Dr Bhavik Patel’s experience providing Nuffield Research Placements since 2010 | Case study

By Nuffield Foundation

Dr Bhavik Patel’s experience providing Nuffield Research Placements since 2010


Nuffield Research Placement provider, 2010 – 2014
University of Brighton
Clinical and bioanalytical chemistry.


In 2000, as an undergraduate student studying pharmaceutical and chemical sciences at the University of Brighton, I decided to apply for and successfully obtained a summer Nuffield Foundation bursary. I conducted my project in between the second and final year of my degree on the development of analytical columns using carbon-based materials for novel chromatographic separations. This was an incredible opportunity for me to conduct hands-on research and focus my thoughts on my future career trajectory.

Additionally, the placement had a significant impact on my final year as it helped me showcase more independence in completing my final year project and improve my transferable skills such as time management. Following completion of this placement, I went on to complete my PhD in Bioengineering at Imperial College London before obtaining an Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Life Sciences Fellowship in 2006 to develop novel sensing platforms for monitoring chemical transmission between cells. In 2010 I was offered a lectureship in Physical and Analytical Chemistry at the University of Brighton and worked my way up the ranks to be a Professor of Clinical and Bioanalytical Chemistry in 2019. 

I always wanted to host Nuffield Research Placements when I commenced my role as an academic as I saw this as a pivotal process in opening my eyes into scientific research. The scheme when I undertook it to its current form has changed in which the opportunity is given to students to conduct this summer placement prior to commencing university. The importance of inspiring the future generation into the field of research and developing their transferable skills was something I felt would be of great benefit to the students, prior to attending university. It would also give them the glow and joy of what research can bring and hopefully spark their interest in a subject area.  

During the first few years of my academic career, hosting students helped me get going in my research as they provided important pilot data on key areas of my research, which led to submission of EPSRC and BBSRC grant applications and additionally supported the generation of data for peer-reviewed publications. This was essential as when I joined university, they didn’t have an EPSRC or BBSRC doctoral training centre (DTC) and therefore hosting a Nuffield Research Placement student was a great opportunity to gain a very keen person involved in the research. It has been without doubt essential for my progression as a researcher.  

The benefit to me has been significant. The Nuffield students were always involved in important new research projects that would drive towards the generation of pilot data for EPSRC or BBSRC grant applications or support the development of peer-reviewed publications. Both these are essential for me to progress as a researcher. During the period that I have hosted Nuffield students, they have been involved in research leading to 5 peer reviewed articles in leading journals such as Chemical Communications and Analyst.  

Additionally, the pilot data has helped secure grants in which subsequently Nuffield research students have worked alongside the postdoctoral researchers to aid the research. In one case, following completion of the Nuffield research bursary, we welcomed back a student two years later to work on a project area involving the development of sensors using nanomaterials. The work they have helped to support has had considerable research impact and been significant to the development of my career. Through LinkedIn, I am still in touch with many of the students who conducted a bursary as I am keen from a distance to see how they progress and develop their careers.  

I always wanted to host Nuffield Research Placements when I commenced my role as an academic as I saw this as a pivotal process in opening my eyes into scientific research.” Dr Bhavik Patel, Nuffield Research Placement provider

Dr Bhavik Patel’s Nuffield students 2010 – 2014

Hannah Baker (2010)
University of Surrey – BSc Chemistry
Cranfield University – MSc Forensic Investigation

Laura Grange (2012)
University of Sussex – BSc Biology
University of Birmingham – PhD student

Lara Busby (2013)
University of Cambridge – BSc Natural Sciences
University of Cambridge – PhD

Jennifer Mason (2014)
Imperial College – Masters in Mathematics
PwC – Forensics Associate

Fiona Watt (2011)
University of Sheffield – BSc Animal and Plant Sciences
University of Surrey – Senior Research Technician

Emma Reeves (2012)
University of Bath – BSc Molecular and Cellular Biology
Institute of Cancer Research – PhD student

Jessica Hall (2013)
University of Oxford – MChem Chemistry

Richard Boyne (2014)
Imperial College London – BSc Physics with theoretical
Wintershall Dea – Data Scientist
Isabel Tunna (2012)
University of Oxford – MChem Chemistry
OMD EMEA – Social Intelligence Manager

Shikha Kataria (2012)
University of Warwick – BSc Biochemistry
University of Oxford – Research Associate

Daisy Shaw (2013)
University of Winchester – BSc English Literature
i2O – Marketing Executive

Aidan Marks (2014)
University of Cambridge – Chemical Engineering
Siemens – Process Engineer

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