Christine Addae-Kyereme

Christine Addae-Kyereme completed her Nuffield Research Placement in 2016 at the Institute of Biomedical and Biomolecular Science at Portsmouth University. She went on to be runner up in the Senior Science and Maths category at The Big Bang Competition.

Why did you apply for a Nuffield Research Placement?

I had been interested in Science and specifically research since we were taught the individual Sciences in Year 9. A friend told me about the placement and I had to find out more. I hoped to pursue a career in Medicine, Engineering or research in the field of Medicine and the placement would provide me with practical experience, as well an insight into what a career in scientific research would be like.

What was your project about and did you know anything about the area before you started the placement?

My project was An Investigation into whether Fgf plays a role in restricting Neurogenesis in the Midbrain. I had read the Epigenetic Revolution and researched Twin genetics so I was particularly interested in any placements to do with genes and how they affected cell development. I therefore had some knowledge but I knew nothing about the practical techniques and the applications of the theory. My supervisor however talked me through the lab, it’s equipment and how it would help us to test the hypothesis. Making the experience equally challenging and enjoyable.

Was the placement what you expected it to be?

I didn’t know what to expect when I went on to ask lecturers at my local University about the research placements they could offer. It was better than anything I could have imagined. The chance to learn from and work with such amazing research scientists made the placement exceptional. I was surprised by the fact that I could go into such detail regarding my project. I had very little experience in the practical techniques which required  me to delve deeper into my project but thanks to my amazing supervisor Dr Frank Schubert I learned quickly. I was especially pleased with my success in implanting beads into a chick embryo by the end of the placement unaided.

How did your supervisor help you with your project?

My supervisor fired questions at me throughout my placement which allowed me to realise the importance of each aspect of the methods I was completing. This also helped me develop my practical skills and techniques for example I could use micropipettes successful to wash my plates in the different solutions. When it came to the writing of the report we discussed at length how the report would be laid out and what it must include. My supervisor lent me a book as an introduction to Neurogenesis and showed me how to use sites such as PubMed to research further into the literature in my own time. We briefly went over how to reference literature and I was shown examples of previous reports that did so in diverse ways. Over email my mentor reviewed the many drafts I produced of my Report with pointers including how to display my results and what I could remove from my appendix. I would not have produced the report I did without the guidance and support of my mentor throughout the research placement.

What advice would you give to students applying for a Nuffield Research Placement?

I would advise students to not be afraid to ask questions and to speak up when they don’t understand a certain concept or how to use a piece of equipment. They should also be aware that most if not all placements are challenging and overwhelming at the start due to the fact you know next to nothing to begin with. However, if you listen and learn you’ll be surprised at how much of an expert you are by the end of the placement.