Biochemistry welcomes Year 12 students for UNIQ programme

Practicals can be fun, as demonstrated using GFP purified by the UNIQ students

Practicals can be fun, as demonstrated using GFP purified by the UNIQ students

Forty Year 12 students had a taste of life as an Oxford Biochemistry student at the end of July when they took part in UNIQ, the University’s Summer School programme.

The programme, which is free to participants, offers courses across 30 science and humanities subjects. Students from state schools across the country enjoy a week of activities learning about the topic, the course, the application process, and what the University and city have to offer.

The Biochemistry programme combined lectures, tutorials and practicals during the day with social activities in the evening. Students also had the opportunity to visit world-leading facilities nearby - Diamond Light Source and the Oxford NMR facility at Harwell.

Uniq students enjoying a lab session

One activity students felt was very different from their experiences at school was the lab work. They spent two busy afternoons in the teaching labs in the Zoology Department on projects designed to introduce them to biomedical research – where quantities are never more than micromolar and experiments can run for days.

The students were unperturbed by their first experience of a saline mouthwash and used this to extract their DNA and test for a specific genetic variant. In another project, they grew cultures of E.coli synthesising Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP), purified the protein, and viewed its bright green fluorescence under UV light.

Uniq students enjoying a lab session

A number of current Biochemistry undergraduates acted as Student Mentors, giving a personal perspective on the course and student life. Some of them had come on the UNIQ course themselves whilst still at school.

The UNIQ students, many of whom are hoping to go on to study Biochemistry, said that the course was a stimulating introduction to the discipline which is covered very little at A’ Level.





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