Photo of Ben Makin

Biography

When Ben can’t be found in the science laboratory, playing with small green microbes, you can usually catch him in the ‘beat lab’ (his home recording studio) in Falmouth.

Ben gives his music away for free on Soundcloud (https://soundcloud.com/ridiculousman).

His research has a focus on the way in which temperature fundamentally underpins ‘friendly’ relationships between hosts and resident microbes in nature. As it turns out, this kind of interaction (termed a ‘mutualism’) is absolutely vital for all living things on the planet: take coral reefs, which amazingly underpin around one third of all species of fish in the entire ocean; the coral animals responsible for manufacturing these rocky structures (reefs are actually the external skeletons of corals; pretty weird right?) live with tiny plant-like organisms inside them.

The two partners in this coral-plant relationship both benefit from this ‘friendship’: they swap nutrients, a bit like if we had living solar cells inside our bodies that we supplied with nutrients such that they could keep running (the plants provide their corals with food in the form of sugars from photosynthesis and, in return, receive various nutrients for their efforts).

Anyway, many of these vital mutualisms in nature are breaking down or changing as the climate changes (think ‘coral bleaching’, where corals lose their resident plants). So, it’s a priority for scientists to understand some of the key factors which affect these relationships. It’s within this field that Ben’s work is framed.

He’s always delighted to answer questions about his work or anything science-related; get in touch with him at Cornwall’s Science Sessions and he can even feature your questions on the radio should you fancy some airtime!

Programmes featuring Ben Makin

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