Sheree starts her scientific career with a conscience
Sheree Smith is a 2nd year biomedical science student at Leeds Beckett University (LBU), who is determined to carve out a conscious, animal free career in biomedical science. This is her story.
I have always loved animals. I spent most of my teenage years volunteering at a local stable by the beach in Cleethorpes, riding and caring for the horses.
This is where I remember learning first hand that animals are not so different from us, and indeed experience pain, affection and fear.
However, it wasn’t until I turned 17 and began my A-level Biology studies that my conscience was really awakened to the impact that the human race was having on so many innocent lives.
I remember it like it was yesterday. We were shown the effects of selective breeding on animals and the fate of male chicks in the egg industry. I remember my class giggling at broiler hens that could not walk, while I tried not to cry, in shock, that I had been blind to this suffering that our system dares to label ‘humane’. I felt betrayed by the society that had conditioned me from a young age to fund this industry.
Beginning a conscious career
Now armed with truth, I was ready to change. After completing my A levels and taking a year out, I enrolled in a nutrition and dietetics degree at Leeds Beckett University (LBU).
At this point, I had been a vegetarian for almost two years and I was very conscious of pursuing a career where I would not contribute to animal harm. However, it soon became apparent to me that discouraging the consumption of animal products was not high on a dietician’s agenda.
My heart was also craving a greater scientific depth and so I made the decision to change onto the biomedical science (human biology) degree course. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
However, after completing my first year of my biomedical science degree, I began questioning if my passion for science and moral values for animal rights simply could not work again, as many modules spoke of animal use in research.
It was not until I attended the ‘Great Yorkshire Vegan Festival’ and stumbled upon the Animal Free Research UK stall, that I felt fate really did exist and was giving me a direction!
My future in scientific research had a glimmer of hope
I was an intellectual rebel prepared to challenge established beliefs. This is when I met Professor Donald Bligh, a previous graduate of LBU. He offered me a scholarship, which included his valuable insight into ethical attitudes from a philosophical perspective.
With the guidance and mentoring of Professor Bligh, I hope to expand my knowledge and grow my somewhat ‘outside of the box’ attitude. I want to contribute to a medical revolution, possibly in stem cell research.
Next generation of scientists
Enabled by the monetary help from Professor Bligh, I was able to attend the London Cancer and Stem Cell in vitro models club (sponsored by AFRUK) in December 2017.
This was a great experience that allowed me to get an insight into the animal free scientific research already happening within academia. My next goal is to hopefully gain first hand experience by undertaking an Animal Free Research UK Summer Studentship!
Some of the greatest changes in societal ‘norms’ occur because of individuals who are not afraid to challenge them. I hope to earn a PhD and become a lecturer, to return the gifts of education and inspiration that I have received to the next generation of scientists.
I aspire to demonstrate that just because there is a box; it doesn’t mean you have to fit in it.
We fund students, like Sheree, to gain practical animal replacement research experience by working in a laboratory environment. The average cost of a Summer Studentship is £1,940. If you would like to sponsor a Summer Student, please get in touch.
Our work is funded entirely by your generous support. Your donation can help start the careers of promising young students and contribute to developing some of the most advanced and successful human-related techniques in many areas of medical research. Help us help the next generation of scientists start their careers without using animals.