Three FBS students awarded the Laidlaw Scholarship

The Faculty of Biological Sciences is proud to announce that three of its undergraduate students have been awarded this year’s Laidlaw Scholarship Yu De Chao, Lillie Bell and Paige Stevenson.

The students attended the Laidlaw Welcome Event last month where they met with academics, researchers and current scholarship students who welcomed them to the start of the two-year programme. They will join students from around the university on the scholarship scheme which includes a residential leadership programme and 2x six-week research projects.

The Laidlaw Scholarship aims to better equip students for the future by giving them a range of diverse and transferable skills that will help them succeed in the workplace and their future careers. The scholarship comprises two main elements: leadership development and a research project.

The Leadership programme includes a two-day summer residential as well as one day workshop, where students will develop leadership styles, public engagement, presentation skills and networking. The Research project will see students undertake paid research during summer 2019 and summer 2020, each lasting six weeks. The students can either choose to complete a predefined research topic or identify a research topic of their own and will be guided by an academic supervisor who will mentor them through both six week periods.

Yu De Chao, Laidlaw scholarship winner

Yu De Chao, MBiol Zoology

"I am currently working on a research project investigating the link between biodiversity and human health in an urban landscape. This is an opportunity I took up to experience how a research job is usually conducted and to further my interest in conservation, especially to understand the different perspectives and angles we can take to approach urban biodiversity and green spaces.

The Laidlaw Scholarship programme is a platform that allows you to work with experts in their fields and there would be plenty of opportunities to learn from them and hear their different perspectives. The excitement does not stop there; we get to interact with fellow scholars and learn about their projects and their opinions on the matter. It is truly impressive and enlightening to be a part of this community and there is so much to learn from one another. However, it is not purely research work throughout the programme duration as the scholarship provides significant support for the development of leadership skills through various workshops and residentials. These are truly valuable opportunities to prepare ourselves better and inspire us to make or lead a positive change in the world."

Lillie Bell, Laidlaw Scholarship

Lillie Bell, BSc Medical Biochemistry

"I am part of Dr Ian Wood's research project which has the overarching title 'Targeting Epigenetic Mechanisms as Potential Treatments of Neuronal Disorders'. The Scholarship project itself runs under the title 'HDAC inhibitors and microglia activation'; this involves the use of techniques such as PCR and electrophoresis and aims to investigate the mechanisms by which HDAC inhibitors reduce microglia activation, and to identify the target HDAC enzymes. During this project I will be carrying out some of these experiments in order to further the ongoing research, and be expected to analyse and present findings both to other's involved in the project and, indeed, other academics outside of this research. 

The Laidlaw Scholarship is an excellent opportunity provided by this university and other's which allows students to work alongside an academic on their current research, either by a project they (the academic) has proposed, or one the scholar has initiated themselves. Outside of the research, the scholarship enables students to broaden their leadership and teamwork stills in workshops and residential's, as well as the chance to present their research findings in conferences such as the International Undergraduate Research Conference." 

Paige Stevenson, Laidlaw Scholarship

Paige Stevenson, BSc Neuroscience

"I will be working in Dr Wood's research laboratory for a 6 week period both this and next year. I will be conducting experiments to investigate our research aims, presenting and analysing the data and suggesting ways to further advance the project. At the end of the programme is the opportunity to present these findings at a research conference.

The research project I will be working on is about Histone deacetylases. Histone deacetylases (also known as HDACs) remove acetyl groups from histones, as well as other proteins, regulating the level of acetylation and gene expression. Inhibitors of HDACs have shown promise as therapeutic agents for many neuronal disorders including motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease. One potentially important activity of these HDAC inhibitors is their ability to inhibit microglia activation, reducing inflammation in the brain. However, the mechanisms by which they do this are not known. The aim of this project will be to investigate the mechanisms by which HDAC inhibitors reduce microglia activation and the identity of the target HDAC enzymes.

Well done to Chao, Lillie and Paige!