Summer Student Placement Scholarship: making up for lost time

Shanel Miah from the University of Staffordshire had to miss practical training due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but using SfAM's Summer Student Placement Scholarship was able to recoup this experience.

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My studentship experience consisted of testing the survival of wild-type Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains under certain conditions, then identifying notable genes regulating their responses. The grant has been greatly advantageous in monthly bus fare payments, including purchases of PCR primers and staining reagents used for mitochondrial defect detections in yeast.

Due to unfortunate events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve previously had little lab experience, which was detrimental to my career development and confidence as a professional scientist. Although it’s been a steep learning curve, I’ve never regretted my time here and I’m very thankful to finally build the necessary assertiveness and skills that all scientists need, lab-based and interpersonal.

Given more flexibility and independence, I’ve become closely involved in protocols such as phenotypic tests, cDNA synthesis and RT-PCR within a real-world setting. I’ve also learnt to refine my approach to experimental design and organisation during times when certain protocols were unsuitable for certain outcomes. Most of all, getting to know the people around me such as the technicians was very beneficial as they never hesitate to provide me guidance and to talk about their experience in the workforce hence, made my time unforgettable and unique.

My research found that the S. cerevisiae strain BY4741 was more resistant to higher temperatures (37° C) and manganese chloride compared to W303, indicating that under right modifications, BY4741 would be more efficient under fermentation and bio-protein productions.

All in all, I hope other students are encouraged to step outside their comfort zone and connect well within the workforce as it’ll undoubtedly allow undergraduates to learn a new life skill that’ll potentially be useful in the future. I hope to use my experience in further advancing my studies in either bioinformatics or biotechnology to expand the existing knowledge within the field of genomics.

Click here to find out more about SfAM's Summer Student Placement Scholarship.

Shanel Miah

Staffordshire University