I was one of two placement year students with the Frozen Ark Project, an organisation that preserves biological samples from endangered species to use for conservation and research.
My role involved helping create a preliminary database for their biobank, which is a type of repository that stores biological samples for use in research.
Designing my own project
I designed and worked on my own research project, orientated around DNA degradation to samples within a biobanking setting. This included training in a postgraduate and postdoc lab with different techniques such as digital PCR handling of liquid nitrogen and DNA extractions. It was great to have the opportunity to design my own project, and although it was stressful at times, it was very satisfying to see it all come together.
As part of my role, I learnt how to use new software and had the chance to help run the Frozen Ark’s social media accounts and respond to public requests. I also helped secure a large grant for the biobank.
Improving my knowledge
I was able to use what I learnt at University during my placement, as the lab I worked in conducts a lot of molecular genetic work. Actually doing the lab work in a real work place environment helped me to develop a better understanding of the subject. I’ll also be able to take back what I learnt this year and apply it to my final year project as I have chosen units to fit what I did during my placement.
Setting myself apart
I chose to go on placement because I wanted experience outside of university and to have something that would set me apart when I graduate.
I found the idea of breaking up the intensive three years of exams and coursework to spend time in a completely different environment was really appealing also.