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The University of Southampton
Biological Sciences

Getting to grips with ‘real life’ laboratory work

Published: 20 January 2014

Second year Biological Sciences students are being encouraged to apply for summer placements so they can develop their practical skills ahead of their important lab projects in their third year.

"It's given me so much confidence," says Mayra Beer who worked at Southampton General Hospital on a project about brain tumours and the influenza virus with Dr Jens Madsen. "This is a great opportunity to get hands-on experience in a professional laboratory environment for the first time, and you get paid as well."

Senior lecturer in Immunology Dr Jessica Teeling outlined the options at a talk to all second years. Opportunities are available through organisations such as the Alzheimer's Society and the Physiological Society and within university laboratories at Southampton and elsewhere. There are also non-laboratory placements at major companies such as GSK and Lilly. However, Jessica warned there is much competition for the places and students should prepare carefully to stand a chance of being successful.

Three other students who had been on the eight week summer placements also spoke about their experiences. Okanda Ogbonda, who is an international student worked with Dr Roxana Carare, on an Alzheimer's Society funded project: "It's great to put this on my CV, I learned a lot, especially transferable skills for the workplace and made contacts with people from the rest of the world," he says.

John W Caddick Neuroscience Scholarship
Dr Herman Wijnen and Tom Gleeson

Tom Gleeson was awarded the John W Caddick Neuroscience Scholarship to work with Dr Herman Wijnen on a project about circadian rhythm and sleep disruption. He says: "I enjoyed working alongside postgraduate researchers in the laboratory and it has motivated me to continue in research by studying for a doctorate." Tom McLean worked in Jessica's lab on a Wellcome Trust funded project to study the role of inflammation in the retina and enjoyed developing his practical skills there over the summer

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