research, zeros in on the topic within the field of microbiomics. Speaking to me about the topic is Raul Cano, Chief Scientific Officer at the BioCollective. Raul discusses the crisis and explains why it is prevalent in the emerging field of microbiomics before taking a look at the key role that microbiomics is beginning to play in the field of diagnostics, and how – if we make changes now – lasting improvements can be made in the field. Raul also lays out the three key areas that are holding back reproducibility in microbiomics and explains the actions that can be taken to improve the situation.Contents:Introduction: 00:00-02:00Explaining the reproducibility crisis: 02:00-02:55How microbiomics compare to other fields in terms of reproducibility: 02:55-04:05Challenges in reproducibility specific to microbiomics: 04:05-05:45The importance of reproducibility in microbiomics: 05:45-07:00Microbiomics in diagnostics: 07:00-10:00 Three key causes of poor reproducibility in microbiomics: 10:00-11:30Is detailed documentation improving in the life sciences? 11:30- 13:00Actions that can improve reproducibility: 13:00-14:15Fecal references: 14:15-16:05The realities of preparing fecal references: 16:05-18:1 5The reception to the new fecal references: 18:15-20:35References vs Standards: 20:35-22:15Standardizing microbiomics data: 22:15-23:20Assessing reproducibility in previous studies: 23:20-25:15Dreams for reproducibility in microbiomics: 25:15-26:55 This episode is supported by Zymo Research. If you would like more information about the fecal reference mentioned in the podcast, you can visit the product page here.
2/18/2021

COG-UK: sequencing SARS-CoV-2 and detecting the novel variant B.1.1.7

Season 2, Ep. 2
This episode, supported by Tecan, takes a look at the role the COVID-19 Genomics UK Consortium (COG-UK) has played sequencing SARS-CoV-2 and surveying for COVID-19. To do this I speak to two key members of the consortium; Steve Paterson, Professor of genetics at the University of Liverpool and lead for the wastewater working group of COG-UK; and Josh Quick, Future Leaders Fellow at the University of Birmingham and lead at the COG-UK Sequencing working group.Steve discusses some of the techniques required to detect SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater, the challenges that such a vibrant sample can present, and gives his account of the part that wastewater surveillance played in the management of the new variant B.1.1.7.Josh provides us with further insight into the technologies used to sequence SARS-CoV-2, explains how he designed the ARTIC protocol for sequencing the virus and why it came to be so widely used. We go on to discuss the issues of limited lab consumables such as pipette tips and how you can make the most out of your limited lab supplies. Josh also describes the bizarre act of serendipity that aided in the discovery of the B.1.1.7 variant.ContentsIntroduction: 00:00-01:30Steve Paterson introduction: 01:30-02:15Introducing COG-UK: 02:15-03:20Becoming the wastewater working group lead: 03:20-04:35Key techniques and essential work in wastewater surveillance: 04:35-08:00Improving the sensitivity of sequencing and technological developments: 08:00-10:00Detecting new variants in wastewater screening: 10:00-12:15Learnings from the pandemic: 12:15-13:40Josh Quick introduction: 14:35-15:32The ARTIC protocol: 15:32-18:35Sequencing working group key techniques and key focuses 18:35-22:00Challenges of limited consumable supply and how to make the most of what you have got 22:00-24:30Learnings from the pandemic: 24:30-26:28New technologies, RC-PCR: 26:28-29:38Fantasy technology to assist with SARS-CoV-2 sequencing: 29:38-31:00Discovering the new variant B.1.17:31:00-33:30Conclusions: 33:30-34:40