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A little about my time as an APC Summer Student

by James Harte, Biomedical Science Undergraduate Student, UCC

The APC Summer Studentship was absolutely everything I hoped it would be, and so much more: the studentship proved to be intellectually challenging, but also profoundly inspiring. It incentivised me to broaden my understanding of not only my own degree in biomedical science but also medical microbiology and its applications to human health

One of the aims of APC Microbiome Ireland is “To develop the scientific leaders of tomorrow by attracting the brightest and most enthusiastic students to our postgraduate programme and creating a research and training environment for all APC researchers that is renowned for its excellence”. I was delighted o experience this degree of care, attention and diligence towards the betterment of young scientists at an undergraduate level, from every single person I had the pleasure of meeting, as all APC laboratories were friendly and exciting environments in which to learn and develop.

Scientifically, my experience was incredible. I have broadened my understanding of a wide variety of microbiological techniques, compounding what I had learned in the lecture theatres and in practical laboratories. As part of my project, I was trained in working in a Biosafety Level 2 Laboratory; sampling procedures, sample handling and processing; DNA isolation from faecal samples; qualitative and quantitative analysis of DNA; 16S amplification by PCR and index labelling; and 16S normalisation and library preparation. I was also able to learn from other researchers’ techniques including peptide preparation, purification and liquid chromatographic analysis, tissue culture and corticosterone immunoanalysis, while developing my competency in techniques such as agar and broth preparation, bacterial culture and asepsis. Working all day in the laboratory, inevitably planning, time management, organisation and critical thinking – transferable skills essential is all disciplines – are brought to the foreground too. You learn from the best, and that means a great deal.

The experience has only increased my relish for the scientific challenges in the years ahead. It has given me an insight into a research laboratory, and the possible avenues available to me as a biomedical scientist in the future. I have made friends and colleagues, fellow students who share a common idea and a love of science, and I feel I have grown not only as a scientist but also as a person over only eight weeks. It’s an experience I would recommend to anyone without a moment’s hesitation – I wouldn’t change a single thing about my time as an APC student.

Application forms for   2018 Summer Studentships are available at the closing date is 23rd February 2018.