Hollie Clements, a student from Glenlola Collegiate School in Bangor, spent Summer 2011 working in the School of Biological Sciences at Queen’s University Belfast. Her project looked at microorganisms in recently burnt and unburnt dry heath soils in the Mournes.
Why did you apply for the placement?
I wanted the opportunity to use my summer in a productive way and to gain some knowledge into what life is like in a research environment.
How did you feel on the first day of your placement?
I was obviously very nervous, which is very normal. I didn’t know what to expect, what exactly I’d be doing, who exactly I’d be working with, what support I’d have from my mentor. Of course the moment I walked through the door and met my mentor all of those fears were gone.
How did you spend your time on the placement?
I spent my time in a variety of ways. Most of my time was spent in the lab but I also carried out some field work; spent some time reading around the topic and spent some time writing up parts of my results.
What did you learn from your placement?
I picked up many skills, namely, improving my accuracy in practical work and in writing up results. I not only improved my skills in the lab, but improved my competence in team work and working in the ‘real world’ to meet deadlines.
What advice would you give to others like you thinking of taking part in a summer research placement?A summer research placement is an excellent insight into seeing science in the real world and what it is like at university level and beyond. Contributing to real research is a surreal experience, not to mention having lots of fun! To anyone considering of applying, I would strongly recommend it.