Shrewsbury School

Lower Sixth Biologists at Liverpool University

Friday 18 January 2019

On 9th January, 52 Lower Sixth biologists spent a fascinating day in the Department of Life Sciences at Liverpool University.

The experience began with talks from members of the Department about the wide-ranging research opportunities and equipment available. We were educated on a broad spread of subjects from using microscopes to take 5-dimensional images (the 4th dimension is colour and the 5th time) and real-time videos of neurones firing in nematode worms, to the philosophy of science in context and the importance of accurate scientific reporting.

After lunch we were treated to a tour of the University’s facilities and were allowed to stand surprisingly close to machines with a multi-million-pound price tag, including NMR, DNA-sequencing and X-ray crystallography facilities. A unique feature of Liverpool is that they have invested in procuring all the hardware and technology in one hub, and this produces some fascinating cross-discipline and integrative work.

The day was an eye-opening experience for many of the students, particularly those considering a scientific career. To quote what they wrote about the day:

“The best part of the trip, in my opinion, was the observation of protein crystals at the X-ray crystallography section; that was truly fascinating.”

“The opportunity to see some of the equipment I may end up using at university was invaluable”

“It was interesting to see how many of the lecturers were not biologists originally, but had become ones through physics or chemistry, showing how integrated the subject can be.”

“Gene sequencing really captured my interest and it was amazing to learn the progress that has occurred in this field of science in around 20 years, reducing the cost by nearly 10,000x and the time taken from nearly ten years to just under a day.”

Emma Micklewright

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