"My Nuffield Research Placement place taught me that it doesn't matter which school or background you come from, you can go to university and you can enjoy science."
"[The placement] opened up a whole world for me and I’ve never looked back. It was the start of my career and I am so lucky to still be in science and really enjoy it."
Ruth Rose completed her Nuffield Research Placement in 1998 at the National Institute of Medical Research. She now works as Protein Production Facility Manager at Queen Mary, University of London.
What was your project about?
My placement was titled 'Identification of novel genes potentially involved in the patterning of the hindbrain and cranial neural crest.' It involved searching for genes that might be involved in the formation of the face and head in chicken embryos.
What was the highlight of your placement?
All of it! It was so exciting to be accepted. I loved the adventure of travelling to Mill Hill from home. I really enjoyed the work and the people in the lab were an inspiration. The fact that some experiments didn't work or the nature of the research never bothered me; they just added to the excitement. Lastly, I had the opportunity to present my research at the Royal Society on my 18th birthday.
What was your least favourite part of the placement?
The lab window opened onto a tree that frequently upset my hayfever. I was working with RNA. One sneeze and I would destroy my work.
What path did you take after finishing your NRP and how has that led you to where you are today?
I completed my NRP in the summer between my first and second year of my A-levels. After my placement I was inspired to study biochemistry. Unfortunately, I didn't get the grades I had been predicted but I still managed to obtain a place at Queen Mary, University of London to study biochemistry (I maintain that my placement helped in this). Here, I achieved a first class honours degree and was awarded the Westfield Trust Prize.
My NRP and undergraduate research project encouraged me to apply for a PhD position. I was offered several positions at Oxford, Cambridge and London. I chose to remain at QMUL due to the project and methods being of interest to me. I completed my PhD and moved to the University of Kent for a post-doctoral position. I subsequently moved to Kings College London for a second post-doctoral position.
Three years later I secured a permanent position as facility manager back at QMUL. I support research across the department, college and wider scientific community. My role gives me access to a plethora of projects and I am very lucky to have a job that I enjoy.
Did your Nuffield Research Placement have an effect on your education and career choices?
The education that I received and the experiences I have obtained began with my placement at NIMR and has lead me to the permanent position that I now hold. My experience at NIMR inspired me to select the degree course that I did and kept me focused on the final goal as I struggled through my A-levels.
I genuinely believe that my Nuffield placement is the reason that I have achieved the position and education that I have obtained. I was the first person in my family to go and study science and on one side of the family I was the first to go to university. Most likely, I was one of the first from my school to study science – it certainly wasn't common. My NRP place taught me that it doesn’t matter which school or background you come from, you can go to university and you can enjoy science.
Have you been involved in supervising NRP students yourself?
When I was a post-doc at Kings College London we had a NRP student. She went on to study natural sciences at Cambridge.
My NRP opened up a whole world for me and I’ve never looked back. It was the start of my career and I am so lucky to still be in science and really enjoy it.