Today we’re delighted to host the winner of the RCUK-sponsored ‘Best Use of Research Prize’, Maria Thankachan. Maria, an A-level student from Bury, Greater Manchester, received the award at the prestigious National Science + Engineering Competition for her project to discover more about a gene involved in Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).
Maria’s project was showcased at the 2015 Big Bang Fair alongside over 200 other finalists of the National Science and Engineering Competition. The ‘Best Use of Research Prize’ is awarded to the entrant showing the most innovative research concept, a methodical research process and high quality outcomes following review by a world-class panel of judges.
As the winner of the RCUK prize Maria received £500, a certificate, and an ‘experience prize’ - an opportunity to spend a day at a world-class RCUK research laboratory of her choice. The visit to the Babraham Institute offers Maria the opportunity to meet and work with researchers undertaking cutting-edge life science research. During her visit Maria will experience first-hand the best of fundamental and commercial research co-located at the Babraham Research Campus. Maria will spend the morning as an honourary member of Dr Sarah Elderkin’s group, based in the nuclear dynamics research programme. Maria will be introduced to research using embryonic stem cells, and undertake some experimental work to characterise cell lines made by the group to help understand the control of gene regulation in these cells. She will also meet other researchers within the Institute’s nuclear dynamics research programme.
In the afternoon, Maria will visit Cancer Research Technology's Discovery Laboratories, also based on the Babraham Research Campus, and receive an introduction to the range of science being undertaken (including biology, medical chemistry and high-throughput DNA sequencing). Maria will meet a representative from each of these groups to talk about the work they do, as well as have a tour of their labs.
Dr Louisa Wood, Babraham Institute’s Communications Manager said: “The visit will give Maria a valuable first-hand experience of real-life research, both fundamental academic research and also research within a commercial setting. She will gain an overview of a research project, try out some new lab techniques and also be able to explore a wide range of career pathways by chatting to the people she will meet. Maria is obviously extremely talented and we look forward to sharing our passion for science with her.”
Maria (right) and Babraham Institute group leader Sarah Elderkin (left) inspect their Western blot to analyse mouse embryonic stem cells and detect proteins essential for embryonic development.
Maria’s blog post on her day at the Institute and CRT's Discovery Labs
29 July 2015