Seminar gives placement students a chance to tell their research stories

Students chatting during the tea break at the seminar

One of the students speaking about their placement

Biochemistry undergraduates heard at a recent seminar about the rewards and challenges of lab work from third and fourth year students who had participated in placements during the summer.

Organised by third year student John Snape and teaching staff, the seminar brought in 12 students who had spent time in labs in Oxford, the UK or abroad. They talked about their research projects and briefly explained how they had chosen their placement and obtained funding.

Introducing the event was Head of Department, Professor Mark Sansom, who commented on the wide range of biochemistry and cell biology projects undertaken by students. For those considering moving into scientific research, he said, placements offer a chance to do research for real and see what it is like. When he has sat on PhD selection panels, it is students with such dedicated skills in the lab that they are looking for.

Most of the students who spoke undertook a placement in the UK, at research institutes and universities in London, Oxford, Cambridge, and Southampton. One of the speakers spent time on a programme hosted by the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência. Projects ranged from those using molecular dynamics simulation to study flexibility of a multidrug resistance gene regulator, to exploring mechanisms behind gender differences in response to dietary restriction in Drosophila.

The students spoke enthusiastically, not just about their projects but also about the enjoyable time they had working and socialising with others in the lab. Their experience was very different from any lab practicals and they came away with a wealth of skills – confidence with new research techniques, analytical skills to explore a research topic, and the ability to plan and carry out work. 

Around 40 students in total worked on summer placements in 2013. Some were on a formal programme offering scientific and social activities in addition to the research component, others simply worked for a period of time in a host lab. You can read more about their experiences here.

 

 





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