Biology student at University of Leeds

Nicola Capstaff

Where did you do your placement year & what was your job role?

Durham University Biological Science Department and Cambridge University as a Plant Science Researcher at both

Could you describe a typical day on your placement?

My work included me designing molecular science experiments to try to understand how genes play a role in stress in plants. I learnt many different techniques ranging from cloning to protein analysis. My days were very full-on and busy as I wanted to do as much on my project as possible but it was always very enjoyable, especially that lab that I was in. Usually work was independent with experiments running for a few days to weeks at a time which I worked on every day. However some team work was involved especially when trying to problem solve why someone else’s experiment hadn’t worked. Every week a lab meeting was also held where you could present your up-to-date data, as well as weekly lab meetings with my supervisor who guided me through the project.

We want other students at Leeds to know what an exciting opportunity the year in industry is. What was the real highlight for you?

The people. My lab was like a second family, in which not only everyone helped each other and supported ones another (as a lot of things go wrong in research) but also enjoyed many social times together. On everyone’s birthday lots of cake was always eaten and pub trips (even at lunchtime) were a regular occurrence.

How can you envisage your year in industry being relevant to your career prospects in the future?

In the future I think I will apply for phds, and this research will help to show I have already got some of the skills and organisation to do one. It has also helped me for if I choose not to go in to a scientific career as it shows my initiative and how I can tackle big challenges which is relevant to many jobs such as in business.