Nicole Nayar was in 5th year at Firrhill High School in Edinburgh when given the opportunity to apply for a Nuffield Project.
Thinking back to when she had applied, Nicole said: “I didn’t think there was much chance of my getting it, I felt like there would be hundreds of people applying, I was very lucky.”
She was given the chance to work with the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) in Edinburgh Zoo and her project was entitled ‘Self-directed behaviours in Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes)’
“I feel like it was a massive opportunity for me to work with such a prestigious organisation so young. Working with the keepers, Sarah (my supervisor) and, of course, Betsy Herrelko (creator of ‘The Chimpcam Project’) was so much fun. I think I gained valuable skills in time-keeping, organisation and report writing – all of which have given me an advantage at university.”
Nicole is currently in her third year at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, studying Biological Sciences.
“My biggest assignment this year has been a literature review, in preparation for next year's dissertation. I am lucky enough to have been able to write about the stereotypic behaviours of animals, and the enrichment the keepers use to prevent such abnormal behaviours. A lot of my interest in this area has stemmed from my Nuffield project and having hands on experience in this area has been a big help.”
“Having such a broad project topic helped me a lot with current work, especially in the midst of choosing a dissertation topic, I have gained the skills I need to be able to specialise in one area and work with it.”
Speaking about her plans for the future, Nicole said:
“In the future I hope to do well in my current degree and go on to an MSc program. Following advice, I have been looking into another placement for the summer of 2013 and due to the people I met during my Nuffield placement I may be back at the RZSS working with other primates. I hope that this previous experience will give me an extra something when it comes to Masters’ applications."
"The Nuffield Placement has opened many doors for me, including entering my project for a British Science Association Gold CREST award, being judged at the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh and awarded a place at the National Science and Engineering Competition in Manchester in 2010."