Inspiring the next generation of scientists?

25 July, 2017

Inspiring the next generation of scientists?

Inspiring the next generation of scientists?

Kirsti Hornigold is a post-doctoral researcher in the Heidi Welch laboratory.  Kirsti has worked at the Institute in her current role for 6 years, prior to this she was a post-doc and lecturer at the University of Nottingham.  Kirsti's work focusses on the regulation of a protein called 'Rac-GEF', which is responsible for controlling a cell's shape and movement.  In particular, Kirsti is interested in the effect of this protein in neutrophils, which she explains below.

I recently had the pleasure of going into The Katherine Semar Schools in Saffron Walden to be part of their Science Week activities. I spent the morning with the Year 2 children and the afternoon with the Year 3 children.

I talked to the children about being a scientist and about my research on neutrophils. I explained that neutrophils keep your body safe from infections by neutralising the invaders, which they really enjoyed, my favourite question was ‘are neutrophils goodies or baddies’?

After the introduction, we all dressed up as ‘real scientists’ and did an experiment together. The children learnt how to separate the colours in felt tip pens and on M&M’s using chromatography. We were all amazed to find out how many different colours are actually in a black felt tip pen! One of the children even had the Batman symbol magically appear in their chromatogram!

I really did have a wonderful day at the school, all of the children were engaged and interested in the activities and they were all very well behaved. As I was leaving, two of the Year 2 children came up to me to say they wanted to be a scientist just like me, so I think that is mission accomplished!  

​If you are interested in finding out more about neutrophils or the immune system, take a look at our 'Immune Army' website, which includes explanations, videos, games and more.