A day in the life of an In2research placement student

Blog Post by Aicha Ben Taher

Each In2research placement is unique. Most students experience various things during their research placement, but none are quite the same. In this blog, you will follow me Aicha , a final-year student on the STEM stream. 

My day begins by greeting the security guards at around 10am. I use my security card to access UCL’s Department of Neurodegenerative Disease. The department has many lab groups, all tackling different neurodegenerative diseases. I work closely with two PhD students within Dr Wiseman’s lab, which aims to investigate Alzheimer’s disease in individuals with Down syndrome. 

I make my way to my desk, where I do a few admin tasks such as responding to work-related emails and setting daily targets. My work is primarily computational, where I transform the science into data, that could help provide us with results and conclusions. During my placement, I have had the opportunity to work on multiple projects. My role in these projects is to analyse immunohistochemistry images in organotypic slices prepared by the PhD students. However, this morning I am troubleshooting a problem. I am trying to automate one of the manual processes I have been using. I rely on the experience of my colleagues, previous research in the field and googling (lots of it!). After a couple of hours, I managed to find a solution that could potentially work, which I plan to begin testing after attending a talk.  

Throughout my placement, my supervisors have organised many opportunities for me to meet new people and discuss different career options with them. The talk I am attending today is led by one of Nature’s editors, who discusses the route of science writing, editing, and publication. It was a great talk with lots of insight into what happens behind the scenes after a science paper is sent for publication. The talk finishes just in time for lunch. My colleagues typically invite me for lunch in the park nearby or if it’s a Thursday to the farmer’s market, where local vendors set up booths with a large variety of food and baked goods. 

After lunch, I continue with my work analysing images. Occasionally, I will also have the opportunity to learn other wet lab-based techniques or attend a research seminar discussing the latest findings in the field. Once I achieve the targets, I set for myself in the morning, I am ready to call it a day. Today was quite productive. Upon arriving home, I write notes of what I have achieved and what needs further work. This helps me keep a record of everything I am working on so I can give feedback and present confidently during the next lab meeting.