RAP 2021: Insights and skills

RAP 2021: Insights and skills

In this blog series, we hear from some of the students on the Babraham Institute's 2021 Research Access Programme.

My name is Callum; I am studying Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine MSci at the University of Nottingham. I applied to the Babraham Institute, specifically to Dr Martin Turner, because his fundamental research into immunology appealed to my fascination with how the body is able to defend itself from foreign pathogens. He suggested that the Research Access Programme would be useful in understanding more about the Institute as a whole, so I applied and was fortunate enough to receive a placement.

My supervisor on the placement was Dr Louise Matheson and my placement involved looking into the ZFP36 RNA binding protein, which binds to the 3’-UTR and is known to be involved in RNA stability. I was specifically looking at the significance of its binding to other features in the RNA as well as multiple different cell types. This involved firstly identifying if the sites are real before utilising data relating to expression of the genes in knockout and control to prove the significance of these sites. From this work I began to understand the importance of data set sizes and how they can significantly affect the results of research. Overall, we have discovered that these sites were real allowing me to begin to understand the significance of these sites.

My ambition is to do a PhD in bacteriology and immunology - the skills I learnt here will be applicable to both my degree and postgraduate education

Within this project one major skill I learnt was how to code in R, which allows for easy manipulation and visualisation of data. Other software I used included Galaxy, which allowed for a different form of data visualisation, and SeqMonk, which allows for the visualisation of whole genomes. My ambition is to do a PhD in bacteriology and immunology, meaning the skills I learnt here will be applicable to both my degree and postgraduate education.

As a part of the program there were multiple seminars which I found fascinating and deeply insightful. There were discussions on the wider work of the Institute, looking at jobs relating to science but not directly in scientific research. This gave me an awareness of more than just what happens behind a bench, but how the Institute communicates with the wider community such as the media, school children, and industry. We also learnt about the facilities that support the research, including animal support unit and flow cytometry, which gave deeper insight beyond what I would have learnt at undergraduate level.

This placement helped to confirm my love of science. I really enjoyed working on a real research project and immersing myself in all aspects of the scientific process. I would highly recommend students looking for hands on, real world experience apply to this programme.

Enjoyed this blog? Hear from some of our other 2021 Research Access Programme students: