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The University of Southampton
Biological Sciences

Alumna support allows more UG students to gain hands-on neuroscience research experience

Published: 20 November 2020

Undergraduate biological sciences students at Southampton can continue to gain valuable experience of the University’s cutting-edge neuroscience research, thanks to the ongoing support of a Southampton neuroscience alumna.

Sarah Caddick, who graduated with a PhD in Neuroscience in 1993, has funded a scholarship for the past eight years that has allowed undergraduate biological sciences students to gain crucial research experience by participating in annual placement opportunities.

Now Sarah has pledged to donate further funding for the next five years to enable current and future students to continue benefiting from the scheme.

Her philanthropy, combined with Excel Southampton Internship Programme funding, has already seen 12 students supported by the John W Caddick Scholarship which is named in memory of her father.

The scholarship was set up in 2013 when Sarah wanted to increase her involvement with her former university. She had already been a member of the scientific advisory board and offered mentoring to students, but she jumped at the chance to open the door to research experience for biological sciences students.

Sarah said: “I loved being at Southampton and was able to advance my career from the experience I gained there. I wanted to enable undergraduate students to experience what it is really like to be in a lab and this scheme allows them to spend an extended period of time working alongside researchers, seeing the excitement, the challenges and even the unpredictability of research. It helps them to understand more about what a career in research is actually like and whether that is a career path they would like to pursue or not.

“All of the students I have supported so far, even the ones who have decided an academic career is not for them, have said that they got a lot out of the scheme.”

Successful scholarship students get the opportunity to benefit from Sarah’s wealth of experience and contacts. She said: “All of the scholarship recipients also get open access to my experience, contacts and ability to tap into a global science and philanthropy network, even after they have finished the scheme. There is no obligation on them to do this, but my door is open if they need any advice, mentoring, contacts or access to the latest technology.”

Sarah was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree from the University in 2017 and has held leadership roles in academia and private/public grant-making organisations. She was Neuroscience Adviser to Lord Sainsbury of Turville and his charitable organisation the Gatsby Charitable Foundation until 2017 when she established her own consulting company, Thalamic Ltd, to advise other philanthropists, foundations, universities and companies.

Southampton’s Head of Biological Sciences Professor Lindy Holden-Dye said: “This scheme makes a real difference to students as it gives them the opportunity to work with our excellent researchers gaining research experience and helping with projects that reflect the strengths of neuroscience at Southampton. Projects range across the neuroscience spectrum and have included areas such as exploring the body clock, Alzheimer’s disease, neurodegeneration and neuroinflammation.

“Sarah’s continued support will open the door for more students to gain experience and make informed decisions about whether they want to apply to do a PhD or not. If they decide to apply this experience will really strengthen their application, and there is no obligation for them to do their PhD at Southampton.

“Neuroscience as a discipline also benefits, as we are creating the next generation of inspired young scientists. Our students go on to all kinds of careers and a large number of the John W Caddick scholars have gone on to do PhDs.

“We want to encourage our best and most motivated, enthusiastic students to go into research because there's some real challenges that we face in the 21st century that haven’t yet been solved, such as mental health and neurodegeneration. This scheme helps to facilitate our students successful careers in the best way we can and give them a head start in those careers.”

The John W Caddick scholarship is just one of a number of studentship schemes, supported by the Genetics Society, the Society for Applied Microbiology, the British Pharmacological Society and the Biochemical Society, that enable biological sciences students to take part in research projects.

The satisfaction of neuroscience students at Southampton was recently assessed in the National Student Survey (NSS) 2020.


  • 100% of MSci Neuroscience students were satisfied or very satisfied with the overall quality of their course*
  • 98% of MSci Neuroscience students were satisfied or very satisfied with the teaching on their course and 100% of students agreed staff are good at explaining things*

To find out about undergraduate biological sciences programmes visit Biological Sciences undergraduate page.

To find out how alumni can help support the University visit Alumni supporters volunteer give page. All support no matter how large or small can make a significant difference.


*NSS 2020, University of Southampton analysis of unpublished NSS data

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