Collecting experience for the future

Biology student Charlotte Cook talks about her placement at the Millennium Seed Bank and how it determined the direction of her PhD ambitions.

Charlotte Cook
I gained valuable experience seeing science being used in the working environment, and learnt many new skills.

Wild seed collecting

As a research assistant on the UK National Tree Seed Project, I was looking at storage longevity of UK tree seeds.

Seeing how my research would make a difference to protocols implemented at the Millennium Seed Bank, Wakehurst, was the most rewarding part of my placement. Part of this work involved collecting seeds from wild trees in Britain as well as preparing seeds arriving from all over the world for storage at -20°C in the Seed Bank’s vaults.

I gained valuable experience seeing science being used in the working environment, and learnt many new skills of use in my final year and beyond. For example, my ability to communicate with different audiences improved enormously as a result of presenting to both well-read colleagues in the conservation department and a group of five year olds at a science festival!

Essential help for the future

My placement gave me essential and transferable skills, but above all, helped determine my future direction. I was torn between aiming for a PhD in plant science or infectious diseases. Since finishing my placement, I’ve made that decision.

So, I definitely recommend doing a placement. I met so many people, tried a number of new techniques and experienced the 9 to 5 working life.

‘My placement gave me essential and transferrable skills, but above all, helped determine my future direction.’
Charlotte Cook, BSc Biology including placement year

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