Welcome back to the pod!
This episode is here as a testament to the old, simple times, also known as last month. We recorded it in February, when all of us took it more or less for granted that we are able to gather in Paris for an international meeting to discuss EvoCell research.
Everything has changed since then, with countries on lockdown due to COVID19. We’re airing this episode now to prompt you to take a break in your busy day of working from home, and instead of checking the news, try to relax for half an hour and learn something interesting about evolution.
Our guest in this episode is University of Bergen’s prof. Andreas Hejnol, whose research interests revolve around organs: where they come from, how they came to be, and when they appeared during the long course of evolution.
Andi’s research group looks at several organ systems in many different animal groups (16 phyla!). In the first third of the episode, we focus on his research: why it’s important to use different models, what atypical models like acoels can tell us about brain and kidney evolution, and why body cavities were a major evolutionary innovation.
We talk about unpopular opinions and why it’s important to have disagreements in order for science to advance (9:27). Reflecting on the history of phylogenetics and on his own research on ctenophores, Andi shares his perspective on how science learns from mistakes and how scientific ideas change through time (15:27).
In the final part of the episode (24:48), we chat a bit about Andi’s youth in research, how he’s always been politically opinionated, and why maybe all of us need to be a little more political.
Give us a shout if you hear something you like, and stay tuned for more content. In the coming weeks of staying at home and social distancing, we’re hoping we’ll contribute a bit to fostering connection and exchange between young researchers*.
*But mostly that we’ll manage to work from home without procrastinating too wildly. PhD deadlines aren’t going anywhere so far.
For more info check out Andi’s publications mentioned in the episode:
- Nemertea (ribbon worms):
Martín-Durán, J. M., Vellutini, B. C., & Hejnol, A. (2015). Evolution and development of the adelphophagic, intracapsular Schmidt’s larva of the nemertean Lineus ruber. EvoDevo, 6, 28. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13227-015-0023-5
Martín-Durán, J. M., Pang, K., Børve, A., Lê, H. S., Furu, A., Cannon, J. T., Jondelius, U., & Hejnol, A. (2018). Convergent evolution of bilaterian nerve cords. Nature, 553(7686), 45–50. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature25030
Andrikou, C., Thiel, D., Ruiz-Santiesteban, J. A., & Hejnol, A. (2019). Active mode of excretion across digestive tissues predates the origin of excretory organs. PLoS biology, 17(7), e3000408. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.3000408
Dunn, C., Hejnol, A., Matus, D. et al. Broad phylogenomic sampling improves resolution of the animal tree of life. Nature 452, 745–749 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature06614