Leeds students join the fight against coronavirus

Students from the Faculty of Biological Sciences have joined the fight against COVID-19 with help from the University of Leeds and the Faculty of Biological Sciences Student Opportunity Team.

A number of students from the Faculty of Biological Sciences are using the skills they’ve developed both inside and outside the classroom to contribute to the national effort against COVID-19.

Biology student Frazer McKie has been working for the UK Lighthouse Labs Network, a national diagnostics lab network established to increase the number of daily coronavirus tests that can be taken, as set out by the UK government.

Frazer is a Laboratory Scientist responsible for processing patient samples through the lab assay workflow from receipt of samples to Q-PCR assay.

A highlight of Frazer’s placement was being able to apply the skills he has gained during his first year as a Biology student, “The practical aspect of my degree proved invaluable in preparing me to work in a diagnostic laboratory due to the emphasis on accuracy and precision taught through practices such as PCR, enzyme assays, ELISA and liquid handling techniques.”

Biochemistry student Alexander Ferreira is currently working at UKBiocentre, the largest of the Lighthouse Network labs. Alexander has been working as a Laboratory Operator meaning that he’s involved in various stages of the testing process such as manually processing samples, automated processing and PCR prep.

He said: “I have greatly increased my laboratory skills through working with others far more experienced than myself. I hope that this will enable me to work far more efficiently and accurately in the lab in the future.”

The FBS Student Opportunity Team are incredibly proud of the way that these students, and many more like them, have reacted in such a positive way and been able to step up to the challenges that the COVID-19 crisis has brought. Not only have they contributed to the societal effort in combatting this disease they have perhaps unwittingly helped develop their own careers in a way that may not have been predicted.

Alison Kusinska, Employability Officer

Human Physiology student Jagen Burke has helped the Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) to meet the regional increase in 111 calls during the global pandemic while working within the Integrated Urgent Care (IUC) unit as a Service Advisor.

“The highlight for me has to be working early on when regional COVID-19 cases were very high, being able to assess patients’ symptoms, reassure them and arrange help if needed.” Jagen Burke, Human Physiology Student.

Taking part in the Leeds Student Community First Responder scheme meant that Jagen was brought in along with other YAS volunteers to provide much needed assistance when the spread of COVID-19 meant that emergency services and the NHS experienced an increase in demand for their services.

“These student examples serve to highlight to us in a career development context the real importance and value of taking early opportunities, trying something new, and taking that first step to develop your life experiences.” Alison Kusinska, Employability Officer.

Further information

Image credit: Illustration by David S. Goodsell, RCSB Protein Data Bank; doi: 10.2210/rcsb_pdb/goodsell-gallery-019

For additional information about our student opportunities contact fbsemployability@leeds.ac.uk.