One-day supervision of visiting high school students

Oct ,28 2016

Working as PhD student researcher at Trinity College Dublin is a great experience and gives me opportunities to meet the general public and young students. A very important event at Andrew Bowie’s lab is the visit of Secondary School students which takes place three times a year. Young students can join our laboratory for a week and share the experience of being a scientist. They can learn about scientific research, watch real scientists at work and also perform a few basic experiments under the supervision of PhD students and PostDocs. What a unique opportunity to challenge themselves and to be inspired about Science!

In April 2015 Lisa and Robbie joined our team. I explained my project to the students and showed them some techniques I commonly use in the lab. It was a positive experience for both of them. I really enjoyed my time with them and I was happy to answer their questions and comments. I was also very surprised about the attention to detail they had while performing some bench experiments and was delighted to see their smiles when I approved their work. It reminded me of my first time in a lab as a student, a long time ago! I really believe this is a key step for young minds and might lead these students to choose a pathway in the scientific world and maybe become future research scientists.

The next section contains the student thoughts about their lab experience at Trinity College Dublin.

Lisa Campton

“I really enjoyed my week at the Trinity Biochemistry and Immunology Institute (TBSI). It was a privilege to observe and learn from intelligent students and professors. The programme certainly exceeded my expectations. I presumed that we would be listening to many talks and speeches rather than doing any practical work. However, throughout the week we saw the theoretical and practical side of science, which was compelling.
Robbie, a student from Cork and myself were assigned to Professor Andrew Bowie’s lab. Andrew spoke to us about science studies in Trinity College and about all the different options in a research career. He also told us that his lab specifically researches viruses and how our cells react to them. From Tuesday until Friday, we worked with PhD students and Post Doctorates. I learned a myriad of new things! For example, I found out how to extract DNA from a banana, I learned how to prepare Agar plates and grow bacteria. I found out how to look for proteins in saliva and I worked on an experiment to detect interferon in stimulated cells. As well as working in the lab, we had the opportunity to visit St. James’s hospital. Here, we were given a tour of the building and got two brilliant talks on Tuberculosis and the Immune System. My favourite aspect of lab work in TBSI was extracting DNA from a banana and detecting interferon in cells because they completely related to our daily lives. I did not have any least favourite aspects!

This week has been a wonderful opportunity and I am so grateful to everyone who taught us about the extensive world of science!”

Robbie Wall

“I found this week very advantageous to my subject choices for leaving cert, and what I will study in college. I already knew I had interests in some aspects of sciences, but this has broadened my interest in science as a whole. I have learnt and discovered things I never knew existed due to this week.

We learnt about DNA and viruses and everything else in a cell in Andrew Bowie’s laboratory this week. Everyone in the lab was nice to us. The working environment was very good, and we were always safe. Everyone made us feel welcome. The experiments were fun and interesting. I had not done anything like them before in school, so a lot of it was new. A lot of the equipment and machinery were fascinating as they all did very different things.

This week was an amazing opportunity and thoroughly enjoyable, and I would like to thank everyone involved, especially the PhD students who are very busy and took time out to teach us.”