Published: 24 Oct 2014 | Last Updated: 24 Oct 2014 12:03:28

ACT Summer Studentship 2014

Olivia Lane was a second year BVetMed student, who was awarded a summer studentship this summer, by the Animal Care Trust, to undertake a research project with Professor Richard Piercy.  

Olivia tells us about how the studentship went and how she benefited from it: "This studentship ran for 6 weeks, beginning 4th August 2014. The original title of the studentship was ‘Next Generation RNA Sequencing of Candidate Genes Responsible for Equine Recurrent Exertional Rhabdomyolysis’, however due to difficulties in getting the RNA sequenced within the time frame, the project focused on DNA sequenced using related next generation techniques. There was also opportunity to assist in other lab procedures throughout the 6 weeks.

I applied for this studentship to gain some research experience, learn new skills and to do something productive with my summer. I was keen to experience what it’s like to work in a research environment and practice some new techniques prior to starting my intercalated BSc Bioveterinary Science research project in October. I have enjoyed my studentship and have consequently chosen to do my research project with the same supervisors as an extension of the work I carried out this summer. The studentship has therefore allowed me to learn techniques which are directly applicable to my intercalated research project.

Throughout this studentship, I have learned some basic lab techniques and have developed skills in RNA extraction, DNA extraction, H and E staining and freezing muscle biopsy samples. This was the first opportunity I’d had to work in a lab and it was really interesting to experience a research lab environment. This studentship primarily involved data management and analysis and subsequently allowed me to drastically improve my IT skills and learn several completely new analysis techniques. I have learned how to use the RVC computer Cluster and now know basic UNIX commands.  

The studentship culminated in a presentation in front of the Piercy group which provided me with an opportunity to develop my skills in scientific presentations.  I have also learned how to use online tools such as UCSC genome table browser and Ensembl variant effect predictor among others. The majority of the work for this project has been done using excel, allowing me to learn many new tricks and techniques which will be invaluable for any research I carry out in the future. This studentship has given me a real indication of what a career in research would be like. Many things didn’t go to plan throughout these 6 weeks and I had to adapt the project accordingly. I spent a lot of time trying to solve problems and think of different ways to go about tasks, both of which are valuable skills which I’m sure will serve me well in the future. I now feel well prepared for the research project I am undertaking from October and am looking forward to extending the work carried out this summer".   

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