Category Archives: Science

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

Name of Organisation: University of Exeter

Name of Employer: Steven Spaull

Job Title: Technical Services Business Partner

Internship Scheme used: Graduate Business Partnership (GBP) , 

Feedback:

“The role consisted of helping with general laboratory support, preparation of bioscience lab reagents and media, sample handling and storage and lab cleanliness. Our intern only lasted six months before securing a research technician role in one of our research groups. She very quickly developed her skills and confidence and I wasn’t surprised when she told me she was moving on to a different role.

For me, the internship provides an opportunity to develop a young person who is often lacking in confidence. For my team, we had the opportunity to develop our training skills, move staff into new areas and improve the way we interview and select candidates. Having an intern galvanised my other staff into exploring development opportunities themselves, which avoids having a stagnated team. Overall a great asset to the team and would highly recommend.”

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: Research Intern – Decolonising Environmental Science

Name of Student:  Burhanuddin Anis

Degree Subject:  Natural Sciences

Job Title: SCP6014 Research Intern – Decolonising Environmental Science

Company Name:  University of Exeter

Type of Internship:  Student Campus Partnerships (SCPs)  

What were your key duties and responsibilities during your internship?

Putting together python script to automate the scraping of scopus exports for key data involved in a systematic literature review pertaining to parachute science, particular the author affiliations and sites of study of various paleo-ecological studies.

What was your biggest achievement on your internship?

Produces a fully documented and functioning script that automated a large part of the literature review, going through about 8000 results automatically, saving manual work.

Were there any challenges and how did you overcome these?

Often the code didn’t quite work the way we intended, returning incorrect data. Overcame these by sharing with my supervisor and co-worker, who helped troubleshoot and come up with lateral solutions to the problems.

Skills Learnt: 

  • Focus on Goals and Outcomes
  • IT
  • Researching

Attributes Developed:

  • Logical thinking
  • Independence
  • Work Ethic

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

Overall, my internship experience was excellent. I learnt a lot about working in an active research team, as I was able to see a project idea go from just that, to actively developing a methodology with my co-worker and supervisor, into having a large role in implementing this methodology. I greatly improved my confidence in communicating with a team and also greatly enhanced my knowledge of data analytics in python programming. I thought that it was particular good that I was able to actively suggest ideas to the development of the project, I felt that I was genuinely an equal contributor to the goal and this made the internship that much more fulfilling. Thomas Roland was a great supervisor and I’m grateful for his guidance and his willingness to trust my skill set!

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.”

Student Case Study: University of Exeter

Name of Student:  Bryony Dennison

Degree Subject: MSCI Natural Sciences WIS

Job Title: SCP 5540 Environment & Climate Emergency Education Resources Intern

Company Name:  University of Exeter

Type of Internship:  Student Campus Partnerships (SCPs)  

What were your key duties and responsibilities during your internship?

Helping to create a compulsory climate literacy training course for staff and students at the university. This involved interviewing academics, researching content and discussing how to present this content.

What outputs and outcomes did you deliver for your employer?  

We produced the content for a 10 hour compulsory training course for the staff and students of the University of Exeter; this content is now being turned used to create a visually appealing module by an external company. It is hoped this module will lead to a greater understanding of the climate crisis, and therefore greater action among the university.

What was your biggest achievement on your internship?

I was especially pleased with the content I produced for the ‘science of climate change’ section of the course. This was a one hour module covering topics such as the greenhouse effect and the carbon budget. As we will have a wide range of participants, I had to make this content accessible and engaging for those with differing levels of pre-existing knowledge. This was challenging, as many find this topic dull. I included interactive diagrams with definitions of scientific terms to avoid repetition of information those with scientific backgrounds would already be familiar with. I also embedded optional videos and interviews for the same purpose. A variety of small quizzes were also added to make content more varied. Although we have not yet received formal feedback from our outputs, I feel I have achieved the project briefs here.

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

We needed to communicate with multiple academics who had expressed interest in being interviewed for or reviewing the project, many of whom did not respond to our emails at all or in a timely manner. This meant we had to be proactive in following up these academics and contacting alternative interviewees – this turned out to be positive, as we ended up receiving a more diverse range of participants. Similarly, at the end of the internship, we had not received feedback for all sections of the course. We had managed our time carefully to account for this delay and implemented several days to review the content of the other interns.

Skills Learnt: 

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

Attributes Developed:

  • Logical thinking
  • Creative thinking
  • Independence
  • Work Ethic
  • Professionalism

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

“I was involved in producing the content for a climate literacy training course for the staff and students of the University of Exeter. This involved interviewing academics and writing content for a variety of topics including the science and effects of climate change. As a result of this opportunity, I have developed my video editing, project management and science communication skills, as well as becoming more confident. If I were to repeat the project, I would be more proactive in communicating with academics.”

Student Case Study:  The Eden Project

Name of Student:  Max Parkin

Degree Subject: BA History – Cornwall

Job Title:  Research Writer Intern

Company Name:  The Eden Project

Type of Internship:  Access to Internships (A2I)Student Business Partnerships (SBPs)

Description of Company: The Eden Project, an educational charity, connects us with each other and the living world, exploring how we can work towards a better future. Our visitor destination in Cornwall, UK, is nestled in a huge crater. Here, massive Biomes housing the largest rainforest in captivity, stunning plants, exhibitions and stories serve as a backdrop to our striking contemporary gardens, summer concerts and exciting year-round family events.

What were your key duties and responsibilities during your internship?

To research specific briefed environmental/social/sustainable topics for the Eden Project as directed by the Director of Interpretation. To write, summarise and authenticate research documents and storylines with references. And/or to write final copy across a range of media using Eden’s house style and brand guidelines.

Key accountabilities (depending on area the student wishes to gain experience in):
1. To research specific briefed topics using literature searches and by communicating with organisations and experts in the field, working to set deadlines.
2. To write master files (as laid out in the Eden guidelines) on specific briefed topics with full list of references.
3. To write compelling storylines, narrative and content briefs to enable interpretation of specific subjects across a wide range of media.
4. To write final copy for specific exhibits, events, digital and web content and publications using Eden’s house style and brand guidelines.

What outputs and outcomes did you deliver for your employer?

The main task for the interpretation department at that time was Eden’s summer content – Earth Story. I was asked to research in detail Megafaunal extinction during the end of the last Ice Age and the potential human involvement. The end result was a detailed document which was then used to help the graphics team produce an extinction timeline which can now be seen in the Earth Story exhibit at Eden.

What was your biggest achievement on your internship?

I was given a topic I had 0 previous knowledge of – Megafauna. I was asked to produce a detailed research document and became an ‘expert’. My research was verified by Natural History Museum Professor, Adrian Lister and played an instrumental role in producing content which is now displayed in one of Britain’s top visitor attractions. 

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

Initially, it was difficult to get to grips with my task, my progress was slow to start – I made sure to communicate well with Sarah, my boss, and ask lots of questions when I became lost.

Skills Learnt 

  • Ability to Work Under Pressure
  • Communication
  • Team Work and Collaboration
  • Problem Solving
  • Time and Work Load Management

Attributes Developed 

  • Confidence
  • Initiative
  • Perseverance
  • Motivation
  • Personal Awareness

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

“Working with the Eden Project for my internship was highly rewarding, exciting and eye opening. I became an ‘expert’ in a topic I’d never even heard of before, I met some great people and a future career path.”

Student Case Study:  College of Life and Environmental Sciences

Name of Student:  Ben Fisher

Degree Subject: BSC Biological Sciences

Job Title:  Mini Module Research Intern

Company Name:  College of Life and Environmental Sciences

Type of Internship: Student Campus Partnerships (SCPs)

What were your key duties and responsibilities during your internship?

Researching the current teaching provisions for maths across the Biosciences programmes. Assessing the mathematical ability of incoming A-level entrants and then using these two data sets to identify learning gaps. I then developed new interactive module content to help teach the concepts identified as being part of the learning gap, and finally presented all my work to the education committee at departmental level.

What outputs and outcomes did you deliver for your employer?

Outputs: Analysed data sets, reports on learning tools, reports on current teaching provisions, new online teaching material.

Outcomes: Yet to be seen, hopefully an increased awareness of the importance of maths skills for teaching staff to consider and an increased understanding of key statistical concepts for first year students through using the new teaching tools.

What was your biggest achievement on your internship?

Initially I was employed as a research intern, to examine the data sets that were available and analyse those for where future development could occur. I decided that my research would only be valuable if there was a physical output from the research that would aid students. Through discussions with my supervisor I identified both a platform on which these new teaching tools could be developed fairly easily and identified the subject themes which would have the greatest impact (least understood topics). This resulted in the full development of 2 interactive learning tools for statistical concepts with a 3rd tool partially developed. These are new to Biosciences and take a form that hasn’t been done before, combining content delivery with continuous assessment in research based teaching scenarios.

Skills Learnt

  • Ability to Work Under Pressure
  • Organisation
  • Strategic Planning
  • Time and Work Load Management
  • Focus on Goals and Outcomes 

Attributes Developed

  • Commercial Awareness
  • Confidence
  • Initiative
  • Perseverance
  • Motivation

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

“From the interview through to regular supervision meetings, my placement replicated a real working environment. This gave me a valuable insight in to what a research focused career could look like which will be especially useful for future career planning. I particularly enjoyed being able to discuss my work with members of staff in a professional forum who were passionate about my research area. I felt that my work was valued and my contributions and opinions would be taken on board, which was a key motivator for my throughout my placement.”

Student Case Study: The Rock Pool Project

Name of Student:  Eleanor Stanton

Degree Subject: BSC Marine Biology – Cornwall

Job Title:  Digital Development Intern (Rock Pooling Platform)

Company Name:  The Rock Pool Project

Type of Internship: Access to Internships (A2I)

Description of Company: We are a social enterprise that encourages people of all ages to discover the incredible marine life found around our beautiful coast. Our expert marine biologists offer bespoke private rockpool safaris, educational group field trips and public beach events.

What were your key duties and responsibilities during your internship?

My key duties included working closely with the project leader to run events. I spoke to members of the public about what the project does and helped attendees to identify and record species they found. I also worked a lot on the project website, social media and newsletters, and coordinated other staff members and volunteers.

What outputs and outcomes did you deliver for your employer?

I produced were social media posts, newsletters and updating the website, including targeting a new demographic through Instagram.

What was your biggest achievement on your internship?

On one event I was running with the project leader his car got stuck, and while he was dealing with that I took over running the event. I had to take a register of all the children attending (it was a kids event in the school holidays), and then talk to them about beach awareness and safety, before teaching them how to use the devices we use to record species we find. I then ran the first half of the event myself, helping them to find and identify species and record them in a useable manner. The result was that the event ran smoothly despite the major car issue.

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

My main challenge was having to learn quickly on the ground how to identify species and talk about them to the public. I am quite shy normally, so being forced to interact with and educate others was a struggle at times but it is definitely a challenge I am overcoming,

Skills Learnt 

  • Ability to Work Under Pressure
  • Organisation
  • Time and Work Load Management
  • Strategic Planning
  • Focus on Goals and Outcomes

Attributes Developed 

  • Logical thinking
  • Creative thinking
  • Independence
  • Work Ethic
  • Professionalism

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

“My internship experience was incredibly valuable as it gave me experience in the marine field, working with experts in the subject I am interested in. I was able to gain lots of knowledge on the UK’s coastal wildlife as well as transferrable skills such as teamwork and communication, which will be useful to me wherever I end up in the future.”

Student Case Study:  University of Exeter

Name of Student:  Matthew Turk

Degree Subject: BSC Biological Sciences

Job Title: Research Assistant

Company Name:  University of Exeter

Type of Internship:  Access to Internships (A2I)

  1. What were your key duties and responsibilities during your internship?

My key duties and responsibilities were to support research in the laboratory by assisting with the setting up and monitoring of scientific experiments and assays, keeping accurate records of experiments and data, and preparing stocks of culture media, buffers, and reagents.

  1. What outputs and outcomes did you deliver for your employer?

I performed transformations of plasmids, restriction digests, ligations, polymerase chain reactions, culturing experiments, inoculations, survival assays, preparation of sequence reactions, and cDNA synthesis. These experiments helped support the research being carried out in the research group.

  1. What was your biggest achievement on your internship?

I managed to successfully transform a difficult cut vector into E. Coli. This has been confirmed by sequencing and these E. Coli strains will now be used by the research group for their experiments.

  4. Skills Learnt 

  • Time and workload management
  • Strategic planning
  • Teamwork and collaboration
  • Problem solving
  • Communication

 5. Attributes Developed 

  • Confidence
  • Initiative
  • Perseverance
  • Motivation
  • Personal Awareness

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

“It was an incredible opportunity! I had an amazing time and was able to do things that I never would have been able to do as part of my degree course. My supervisor and the whole research group were really supportive and keen for me to get the most out of my internship that I could.”