Joanna spent her summer vacation acting as a Research Assistant at the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Biomedical Research. Joanna was involved in two projects, the first working on prostate cancer cells, and the second investigating a particular side effect of the adrenal cancer drug ‘Mitotane’. In addition, Joanna had the opportunity to get involved with other things too, such as assisting other members of the team with their experiments, and presenting her data at the weekly lab meeting.
Joanna found her summer project to be a fascinating experience – ‘I very much enjoyed being in a fast-paced stimulating environment’, she says, and while ‘not all research is ground-breaking [it]is always something new’. Joanna further-developed a range of technical skills during her summer project, and says that she has ‘become much faster and more confident at learning new techniques’. The project has also helped develop Joanna’s presentation skills through the presentation she made to other members of the lab group.
But the summer project has helped Joanna in other ways too, and has given her some extremely valuable laboratory-based research experience. During her time in the Institute of Biomedical Research, Joanna took the opportunity to speak to current PhD students and gained a ‘real insight’ into the reality of a career as an academic researcher. Joanna found the experience exciting, enjoyable and stimulating, and it has helped her to explore options for the future – ‘due to my fantastic experience with my summer placement’, says Joanna, ‘I am now very seriously considering doing a PhD’.
All in all, the time at the Institute of Biomedical Research was a really positive experience for Joanna. She enjoyed being involved in planning experiments, and was fully involved in the planning process. Now the summer project is over, Joanna’s supervisor has asked her to complete a summary report on her time at the Institute of Biomedical Research, which will have the structure of a mini scientific paper. ‘This is a fantastic exercise’, says Joanna, and will allow ‘me to reflect on what I have done, and gives me vital practice in scientific writing’.