Our 2022 Summer School Graduates
Published on September 8, 2022
This time last year, I wrote about the effects of COVID-19 on Animal Free Research UK’s Summer Student programme. The pandemic had led to the postponement of the programme in 2020, and restricted our annual graduation/celebration event to one that was virtual in nature in 2021. As successful and enjoyable as last year’s virtual event was, it was nonetheless deeply satisfying and exciting to hold the 2022 residential event and celebration in person, in London.
Sixteen students participated in this year’s programme. In laboratories around the UK, undergraduate scientists already with a growing passion for human-relevant, animal-free research, spent between two and three months in the laboratories of outstanding tutors. Under the guidance of these innovative scientists, the students not only learned animal-free research methods that will form the core of future biomedical research, but they learned to apply these methods to hugely important research projects, resulting in findings of significant value. Topics of their research included investigations into skin disease, chemotherapy drugs and their potential toxicity to the heart, lung toxicity and disease, epilepsy, autism, breast and bowel cancers, Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis, and more. All worthy areas of research; all of which need better, human-specific, humane approaches.
At the Summer School itself, following their research placements, the students participated in training sessions to help equip them for their future careers in animal-free science. They spent a day learning about science communication, which is such an important aspect of research. Science has to be effectively communicated to other scientists to inform them of what is going on in other laboratories, directing their own research; to those who choose what science to fund and what to publish; to those who actually pay for their research, and those who have an interest in what it discovers. If animal-free research is well communicated, it can encourage researchers to take that path.
They learned presentation skills – communicating research findings to researchers and non-scientists alike, including a very popular and effective way of conveying research via scientific posters. They spoke with a careers coach about building good CVs, applying for jobs and dealing with interviews. And they spent time with a panel of specially invited scientists of many different specialities and areas of expertise in a panel session, asking them about their scientific career choices and experiences in different biomedical fields and industries. Crucially, they met each other, and shared their enthusiasms, motivations, stories and hopes.
At the culmination of the Summer School, the students presented the fruits of their research, by way of posters that they had created, at a celebration event at the Barbican Conservatory Terrace. Researchers, family and friends, and supporters of Animal free Research UK who had made all of this possible witnessed the students receiving their certificates, and learned first-hand from the students about their work and its significance. They heard about the future of biomedical science, from the future of biomedical science. They felt the passion and drive of young scientists at the start of their careers, who are already committed to changing science for the better, and to making a difference for humanity and for animals, in a humane, and in a most effective, way.
It was a privilege to be part of it, and to meet them all. With young scientists like them, we can feel confident that the change we need, and which have sought for so long, is around the corner.
Dr Jarrod Bailey
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