August 28, 2018, by Alice Kong

Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia (NUMED) – University of Nottingham Malaysia (UNMC) BMS summer placement exchange

Monday 18th June 2018 was a day with an emotional mix up from the second I woke up. I got ready and made my way to the laboratory in UNMC, feeling excited to be in a completely different environment to the one in NUMED. I was nervous about the research I was about to undertake and curious to meet my fellow workmates and supervisor. At the same time, I was grateful for this opportunity to experience the lab-life in UNMC before my final year of BMS.

During the first week, my supervisor Dr Alice Kong, showed me around the lab and explained to me the experiments I was going to do, including all the “what, why, when and how”. I have eight weeks to work on a project investigating the virulence of two different Staphylococcus aureus strains in a Caenorhabditis elegans host model. I was given a training on C. elegans and microbiology techniques before I started my project. I was thankful to meet my lab mates in UNMC, who are also the 2nd year BMS students, who provided me with invaluable assistance right from the beginning to the end of the 8 weeks. This put my anxiety at ease.

Taking a break and enjoying the lake view in UNMC.

Over the following 8 weeks, I was able to master a vast majority of skills including C. elegans handling techniques and aseptic techniques. I was also able to apply the concepts/theories I have learnt at NUMED, such as streaking bacteria on agar and make use of good laboratory practices. Possessing these technical skills allows me to be more confident in carrying out my final year project and post-graduate endeavors.

Through day-to-day interactions with other UNMC-BMS department interns, post-graduate students and staff from the Faculty of Science, I have been able to paint a general picture of how to carry out my final year project – project planning, troubleshooting, ensuring consistency, working independently, sharing laboratory equipment with other students, data recording and analysis and many more. It has also enabled me to gain an insight of various post-graduate options.

This experience has been eye-opening and I would encourage the next placement exchange students to take part in more activities on the campus, be outgoing, seek for assistance whenever you need it and most importantly – do not be disheartened if your work does not go as planned, simply make the necessary amendments and restart!

Article by: John Cornilious (Y2 BMS student from Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia)


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