I spent my in2scienceUK placement with Dr James Moore at Goldsmith’s University. His research was particularly interesting. His research focuses on Agency Theory: whether humans have a conscious will or not, and the possible cognitive neuroscience based pieces of evidence that both support the idea and argue against it. Dr Moore, enlightened me about how the topic he is researching is prominent in disproving sensationalised paranormal happenings including how the world of psychics and séances. By reading about the research of Daniel Wegner; falsifiable explanations for the supernatural occurrences have come in the form of underlying neural activity that causes us to exhibit certain actions but be unaware of doing so, thus a challenge to the idea we have a conscience.
I even had the opportunity to discuss with Dr Moore about the ethics of doing research into the possible absence of human will, and it has cultivated an insight into how I not only perceive cases and concepts in my studies, but in the everyday occurrences of the world around me, and the people in it. It really was a new and invaluable experience because I was able to experience research and experimentation in Psychology at a professional level, and I’ve learnt a lot of skills that I feel will give me the best head-start in my future education as possible.
Skies are blue, the sun is shining, and the 2014 in2scienceUK summer programme is well and truly underway. I have had the privilege to see several students on their placements already, and have been amazed at the variety of projects they’ve been involved in. Yesterday, I began my day at the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology where our student has been learning about Müller glia and their role in neural regeneration. It was then on to see our student placed at the UCL Institute of Neurology, who was making a comparison of motor and sensory nerve cells using fluorescence microscopy.
Then, for a change of subject: it was on to UCL Computer Science. Following an insightful presentation by @manoj_r_v at our recent Skills Day, I’d already had my perceptions of this subject altered (in a good way!), and visiting Rae Harbird and her two in2scienceUK students further confirmed this. It was very interesting to see our students’ work using anEngduino device, which they’d programmed to change colour in response to a magnetic field (https://twitter.com/UCLEngEdu/status/497036657573765120). It was also wonderful to hear that these two female students were considering studying Computer Science.
Next stop was UCL Physics, where I interrupted Michael (a Physics PhD student) teaching what I’m told was second-year undergraduate level physics to our students. They showed me the Scanning Tunnelling Microscope that they’d been working with (it’s much smaller than you might imagine); I was then lucky enough to see a giant version at the London Centre for Nanotechnology. My last visit of the day was to UCL Chemistry, where our student has been learning about X-ray diffraction and methods of storing hydrogen.
In the coming weeks our students will be posting here about the exciting work they’ve been doing on their placements, so stay tuned to find out more.
In2scienceUK placements enable AS-level science students to experience research science first hand, to learn research methods and techniques, and to undertake wider reading around their subjects. In 2014, over 100 students have been placed in laboratories around London and Bath, covering the entire range of STEM subjects from Cell Biology to Computer Science, Nanotechnology, and Neuroscience. In this blog we invite our students to showcase what they got up to in their placements, and what they aspire to do next.
Rebecca McKelvey, Angela Barrett, and Becky Mead
Supporting students from low income backgrounds progress to STEM careers to become the next generation of scientists and pioneers