Institute for Cell and Molecular Biosciences (ICaMB) Medical School Newcastle University Catherine Cookson Building Framlington Place Newcastle-Upon-Tyne NE2 4HH
Professor Brian Morgan (Co supervisor: Dr Elizabeth Veal)
Completing a BSc (Hons) in Cell and Molecular Biology at Heriot-Watt University developed my enthusiasm for research. The final year dissertation focussed on Clostridia sugar transport which allowed my interest in biochemistry of cell signalling to be explored. Through BBSRC funding as part of the DTP, I am currently investigating the sensing and signalling mechanisms involved during oxidative stress using model organisms such as the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe. I completed the MRes in Biosciences at Newcastle University in the summer of 2013 and the initial research has become the basis of my PhD.
Project title: Investigation of cellular responses to reactive oxygen species.
Reactive oxygen species (ROS) arise through normal cell metabolism or from the environment. At high levels ROS damage cell components such as DNA and protein and are associated with age-related diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and also with the ageing process. Hence, it is important for lifelong health and wellbeing to understand the mechanisms by which cells respond to ROS. An important defence against ROS is to activate the expression of antioxidants which provide protection. However, there are significant gaps in our knowledge regarding the mechanisms underlying ROS-induced sensing/signalling pathways. Studies in single-celled eukaryotes such as the yeasts Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Schizosaccharomyces pombe have been invaluable in providing insight into these signal transduction pathways. Thus, the aim of the project is to use the model organism S. pombe to investigate cellular responses to reactive oxygen species.
I took part in the North East Postgraduate Conference in October 2011 and regularly take part in BBSRC DTP activities and events.
Where did I get my PIPs
PIPS Internship Organisation Name
School of Biomedical Sciences, Newcastle University
When deciding on your internship, what did you want to experience and what did you hope to gain from that experience?
The aim of this internship was to allow me to gain experience in preparation of a wide range of reagents/techniques that were not within the remit of my PhD thereby increasing my knowledge base. Additionally, it would allow me to work with others as part of a professional team in research management. The practice of managing myself as part of a team is invaluable to being an employable scientist in research/academia. In addition, this role would allow me to broaden my ability to disseminate information to a wider audience (i.e. students). The demonstration of practical sessions to students must be engaging and informative to allow the students to learn from the experience. Working in this role would improve my ability to engage with a wide variety of students at all levels of higher education.
Did you get the experience you were expecting and did you achieve the personal development you had hoped to make?
The experience was far more formative for my personal development than I was expecting. I discovered that a large part of my role was problem solving as a team within set time frames. During my PhD I had become adept at problem solving but working as a team on a strict schedule was a invaluable experience. I feel the skills I developed during this internship will be of significant help to me as I begin my career following my PhD.
Did you discover anything about yourself or make any achievements that you were not expecting?
I discovered that one of my strengths is to find the more efficient solution within a group and efficiently work together to complete a task. Within my scientific experience this was not something I had previously had a chance to do and it was interesting to find that I fitted in quickly to team based tasks. In addition, the internship allowed me to significantly broaden my teaching experience. This is an area I developed a passion for during my PhD but during the internship I was able to gain more hours of experience. The feedback I received from the students and lecturers reinforced that my enthusiasm is matched by the quality of my teaching ability.
Has the internship made you feel differently about potential career options and has it helped to put the skills from research into a broader context?
I feel the internship has brought in to sharp focus the steps required for me to reach my career goals. During the internship I met many experienced scientists from such a broad background, they were all incredibly helpful in discussing their career paths so I could understand the various routes I have available to me. Although it has made the task of reaching some of the more prestigious positions seem incredibly daunting, the people I met were very clear about the fact that my current skill set (including those gained during the internship) will be very beneficial to allow me to start the career I choose.