Sarah Kendall completed her Nuffield Research Placement in 2013 in the Faculty of Life Sciences at the University of Manchester. She is currently studying Microbiology at the University of Leeds.
What was your project about?
“Assessment of Inflammation in Experimental Stroke” – there is evidence that the presence of inflammation during a stroke can worsen clinical outcome. My project focused on investigating whether mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), which have demonstrated anti-inflammatory properties in previous studies, could reduce the level of damage caused by a stroke.
What was the highlight/best bit of your placement?
It was fantastic to work in a lab doing cutting-edge, vital research. Not only seeing the research first-hand but also actively contributing was wonderful and there was a real feeling of making a difference even though I was only there for a short time. My supervisor, mentor and the PhD students I was working alongside were great and I learned a lot from them which helped me make some of my decisions about my future path.
What was your least favourite part of the placement?
It sometimes felt frustrating when experiments didn’t work and they had to be repeated. However, this is part of the science and it was a good thing to experience the whole aspect of research rather than only the parts that worked properly.
Did your Nuffield Research Placement have an effect on the choices that you made after finishing school/college/university?
Before I undertook my project, I wasn’t sure about my career path and where I wanted to work once I’ve finished my education. My NRP opened my eyes to a career in research and also confirmed to me that I would love to work in a lab environment. I started looking into careers in research as a result and I decided to apply for an industrial placement year to give me valuable experience essential for a career in this area.
What would your advice be to young people thinking about a career in STEM?
Experience is an amazing thing – it gives you a good taste of a possible future in STEM. Even if it’s one day out having a tour of a lab or a taster day somewhere, it can give you an idea about what’s out there and whether it’s right for you.