​Success for The Royal Society Worm Project at Cambridge Young Scientist Journal Conference

​Success for The Royal Society Worm Project at Cambridge Young Scientist Journal Conference

In order to celebrate eleven years of incredible scientific work in the age category of 12-20, the Young Scientist Journal hosted a conference at Queen's College, Cambridge, on 12th October 2017. I was fortunate enough to attend on behalf of Colchester County High School for Girls to present a poster on the work we've been doing on stress responses in C. elegans as part of the Royal Society Partnership grant-funded project we have undertaken with the Babraham Institute. The day itself was broken up into three lectures, with a workshop running at the same time for those interested; two sets of student presentations, which ranged from medical advances thanks to World War One, to the pros and cons of setting up a Mars colony, and of course, the poster reception during the breaks and lunch.

For the most part, I was discussing how my research came to be (after all, working with C. elegans on something as bizarre as heat-shock and epigenetics raises a few questions). I was also quizzed on my personal involvement on the project. My research was something I led myself, and I was fortunate enough to have some excellent mentors in Dr Martin and scientists from the Babraham Institute, the partner in our research. It was, however, not a solo mission. Alongside a team of around twenty other students, we worked on these worms for around six months. After this, we got the lower years involved in trying to isolate a strain of wild C. elegans in the soil by burying bruised fruit to draw them out. While these attempts were fruitless, the judges were impressed by the teamwork that went into it.

The much-anticipated student awards followed, in which the co-founder, Christina Astin, and Professor Dame Frances, presented the certificates to all eighteen posters and presentations. To my surprise, the winning poster was mine. The awards were followed by a panel of speakers, made up of Nicole Liew, Dr Jonathon McMaster, Dr Michael Sutherland, and Dr Malcom Morgan. All of our university-based questions were answered here, thanks to the coverage of all four STEM subjects represented by the panel - at least, for those of us who weren't in Year 13 on early admission deadlines!

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and that included the conference. However, that doesn't mean that the work, or the science, ends there. My thanks to all those involved in organising this wonderful event, and my congratulations to all who took part and made this event one to remember!

Ella Willsmore  - Colchester County High School for Girls