Jess Leighton

What was your project about?

My project was at the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Centre at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, researching the use of orthostatic hypotension (dropped blood pressure on standing, commonly felt as a 'head rush') as an indicator for cancer-related fatigue. I didn't know anything about this before I started, so I literally jumped in at the deep end!

Why did you apply for a Nuffield Research Placement?

I really wanted to do something worthwhile with my summer, and as soon as I heard about the opportunity offered by the Nuffield Bursaries from a STEM ambassador, I knew I was going to apply!

Was the work what you expected? 

The placement was very different from anything I'd ever done. It was a little hard settling in because everyone around me had a job to get on with, and at first I felt unsure that I was doing the right thing all of the time, but that was all part of taking on such an independent project. It taught me a lot about knowing when to ask for help, apart from all of the other skills I learnt. 

Did you learn any new skills? Has this helped you with your university applications?

The main skills I learnt were in going through patient records, speaking (and explaining my study) to patients undergoing trials to recruit them, reading reports and writing my own. It really helped me to become certain that medicine is what I definitely want to do with my future, and I am going to Newcastle University next year to study it!

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

It can be intimidating for some young women thinking about going into a career in science, and doing a small-scale research project like a Nuffield project can not only help you decide that its the right path for you, but also give you a lot of confidence in pursuing it. It really shows universities and employers that you're a serious applicant, and that your self-management and determination match your passion for and ability in science. Don't be afraid to try something that surprises those around you!