Communicating our work and discoveries to a wider audience
We believe that science is meant to be shared, and not just with other scientists. Below are a few details of some of the activities in which the Wilson lab participates to disseminate science to the public
Clapton Girls' Academy
In November 2012 20 A level students from Clapton Girls' Academy visited the Wilson lab for an afternoon. They have the opportunity to gain some insight into the life of a scientist and to gather practical experience with zebrafish.
For the past few years, members of the A-level biology class from Wimbledon College have visited our lab to gain insight into the life of a scientist and to gather practical experience with our favourite model system, the zebrafish. During these visits, students tour our fish facility; learn to use microscopes to examine wild-type, mutant, and transgenic (fluorescent) zebrafish embryos; and interact with graduate student and post-doc researchers, hopefully gaining an appreciation of why we love science so much! After each visit, several students have been so excited by our work that they returned to the lab for their summer A-level work experience.
One of our students, Michael Adjei-Tabirade (pictured), had this to say about his work experience in our lab "The environment was calm and welcoming, and I always felt a sense of hard work and achievement from the scientists. The ideas and concepts they shared did not overwhelm, but were, at the same time, challenging. I am pleased and privileged to have gained work experience here."
Here is some more of the feedback from the last visit (November 2011) by Mr Adams class:
"It was great to see first-hand how work is conducted in labs and how several techniques are used to observe development in organisms"
"Very interesting insight into embryonic development and the application of transgenic processes. It also gave me a good idea of how laboratories work. I especially enjoyed witnessing the development of the zebrafish under the microscope."
"I learned a lot and would like to come back again. The facilities were excellent and the experiments were fun to do."
"It helped me with the understanding of how eyes actually develop. The microscopes were very high tech and easy to use. It is quite interesting to understand what type of research is going on in this field."
"I learnt a lot about how the right conditions may affect an organism and how the two sides of the brain are different. I also learnt many things about mutant organisms and how they are useful"
Visits to the American School in London (ASL)
Whilst in the lab Kara Cerveny visited the mid and upper-level science classes at the ASL to introduce students to developmental biology, evolution, and zebrafish embryology. By coordinating with the ASL teachers who arranged her visit, Kara tailored each of her visits so that students not only gain hands-on experience with zebrafish embryos but also learnt how basic scientific research is linked to the topic they were studying.
The Wilson lab hosts individual school students for work experience.
"Our experiences in the lab will help us write an amazing university application and have helped us to decide what we will study at Uni"
In the summer 2012 we hosted a small group of A-level students who applied independently to the lab for work experience. Tim says "Freya, Ben, Ashley and Hannah got a fantastic insight into the life of the Wilson lab. They got to grips with techniques to visualise gene expression, learnt the basics of zebrafish embryology, and confocal microscopy methods, all key skills in the armoury of a developmental biologist. The group asked great questions throughout, and thoroughly enjoyed their time in the lab. We've definitely sent away budding future biologists"
EASTER 2013 is now closed.
SUMMER 2013 applications are now open
(date tbc: 5 - 9 August or 12 - 16 August) you MUST apply between 18th and 22nd March 2013. If you are available to come to the lab within these dates, apply via email to Anukampa Barth with the following:
- Your CV and a cover letter briefly stating your interests
- Details of your school
- Contact details from your school such as your Head of Year / Head of Science OR contact details of parent/guardian - phone number & email address
In2science is a non-profit scheme founded by Rebecca McKelvey that places bright pupils from traditionally low achieving schools into a research lab. The 2-week placements over the summer enable students to get first hand experience of scientific research by working alongside a researcher on a project, with the hope of developing key skills and experience in order to support their university applications.Video introduction
Since the project was established in 2010, the Wilson lab has continued to provide placements for in2science pupils. In August 2010, Ana Faro and Rodrigo Young hosted a student each from the programme.
In July 2011 and August 2012, Matina Tsalavouta took an A-level student eaach time under her wing. Matina says "having the opportunity to show to a student the day to day work that we do in the lab, and talk to them extensively about a career in science, is a very rewarding and fun experience"
The last two years the Wilson lab has been hosting OpenLab sessions organised by the UCL student initiative OpenLabs. The OpenLabs events are organised to give small groups of UCL students from diverse disciplines access to cutting edge research labs at UCL. Matina Tsalavouta hosted the events almost every other fortnight from December 2011 until April 25th 2012 and from October 2012 and they have been a great success!
In just over an hour, small groups of students from a broad range of disciplines within UCL are introduced to the research undertaken by the Wilson lab and why the use of zebrafish is favoured as a model organism for developmental biology studies. By organising the events, OpenLabs "hope to give students the food for thought to reflect where to take stock in their scientific career and gain appreciation for the broad research opportunities available at UCL". Feedback from an open lab participant has been published in the UCL student publication, Pi magazine..
London international youth science Forum
From 2004 onwards, we have hosted annual visits organised by the London International Youth Science Forum. During their visit, we present talks and lab demonstrations for visiting students from over 50 countries around the world. Visit the Forums website if you are interested in participating.
Next Generation Science Programme
In 2006, we hosted students on the Next Generation Science Programme sponsored by the British Council Netherlands. This visit explored the theme "From Molecules to Behaviour" and gave both students and their teachers an opportunity to take science out of the classroom and participate in a programme of science-based activities in the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology at UCL. A pamphlet describing the outcome of the Programme is available here.
Zebrafish in music
We've all heard that scientists are working in laboratories around the world, experimenting and solving problems, but what exactly are scientists doing on a daily basis? Our lab was one of six UCL biomedical science labs that helped Wellcome Trust sponsored artist, Gethan Dick, discover what it's like to be a research scientist. This cooperative project produced an album of six songs - all truthful, poetic representations of different types of research ranging from basic developmental neurobiology to clinical studies using functional MRI.
Hear about our research on eye development by listening to Fish Eye/Fix Me, the track composed by Gethan Dick and Hannah Marshall in collaboration with Wilson lab post-doctoral fellow, Kara Cerveny. You can check out all of the songs on the album Trying and Trying and Trying.
Kara says, "Gethan captured the essence of my lab work, right down to the way I hold my breath when moving cells from one embryo into another. In the past, I have often found that words are no substitute for actually showing someone what it means to pipette, to transplant cells, to look through a microscope, to cut frozen sections. With this track, Gethan has used words to paint pictures of these exact things. Fish Eye/Fix Me is an evocative, haunting, and truthful piece about the life of a developmental biologist, investigating the environmental signals that override mutations and rescue sick cells from their intrinsic cell death program."
British science festival
From time to time, members of our lab serve as judges, facilitators, and presenters at London events in the annual British science festival.
Fabric of Life workshop
In May 2008, we participated in the Fabrics of Life Workshop that brought scientists, artists, designers and architects together at St Martin's College of Art to explore how scientific research on model systems can provide inspiration for design projects. One of the outcomes of the workshop was a dance performance inspired by the behaviour of blood cells migrating around wound sites in zebrafish embryos! link
We have also recently started to write summaries of our research publications that we hope will make our research more accessible to a wider audience. You can find these summaries here. If you really want to know the details of our work, you can consult our research pages or download pdfs of our publications.