The LMB recently hosted visits from two diverse groups of students; one that was attending the 2019 London International Youth Science Forum (LIYSF) and the other from the 2019 cohort of Schmidt Science Fellows.
London International Youth Science Forum visit
LIYSF is a two-week residential course for students aged 16-21 who have a keen interest in studying science. Eighteen students attended the LIYSF visit to the LMB, which included a tour of the building and some of its facilities, some hands-on activities in the labs, and opportunities to talk with LMB researchers. This is the sixth year that the LMB has hosted a visit from LIYSF.
The tour started with visits to the Light Microscopy and Electron Microscopy facilities for an introduction to these techniques, a demonstration of how fluorescence and super-resolution confocal microscopy can be used to improve our understanding of cell biology, and the opportunity to operate electron microscopes to view virus particles.
The students then visited the Technical Instrumentation Workshop to learn about how LMB scientists and engineers in the workshop can work together to design, develop, and construct specialist scientific equipment and how the expertise of staff in the workshop has been of huge importance in developing new techniques.
The visiting group also had the opportunity to do a hands-on activity in the lab as Alex Bates and Philip Myers, from Greg Jefferis’ group in the Neurobiology Division, explained how they are investigating the way that odour sensing translates into behaviour in the vinegar fly, Drosophila melanogaster. The activity involved a simple experiment in which they observed the behaviour of different strains of fly larvae when introduced to different odours.
Finally, Isaac Gállego, from Philipp Holliger’s group in the PNAC Division, and Elyse Fischer, from David Barford’s group in the Structural Studies Division, talked with the students about their research and their career pathway so far, as well as answering questions and giving advice for the students as they are about to embark on undergraduate science degrees and hope to have a career in science. At the end of the visit, one student commented, “This is an awesome place and increased my desire to become a scientist.”
Schmidt Science Fellows visit
The Schmidt Science Fellows (SSF) programme is a year-long postdoctoral placement primed to foster greater interdisciplinarity, commencing right after the completion of a PhD in natural sciences, computing, engineering or mathematics. The SSF programme aims to promote the Fellows’ interest in fields substantially different from their areas of expertise.
As part of the Fellowship programme, the Fellows visit leading science facilities around the world where they are introduced to cutting-edge scientists, policymakers, business people and societal leaders. On August 2, the 2019 Schmidt Science Fellows toured the LMB building and met with four LMB Group Leaders – Madeline Lancaster and Simon Bullock of the Cell Biology Division, Leo James of the PNAC Division, and Julian Gough of the Structural Studies Division. The Fellows were introduced to the wide-ranging research being pursued in the LMB, from human brain development in cerebral organoids to molecular motors in the trafficking of organelles, and from computational genomics to intracellular immunity. The Group Leaders discussed their primary research questions and demonstrated their work through videos and simple experimental setups.
Afterwards, the Fellows engaged in a lively and varied discussion about careers in science and research interests with Venki Ramakrishnan, Nobel laureate (2009) and a Group Leader in the Structural Studies Division. Over an hour, Venki juggled assorted questions – from the difference between collaboration and competition to scientific practices that can generate more “Aha moments”, from the need to be open-minded in scientific pursuits to the importance of a work-life balance. He also discussed the importance of LMB’s focus on collaboration and the immense worth of fostering a collegial system in any organization.