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Work experience in the McKendry lab

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Earlier this year, the McKendry lab at UCL hosted three work experience students from schools across the UK. One of the students, Helen, shared with what she found most exciting about the experience, what surprised her, and what she learnt along the way.



How did you first hear about i-sense?

I have just completed a week of work experience after discovering i-sense at the New Scientist Live exhibition and had so much fun over the last week.

What excited you about the idea of work experience with i-sense?

Nanotechnology. When I first came across nanotechnology, it seemed surreal and the concept instantly drew me in.

What was the most exciting part of being in the i-sense labs?

Seeing the AFM. AFM stands for Atomic Force Microscope. It is an expensive and rather fancy piece of equipment, with more than a thousand times better resolution than the optical diffraction limit. Two weeks ago I was madly trying to revise microscopy. Whilst in the lab here, the AFM was just casually shown to me in the corner. On the inside I was having a mini-heart attack of excitement. 

Was there anything unexpected that you learnt during your week of work experience?

Something that has surprised me this week is that concepts I’ve learnt about at school are actually relevant. This may sound a mundane statement, however when I’m taught in a classroom it sometimes feels as if I’m just learning to pass an exam. Coming to UCL and being able to understand the basics of projects is hugely motivating.

What was the key thing you learnt over the last week?

I’ve enjoyed hearing about the team’s projects. From lateral flow assays, pioneering the diagnosis of HIV and TB, to DNA Origami, helping to cure cancer. Something I have a new appreciation for is the magnitude of analysis and research and the detail that’s behind a simple test.

I can’t thank Val, Ben and the rest of the team enough for the incredible and informative itinerary.