The students, from different schools across Oxfordshire, have been getting valuable work experience at the Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism (OCDEM) as part of the in2science scheme, which aims to help students from disadvantaged backgrounds to progress to careers in science and research careers through high quality work placements.
The placements have been supported by the NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre. This is the first time OCDEM has been involved in the in2science scheme.
Helen McGrath, 17, from Larkmead School in Abingdon, said: “I want to do science at university, but I’ve never had proper lab experience. So I wanted to see if I wanted to do it or not.”
Abraham Sondhi, 17, who studies at Cherwell School in Oxford, said: “Getting work experience in a lab or any science setting is hard, so this was a good opportunity, and the in2science programme allows you to have contact with top scientists at the forefront of research and you can see what it’s like on the inside. It’s incredible to actually see the research going on.”
Thomas Clague, OCDEM’s lab manager and lab manager for BRC-supported projects at OCDEM, said the scheme was aimed at “local children who may not have the opportunities or experience that other people have, may not have the knowledge of how universities work or what a career in science would be like.”
He said the aim was to make science and research “more accessible to them, give them lots of experience and answer any questions they might have about a future career in science.”
“They seem to be really enjoying it. Loads of new experiences; using equipment they would never use at school, so because it’s all new, it is really cool and interesting.”
During their time at OCDEM, the students are doing a range of research – from DNA extraction to histology; from western blots to insulin secretion assays.
Hollie Smith, 18, from Wallingford School, said: “We’ve been extracting DNA, testing for proteins and looking for genes under the microscope, reading sequences and spotting mutations. It’s been really fun. I didn’t realise that so much happened in one department. Before I didn’t think that I would want to work in a lab. Now I’ve realised it’s something I really want to do.”
in2scienceUK is a non-profit organisation which aims to support young people from low-income backgrounds progress to university to study science, technology and engineering and maths (STEM) degrees and progress to careers in the STEM sector.