RAP 2021: Skills and connections
In this blog series, we hear from some of the students on the Babraham Institute's 2021 Research Access Programme.
My name is Anna and after finishing my second year studying Biochemistry at Imperial College London, the Babraham Institute gave me the opportunity of carrying out a summer research project as part of the Research Access Programme.
My project with the Institute focused on writing an algorithm to analyse DNA replication profiles to predict sites of DNA damage. It involved coding in R to identify initiation and termination zones of replication in high throughput sequencing data, quantify replication fork progression and flag up significantly different regions between cell lines. I was thrilled by the amount of autonomy accompanying this research project; I was given the freedom to approach the problem in a way I considered logical, all while being guided by my incredible supervisors Neesha Kara, Dr Jon Houseley and the wider lab community. Joining in on lab meetings and discovering the nature of long-term research projects was the highlight of my internship. A project can always be taken further and it is up to you how to best take the research as far as possible. This way, I gained new skills in coding and data analysis, but also time management and breaking down a larger project into manageable tasks. This is a practice I will carry forward into graduate study.
The projects were as diverse as the students themselves and I can assure future applicants that there will be a project suited to their interests.
Life at the Institute and the various career paths in science open to us were conveyed via a series of talks from different members of the Institute and virtual tours. There were also regular catch-up sessions with the other students and the Public Engagement team who organised the programme. Despite being entirely remote, the programme remained engaging and interactive this way. Everybody was approachable and enthusiastically answered questions or offered help with our projects. I developed a greater understanding of what it means to work in science and what opportunities there are for public engagement.
The presentations at the end were another memorable experience, where I was able to present my own work and hear from the other students. While my project focused on coding and bioinformatics, which are among my interests and part of a skillset that I wanted to expand this summer, others focused on cell biology, signalling and even the intersection of science and commercialisation. The projects were as diverse as the students themselves and I can assure future applicants that there will be a project suited to their interests.
The importance of mentors was one of the most valuable lessons I took away from this programme.
The importance of mentors and forging connections in the field was one of the most valuable lessons I took away from the programme. My lab group, especially my supervisor, and I are staying in touch beyond the end of the programme and I am thankful that the Research Access Programme has provided me with this support network.
I highly recommend applying to the Research Access Programme, as the connections and experiences I made this summer will stick with me for my graduate studies and other future endeavours. It has cemented scientific research as the career path I want to pursue.
Enjoyed this blog? Hear from some of our other 2021 Research Access Programme students: