Asma's story: Research Access Programme 2022

07 September, 2022

Asma's story: Research Access Programme 2022

Asma's story: Research Access Programme 2022

My name is Asma Laali and I’ve just finished my second year at UCL, studying Natural Sciences. It’s not totally settled yet, but I’ll be majoring in molecular biology next year!

I spent my time at Babraham with the Houseley lab in Epigenetics. I explored the effect of free radical damage on yeast ageing by measuring the replicative lifespan of yeast with and without the YNO1 gene, which causes superoxide formation. The traditional method of measuring replicative lifespan involves isolating a single yeast cell and counting and removing every daughter cell it forms until it stops replicating. This is incredibly time consuming and requires work to be done overnight. Part of my project was to look at other methods and see if they were more reasonable.

Aside from working on my project, I also got a glimpse into the day-to-day life of working in research. I had the opportunity to shadow lab members as they worked in the lab and occasionally help out when I could! One of my favourite things about the programme was sitting in on lab meetings. Although some of the content went over my head, it was amazing to have the research that lab members were working on be laid out clearly in front of me, and even better to witness the discussion around their findings happen live in front of me.

Our time at Babraham wasn’t confined to our lab groups - as part of our programme the Public Engagement team arranged for us to have a variety of talks given to us by staff from throughout the Institute, something I greatly appreciated! These talks were insightful and broadened our horizons to aspects of working in research that our time with our lab groups didn’t cover, such as a crash course in effective scientific communication and an explanation of the process of commercialising research.

In the evenings we had time to kill. I had an amazing time exploring Cambridge with the other Research Access students. We had Jack’s Gelato (a little too often); took boat trips down the Cam; saw the sunrise in Midsummer Meadows and the sunset in Waterbeach. I had an amazing time rock climbing with my lab group and having dinner in the leisure park.

I’m not sure what I’ll be doing when I finish my degree, but I know the insight and experience this placement has given me, and the skills I have developed, will help regardless of what I choose in the future. Thank you to everyone at the Houseley lab for all your help and time, the Public Engagement team for supporting us throughout our time here, and to my fellow RAP students - I’m glad we were all on this programme together.