University of Dundee

Life Sciences Summer School 2018 comes to a close with Student Symposium

17 Aug 2018

Life Sciences hosted over 50 students this Summer. This week, no less than 40 students, from Dundee, the rest of Scotland and the UK, but also from abroad as far afield as Singapore, presented their results in this years’ summer students symposium. There were two amazing afternoons with excellent and very well-structured talks.  

Anton Gartner, Summer School Academic Lead, learnt a lot from the student talks, which covered to diverse research undertaken in the School. Highlights included:

  • how software, needed to analyse the phylogenetic relationship of proteins, is adapted such that even Anton, who does not know about computers at all, is able to use it
  • how chromatin is assembled across the genome and how this can change
  • how single molecule analysis of proteins helps to understand key mechanisms needed for cell division
  • how drugs are designed and what it takes to improve their efficacy
  • how medicines can be devised to target distinct proteins for degradation
  • that IPS cells harbour a high level of genome instability, which is important to know to avoid rushing to hastily into stem cell therapy
  • how we inactivate a kinase in a fruit fly within a timeframe of minutes to understand how cells divide in an asymmetric way
  • about innate immunity
  • about how plants protect themselves against pathogens
  • it was great to see that first year students managed to disrupt genes, using methods, which were not even science fiction only some 10 years ago.

Anton said, “Our students were an amazing bunch, very diverse and enthusiastic. It was really great to see that students that entered university via the college route did particularly well. Also, we learned that it is never too late to become an undergraduate, which is great news.  And yes, you can do science and take a care of your kid and to do both of this very well.”

Anton acknowledged that the Summer School would not be possible without the support of many people from the School, “Thank you for the generous financial support from the MRC PPU, Wellcome, Medical Research Scotland, and the many PIs that funded their students via their own grants. Thank you to all the students and postdocs that took on summer students, and to Zoe Hirons and Erin Stanbridge, who did all the paperwork, and to Sheriar Hormudzi from the D’Arcy Thompson Unit who helped with selecting students.”

“The greatest universities are those were the most senior researchers interact with the cohort of the youngest, brightest, most daring and curious students. We took on this challenge heads-on. Philip Cohen spent two hours talking to the students how he managed to build up Dundee to a world leading institution for life sciences, and how he did so after a PhD and undergraduate studies both of which were not all too spectacular.  In any case, the take home is crystal clear. Nothing is impossible!”

Photo (left to right): Summer students Nooshin Sheidaei (Tomo Tanaka lab), Serena MacMillan (Julian Blow lab), Aleksandra Mergo (Jason Swedlow lab) and Larissa van Ek (Philip Cohen lab).

 

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