Our Podcasts are an exciting way for anyone and everyone to gain insight into the wonderful, and often weird, worlds of researchers, professionals and well known "curious minds".

What are the Linnean Learning Podcasts?

The forthcoming podcasts that everyone can look forward to hearing include: stories from our archives, such as Lady Pleasance Smith’s rise to fame and authority; teasers such as, Jack Ashby FLS talking about Linnaeus’s specimens in preparation for his lecture, “Animal Kingdom: A Natural History in 100 Objects”; exciting new ideas in the field of biology, such as the assisted evolution of coral; and mind bending narratives such as, “The Space Potato” or “Swarms: The Origins of Consciousness”.

You can listen to our Podcasts below or via SoundCloud.


The Museum of Lost Species

Last summer, Linnean Learning visited the Green Man Festival in Wales to showcase the Museum of Lost Species. This fictional museum contains the life stories of different species that have become extinct due to human activity. We asked happy festival goers to listen to the stories and tell us how it made them feel.

This podcast contains the stories of the Bramble Cay Melomys, the West African Rhino and the Rabbs Fringe-Limbed Tree Frog, as well as the reactions of the people at Green Man Festival.

Produced by: Ross Ziegelmeier

Script written by: Joe Burton

Voice artist: Elisa Jones

The Coral Reef Heroes

Coral reefs are crucial for both the survival of humans and marine organisms. However, due to climate change, coral reefs are now under threat and are on the brink of collapsing. This podcast takes us on a journey around the world to find out more about these amazing organisms, their importance to the planet and what is being done to try and save them.

Speakers: Zack Rago, Prof. James Crabbe, Prof. Peter Harrison, Prof. Madeleine Van Oppen

Presented by: Ross Ziegelmeier

Movile Cave - July 2019

In this podcast Dr Rich Boden walks us through this mysterious cave and explains why it is so important in helping us to understand the history of our planet’s chemistry.

This podcast was produced for an escape room activity for the 2019 Burlington House Summer Courtyard Late: "Experience life in Movile Cave, Romania. Be careful, if you don't successfully answer the series of clues, you may be locked in forever...."

Speaker: Dr Rich Boden

Plant Horror - June 2019

In this podcast we will try to uncover the origins of our fear of plants. We will begin with our most basic fear – the fear of being hurt by some of the most dangerous or just plain irritating plants. We will then move into the intangible fear of the imagination as we explore the horrors that wait for us if carnivorous plants where to grow the size of men. We will then hear from a scientist about the evolutionary origins of these feared plants and how they are becoming extinct.

Speakers: Marina Hurley (ecologist), Dr Dawn Sanders, Dr Emily Bourke

Rediscovering Nepalaese Plants - April 2019

The Linnean Society of London is home to the astonishing collection of Francis Buchanan-Hamilton. This work is on the flora of India and Nepal, which includes brilliant watercolours painted by Indian artists. In this podcast we learn about how Dr Mark Watson is now making use of this collection to inform is research. Dr Mark Watson has over 30 years of experience in floristics, plant systematics, botanical nomenclature and biodiversity informatics.

Speaker: Dr Mark Watson

Spiky Future Foods - March 2019

Global warming affects every aspect of our lives including the food that we eat. Our attempts to slow the impact of global warming may not be enough and therefore we need to start looking towards the foods that we may have to eat in the near future.

In this episode we go from the highly trendy neighbourhoods of Dalston, London, to rural South Africa and back again to London, Kew Gardens, to explore the potential of succulents as a future food. Speakers include; Gynelle Leon, the owner of the first cacti and succulent dedicated shop, called Prick; Dr Olwen Grace, senior research leader on desert plants from Kew Gardens; and Ernst Van Jaarsveld Master Botanist at Babylonstoren farm, South Africa.

Mad Honey - January 2019

For many years the people of Nepal have been harvesting mad honey, named so because of the effects it has on the human body when consumed. Although this honey and its effects on human physiology have been known for many years, the ecological purpose of the pollen that causes these effects, is less clear.

In this episode we go on a journey to Nepal with Abdullah Saeed to discover this mad honey for ourselves. Professor Phil Stevenson also joins the conversation in order to explain how his research is helping us to understand the true purpose of the pollen.

Climate Change Threatens Beds (Coralline Algae) of Biodiversity - November 2018

Coralline algae are important habitat formers. Rhodoliths/mäerl are unattached forms of coralline algae that interlock to form extensive beds that support high levels of biodiversity.

This ability to interlock is dependent on their 3D structure. However their structure is highly influenced by the environment and therefore environmental changes that would affect the ability of coralline algae to maintain their 3D structure would ultimately affect the ability of coralline algae to form these complex habitats.

In this podcast we are joined by Prof Juliet Brodie, Dr Leanne Melbourne and Dr Frederica Ragazzola who are investigating the effects that climate change is having on these organisms, in addition to what can be done to save them.

Dr Leanne Melbourne who features in this podcast has just completed her PhD at the University of Bristol on the effect of climate change on coralline algae. She will also be giving a lecture on the 5th of December at the Linnean Society where she will be explaining her research and findings in much greater detail.

Small Fears and Consciousness I and II - October 2018

With Halloween nearly upon us, we take a look at our fears and the natural world. In this two-part series, “Small Fears and Consciousness”, we are joined, in Part One, by Dr. Jeffrey A. Lockwood. He is the author of The Infested Mind: Why Humans Fear, Loathe, and Love Insects. In this interview he explores, in great depths, as to why it is that we fear these tiny creatures so much. If Dr. Lockwood’s closing comment, regarding the consciousness of insects, is one that sparks your imagination be sure to listen to Part Two.

In Part Two, we are joined by Louis B. Rosenberg, CEO of Unanimous AI and Dr. Clint Perry, research Fellow at Queen Mary University London. In these interviews we investigate the underlying neural mechanism of learning in bees, in an attempt to unravel the phenomena of consciousness and create a safe and secure Artificial Intelligence.

Seed Packet Secrets - September 2018

The carpological collection is a complement to Smith's herbarium, which has plants collected by Smith and donated to him by important naturalists of the late 18th and early 19th century: Carl Linnaeus the Younger (son of Carl Linnaeus), Robert Brown, John Ellis and Joseph Dalton Hooker, amongst others. It contains many type specimens. The carpological collection contains the parts of a plant that could not easily be pressed on a herbarium sheet: seeds, fruits and branches.

In this podcast Maria Zytaruk explores the seed packets of this collection and explains how it adds an extra layer to the historical understanding of 18th–19th century botany. Further reading about this collection can be found here: www.linnean.org/the-society/news/…ogical-collection

Magic, Myths, Medicine and the Lost Remedies - August 2018

Myths, magic and medicine each offer a very different way in which we can make sense of the world, but are they actually really all that far apart? In this podcast we explore where these schools of thought overlap. This podcast features Valerie Thomas, Medical Herbalist; Julian Harrison, specialist on medieval manuscripts and Lead Curator of the exhibition, Harry Potter: A History of Magic; and Professor Monique Simmonds OBE who is a botanist and deputy keeper of the Jodrell Laboratory at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Speaker: Valerie Thomas, Julian Harrison, Monique Simmonds Produced by: Ross Ziegelmeier

Murder Mystery - July 2018

In forensic cases, flies and beetles give clues about the “time since death”, the location, as well as season of when a crime has occurred. In this podcast, we invited Dr Mark Benecke FLS, to tell us about some of our specimens that he uses to uncover facts from crime scenes. Dr Mark Benecke FLS is head of International Forensic Research, Consultant and an Officially Certified and Sworn-in Expert for Biological Stains in Criminal Cases.

The Space Potato - June 2018

We (humans) are inextricably bound to the flora on earth, yet our futures seems to be among the stars! So, in order for us to survive in space we are going to, ironically, need to take earth with us, but how?

In this podcast we learn about how plants put us among the stars and will enable us, in the not too distant future, to explore galaxies far, far away.

Speakers include Dr. Sandy Knapp, Head of the Plants Division of the Natural History Museum; Lucie Poulet, Research Associate and PhD candidate at the Institute of Space Systems; and Angelo Vermeulen, a space systems researcher, biologist and artist.

Animal Kingdom: A Natural History in 100 Objects - May 2018

In his new book, Jack Ashby FLS journeys through both the evolutionary history of animals, and the ways people interpret them in museums. Animals in museums are not only representatives of their entire species, but they also tell us something about the time in which they were collected. They provide windows into the past as well as data for the present.

Museums are one of the key windows we have into the natural world, but they are human inventions. In this podcast join Jack Ashby as he selects three specimens from our collections that explain mimicry, cheats and warning colours.

Lady Pleasance Smith - May 2018

Lady Pleasance Smith had a sharp intellect and a wide-ranging network of family, friends and acquaintances throughout her long life. She was known for her generosity and philanthropic work. Pleasance outlived her husband James Edward Smith, founder of the Linnean Society of London, by nearly five decades, and from the time of his death in 1828 until her death in 1877 at age 103, Pleasance wrote and received a high volume of letters, many of which reveal her avid interest in the arts, humanities, sciences and the natural world.

Writing letters was a vital part of everyday life in Victorian times. It was the best way to quickly pass on important news and conversation. Although the letters penned by her are missing, by reading through this collection consisting of over 550 surviving letters from almost 100 different correspondents, we are able to take a glimpse into the past and piece together a picture of who Lady Pleasance Smith was.

The First Female Fellows of the Linnean Society of London​​ - April 2018

Just over 100 years ago the Society admitted 15 ground-breaking Fellows—all women. Coinciding with our 230th anniversary, we thought it was a good time to celebrate these first female Fellows, and their contributions.

In this podcast we learn a little bit about who these women were and explore some of the issues facing women today like imposter syndrome and the work/life balance of women in the field of science. The speakers include established scientists such as the society’s president elect Dr Sandy Knapp and Professor Athene Donald.