Nuffield Foundation Project Supervisors - Dr Anne Corcoran

Dr Anne Corcoran works at the Babraham Institute in Cambridge, and supervised a Nuffield student in 2007. Speaking to Anne afterwards, we asked her what the benefits had been for her department and members of her team.

What personal skills would you say members of your team gained from supervising a Nuffield student?
The PhD student who supervised the 6th form student gained good mentoring skills, and also an opportunity to go back to basics to think about how the techniques we use work and why the research we are doing is important in the big biological picture. This was because Ella had a very basic understanding of these issues. So it gave the PhD student some very good experience of clearly explaining and justifying our research to a 'non specialist audience' which is an important transferable skill.

The whole group learned patience, both in explaining and coping with basic mistakes inevitably made. We also gained a fresh view of how amazing and exciting our science is from the extremely enthusiastic and sometimes overawed viewpoint of the 6th form student. It was definitely refreshing to be reminded of this.

Has it helped communicate your area of science to a wider public, and why do you feel this is important?          

Yes, the 6th form student gained a good understanding of an area of biology (recombination of immunoglobulins in B lymphocytes), which is quite complex and often avoided in 6th form biology. Thus this experience helped to de-mystify it for herself and her peers. She gave a presentation at the Nuffield Celebration Event and also back at her school and we had very positive feedback from her teacher.

Has this activity been recognised in your institution, and has it been of benefit to your department?
It has been recognised in our Institute, which has a very active programme of supporting training and education of young people. It has been of benefit to our department because it counts towards our mission of increasing the public understanding of science, for which we are accountable to funding bodies.