In August 2015, I did a Nuffield Project in the Perinatal Imaging Department at St Thomas’ Hospital in Lambeth, London.
My research was focused on looking at the differences between the development of two regions of the brain – the hippocampal cingulum and Inferior Longitudinal Fasciculus – in preterm and term babies.
This was a four-week project. I was taught how to code and did programming as part of my project (which was computer based) to extract the specific tracts from pre-recorded MRI scans of infants. I was reading literature to simultaneously teach myself the elements of neuroscience my research was focussed on. I also taught myself to do data analysis.
I was also writing up my report as I was doing my project itself. This meant that I could get my supervisors to read over it (one was a doctor and the other was both a professor and a doctor! #inspiring). They were both very helpful and gave me ideas about how to best structure it, re-write anything to make it more concise, or explained the science if I didn’t understand anything.
During my project, I got the opportunity to speak to many PhD students who were also working in the department. They were very helpful with UCAS advice (I was expecting my AS results) and I got to learn about life of PhD scientists (and they were very positive about it!).
I also networked with some other Nuffield Foundation students (well, three) who were doing their project in the same hospital where I am still in touch with one of them on Facebook. It was nice having them during lunch time discussing our projects and university and career plans. I also got to see them at the Nuffield Celebration event where we presented our posters.
The Nuffield Celebration event was attended by myself and other Nuffield students who successfully completed their projects. We had to design a poster for the event and were also given our certificates there. I found some old tweets to hopefully be able to explain to you how unfamiliar I was with scientific posters at the time therefore it doesn’t look perfect but certainly I sat down with my sister and we tried our best and here it is – well, not really. First the tweet explaining how hard it was:
and now the poster:
After the successful completion, I decided to submit my project for the Gold CREST award to the British Science Association. For this I needed my report to be a little better and one of my supervisors gave me very detailed advice on how I could improve it. Her support and advice was very helpful and I achieved my CREST award! I did, of course, send them an email thanking both my supervisors for their continued support where I now have one of them on LinkedIn and the other on Facebook. Thanks to social media, you never lose touch with people.
Here is my award:
My CREST Gold award is something I am still proud of and will always be.
A state-school student with a passion for chemistry and the sciences who didn’t achieve the best AS results that summer had her placement achievements holding her together so she was able to gather the courage to apply to university and is today studying chemistry at Warwick.
Grades aren’t all there is to achievements/ learning/ experience. My placement gave me a real taste of research (something I might wish to pursue a career in), an understanding of what life of a researcher looks like, an experience to reflect on, and set me apart from others who at that age might not have had the science-y experience of researching in a focused area, writing a scientific paper, creating a science poster and getting the awards.
I read on LinkedIn that the best way to document an experience is to blog about it so I’ve done it – I’ve written my blog.