Once more, the MRC Centre for Developmental Neurobiology (MRC CDN) hosted students from the In2scienceUK program, giving them the opportunity to work alongside researchers and learn several of the fundamental and cutting edge techniques that the scientists in the Centre use to study the development of the brain.
Students from low income backgrounds are under-represented at Universities and even students with average or good levels of attainment feel unable to continue studying science because they see post-16 science qualifications and careers as being only for the ‘brainy’ few. In2scienceuk is a non-profit organisation that provides students from low income backgrounds STEM related research placements and the advice and information they need to progress to University and STEM careers. The MRC CDN has collaborated with the organization since its very beginnings, hosting a total of 21 students to date.
This year, for their research summer placements, the students were hosted across five laboratories performing various experiments such as growing cells in culture, cloning and extracting DNA and using fluorescent microscopy to look at the distribution and location of specific proteins in brain tissue, among others.
"The placement was enlightening. It allowed me to gain an insight into what research is actually like. I also enjoyed being able to take part in these experiments, getting first-hand experience that will help my university application to stand out." Read more about Anjuma's research experience at the Centre.
“It was a pleasure hosting our in2science student. I offered a place because I really wanted to help inspire budding scientists and give them a taste of the reality. I was particularly keen to give students who don't normally have such opportunities a chance to experience life in the lab. I was really pleased that our students reported that they felt it had been an invaluable experience.”
Laura Andreae, one of the principal investigators who hosted students this year
Another of the students, Phoebe spent two weeks working with zebrafish under the supervision of Drs Katherine Trevers and Robert Hindges.
“We used techniques such as embryonic injections and fluorescent imaging which I had never heard of before, let alone had done. I am so grateful to the lab I worked with, who gave me this amazing opportunity and opened the door for me into research science. I loved working with zebrafish. The knowledge that I had injected them as an embryo and imaged them as they grew not only made me proud of what I had achieved, but allowed me to understand what research science was all about. I learnt so much and enjoyed every second of this once in a lifetime opportunity. It was fantastic!" Phoebe won the image competition at the end of work experience celebration event.
By offering gifted A-level students from low-income backgrounds the chance to work alongside researchers and become familiarized with an academic research environment, the aim is to inspire and motivate them and to support them in their application to competitive research universities.
"In2science students work hard, are keen to learn and they really value the open and nurturing attitude of our Centre. Our student this year, Regina, just didn’t want to leave!”, said Caroline Formstone. Regina won the blog competition for her entry about the placement.
“It has been a privilege to visit our students on their summer placements. I have been amazed at the quality of research they are involved in. The students have shown that they make the most of an opportunity driven by their enthusiasm and energy to learn.”
In2scienceUK founder Rebecca Mckelvey