28th March 2023
We were approached earlier this month by Dr Matthew Lloyd BSc (Hons), DPhil, FHEA who is a Senior Lecturer at The MSc in Drug Discovery, as he has written an article based on the work that he and a group of students completed during a summer placement last year. The Nuffield Research Placement allows students to get hands-on experience with research projects whilst making a meaningful contribution towards the work of a host organisation through a well-supervised but independent research collaboration relating to an area of science, quantitative social science, computing, technology, engineering or maths (or a combination).
We were delighted to hear that one of the students featured in his article is St Brendan’s student - Archad! Archad studies English Language, Religious Studies and Sociology A-Level at St Brendan’s. The article will be published in a volume of Methods in Enzymology, by Elsevier. This is a highly reputable journal in Biochemistry, with many practising scientists using the chapters as reference work when designing and executing their experiments. The specific volume will be entitled “Modern Drug Discovery and Development”, and the article will be on kinetic methods used to characterize compounds that stop enzymes from working.
We spoke to Archad to learn more about this fantastic placement.
“The summer placement I did was a Nuffield Research Placement which spanned 2 weeks and consisted of research with a university professor who is well-versed in the topic of interest that you may want to do in university - mine was in biochemistry/biomedicine however you can choose from a vast variety of STEM subjects from physics to maths to even psychology and geography. Following the placement you complete a research report and a poster including learning skills on how to do a scientific report which took around 2 weeks to complete.”
Throughout your 2 weeks, what did you do?
“I carried out a variety of lab experiments in the field that I was working on (which for me was on enzymes). During my placement, I got to trial a lot of new scientific equipment which included a pasture pipette (which is a pipette but you can specify the specific amount of substance without usually guessing), a mass spectrometer and even a magnetic stirrer which mixes the substance for you at your desired speed without you lifting a finger! Near the end of my placement, my team and I worked together to finalise all our scientific results conducted from our research into statistical data which I then compiled into a research poster/report.”
What did you learn from the placement?
“Not to panic when things go wrong! When you conduct scientific experiments there is always a possibility that something can go wrong whether that be putting too much of a substance, to even just dropping an important solution. When a mistake happens it’s important to not be annoyed at yourself but focus on what can be improved next time so you can build on your mistakes.”
Do you think the placement was valuable?
“YES!! It was my first experience working in a lab doing research that a typical PhD student would do once completing an undergraduate and master's degree. This opened my eyes to the possibility of going into a field of producing ground-breaking research rather than just going into a career which I wouldn't have thought of doing had I not partaken in this placement.”
What have you taken away from the placement?
“Just how valuable this experience was to me and how it has helped me to decide on the route to take after sixth form. You will meet new people in your placement and professors that are very kind, and patient and are able to answer any questions that you may have regarding personal statements, advice and even about themselves. I cannot recommend this work experience enough especially if you are looking to add something to your personal statement.”
Once you have completed your second year at St Brendan’s, what do you plan to do?
“I would love to go to university after I finish sixth form, I would also be interested in postgraduate once I complete my degree. I guess we will have to wait and see what life has to offer me!”
We are so proud to see Archad listed as a contributor to such an amazing article and even more proud of him for stepping out of his comfort zone and learning about Biochemistry which isn’t a course he studies with us!