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The secret lives of our LMS summer students

 23 August 2019   Institute News

Each year, the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences (LMS) runs a Summer Studentship programme that offers six undergraduate students the chance to see what working in a world leading research institute is like. Watch the video created by our Science Communication summer student about the experiences of our 2019 cohort:

Five of these students work within different LMS research groups on eight-week long projects. The programme provides the undergraduates with the chance to gain valuable lab experience that will help them decide whether they would like to pursue a career in research after they graduate. These projects let the students work more independently than what they may have experienced so far at university. The projects this year ranged across the disciplines of bioinformatics, chromatin, epigenetics, gene regulation, and genomics.

One summer student, Katarzyna Drewińska, who has been working on a project in the Computational Regulatory Genomics group here at the LMS, got to try her hand at something completely new by learning Python coding and developing artificial intelligence. She has been working on programming an artificial neural network which is a computer system modelled on the biological neural networks of the brain. She has been developing it to predict the interactions between promoter and enhancer pairs in DNA sequences which regulate the transcription of genes and protein production.

 “Throughout this studentship I had the opportunity to developed better coding skills. I have a background in web development, but here I learnt how to use a new coding language called Python in the context of practical bioinformatics. My favourite part of this studentship was having the opportunity to work with artificial intelligence and creating a programme which will have real life applications in future research.”

Imogen Brooks, who was working in the Epigenetic Inheritance & Evolution lab group, is keen to pursue a research career in the future and has her eyes set on a PhD offered in London. Her project focuses on epigenetics in C. elegans worms investigating how DNA is packaged and condensed in the cell, and how changes in this packaging are inherited between populations of worms that have been separated for 400 generations.

I was definitely interested in pursuing a career in research before I started this studentship but this has really helped focus my interests and give me a better idea for the kind of lab that I’m looking to join in the future. Another advantage of being here is that I am really interested in a PhD programme in London and this experience gave me a good idea of what living in London while undertaking a research project would be like.”

Anna Litovskikh has been working in the Functional Gene Control lab and has loved how she has been able to learn techniques she hasn’t been able to during her degree, such as the R coding language. She shared with us the advice she would give to any students considering applying for this studentship.

I would advise future applicants to definitely apply as it will expose you to a lot of valuable wet and dry lab skills that will broaden your horizons. Don’t be intimidated by the difficulty of the project because the lab groups are very friendly and helpful, and will assist you in all the experiments that you will do. So just believe in yourself and go for it!”

In addition to these research-based studentship placements, one position is offered in the Grants, Engagement and Communications (GECo) team as a science communication summer student. The undergraduate who fills this role undertakes various tasks supporting the Science Communications Officer and Engagement Project Manager on ongoing projects.

There is no typical day for this student as these various projects within the team require different assistance day to day. These responsibilities include everything from writing articles for the LMS website covering institute news and recent research publications to helping organise creative community engagement events.

The summer student who filled this position this year is Roween Rawat who is keen to pursue a career in public engagement with science. She shared with us what she loved most about her experience as part of GECo at the MRC LMS.

 “Throughout this experience, I have had the opportunity to try my hand at so many different projects and develop my creative skills in writing, filming, illustration, photography and video editing. The role has also allowed me to take part in face-to-face public engagement events which I thoroughly enjoy, as it gives you the opportunity to be out in the community facilitating conversations with different publics about their relationship with science.”

 

Applications for the 2020 MRC LMS Summer Studentship Programme will open in Spring 2020 and is open to UK/EU students in their middle years of their undergraduate degree.

Click here for more details on how to apply.

 

Written by Roween Rawat