Student Case Study: The University of Exeter, CLES

Name of Student:  Amy Barron

Degree Subject:   BSC Conservation Biology and Ecology PP

Job Title: Research Intern

Company Name: The University of Exeter, CLES

Type of Internship: Student Campus Partnerships (SCPs) 

Description of Organisation: With over 4,100 students including over 280 international students from around the world, the College of Life and Environmental Sciences prides itself in being a vibrant community supported by excellent research and teaching across a number of related disciplines. Our areas of expertise span Biosciences, Geography, Psychology, and Sport and Health Sciences.

What were your key duties and responsibilities during your internship?

Organising RAW photos and morphological data; creating MSPEC and JPEG files using ImageJ and RAWTHERAPEE; quantifying colour pattern variation in male guppies across generations (F0, F1, F2); and summarising data in spreadsheet for statistical analyses in order to find evolutionary and genetic links.

What outputs and outcomes did you deliver for your employer?  

Outputs: I created MSPEC and JPEGS from the visible and UV images that were provided, and renamed the images referring to a spreadsheet for easier identification Outcomes: these high quality images will be used for research purposes to track colour markings on the guppy’s bodies in order to determine genetic links. By renaming the fish I also was able to highlight any problems or mistakes with the data to my supervisor

What was your biggest achievement on your internship?

Using a multitude of new software. For the internship I was required to use RAWTHERAPEE and ImageJ, which I had never used before. I was given a quick induction on the software, but I also took the initiative to find online tutorials, for example on YouTube. By utilising my supervisors, the internet and online forums I was able to sort out any problems that occurred during my work, and successfully create high quality JPEG images ready for evaluation. Using new software has also given me confidence in my IT skills, as it has shown that I am adaptable and could easily pick up these new skills.

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

Working from home – After a full year of online lectures and study I began to find it difficult to stay motivated during work hours. Typically this internship would have taken place in the labs and I would have had much more interaction with other people. To overcome this, I took regular screen breaks to talk to family also working from home, and ensured I stuck to a working day schedule (9-5/10-6). By having structure I was able to plan leisure activities and step away from the computer more often.

Skills Learnt: 

  • Ability to Work Under Pressure
  • Problem Solving
  • Communication
  • Strategic Planning
  • Focus on Goals and Outcomes

Attributes Developed:

  • Confidence
  • Logical thinking
  • Independence
  • Work Ethic
  • Professionalism

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

I really enjoyed my placement with the CLES team. Both of my supervisors were exceptionally knowledgeable, friendly and approachable. Overall, it was a valuable experience which gave me a better insight to ‘working from home’, which has allowed me to make important decisions regarding graduate jobs, and what I would and wouldn’t look for in a company.