Emma Sharman

Why did you apply for a Nuffield Research Placement?
I heard about the programme through my school and thought it sounded really interesting. I then looked on the Nuffield Foundation website at previous projects and decided to contact the Nuffield Coordinator of my region to find out more. I thought it would be a great opportunity and a different way to spend my summer holidays.

Was the work what you expected? 
I had expected to be working in a lab but didn’t expect to be involved in carrying out pioneering research work that could potentially have a beneficial effect on people’s lives in the future. I got to work in top class facilities and alongside dedicated researchers who inspired me about their field of work.

What was your project about?  Did you know much about the area before you started?
The aim of my project was to create a form of hydrogel, which could be injected once a week into muscle. It would detect glucose concentrations in the blood and release insulin proportionately to the glucose level detected, but only when the blood sugar levels got too high. The idea was to create a treatment that was easier and more convenient for diabetics as they would not have to constantly monitor their blood glucose levels or inject daily. Before my placement, I had a vague idea of what diabetes was and the treatments available, but I was not aware of the work currently going on to find better treatments.

Did the work you did over the summer help you to decide what you want to do next?
My project made me more interested in the treatment of illnesses with new drugs so I have decided that I want to study Pharmacy at university. I loved the fact that my placement had a real-world application and could potentially benefit such a large number of people. By doing pharmacy, I could become a pharmacist and/or do my own research in the future.

What advice would you give to students applying for a Nuffield Research Placement?
The Nuffield Research Placements give you the chance to do and see things that you wouldn’t at school. Make the most of your supervisor’s expertise and knowledge and try to learn as much from the experience as you can. The Nuffield Foundation gives you the chance to get involved in so many other things. Do the GOLD Crest award, apply for the Big Bang Fair and make the most of the opportunities!

What was it like exhibiting at the Big Bang Fair?
I felt honoured to be able to exhibit my work at the Big Bang Fair alongside some of the nation’s best young scientists. The judging was quite nerve-wracking but enjoyable at the same time – all of the judges were really friendly and had a genuine interest in my work. I was so surprised when I was awarded the Royal Society of Chemistry Prize, I didn’t expect it at all and felt so privileged! I also made lots of new friends who discussed their projects with me and opened my eyes to other ideas and concepts.