Student Perspectives: A Multitude of Skills

Student Perspectives: A Multitude of Skills

In this 'Student Perspectives' blog series, we hear from some of the students on the 2020 Diversity Access Programme (the precursor to the 2021 Research Access Programme).  We asked students at the end of their placement to share their thoughts and experiences.

Gabriel completed his placement with the Rugg-Gunn group.

I am Gabriel, a 20-year-old student from Lancaster University, who recently finished his second year of a Biological Sciences MSci degree.  I found out about the Diversity Access Programme via an email from one of my lecturers.  I was excited to apply as the programme appeared to involve a great opportunity to conduct research independently outside of the university setting that I am used to; this programme also piqued my interest as there was a particular focus in helping provide students from diverse backgrounds with an opportunity that may otherwise not be available to them.

The time I spent throughout the Diversity Access Programme at The Babraham Institute was extremely fulfilling and allowed the improvement of many skills including research, data analysis, computer programming (R) and presentation skills.  Alongside these key skills, my confidence and communication regarding scientific research were further developed within this setting.  Tacita and Susan, the key organisers in the Diversity Access Programme, were very supportive and helpful regarding any questions so any potential problems were not a concern.  I particularly appreciated the weekly meetings held in which we could voice any questions.

The project I worked on focused on the analysis of epigenetic mark differences, particularly histone methylation, in cultured stem cells compared to cells in the early embryo.  This area had previously been unexplored due to a lack of data, so it was particularly exciting to be working on a novel topic and being the first person to compare these data sets.  At first, I was sceptical in starting the data analysis research as I was not able to work in a lab due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  However, this project was extremely rewarding and has provided me with some amazing experience under my belt and some great connections!

The Babraham Institute provided a beneficial experience, filled with the potential to develop a multitude of skills

Alongside the research projects, the other interns and I experienced multiple presentations covering experimental design, institute tours, scientific communication, diversity in research and PhD application pathways.  These talks allowed me to develop a greater understanding involving every aspect of the biological sciences research field; it was particularly interesting realising how interconnectedness and communication is a key requirement within this field.  Each presenter was welcoming and enthusiastic to answer any questions asked, allowing a productive experience for everyone involved.

Overall, I would recommend applying for this internship if you are a student with a diverse or disadvantaged background who wishes to understand the field of biological research to a greater degree, work out whether research is right for you and more specifically if a PhD is the right course of action for your future.  I hope that during subsequent years there is the opportunity available for laboratory work for those who wish to develop these skills but even without this specific area, the staff within the Babraham Institute provided a beneficial experience, filled with the potential to develop a multitude of skills surrounding biological science.

Applications for our 2021 Research Access Programme are now open and close on Monday 29th March 2021.  For more information, click here.