Our Sixth Form Summer of Science

Our Sixth Form Summer of Science

Our Sixth Form Summer of Science

We spent four weeks on summer placements at the Babraham Institute as part of the placement scheme run by the Nuffield Foundation. Two of us were in the Institute’s Signalling Programme and one in the Epigenetics Programme. Our projects were:

1) Investigating Stearoyl-CoA Desaturase – a key enzyme that impacts lipid diversity and cellular health - Karanjeet Khera
2)Investigating autotaxin and its role inside cells - Storme Xavier Roth-Boggis
3)Screening for epigenetic marks required for survival upon the dramatic changes in the environment of yeast - Ania Daniels Uribarri.

The first two projects were based in Professor Michael Wakelam’s Lab and were supervised by Senior Research Scientist Simon Rudge; the third was in Dr Jon Houseley’s lab and was supervised by Senior Research Associate Cris Cruz.

As part of our placement projects, we used mass spectrometry to determine the lipid composition within our modified cell lines. This was led by Greg West, a researcher in Michael Wakelam’s group. Much of the analysis behind mass spectrometry was taught to us by Andrea Lopez, who runs the Institute’s Lipidomics Facility. PhD student Elizabeth Hampson carried out a workshop covering her research in Dr Heidi Welch’s lab where we stained our own cheek cells and viewed them under a light microscope in the Imaging Facility.

We were required to write up a scientific report on the research we carried out, showing that our projects fed into the overall research themes of the group we were working in. Doing so has given us the opportunity to improve upon our research and writing skills which will prepare us for life at university.  We also prepared a scientific poster outlining our research for a celebration event in October.
Karan said: “Using one word to be able to describe the Babraham Institute would be insanely ridiculous. If you were able to, I would suggest you haven’t had the full experience of such a fine institution. From the day I arrived, through to the final few days of my placement, I was welcomed into a community where a helping hand was never far away. There wasn’t a single day where I wasn’t busy in the lab carrying out experiments to discover more about the biology of development and ageing!”

Ania said: “Being treated as an equal member of the team motivated me both in the lab and the social side of my placement. I’ve loved getting involved with activities beyond the bench such as yoga, where I felt a real sense of community and nurture from Institute staff. I gained many skills within the lab such as increased confidence, independence and learned many techniques used in labs throughout the Institute. A lot of the equipment, knowledge and techniques I’ve carried out here are not available at school and so coming here allowed me to widen my horizon of knowledge in this field. “

Storme said: “Our advice for anyone who is considering a placement at the Babraham Institute (or any research institution) is to ask a lot of questions and get involved in as many activities as possible to make your placement as useful as possible. We had an amazing month learning about life in the labs at the Babraham Institute and it has made us want to pursue research in the future. I hope to visit again!”

If you or someone you know is interested in the Nuffield Scheme and doing a research placement at the Babraham Institute then please get in touch via pe@babraham.ac.uk.