Lucy Oldacre-Bartley: BSc Medical Sciences
Research Placement with Dr Ian Wood, University of Leeds
"This course particularly caught my eye, as it was both interesting and challenging, as well as developing my skills to go into research when I had finished. I absolutely knew I wanted to be in Leeds; I fell in love with the town and I could see myself fitting into university life well here. I honestly believe that I will reach my true potential here at Leeds with the assistance and support of all the staff.
I am only in my third term of first year but I love it! I was always quite an academic, studying biology, chemistry and maths at A-level and this course continues on that path with neuroscience, pharmacology and many more challenging modules that really get you thinking!
My research placement is on REST expression in cells. This project has mainly involved me aiding Dr Wood in the laboratory carrying out PCR experiments for him and analysing data.
I was a novice when entering the laboratory and so all of the skills I have acquired have been from observing and carrying out tasks whilst supervised. This has led me to undertake a whole new way of learning, and has taught me to be proactive in finding out techniques, etc. The skills I have learnt are all transferrable in any laboratory I end up in and so if I do have a career in research, these skills will aid me. This project will set me apart from my peers as it shows I have had the initiative to get myself an internship, which will be attractive when I am applying for jobs at the end of university, and indeed if I decide to do a year in industry in year 3.
The course will stretch you to reach your full potential, the people here are lovely and the lecturers really care about making a difference to your education."
At the time of writing, Lucy was a first year student.
Rachael Powis: BSc Neuroscience
Research Placement in electrophysiology laboratory, University of Leeds
"Neuroscience is a fascinating and thought-provoking subject to study at the University of Leeds. The lectures on this course cover more than just neuroscience. We have the chance to study a whole range of topics, including Pharmacology, Microbiology, Endocrinology to name but a few (basically a lot of –ologies!).
The lab practical sessions are designed to help you understand the weeks lecture material and learn new experimental techniques. For example, when studying anatomy of the heart, you are given the opportunity to perform a dissection that makes the textbook material come alive. The lab practicals vary greatly each week, last week we got to ‘zap’ each other’s arm when testing nerve conduction velocities, which was fun and pretty painful too!
The highlight of the course so far has definitely been my research lab placement. I am currently working in the lab of Dr King, a Reader in Neuroscience, with an interest in spinal cord neurophysiology and neuropharmacology, in particular with the molecular and cellular aspects of chronic pain. She has several projects underway; in the lab I have been working in she is researching rhythmicity in spinal dorsal horn sensory processing, which sounds pretty impressive to your mates down the pub!
The placement is for ten hours each week, which slots nicely in-between lectures. Shadowing a PhD student in an electrophysiology lab is a bit daunting at first, but you soon get used to all the complicated looking equipment and techniques. All the members of the lab are incredibly friendly and helpful, and the atmosphere is surprisingly relaxed. Work involves making solutions, lab duties such as pulling electrodes, and attending seminars on various interesting topics, such as pain and epilepsy.
The placement pays well, which is a bonus as I would actually do it for free! It’s much more beneficial to work in this environment than working behind a bar or something, as you’re getting paid to broaden your knowledge and learn experimental skills that will help you on your course.
I would recommend this placement to anyone. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do after my degree finished, but this placement has helped me to decide that I would like to pursue a career in Neuroscience research in the future.
As far as I am aware Leeds is the only university that offers a research placement scheme in the first year, definitely something to be aware of when applying for a biomedical course!"
At the time of writing, Rachael was a first year student. She graduated in 2011.
Samantha Spratley: BSc Human Physiology
Research Placement in the Institute of Membranes and Systems Biology, University of Leeds
"I chose Leeds as the Uni has a fantastic reputation, especially in research-led teaching which is vital for studying a course in biomedical sciences. Studying BSc Human Physiology opens up a variety of career options after graduating and is also one of the few courses that give you the opportunity to take a year out in industry or abroad.
I have had lots of great experiences here at Leeds. Carrying out dissections in practical sessions has been a definite highlight; very few universities still offer this as a learning technique, which makes it all the more exciting. Also, the opportunity to undertake an undergraduate research placement in one of the universities laboratories has been a real highlight for me. This is an opportunity you wouldn’t normally get until your third year. It entails 10 hours per week for 10 weeks, carrying out various lab duties including maintenance, attending meetings and carrying out experiments. This has enabled me to develop a much better expertise in practical-based skills. It has also helped me explore the possibilities of research and what it entails, which will allow me to make a more informed career choice in the future. Although challenging, it has been a fantastic opportunity.
Next year, I am hoping to take a year out in industry abroad, preferably with a pharmaceutical company in either America or Australia and after graduating I plan to read post graduate medicine."
At the time of writing, Samantha was a first year student.