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UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology

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Widening Participation

These case studies demonstrate just a selection of the fantastic engagement happening across the Institute. Read on to find out more and learn how you can get involved.

Queen Square Brain Bank (QSBB) Virtual work experience event July 2020

A virtual work experience event for GCSE and A level students interested in Neuroscience provided by Queen Square Brain Bank on 20th July 2020.

QSBB work experience presenters
We had over 300 attendees from all around the country and even some international students. This meant that we reached a far wider network than we would have, extending possibilities for many students.

Wellcome centre launches new mentorship programme with In2science

in2science mentoring group
 The Wellcome Centre for Human Neuroimaging (WCHN) embarks on a new partnership with In2science, launching its pilot mentorship programme for PhD students. 

The new one-year programme entitled In2research alumni of In2science’s current placement programme who are looking to further develop their careers in academia by pursuing a PhD.

In2science Placement Program 2019

Wellcome Centre for Human Neuroimaging (WCHN)

in2 science program students
For the second year in a row, the Wellcome Centre for Human Neuroimaging (WCHN) hosted 6 In2Science students for 2 weeks. The In2science program empowers students from disadvantaged backgrounds to achieve their potential through STEM based work placements. WCHN had a total of 4 research groups hosting students and at least 20 individual researchers from WCHN and Queen Square more broadly getting involved, whether that be hosting students themselves, giving talks, workshops, or running their projects with students.
"We had a great time hosting Patrick, Joana, Maleeha, Sue-Marie, Courtney and Kamran and were sad to say goodbye"

On their last day, students each gave a 5 minute presentation on their time here, and gave their feedback on the placement. Their feedback was really positive, for example:

“I wish the placement was longer!”, “I don’t think I could have had a better experience” “I think anyone could benefit from the placement whether or not you want to study neuroscience”.

Volysnki Lab (Department of Clinical and Experimental Epilepsy)

Arij was in the lab for two weeks, under the supervision of Helen Langley. Several scientists from the department kindly agreed to demonstrate their experiments, so Arij was able to see some electrophysiology, live cell imaging, confocal microscopy and tissue culture. As well as observing experiments, the Lab prepared an immunocytochemistry experiment to visualise astrocytes (glial cells) in mouse primary neocortical cultures. Under supervision, Arij fixed and stained these cultures, imaged them using the Lab's confocal microscope, and analysed the images and applied colour schemes for fluorescence intensity.

astrocyte

The Lab also arranged a supervised visit to the animal unit as well as to the Francis Crick Institute

"I enjoyed each day of my placement at UCL Institute of Neurology. I learnt various new things and met a bunch of inspiring people. The placement was a great opportunity to discover how a real science lab is. Overall, it was an amazing experience." Arij

Department for Neuromuscular Diseases

The Department hosted 9 A level students for their work experience during the summer break. The week of work experience was hosted jointly by labs headed by Professors Linda Greensmith and Gipi Schiavo and organized by dr Bernadett Kalmar. This year we had a pleasure to host a lively and diverse group of 9 students who came to us through different routes; some through UCL’s in2 science programme, some through colleagues, friends or recommendations from A level teachers across London and beyond. This year we had students commuting from as far as Peterborough and Windsor to attend our sessions- so our students and staff tried to make sure students spend their time with us well, enjoy their learning and most importantly learn a lot about biomedical sciences.

Our laboratories are so called “wet labs” eg, we conduct experiments using live cells and tissues to find out causes of neuromuscular diseases, such as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and other motor neuron diseases and try to find possible cures for them. Several members of the Greensmith and Schiavo labs, Charlotte Spicer, Verna Sarajärvi, James Dick Alexandra Kourgiantaki, David Villarroel Campos, Sunaina  and Ellie Rhymes, as well as staff from biological services  Karina Wauters and  Michael Brooks took some time off from their busy work schedule to teach students and talk to them about their projects and work. 

in2science NMD group

During the week, students had to opportunity to learn about the scientific questions we are interested in and the methods we use to find the answers. As part of their learning, students had their own experiment throughout the week: they learned about how to keep human skin cells in a dish and how to stain these cells to see their structural characteristics. For this, students had to keep their cells alive, feed them, fix them and then conduct a 2 day protocol to stain them. In the end, all students had their own lovely, colourful cells and image of they could take home as a proof of their work.

Fibroblast cells stained for cytoskeletal proteins and mitochondria

As science is not only about being alone in a lab but more about team work, students also had the opportunity to meet scientists, PhD, MSc students and postdocs and clinicians for a Q and A session to be able to ask them about their career choices, motivations or any aspect they are interested in.

Our students this year had been excellent company, really refreshing to see such enthusiastic and intelligent youngsters keen to learn and explore and become scientists or medical doctors themselves. It appears students also enjoyed their visit to us as in their anonymized feedback students said they most enjoyed the following activities: visit to Biological Services (animal house); doing their own experiments;  learning about anatomy and physiology as well as having the opportunity for discussion with scientists and clinicians about current scientific problems.

One of the students wrote to us after their experience in an email:

“ I am writing to thank you so much for the week of lab work experience you gave me. I found it wonderfully exciting. My highlights were seeing first-hand the confocal microscope neurones, meeting the scientists and having in depth conversations with you about recent cutting edge challenges and technology. I am extremely grateful and I am now even more looking forward to applying for Biomedicine at university!”

  We wish all our students best of luck in their A levels and hope they will achieve their dreams to get into the university of their choice!

Image: Fibroblast cells stained for cytoskeletal proteins and mitochondria

 

Department of Clinical and Movement Neurosciences

Senior research fellow Dr Rina Bandopadhyay hosted a work placement for a disadvantaged student last summer

Rina in2science

This follows on from summer 2018, when WCHN researchers also hosted six A-level students through the program. During that placement, the students worked with two research groups each, covering a range of research including physics, medicine and psychiatry. Speakers from across the UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology also presented to the students in focused sessions to attempt to illustrate the breadth of research within Queen Square.

Andrea Gajardo Vidal, PhD student at WCHN, hosted three of the students, “They were incredibly smart and talented students. We found it a rewarding and positive experience”

in2science group

in2science group

 

Social Mobility Foundation programme improves access to scientific careers for low-SES students at UCL Institute of Neurology

The Social Mobility Foundation (SMF) is a charity which aims to make a practical improvement in social mobility for young people from low-income backgrounds.

To promote the efforts of the programme,  David Blundred, Education Manager at IoN, has engaged in work experience events such as a three-day placement activity for 50 students on the SMF programme held on 30th July-1st August 2018; and developed and produced YouTube videos with students and clinicians. This follows on from summer 2017, when a total of 36 Year 12 students on the SMF Programme undertook two three-day placements.

Internship/traineeship at ARUK UCL Drug Discovery Institute

ARUK DDI runs an intern/industrial trainee in Neuroscience Drug Discovery Scheme.  Applicants undertake the “industrial trainee” placement during their undergraduate Neuroscience BSc course.  The interns gain experience of working in a unit, which has a focus upon drug discovery.  They learn some key molecular and cellular biology techniques necessary for laboratory neuroscience research, and use these skills to enable them to carry out a research project, the topic of which is relevant to one of the key drug discovery projects of the ARUK UCL DDI.  These positions range from six months to 1-year posts and have been running since 2016. Please see the ARUK UCL DDI website for further information on the Institute

Related opportunities

Please contact the following for information on work experience in their organisation