Yer A Wizard Harry #380

July 29, 2016

Today we mashup the science of genetics with the world of Harry Potter to get a better handle on how genetics works, and to find out what the odds are when it comes to getting a Hogwarts invite. (We can dream, right?) Dr. Tina Saey, who covers the molecular biology beat at Science News, helps us understand how to make a wizard with a little genetics 101. And Dr. Julian Knight, Professor of genomic medicine at the Wellcome Trust Center for Human Genetics at the University of Oxford, talks about his paper that looks to genetics for the origins of magic in the Harry Potter universe.

This episode is hosted by Bethany Brookshire, science writer from Science News.


  • Tina Saey
  • Julian Knight

Guest Bios

Tina Saey

Molecular biology writer Tina Hesman Saey is a geneticist-turned-science writer who covers all things microscopic and a few too big to be viewed under a microscope. She is an honors graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she did research on tobacco plants and ethanol-producing bacteria. She spent a year as a Fulbright scholar at the Georg-August University in Göttingen, Germany, studying microbiology and traveling. Her work on how yeast turn on and off one gene earned her a Ph.D. in molecular genetics at Washington University in St. Louis. Tina then rounded out her degree collection with a master’s in science journalism from Boston University. She interned at the Dallas Morning News and Science News before returning to St. Louis to cover biotechnology, genetics and medical science for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. After a seven year stint as a newspaper reporter, she returned to Science News. Her work has been honored by the Endocrine Society and the Genetics Society of America.

Julian Knight

Julian Knight is a professor of genomic medicine at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics at the University of Oxford. He has been a Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow in Clinical Science at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics in Oxford since 2005 and is an honorary Consultant in Internal Medicine at the John Radcliffe Hospital. He was elected fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in 2007 and was awarded the Linacre Medal by the Royal College of Physicians in 2008. His current research programme investigates the functional consequences of genetic variation for genetic variation for gene regulation with a particular interest in immune and infectious disease.

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