Lesley Brown - 2005 Nuffield Bursary student

"The Nuffield Foundation bursary provided me with the confidence to believe that a research career is possible for someone like me."

"The Nuffield Foundation bursary provided me with the confidence to believe that a research career is possible for someone like me."

Lesley at the Royal Society Summer Exhibition.

In 2005, Lesley was half way through a part time degree in Biological Science & Health at Leeds Metropolitan University when she applied for a Nuffield bursary. At the time, Lesley was a mature student working part time in housing and had no previous experience of research. She spent the summer at her university inverstigating the effect of electrode placement of transcutaneuous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) on experimentally induced pain in healthy volunteers.

Talking about planning for the project, Lesley said: "The research opportunity was within the ‘Centre for Pain Research’, which primarily focuses on non drug interventions for pain relief. Following discussion with the team, I submitted a proposal to investigate the effects of placement site of Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) on experimentally induced ischemic pain. My submission for the bursary was successful and I was thrown into the world of research throughout the summer."

When asked about the experience itself, she replied: "In many respects this was a steep, but valuable, learning curve. My research involved carrying out pain procedures on healthy volunteers. So in addition to learning various techniques, I was introduced to the ethical considerations of research, the challenges of recruiting participants, health and safety, risk assessments and the importance of obtaining and storing data appropriately. Throughout the process, I became aware that research can be frustrating, takes longer than is envisaged and the thought required for even a small study is extensive. However, despite the challenges, I appreciated the enthusiasm for learning exhibited by the PhD students, enjoyed the diversity of the research process and enjoyed being part of the research environment."

In 2007 an opportunity arose to apply for a funded PhD to investigate cross cultural differences in response to TENS. Lesley applied and is now approaching the second year of her PhD, with an opportunity to carry out research in Hong Kong.

She said: "The Nuffield Foundation bursary opportunity enabled me to acquire some of the skills necessary to undertake a PhD but more importantly provided me with the confidence to believe that a research career is possible for someone like me."