The WIMM actively supports the development of aspiring young scientists, and every summer the Institute opens its doors to a variety of students at different stages in their academic careers. In July, two A-Level students from the John of Gaunt school in Trowbridge spent a week in the WIMM, getting to know the scientists that work there and having a sneak peek into the mysterious world of biomedical research. Here, Ceara Kaveney and Etain Dobson give an insight into their experience at the WIMM, and how it has changed their outlook on science as a career.
It only takes a second of standing in the WIMM’s central social area to realise what a unique place the institute truly is.
There are many stereotypes that surround scientists. They’re assumed to be reclusive, anti-social people, always pipetting that mysterious blue dying into test tubes that you see on the news; completely consumed by their work and, by definition, of course they must be ‘mad’.
Firstly, it became apparent very quickly that the scientists at the WIMM definitely do not fit this stereotype at all. They are in fact exactly the opposite, and if you mistakenly ask the wrong question it is almost impossible to stop them talking passionately about their research.
Secondly, although we can’t deny that scientists do pipette a great deal, it is not just that mysterious blue dye but far more interesting substances. Plus if anyone had pipettes as cool as the ones these scientists have you would want to pipette anything and everything all the time.
The layout of the laboratories and the way scientists conducted experiments was also not what we had expected at all – although admittedly we were expecting equipment from the Victorian era with the only source of light being that of a dusty gas lamp.
During our five day placement we were able to experience for ourselves what until now we have had to watch on all those terrible science videos that schools seem to have endless supplies of. Up close and personal, every part of biology is fascinating and the knowledge you can gain from experiments seems to be endless.
This was a once in a lifetime experience and we have memories that are truly remarkable. After all, it is not every day that you see your own DNA floating at the top of a test tube or see your own blood through a high powered microscope. We can say with all honesty that it is a week we will never forget and has made a big impact on how we foresee our futures and our outlook on the importance of scientific research.
Post written by Etain Dobson and Ceara Kaveney, and edited by Bryony Graham.