"I learnt so much from my placement experience. It really opened my eyes to the processes and variety of jobs that are required in order for a medicinal product to be available in a hospital."
Rosy Halfyard from the Cavendish School in Hertfordshire spent four weeks in Summer 2008 working at Bio Products Laboratory (BPL) in Elstree. Rosy is currently studying Biology, Chemistry and History for her A-levels and hopes to go on to study Medicine at Nottingham. She was recently awarded the Intel ISEF prize at the Big Bang Fair, so Rosy will be travelling to Reno, USA to attend the world’s largest pre-university science competition, bringing together students from around the world.
We caught up with her to find out more...
How did you get involved with the Nuffield Research Placements Scheme?
The leaflet was shown at my school and I really liked the idea of having the opportunity to work in a real science setting. I was the first person at my school to have ever done a Nuffield Research Placement so I was a little unsure as to what would be expected. I have always enjoyed science and wanted to see what working in a science setting would be like.
What were the aims of your project, and how did you go about achieving these?
I worked at Bio Products Laboratory (BPL) - a company that produces a wide range of medicinal products derived from blood-plasma. All products are injected into the human body and therefore need to be of high sterile quality. I worked in the microbiology department on a project to determine a method for testing the disinfectants used in the production areas of BPL. The purpose of the project was to ensure BPL's use of disinfectants is both necessary and effective. If ineffective, it can be assumed that various classes of microorganism would be found within production areas. I had to find a way to neutralise the disinfectants so that microbial growth could be obtained. I went about this by doing research on the disinfectants and microorganisms being tested, and having meetings with my mentor to discuss my findings.
What did you learn most from your experience?
I learnt so much from my placement experience. It really opened my eyes to the processes and variety of jobs that are required in order for a medicinal product to be available in a hospital. My scientific knowledge and practical skills improved greatly and I also got to experience life in a real scientific workplace.
How have you shared your placement experience with others at school?
I’ve put up a display about my work and have also encouraged more students from my school to get involved with the scheme.
What are you doing now, and what are your longer term plans?
I am currently studying for my A-levels in Chemistry, Biology and History. If all goes to plan, I am hoping to go to Nottingham University to study Medicine next year, which I am very excited about!
How did your placement experience affect these plans?
The Nuffield placement determined that I want to work in science. Although I enjoyed the laboratory work, it showed me that I would prefer a job that was really people based. However I definitely want to be involved in research at some point in my career.
How does it feel to have won the Intel ISEF award at the Big Bang Fair?
I still cannot believe it! I really enjoyed explaining my work to the judges and public at the fair. I think winning was just a huge bonus! And I'm glad that the judges saw the importance of my project as well as the effort I had put into it. I'm really looking forward to going to Reno in May and being able to meet lots of new people and to share my experience at BPL.
Since winning the Intel ISEF award, Rosy has received a letter of congratulations from her local MP. Back at her school, Ian Sudbery, Director of Post 16 Learning at the Cavendish School said: "We are immensely proud of Rosy's achievement. It is recognition of the hard work that she has shown throughout her school career."