Let's meet the quizzers
Katie Haylor and Phil Sansom meet the scientists playing the Naked Scientists pub quiz...
Katie - Playing alongside you down the line are: animal behaviour scientist Eleanor Drinkwater, hello! Eleanor, can you hear us?
Eleanor - Yes, yes I can.
Phil - Then we've got physiologist Sam Virtue! Hello Sam!
Sam - Hi Phil.
Katie - Also on the line is climate scientist Ella Gilbert...
Ella - Hello!
Phil - And plant and pollinator researcher Hamish Symington. Hi Hamish!
Hamish - Hi there, how are you doing.
Katie - Now Eleanor, you've been on the show a fair few times before, but are you a regular pub quizzer?
Eleanor - I am enthusiastic but terrible, I'm afraid! Mostly enthusiastic.
Katie - What can you bring to the table though? What's your expertise? Tell us about what you're interested in.
Eleanor - I must admit that I'm a bit of a bug nerd. So if you have any questions about invertebrates, or insects, or preferably insect personality, then I'm really your go-to.
Phil - Eleanor does that come up much in pub quizzes?
Eleanor - Unfortunately not, I'm still waiting for my moment. But not yet.
Katie - What's your particular area of interest when it comes to bugs?
Eleanor - I study woodlice in particular. I'm interested in how different woodlice have different personalities, and that affects how they interact and how the different groups of woodlice interact.
Katie - What kind of personalities do woodlice have?
Eleanor - Oh my goodness, so many types of personalities. They have fabulous personalities. You get some which are shy, and some which are bold and explorative; some of which kind of like company, others of which don't like company; so next time you see a woodlouse, I hope that everybody has a greater appreciation for their brilliant personalities.
Phil - Let's move over to Sam. How do you tend to do when it comes to a pub quiz?
Sam - Well I haven't actually had a chance to do them for a long time as I've moved out to the countryside, but I used to do alright at a pub quiz. Fortunately my specialist round was usually the sport, which I'm not sure how much of that's going to be on today's show.
Phil - You'll find this as the rare pub quiz that doesn't have any sporting questions. Do you not have a village local that does a quiz?
Sam - It's a nice idea, but sadly I also have two small children, so finding time to disappear off for several hours of an evening is rather gone now.
Phil - Tell me, what area of science have you got up your sleeve today?
Sam - So I'm an animal physiologist, so if you have any questions about why mice get fat I might be quite good at those. But otherwise my more general area is on diabetes and obesity.
Phil - Funnily enough, we do have two whole rounds of questions on how mice fat, would you believe it?
Katie - You should be so lucky...
Sam - It's going to be really embarrassing when I get everything wrong.
Phil - Let's move over to Ella. Ella, welcome to the program. What's your science area?
Ella - I'm a climate scientist, but I also work at the British Antarctic Survey, so I'm interested in anything polar. So think cold thoughts.
Ella - Are we talking polar wildlife, polar atmosphere? What's your area?
Ella - I've got my head in the clouds mostly. So I'm an atmospheric physicist, I do things like climate modeling. So I'm interested in wind, weather, clouds... a lot of clouds, I'm going to be honest. And anything kind of climate related.
Katie - Do you have a favourite pub quiz team name? Bearing in mind we are pre-watershed...
Phil - Because some of those team names are a bit... you know...
Katie - Some of them are a bit cheeky. Do you have a favorite sciencey one?
Ella - Generally I just go for the ruder the better, which I feel like may not be that appropriate...
Katie - No...
Ella - ...and always have to have a terrible pun: Cirrusly Bro.
Phil - 'Cirrus-ly'?
Katie - Ah, that's really good. We are such a fan of a pun here on the Naked Scientists.
Phil - That's a real groaner.
Ella - Well I can always provide banter, puns, and terrible dad jokes. You can count on me.
Katie - Tell us a bit more about what you're researching at the moment.
Ella - I'm looking at an ice shelf called Larsen Sea. It's on the Antarctic Peninsula, and it's the little bit that sticks out. And I'm interested in what's making it melt.
Katie - Do we know?
Ella - Ah, that would be a spoiler. You have to read my research to find that out.
Katie - Ah, okay. Any snippets you can give us?
Phil - Can I put in a guess? Is global warming helping?
Ella - Nail on the head!
Phil - I'm good at pub quizzes.
Katie - Phil you're not allowed to win the quiz. That was cheating. Let's move on, shall we? Hamish, where are you?
Hamish - Hello!
Katie - Hello. What's your particular research bag?
Hamish - So I am looking at what it is that bees like about flowers to try to make flowers better at being pollinated, under the umbrella of crop security.
Katie - Oh, I see. So foodstuffs, right?
Hamish - Foodstuff, exactly, yeah. In particular I'm looking at strawberries. Or at least I was before lockdown; students aren't allowed back at the university at the moment. So all of my plants went in the bin.
Katie - Oh no, that's such a shame! Because it's kind of getting to strawberry season... is it? May, June?
Hamish - Yeah. Ideally now at this time I would have a polytunnel in the Botanic garden with several hundred strawberry plants in it, which I could measure the hell out all. But sadly I'm not allowed that, so I can't be doing my research. So when I get back I'll be able to do some more stuff to do with bees and pollination in the lab.
Phil - Hamish, is this figuring out: what is it that bees like the most when it comes to something like pollinating strawberries?
Hamish - Yeah, that's the idea. We're going to have several billion more people in the world over the next few decades, and there is a general decline in insects around the world. We rely on pollination for about 75% of the crops that we grow. So those two things together don't really... they don't really fit. So if we can try to make flowers better at being pollinated - so first of all, more attractive to insects, but also more efficient at being pollinated when those insects get there - then we can make better use of the insects which already exist to help make our food.
Phil - Now that's not the only thing you do; you're also quite a quizzical person, right? Am I right that you make crosswords?
Hamish - Yes. I set cryptic crosswords as well under the pseudonym of 'Soup'.
Phil - That's a hard, hard thing to do, at least in my book.
Hamish - It's quite fun...
Katie - I promise, full disclosure, we haven't recruited Hamish to do a cryptic crossword for you guys; you are the contestants. So he's not one up already.
Hamish - Yeah. I find setting them quite fun. I often find it easier than solving them because at least I already know the answers.
Katie - Oh right, I see. Phil, you looked like you were going to say something.
Phil - No, no. I've always wanted to do cryptic crosswords, but I've never had the skillset that you have to build up to actually start answering the questions. So I'm very, very impressed.
Hamish - If only you had an enormous amount of time in which you weren't able to do any work or something.
Phil - Now's the time, huh?
Hamish - Yeah, exactly.