Taste of life in the lab for local Cambridge college student
Over the summer Emma Lindsay, a 17 year old student at Hills Road Sixth Form College in Cambridge, spent four weeks as part of an Institute lab. During this time she completed a Nuffield Research Placement and learnt both practical skills and more about daily life as a researcher. Emma spent her time at the Institute working with Dr Simon Rudge, a senior research scientist, on her project to pinpoint the location of ACSS2, a protein which is upregulated in cancer cells.
Emma shared her experience and impressions of her four weeks and how it has helped her as a student considering a research career.
Q. What were you doing? What was your project on?
During my four weeks at Babraham I identified the location of a protein called ACSS2 in cells. In order to achieve this I learnt how to tag human ACSS2 with Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) and how to introduce this into cells so that the ACSS2 protein would be visible under a fluorescence microscope. I confirmed that I had made a cell line that made GFP-ACSS2 by using Western blotting, and viewing my cells under a microscope to observe GFP fluorescence. These techniques will help me greatly in the future as I wish to study Chemistry at university and then follow a career in research. I first heard about Nuffield via an email from my sixth form and was eager to take part as I wanted to experience what real research was like.
Q. What was the best bit/moment? What was the worst?
There were occasionally long periods of waiting for reactions to take place and the uncertainty of whether all your hard work was going to be worth it was nerve racking. However my colleagues in the office and the people I met around the rest of the Institute made my experience really great. Ultimately, the best part of my experience was seeing the green glow of the GFP-ACSS2 down the microscope, validating four weeks of hard work.
Q. How will your experience help you in the future?
Before I came to the Institute I was unsure if research was for me as I expected scientists to be secretive about their work and hence unfriendly. However I met some great people at the Institute and loved how open and bright the labs were. The excitement of conducting an experiment which no one knew the outcome of has also swayed me towards research.
Q. What happens to your research project now?
I will be creating a poster to accompany my report and, if chosen, I will present my findings to other Nuffield students. Additionally I plan on entering my project for a Gold Crest Award, run by the British Science Association, which recognises students who have carried out a STEM-based project lasting over 70 hours.
Dr Simon Rudge, Emma’s host and project mentor, who is a STEM ambassador and who has mentored Nuffield Research Placements since 2007 said: "We wish Emma every success with reporting her project and sharing her results with her peers. Emma worked very hard and with great enthusiasm during her time at Babraham. The GFP-ACSS2 DNA and cell line that Emma made will contribute greatly to our on-going research into the functions of ACSS2 during cell growth and survival."