This episode is for anybody interested in how human beings have altered the world around us since we came on the scene tens of thousands of years ago. University of California Santa Cruz evolutionary biologist Beth Shapiro weaves fascinating and fun personal anecdotes from her own life and research on ancient DNA to tell the story of the evolution of Earth and the life-forms it hosts. Shapiro also delves into the risks and opportunities presented by powerful new synthetic biology technologies. She is not afraid to voice her own opinions on topics that can be quite controversial – like gene editing, cloning and the consequences of climate change.

If you’d like your own copy of Life as We Made It, you can find it on or

Next time, we’ll be talking about Murder Isn’t Easy: The Forensics of Agatha Christie, by mortician and medical historian Carla Valentine. As we delve into Christie’s pioneering forensic writing, we’ll be joined by special guests Raychelle Burks – who writes our forensics column Trace Analysis – and Katherine Harkup, author of A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie.

If you, dear listener, have any thoughts on Life As We Made It  or know of a book you would like us to discuss in an upcoming book club, let us know in the comments below or tweet at us @ChemistryWorld.