The MRC Biostatistics Unit (BSU) continues to support the Nuffield Placement Scheme, and this year Dr Simon White provided a four week placement within his research group at the Unit. Organised by the Nuffield Foundation and Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Team East, the Scheme provides 16/17 year old students in the first year of studying their A-Levels, the opportunity to work in a leading research institute or University for one month in the summer.
This July, we welcomed William Evans to BSU. William is studying Biology, Chemistry and Maths at A-Level in the hope of going on to read Medicine at University. Our aim was to give William the opportunity to work with data, to show how important statistical analysis is for so many different areas of biology and medical sciences, and to understand what it is like to be a statistician.
William worked with Senior Investigator Statistician and STEM Ambassador, Dr Simon White, analysing data from the Cambridge Centre for Ageing and Neuroscience (Cam-CAN) study. This was the first time William had worked with real life data, specifically looking at reaction time across the lifespan. William took on his project with great enthusiasm and commitment. By the end of his placement, he had learnt to use statistical software (GNU R) to explore and analyse complex data formats; having to deal with some of the common problems when handling real data, such as mis-named data-fields and missing records. “I really enjoyed working with BSU on my project. The staff were all incredibly supportive and made me feel very welcome, especially Dr Simon White, my supervisor. The project has hugely helped me as it provided me with valuable work experience and showed me what life is like working in a scientific setting, and I can use this to my advantage when progressing further in my education.”
The placement was very successful for both William and Simon. To celebrate all the students and STEM Ambassadors who took part in the placement scheme in 2016, an event was held at Anglia Ruskin University on Wednesday 19th October. Each student presented a poster about the research they had completed during their placement and received a certificate to mark their experience. It was also a great opportunity for the students to meet again with the supervisor from their placement.
Work experience placements such as the Nuffield Placement Scheme are so important for young students. They provide valuable skills, unique insights into a real scientific organisation, and help to inspire the next generation of scientists.
To find out more about STEM East and the STEM Ambassador Programme, click here: http://www.stemteameast.org.uk/
To find out more about the Nuffield Placement Scheme, click here: http://www.nuffieldfoundation.org/nuffield-research-placements