Tagged: Undergraduate

The Great Balancing Act

Hey all,

I haven’t blogged for quite a while and simply it’s because I have so many other commitments at the moment, which have been very fun but equally as tiring.

Over the summer period, I have been doing many outreach events in and around Bristol such as Pint of Science, @Bristol events and aiding my supervisor in her radio interviews. I really enjoy the engagement, as you have probably gathered, with many individuals which can be both challenging and keeps you think on your feet.

Another commitment I have taken up is the management of an SLA (sterolithography) 3D printer, Formlabs Form 2 printer. The 3D printer is fantastic for microfluidic but owning a 3D printer means accepting odd and interesting 3D printing jobs, many jobs aimed at props for outreach. However, having a printer that can print all sorts of things doesn’t necessarily mean it should due to the costs involved using resins where the cheaper FDM (Fused deposition modeling) would be more appropriate. Additionally the failed prints can eat up a lot of time which could be better spent on research. Please check my twitter for some of the 3D prints I have done!

Also, we had a big lab move from Engineering and Physics labs to the new Synbio lab, Biocompute Lab in the Life Science Building. This is currently in progress but hopefully will be ready by the beginning of October which I am very excited about! Also, the 3D printer is already located in the lab so it’ll be fantastic to have everything under one roof which saves me from running around between all the departments I work in.

Finally, I have my research still ongoing (last but not least!). Unfortunately it is not progressing as fast as I would like and sometimes feels over-shadowed by all the other commitments lately. However, I have the methodology in place and a systematic plan of different reagents to attempt which is now a tick-box list until I have the desired test environment in my diffusive microfluidic device.

As always, thanks for reading!

PhD Update – 23 Months

Funded by EPSRC at the University of Bristol; Associated with Bristol Robotics Lab, University of the West of England.

RE: Upcoming events

I recently stated in “Upcoming events” I would return and post media accompanying the event and after a long delay here is my update.

First was the radio interview where I appeared live on BBC Radio Lincolnshire with Yasmin interviewed by Leigh Milner as tweeted here. Speaking on the radio was a great experience as well as nerve-racking one which I definitely would do again given the chance. The offline broadcast can be listened via Youtube using the embedded video below:

Regards to David Barnett for uploading the interview on my behalf.

Secondly in the Upcoming events post, I mentioned about the University of Lincoln Life Sciences conference where I presented the research I carried out during my final year dissertation project. I really enjoyed the conference and it was a good opportunity to look at fellow students projects as well as present my own project. I have attached an image of myself and the poster taken after the conference below:

University of Lincoln LifeSciences Conference PosterRegarding the exams, I receive the results very soon and I hope to push for the highest grade possible supported by my current results from this final year.

Upcoming Events

There are some big events coming up which I am really looking forward to.

Firstly I  will be live on air on BBC radio Lincolnshire, Monday 19th May at 8:50am discussing my undergraduate experience at the University of Lincoln and my plans for the future. I am really looking forward to the experience and I hope you can listen live. An offline version after the broadcast will be made available which I will link as soon as possible.

Secondly, there is a conference at the beginning of June (2nd-3rd) where undergraduates from the University of Lincoln can present there independent research project work. The conference will be a 2 day event open to the public where Monday will be biomedical science and forensic science presentations and Tuesday will focus on biological sciences such as nutrition, animals and plants. I will be presenting Monday morning and the event is being held in the Engine Shed on the University of Lincoln Brayford campus. The research I will be presenting was mentioned in a previous blog post here.

Currently I have my final exams so a lot of my time is dedicated revision where my final exam is on the 4th of June.

3rd Year – University of Lincoln Society of Life Sciences (ULSoLS)

During my third year, I was given the opportunity to be the treasurer of the University of Lincoln Society of Life Sciences (ULSoLS). The idea of the ULSoLS is to promote various life science disciplines available at the University of Lincoln from engineering to veterinary science. One of the extra opportunities I was involved in was the production and editing of a 50 minute presentation by Dr. Colin Dowding. His presentation was on the principles of high power lasers and there interactions with materials. Watch the video below and please check out ULSoLS page for more updates and events!

3rd Year – Dissertation Project

It has been a while since I have updated due to various time commitments of being a third year student from various core modules to the third year dissertation project.

Currently, there are only a few weeks left till the dissertation deadline but I am looking forward to producing my first, hopefully of many, publications using research I have carried out. The dissertation project I am focused on involves neurotensin receptors 1 (NTS1) being over expressed in breast cancer cells. A paper by Vandebulcke et al. (2000) has shown the uptake of neurotensin-GFP fusion into COS-7 breast cancer cells which allows the way for possible targeted drug delivery applications. My project is focusing on the cloning of neurotensin-double GFP fusions using PCR techniques to test the size of the endocytosis uptake by the NTS1 GPCR receptors expressed on COS-7 cells. My supervisor for this project is Dr. Alan Goddard.

Neurotensin receptors are expressed naturally on other tissues mainly in the central nervous system (CNS) shown by Uhl et al. (1977) in rat central nervous system. Targeting and administration of these neurotensin-drug fusions should not enter the CNS due to various efflux receptors, most commonly noted in the blood brain barrier, so theoretically neurotensin offers a unique target for drug delivery. An interesting fusion could be the use of interferon (IFN) alpha with the ability to act as an anti-viral agents which inhibits replication and has shown promise in current cancer treatment (Ferrantini et al., 2007; Zaidi and Merlino, 2011). Due to IFN-alpha protein structure, fusions with neurotensin may be a possible payload to delivery to COS-7 cells.

I am presenting my work via poster at the ‘University of Lincoln Undergraduate Life Sciences Conference 2014’, dates: TBA expected early June. I will post an update when more information becomes available.


Ferrantini, M., Capone, I., and Belardelli, F. (2007) Interferon-alpha and cancer: mechanisms of action and new perspectives of clinical use. Biochimie, 89(6-7), pp. 884-893.

Uhl, G.R.; Kuhar, M.J.; Snyder, S.H. (1977) Neurotensin: immunohistochemical localization in rat central nervous system. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 74(9), pp. 4059-4063.

Vandenbulcke, F., Nouel, D., Vincent, J.P., Mazella, J., and Beaudet, A. (2000) Ligand-induced internalization of neurotensin in transfected COS-7 cells: differential intracellular trafficking of ligand and receptor. Journal of Cell Science, 113 ( Pt 17)(Pt 17), pp. 2963-2975.

Zaidi, M.R. and Merlino, G. (2011) The two faces of interferon-gamma in cancer. Clinical Cancer Research : An Official Journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, 17(19), pp. 6118-6124.

Applying for a Nanomedicine conference

I am currently applying for a nanomedicine conference In London which is available for 11+, undergraduate and postgraduate students!

The idea of the competition is where students from various levels with a scientific background (presumably) can apply for free entry to the conference with £150 travel bursary by completing a 1000 word essay on any area which inspires the candidate applying. The conference is being held by Nano4Life.

Me personally, I’ve written an essay about the future of nanorobotics in medical diagnosis and uses in the future of medicine. Due to the limited number of competition winners (only two) and the about of views of the page (107 at the time this was written), I’m not too optimistic about winning with less than 2% chance in theory but I am hoping that if I do I can use the conferencing event to get use to the atmosphere of a conference as well as networking and building links into the industry I want to enter.

Furthermore, It will give offer the chance to personally talk to leading researchers in my desired area on a 1 to 1 basis which will be a brilliant opportunity for any candidate. I would like to wish everyone who has applied for the Nano4life good luck and to the winners to take full advantage of the opportunity!

Source: britishsocietynanomedicine.org

Applying for a IAESTE placement

Not sure if many people have heard of IAESTE but it stands for “The International Association of Students for Technical Experience” and as an undergraduate student such as myself I thought this would be perfect to apply for!

With an IAESTE application, you have to apply by December of the following year you wish to enter and complete the application by the middle of Feburary and find out the result by the middle of March. I personally applied to 3 placements: Japan, Belgium and Hong Kong and I was unsuccessful at receiving any placement. The email I received implied I didn’t get a placement due to large numbers of applicants and priority was given to applicants who had found a placement or there university was offering a placement. I would have enquired about feedback but again, due to large numbers of applicants, individual feedback wasn’t given. The large number of applicants this year which could explain the server problems for IAESTE had in the UK where results were received a week larger than previously stated.
My thoughts on the whole process was did I have any chance with applicants from universities offering placements and students that had found there own placements for an exchange? Or was my applicants so bad that I was rejected right away? Only IAESTE can answer these questions but unfortunately are unavailable to answer. One last thing they did suggested was if the are any late offers, applicants can apply for the position but if there are any priority students, they’ll recieve priority so is it worth my time applying? I personally will but I’m not too opportunistic about the outcome.

Saying this, I am not annoyed about the process and I’m glad I received the experience of applying but I wish I had the feedback so I can improve my application next time or for future opportunities. I am disappointed I didn’t have the opportunity to travel and work abroad as it would have looked amazing for an undergraduate. My advice for anyone else applying for a IAESTE placement, prepare to be disappointed.

Source: IAESTE