In Situ Science

Ep 81. Harry potter, taxonomy and academic publishing with Tom Saunders

August 4, 2019

SPECIAL GUEST: Tom Saunders (U of Auckland)

Support In Situ Science on Patreon

Tom Saunders experienced a burst of scientific fame after naming a newfound species of wasp Lusius malfoyi, after the beloved and maligned Harry Potter character Lucius Malfoy. Naming new species after pop culture figures has become a useful tool for enhancing public awareness taxonomy and biodiversity research. Taking this strategy though has to be handled delicately as paying homage to beloved fictional characters can upset both traditional taxonomists and hardcore pop-culture fans.


Tom Saunders studies the biology of agricultural pests and biocontrol agents at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. In this interview we talk about the importance of fundamental biological research for enhancing applied agricultural research. We also chat about the strange beast that is the academic publishing system and how it needs to be improved into the future.

Follow Tom on Twitter @TomSaundersNZ and visit his research website here.

Find out more at

Follow us on Twitter @insituscience

Follow us on Instagram

Like us on Facebook

Music: ‘Strange Stuff’ by Sonic Wallpaper -


Podbean App

Play this podcast on Podbean App