Anthony writes:

Please enter my email in the book drawing.

On a related note, when I read the Origin of Species almost forty years ago, I’d mentally replace “variation” with “mutation.”  I smiled when Darwin noted that domestication tended to induce variation. I thought it amusing that even someone as great as Darwin could fail to see that it was inbreeding and the surfacing of hidden recessives.  Now I wonder if it isn’t captivity and the coincident exposure to viruses that indeed is inducing variation.

Just a stray thought.

Steen writes:

Writing in for a (second) shot at the Cordingley book.

I second Irene’s recommendation of The Taproot podcast (TWiEvo 27) — hosts Ivan and Liz are great. Good discussions of career issues and work-life balance, as on recent episodes of TWiV.

Incidentally, my brief note read on TWiV 470 caused some minor confusion — I am a new postdoc in Siobain Duffy’s group, not a new professor. (I’ll try to remember to note this the next time I write in to TWiV.)


Juan Antonio writes:

Thanks for the podcast.

Emory writes:

I’d love to have a copy of the book! I’m a fan of the whole twix series, subscribed to all. I think they compliment each other well.

Thanks for your hard work!

Jake writes:

Hi Vincent and the rest of the TWiEVO team,

I’d like to put my name in the hat for the book giveaway (Viruses: Agents of Evolutionary Innovation) you announced in this week’s episode.

I’m a graduate student in evolutionary biology at Uppsala University in Sweden, although I’m originally from the UK. My field of study is evolutionary developmental biology, using zebrafish to study the development of the jaw joint, but I’ve been interested in viruses for a long time. Indeed, the 2 main podcasts of yours that I listen to are TWiV and TWiEVO, although I occasionally break out the other TWiXs when I find the time.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, I’m interested in the interplay between virology and evolutionary biology, in particular the contribution of viral genes to the evolution of eukaryotes. A few years ago I came close to undertaking a PhD project with Tom Williams at the University of Bristol studying the viral contribution of essential genes involved in the origin of eukaryotes, but in the end I decided that pure bioinformatics wasn’t for me. The topic of viral contributions to animal evolution now fascinates me, from classic examples like the syncyntins in placental animals to the regulatory functions that the remnants of viral sequences have contributed to our genomes.

One of my favourite papers was published in Cell in 2015, entitled “Enhancer Divergence and cis-Regulatory Evolution in the Human and Chimp Neural Crest”, from Joanna Wysocka’s lab at Stanford. It’s a marvellous paper in it’s own right, detailing the divergence in cis-regulatory elements of key genes that dictate the divergence in the craniofacial morphology of humans and chimps, but there’s a little connection to viruses to sweeten the deal. The team looked at the kinds of sequences that the divergent enhancers were embedded in, and found that several classes of ERVs and LTR retrotransposons were enriched in the enhancer motifs, implying that some of the motifs (they highlight the “coordinator” motif) might have their origins in these viral sequences.

I love examples like that of how even at a fundamental level, viruses have influenced our evolutionary trajectories, so I think Michael Cordingley’s book would be a fascinating read. I’m pleased to see it has a chapter dedicated to Ebolavirus too, as I was lucky enough to attend a seminar by Simon Lovell from the University of Manchester a while back about his work characterising the 2014 Ebola outbreak, and it was a fascinating subject indeed.

The weather here is a brisk -5C. The skies are grey and there’s a nice few inches of fresh snow on the ground from last night.

All the best,

Tom writes:

I listen to 20 different podcasts, and TWiEVO is my favorite!

Please enter me in the book contest.

I only enter the contests when the books sound like they are within my grasp and of interest, and also not so costly that it would be wasteful to give to a biology dilettante like me.

Stories about evolution inspire me to think in new ways. There are so many evolutionary paradigms to learn, and it is all exciting!

Maybe you can do a book or ebook giveaway on Patreon? I need an edge!


12°C, 97% humidity. Rainy but not stormy.

Warm Springs water reservoir storage 201595 acre-feet.

Inflow 100 cubic feet per second, outflow 90 cubic feet per second.

Josh writes:

Hi Vincent and Nels,

I am a graduate student at Boston College in Welkin Johnson’s Lab. I commute down from New Hampshire everyday and the TWIX podcast definitely help with the drive! I hope I win the book. Thanks for all you do with communicating science!



Brian writes:

Hi Vincent and Nels,

I am a public health student at Indiana-Purdue University in Indianapolis and I am a huge fan of TWIEVO and the entire TWIX empire.  I really enjoy listening to your conversations and staying fresh with some of the latest research.

Keep the episodes coming.



Yesol writes:

Hello Nels and Vincent,

Thank you for the great podcasts. I subscribe and listen to all the Twi- series, trying to learn and take advantage of the maddening hours I spend on the road for daily commute.

I would love to win the book. I tried before but haven’t been too lucky. I have a very good reason to want a virus book:

I am a nurse from Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles. I just finished a master’s program in biomedical sciences offered at our hospital. My interest began with oncology and immunology because my specialty was bone marrow transplant nursing. Having only seen the clinical world, I was fascinated by the biomedical research world, especially in genetics and genomics. It’s pretty funny how I used to think genetics was boring — I really, really disliked doing punnet squares or drawing pedigrees. I apologize if I offend anyone. I know the significance of classical genetics. I just seem to enjoy the genomic side of things a lot more. Not that I know much about it. I diligently listen to your episodes but they’re still often over my head. Well, that’s about to change starting this fall — my husband and I are moving to Idaho to pursue our Ph.D’s! We are about to achieve our two big dreams: 1) living in a rural, agricultural area, and 2) studying for a living.

So, that’s basically why I would love that book. I am pretty well-versed when it comes to human biology and diseases, but not so with virology. Virus is one of the model systems in the research project I’ll be joining up there, and I would like to get a better understanding of these creatures. There’s a still long way to go, but I have started watching the virology lectures on YouTube as well. I’m also trying to brush up on stats and learn programming. Sometimes I feel paralyzed with too many – self-imposed – things to do. If you have any advice to be a successful student in bioinformatics/computational biology field, I’d very much appreciate it!

I know the winner will be picked at random and telling you my story will have no effect on the outcome. But I hope you’re pleased to hear that here is another person who loves science enough to leave a comfortable career to become a starving (?) grad student.

Best regards,


Ornob writes:


Hope you guys are doing great! My name is Ornob, and I am writing from Bangladesh. I am a biologist of sorts, but I will elaborate a bit.

I did my undergrad in Biology at Florida State University, and then got my Master’s in Molecular Microbiology and Immunology from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, during which I worked with Dr. Sabra Klein on the effects of testosterone on the outcome of influenza infections in mice. On a side note, gender differences in the immune response could be a nice area to explore for the new Immune podcast! I am a lecturer now in the Biochemistry department at Independent University, Bangladesh. I am mostly involved in epidemiological research here, on things like urban and rural health, and health delivery in slums, but that is a digression based on the opportunities here.

I have been a huge fan of the TWiX series ever since I discovered TwiEvo two years ago. I love them all, but there is a special place in my heart for TWiM and TWiEvo. I am going to apply for PhD programs for Fall 2017, and these podcasts have helped me narrow down my areas of interest (to questions surrounding evolutionary biology). I could listen to you two talk about genetic conflicts, pigeon evolution, and other spicy topics all day (and often do, when I am stuck in traffic for hours)!

I feel a little guilty to be writing in for the first time just for the book lottery. I will try to write in more often as I often have questions. Know that TWiX is the pinnacle of podcast evolution!       [-hahahaha]



Airi writes:

Hi twievo (and twiv) folks,

I’m writing in part to enter for the book, but mostly because I feel like I should write and thank you for doing your wonderful series of podcasts. Currently the weather is 29F (that’s around -1C) in the area in which I study. I’m a 4th year PhD student and I’m in a rather odd situation. I’m going to be a little vague on the detail in case certain people are listening.

First, I study the evolution of a virus, but my background is largely zoology. However, I’ve gained a lot of knowledge about virology in my time through my program, but it’s largely self-taught since we apparently lack a virology course (I actually used your 2014 lecture videos as a independent study course in 2015).

Anyways, while my odd knowledge base certainly makes me an outcast since I don’t quite fit in with the biology or environmental departments, I’m more of an outcast since I’m an academic orphan. Due to several new jobs, I only have 2/5 of my committee members on campus. This makes for a rough situation when I run into trouble since there is no one around to show me how to run certain programs I need. To make matters worse, my major adviser, despite all best intentions, has a habit of making enemies with the other researchers, at academic, state, and federal levels, that work on the virus I study. This has gotten to the point where I am unable to get some of the data I need since they are so against helping this lab. It’s really disheartening to try and continue research when so many people are indirectly against you. I’m looking at an extra year because of these politics and I’m not sure I’ll be able to publish in a very high journal.

And here’s where the thank you comes in. It’s been a real struggle to get through my degree. I was hitting a really low point in my enthusiasm for research when I stumbled across your virology and evolution podcasts (I wasn’t aware of podcasts back when I was going through your course). Slowly, but surely, you’ve been restoring my appetite for the unknown and maybe also putting me back on the path toward academia, despite all my apprehensions about grants and whatnot. I haven’t had a real journal club since my master’s degree and your podcast(s) are making up for that. So thanks a million! I may do more than muddle through.

Sincerely, Airi

Eric writes:

Hello Twievo crew,

I am putting my name into the hat for the book giveaway. I am a graduate student studying marine pathogens and listen to all of the podcasts on my daily commute. I find the whole collection of podcasts fascinating. On a side note, I am a fan of the side banter on all of the podcasts. Keep up the good work!

Alex writes:

Hi Vincent and nels,

Id like to put my hat in the ring for the viruses book!

Id also like to ask if either of you have any advice for undergraduates going through the summer internship application process? What would you look for in a cv or cover letter that might persuade you to get someone in for an interview? Are there any red flags that would make you less likely to consider someone?

Thanks for all the wonderful podcasts.


Austin writes:

Hey Vincent, hey Nels! I’m definitely writing in to try for that book, but I also wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your podcast (I like all of the twixcasts, but twievo is definitely my favorite).

I don’t really use my biology education as a pharmacy technician. Listening to you two discuss evolution, easily my favorite aspect of biology (both as a subject and as a universal occurrence in life), gives me something to look forward to. Working at a large facility gives me access to the papers you read, so I don’t have to wait until I go back to school to follow along.

Thanks again, and keep them coming!

Chaim writes:

Dear Professors Elde and Racaniello,

Thanks for a great podcast. I am a computational immunologist, and one of my main research interests is the evolution of B cell receptors in the adaptive immune response. It tends to be a fairly narrow view of evolution, though, so I appreciate that TWiEvo helps give me a broader perspective.

Thanks again

Laura writes:


My name is Laura, and I am a relatively new listener to TWiEVO.  I manage a small lab in Colorado and had been trying to find a good podcast to keep up with cool news on the science front when I stumbled upon the ‘This Week in’ series.  I have been making my coworker listen to the podcast while we are working and have all been greatly enjoying the episodes so thank you very much for all the energy you put into the series!



Christian writes:

Hey there,

My name is Christian Borden from a MMJ labratory in Colorado. My manager and I started listening to your podcast recently and love it. I’d love to be entered into the virus book contest!

Thank you,

Christian, Colorado