Rachel Ayers

"My Nuffield Research Placement was one of the best things I have ever done, so I would suggest to anyone considering applying to do it as you have nothing to lose! The experiences that you gain will be invaluable and it is a great way to give you a taste of working in the real world."

What made you apply for a Nuffield Research Placement and how would you describe your experience of the scheme?

I applied for a placement because I wanted to gain experience working in research and gain both the skills and knowledge which would help me in my future career. I had a lot of control over the project which wasn’t something that I was expecting. I was able to input my thoughts and ideas about the research as well as being heavily involved in important decisions.

My supervisors were really supportive and helpful throughout the placement. They were always there to answer any questions that I had and made me feel that I was a part of their team. This project taught me how to effectively communicate scientific research to the public. I have also learnt about analysing large data sets and how to present information that is accessible to a wide range of people.

What was your project about and did you know much about the area before you started the placement?

My project involved creating the materials for the citizen science initiative ‘SlugWatch’, which involved addressing the issue we have had in recent years with Spanish slugs. I knew very little about slugs when I started the project but I was able to understand very quickly how much damage they can cause, as well as how important they are to a variety of different ecosystems. I also learnt a lot about citizen science projects and how useful they are to science researchers as a means of communicating their research to the public.

How do you think this experience might help you in your university applications or with future work?

The work I did really helped with my university applications, as it was something that I could talk about in my personal statement.  Through the Nuffield Research Placement programme, I was able to obtain my CREST Gold Award which is the only STEM award endorsed by UCAS. I think my experience will also help me in my future work as I want to pursue a career in science, particularly weather forecasting, so the knowledge I have gained about science communication will help me to convey weather reports effectively to the public.