Two second-year Westminster students from the Faculty of Science and Technology spent their summer contributing to essential research such as treating and preventing cancer and stroke, as part of their high profile summer studentships.

Alex Hughes, second-year undergraduate student on the Biochemistry BSc Honours course, received a studentship funded by the British Society for Neuroendocrinology and supervised by Dr Simon McArthur, Lecturer in Physiology at the University of Westminster.

Alex researched how testosterone affects the blood vessels in the brain, helping to investigate the reasons behind the increased risk of stroke in men. He said: “Undertaking a studentship research project has provided me with extensive knowledge regarding the field in which I’m interested in, while also being eminently enjoyable.”

Another second-year student received a studentship from the Wellcome Trust to study the properties of a new brain delivery system for treating cancers and neurodegeneration by using a range of different techniques. His supervisor, Senior Lecturer in Biochemistry Dr Mark Odell, said: “James used cell culture, fluorescence microscopy and molecular biochemical techniques beyond what he would have been exposed to in taught classes. His studentship will greatly enhance his opportunities to study for a higher degree.”

James said that the summer studentship gave him extensive insight into how laboratory based research was conducted. “It has been very educational and thoroughly enjoyable throughout. This has enhanced my aspirations of following a career path within Biochemistry and I am keen to undertake a further research degree,” he added.

Undergraduate students studying within the Faculty of Science and Technology have the opportunity to apply for a summer studentship, typically at the end of their second year. These studentships provide promising undergraduates with hands-on experience of research during the summer vacation, with the aim of encouraging them to consider a career in research. In conjunction with an academic supervisor, students can apply to a wide range of funders that offer summer studentships. Previous applications have been made to funders such as the Wellcome Trust, the Biochemical Society, the British Psychological Society, the Genetics Society, and the Society for General Microbiology. As well as being able to gain a taste of academia through running an independent research project, students also receive a stipend of around £200 per week for the duration of the project which typically lasts 8 weeks.

Learn more about the Biochemistry BSc Honours course which is in Clearing for a September 2016 start.

If you are a student in the Faculty of Science and Technology and you are interested in a summer studentship for next summer, talk to your tutor to find out more.

Photo: bogdanhoda / Shutterstock

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