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The University of Southampton
Biological Sciences

Inspiring the next generation of researchers: College students in Winchester present their own scientific findings

Published: 12 December 2012

School and college students, who have been taking part in a unique initiative to carry out genuine academic research projects with the University of Southampton and other leading universities, will come together in their own ‘scientific conference’ to present their work and share best practice.

Supported by a Wellcome Trust Society Award, the scheme enables the teenagers to take part in research projects in their own laboratories under the guidance of skilled university researchers.

Students at Peter Symonds College in Winchester have taken part in the project. Professor Lindy Holden-Dye and other researchers from Southampton's Centre for Biological Studies identified experimental approaches that could readily be transferred to the classroom setting and assembled a portfolio of protocols encompassing invertebrate models such as the nematode worm and the fruit fly, retinal microscopy and a computer-based visual perception study. Students at the sixth form selected from these protocols to study topics including diabetes, alcoholism, Alzheimer's disease and the evolution of the eye. The Southampton project, named Ex-Site, was launched in June 2012.

Schools and universities in Sheffield, Bristol, Canterbury and London have also been involved in the scheme. They will all present their work at the inaugural Authentic Biology Research Symposium on 17 December.

Clare Matterson, Director of Medical Humanities and Engagement at the Wellcome Trust, says: "In the research world, scientific conferences provide the platform for scientists working in different places to present and share their findings. Based on this concept, the inaugural Authentic Biology Research Symposium will give students the opportunity to present their work, as young researchers, learn new skills and experience a formal scientific meeting environment."

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