Category Archives: Biosciences

Student Case Study: Verisk

Name of Student:  Ria Serena Luchun

Degree Subject:  Natural Sciences

Job Title: Energy Consulting Intern

Company Name:  Verisk

Type of Internship:  Access to Internships (A2I) 

What were your key duties and responsibilities during your internship?

My main role during this internship was to provide support creating deliverables for a variety of energy consulting projects, ranging from new energies and renewables all the way upstream to oil and gas. The tasks I carried out were more diverse than the energy sectors I was working in – from forecasting the demand for ammonia-based products globally to in-depth research concerning Jordan’s electricity market structure and even presenting my work to clients. All of this contributed towards creating solutions and fresh energy strategies for external clients.

What was your biggest achievement on your internship?

My biggest achievement over the course of the internship came right as the experience was ending. I had been working on an upstream project for just under a week and was able to successfully present the findings I had made over that short time to high-stake clients with praise for my efforts from them and the project manager. After a rocky start to the internship, this ending really boosted my confidence in myself and my skills which I am quite proud of.

Were there any challenges and how did you overcome these?

The biggest challenge for me was adjusting to a new workplace in a sector which was quite foreign to me. The first project I was placed on had a very demanding workload which was quite overwhelming at first, especially considering that I had very little subject-specific knowledge. Compounded with trying to acclimatise with a completely new work environment and style, the beginning of the internship was a bit tumultuous. This was overcome mainly by working closely with another intern and by seeking support from the other members of the team individually.

Skills Learnt: 

  • Ability to Work Under Pressure
  • Organisation
  • Negotiation

Attributes Developed:

  • Logical thinking
  • Independence
  • Professionalism

Your message to other students considering a similar job role, organisation or sector?

Overall, the internship was a bit of a whirlwind and an incredible learning experience. Being able to work within so many interlinking teams gave me a taste of the advantages to working for such a large, multinational cooperation. The soft skills I’ve gained at university well supported me throughout my journey of learning at Wood Mackenzie and have propelled both my personal and professional development in this collaborative environment. Not only have I increased my skills and employability, but also my confidence in myself and my abilities.

Student Case Study: Initiative for Nature Conservation Cymru (INCC)

Name of Student:  Ellyn Baker

Degree Subject:  Biological Sciences

Job Title: Species Monitoring Officer

Company Name:  Initiative for Nature Conservation Cymru (INCC)

Type of Internship: Access to Internships (A2I) 

What were your key duties and responsibilities during your internship?

To help oversee the marsh fritillary population restoration project including elements of the captive rearing and the translocation process. This will include working with the Species Officer and CEO to water devil’s-bit scabious plants, replenishing food sources and moving caterpillars to their receptor site. In addition, the role will work with staff and volunteers to supplementary plant devil’s-bit scabious at the receptor site.

To help deliver wildflower meadow restoration within the Amman Valley. This will include helping to collect wildflower seed from donor meadows and broadcasting them on receptor sites in the valley.

To undertake research on two invertebrate species identified on the Rhosydd Bryn-maen SSSI citation at Cefn Garthenor. The species include, Lilljeborg’s whorl snail (Vertigo lilljeborgi) and the oxbow diving beetle (Hydroporus rufifrons). Research will include the species’ ecology and habitat as well as survey methodologies.

Help raise the profile of INCC and the different projects and their outcomes through social media posts, written articles, press releases and other suitable media.

What was your biggest achievement on your internship?

My biggest achievement was helping with the marsh fritillary reintroduction project. We reintroduced marsh fritillaries to a site where they haven’t been for over 20 years, so it was very rewarding to conduct larval web surveys, which revealed that there is now an established population of breeding butterflies at the site, which was work that I helped to implement. I really enjoyed helping with practical conservation work, the results and benefits of which we already seeing.

Were there any challenges and how did you overcome these?

My main challenge was spending a week on a remote island, helping to build a new bird hide. The physical demands of manual labour was very challenging, however I overcame this by focusing on the task in hand and remembering that it was for a good cause that I am passionate about, so I wanted to help. Also, motivation from other team members, and working as a team also made the work more enjoyable.

Skills Learnt: 

  • Communication
  • Teamwork and Collaboration
  • Problem Solving

Attributes Developed:

  • Confidence
  • Initiative
  • Motivation

Your message to other students considering a similar job role, organisation or sector?

My internship experience was very enjoyable, and I had the opportunity to undertake many different and varied tasks. I loved the hands on experience of practical conservation work, and seeing the positive effects that it would bring to local wildlife and people. Working within the industry has allowed me to make many new contacts and learn and develop so many new skills. It was also eye opening and inspiring to see the level of passion and commitment that the other members of the organisation put into their work, so it was great to be able to work with them and learn from them about what it takes to succeed in this industry, and I hope to be able to work with them again in the future.

Employer Case Study: University of Exeter Lab Work

Name of Organisation: University of Exeter

Name of Employer: Robert Ellis

Job Title: Senior Lecturer

Internship Scheme used: Student Campus Partnership (SCP) | Employer Engagement & Student Employment | University of Exeter

Feedback:

“The intern specifically worked on developing a theoretical model for sex change in hermaphroditic aquatic species. This is highly novel and is contributing to a larger area of work our lab group are developing. This helped the intern familiarise themselves with the project, and set the foundation to develop a possible PhD project proposal together over the coming 12 months.

Their successful integration to the team and contribution to the wider goals of the team. The delivery of a comprehensive protocol to assess the content in the lab

This was a really positive experience, and also provided a highly beneficial development experience for a PhD student within our lab who was able to mentor the intern during their placement.

The internship scheme has been very straightforward and I would certainly use it again.”

Employer Case Study: University of Exeter, Biosciences

Name of Organisation: University of Exeter, Biosciences

Name of Employer: Chris Thornton

Job Title: Professor of Fungal Immunology

Internship Scheme used:  Access to Internships (A2I) 

Feedback:

“Our intern had completed an undergraduate lab project with me between Sept and Dec 2021. The internship allowed her to return to my lab to carry out further experiments related to her initial project. The outputs from this additional work have allowed completion of key experiments needed for advancement of our research and development activities.

She gained valuable additional experience working in a research laboratory, adding to her skills base and building her confidence as a scientist. She produced results of publishable quality, and she will be included as a co-author on a peer-reviewed paper in a high impact factor journal. This will further strengthen our lead in the development of rapid antigen tests for human pathogenic fungi.

A positive experience, allowing the intern to gain valuable further hands-on experience in a research and development laboratory, and adding valuable data to our R&D programme.”

Employer Case Study: University of Exeter

Name of Organisation: University of Exeter

Name of Employer: Barbara Tschirren

Job Title: Senior Lecturer in Biosciences

Internship Scheme used:  Access to Internships (A2I) 

Feedback:

“The intern participated in the fieldwork for a bird population monitoring project. Besides regular nestbox checks, she was involved in the monitoring of insect abundance in the birds’ territories and in vegetation surveys. The student was actively involved in all these processes and helped to optimise monitoring protocols. She mastered the different new field techniques within a short period of time, showed a lot of enthusiasm for fieldwork and helped to optimise field protocols.

The project greatly benefited from having our intern in the team and her contribution to data collection made a real difference. At the same time, the internship allowed the student to gain valuable new field techniques skills that will be highly valuable for a career in ecological research or consultancy. A win-win overall.”

Student Case Study: University of Exeter

Name of Student: Laura Dougherty

Degree Subject: MSci Biochemistry

Type of Internship: Access to Internships (A2I)

Company Name: University of Exeter

Job Title: Research Assistant

What were your key duties and responsibilities during your internship?

I planned and ran many immunoassay tests, predominantly ELISAs. I also produced and purified samples from several pathogenic fungi, which will be used for further testing.

What was your biggest achievement on your internship?

I produced high quality data which will be used to help make tests for the diagnosis of several deadly fungal infections. I feel a great sense of achievement to have contributed to such a worthwhile project.

Were there any challenges and how did you overcome these?

The results of one of my larger tests was unexpected. I successfully investigated the cause and had identified that one of the elements used was degrading over time. This is important for the group I was working with to be aware of as they will adjust their experiments going forward.

Skills Learnt: 

  • Ability to Work Under Pressure
  • Organisation
  • Decision Making
  • Networking
  • Report writing

Attributes Developed:

  • Initiative
  • Perseverance
  • Professionalism
  • Confidence
  • Logical thinking

Your message to other students considering a similar job role, organisation or sector?

“My internship experience was really worthwhile. I worked with a group who were developing better tests for several deadly fungal infections. I have gained a lot of experience and confidence, particularly in planning and running experiments independently. I also developed my analytical and problem-solving skills. I produced high quality results and gained useful team-working experience. I received professional support throughout my internship and really enjoyed my time working as part of this group and feel like I have a better grasp of how I wish to progress my career.”

Employer Case Study: University of Exeter Biomedicine

Name of Organisation: University of Exeter

Name of Employer: Sarah Richardson

Job Title: Associate Professor in Cellular Biomedicine

Internship Scheme used:  Access to Internships (A2I) 

Feedback:

“Our intern worked with the team to immunostain a collection of pancreas samples and then established an state-of-the-art AI image analysis pipeline to interrogate these. The results are likely to contribute towards preliminary data within a NERC grant application with some of our collaborators.

Learning the lab and image analyses methodologies, and increasing his confidence to work on these independently. This will have deepened his understanding of the practicalities of research, working with a team and applying knowledge gained during his degree.

Our intern has been great – enthusiastic and committed to learning. We have some great preliminary data for an interesting project extension that is likely to result in a publication and potentially more research funding for the university.”

Student Case Study: Shore Crab Research Intern

 

Name of Student:  Madeline Kirby

Degree Subject:  BSc Marine Biology

Job Title: SCP6015 Shore Crab Research Intern

Company Name:  University of Exeter

Type of Internship:  Student Campus Partnerships (SCPs)  

What were your key duties and responsibilities during your internship?

Assisting with fieldwork in the intertidal environment. Transferring data from the IUCN redlist to an excel format.

What was your biggest achievement on your internship?

I personally became more confident with identifying European Green Crabs, and learned a lot about the scientific process and how to conduct research. As I was working with a PHD student, the work I assisted with won’t be published for a few years yet.

Were there any challenges and how did you overcome these?

Catching covid in the first week of my internship was inconvenient, but we adapted by shifting to online tasks. Other challenges were trap placement and how to maximise our catch, so we played around with the methodology until we found the best practise.

Skills Learnt: 

  • Ability to Work Under Pressure
  • Organisation
  • Time and Workload Management

Attributes Developed:

  • Logical thinking
  • Confidence
  • Creative thinking
  • Professionalism

Your message to other students considering a similar job role, organisation or sector?

My internship experience was really positive. Working with a postgraduate student was really exciting as I felt I was learning a lot about the scientific method and gaining loads of skills I will be able to take into my own research career. I also felt included and the informal approach made me feel comfortable to ask questions. I loved being able to take a more active role in research and meet other people in the field. I have also secured a part-time internship extension with the team which is exciting.

Student Case Study: Science Research Assistant (Endangered Species)

Name of Student:  Amy Goymer

Degree Subject:  Biological sciences

Job Title: Science Research Assistant (Endangered Species) SCP 5967

Company Name:  University of Exeter

Type of Internship:  Student Campus Partnerships (SCPs)  

What were your key duties and responsibilities during your internship?

Carry out laboratory work to obtain DNA sequences for meat sold as ‘eel’ to evaluate whether endangered species were being utilised in eel sushi products. Then collate the data to synthesise a paper for publication.

What was your biggest achievement on your internship?

Analysing enough samples to significantly contribute to the global collection (more than doubling it!) which will allow a much more rounded view of eel trade globally.

Were there any challenges and how did you overcome these?

Some samples were hard to collect usable data from due to being degraded by frying, cooking etc. But you just have to be persistent and go right from the beginning again and then some will just have a lucky round and give you results.

Skills Learnt: 

  • Ability to Work Under Pressure
  • Organisation
  • Leadership
  • Strategic Planning
  • Decision Making

Attributes Developed:

  • Logical thinking
  • Commercial Awareness
  • Confidence
  • Independence

Your message to other students considering a similar job role, organisation or sector?

This internship experience not only furthered my laboratory experience and was a good thing to talk about moving forward in my career, but also made me feel like I was contributing to global science as an individual rather than just learning things as a student. I also hope to publish the paper I wrote as part of the internship with help from my supervisor, which is a really cool outcome to reward the hard work put in. Ultimately, it was great to get paid for something that really interesting, fun, and allowed me to contribute to science.

Student Case Study: University of Exeter Research Assistant

Name of Student: Francesca Southern

Degree Subject: Biochemistry

Type of Internship: Access to Internships (A2I)

Company Name: University of Exeter

Job Title: Research Assistant

What were your key duties and responsibilities during your internship?

Continuing research on mitochondrial DNA epigenetics in neurodegenerative diseases and generally assisting in the lab by tidying, sorting deliveries and helping on other projects

What was your biggest achievement on your internship?

I discovered a recent article publication that suggested an alternative way of research, we practiced that alternative method, and it gave the best results we have had so far. This increased my confidence and independence in the lab.

What did not go so well on your internship? How did you overcome any challenges?

I think the main challenge for me was having the ability to work consistently over the week. A lot of the internship required creative thinking surround lab methods, this in addition to long days in the lab made it test my resilience and critical thinking skills. I spoke to my colleagues about how best to get a routine going in the lab and from that they advised me about how to manage my workload and rest when outside the lab. I was then able to quickly improve my consistency and make fewer mistakes.

Skills Learnt: 

  • Ability to Work Under Pressure
  • Organisation
  • Decision Making
  • Researching
  • Time and Workload Management

Attributes Developed:

  • Initiative
  • Perseverance
  • Professionalism
  • Confidence
  • Motivation

Your message to other students considering a similar job role, organisation or sector?

“Overall I had an incredibly positive internship experience. The one thing that stood out to me was how great it felt to be part of a team. A lot of the time undergraduate work is independent so I wasn’t used to working with a team every day. There was a lot of support from everyone in the research group, PhD students were interested in how my study was going and vice versa so I felt I learnt a significant amount through communication with other members of the research group. I felt I gained an insight into the working world and it made me excited for future employment.”