Charlotte Duff

The placement went above and beyond my expectations.

WHAT WAS YOUR PROJECT ABOUT AND DID YOU KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THE AREA BEFORE YOU STARTED THE PLACEMENT
The project was about trying to find Biomarkers for Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) to help early diagnosis of patients. I looked at three proteins (ORM1, LAMP2 and SERPINA5) which are found in the urine when someone has a UTI infection. It’s estimated by the NHS that half of all women in the UK will at least have one UTI infection in their life time. At the moment doctors typically prescribe antibiotics which one day will no longer work due to antibiotic resistance.
The results of my project would determine whether further research projects would go ahead
I knew a little about UTIs and the applications of the research before I started the placement, I but did not know anything about the techniques I used.  I therefore had a big learning curve in the early days of the placement.


WAS THE PLACEMENT WHAT YOU EXPECTED IT TO BE?
The placement went above and beyond my expectations. Working with my supervisor (Dr Alison Howard) I learnt something new every day and had to interact with many different departments of the University.


HOW DID YOUR SUPERVISOR HELP YOU WITH YOUR PROJECT
My supervisor was amazing throughout my placement. She explained everything to me in great detail before, during and after my placement. Alison’s enthusiasm and ability to answer every question I threw at her really increased my understanding of the topic, whilst allowing me to operate in a self sufficient way.


DID YOU GAIN ANY NEW SKILLS, BOTH SCIENTIFIC AND GENERAL WORK SKILLS, FROM UNDERTAKING YOUR PLACEMENT
I was taught all of the scientific techniques I used during my placement including RNA extraction, transcription, Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) both Real time and End-point, Gel Electrophoresis and plasmid vectors, which I carried out unsupervised.
My time management skills also improved, as while one machine is running you can prepare the next step so the process is smoother and quicker.


HAS YOUR EXPERIENCE HELPED YOU DECIDE A CAREER PATH
My experience completely changed my desired career path, I originally wanted to go into Biomedical Engineering, however since carrying out the placement I now would like to go into Medical Microbiology, so that I can do what I love doing and benefit the public.