Five Derry secondary school pupils have spent their summer working at the cutting edge of scientific research.
Georgia McClintock (Lisneal College), Conor Irwin, Liam Roberts and Sara Butler (St Brigid’s College), and Daniel Ryan (St Joseph’s Boys’ School) - all students on the University of Ulster’s Step Up programme - had the opportunity to work with leading research scientists after securing highly prized Nuffield STEM Bursaries.
All five students worked with research scientists from the Centre for Molecular Biosciences at Ulster’s Coleraine campus. Georgia, Conor and Liam carried out investigations into the Alzheimer’s disease with the Neuroscience and Neurodegeneration Research group while Sara and Daniel secured placements with the FEI Centre for Advanced Imaging.
St Brigid’s pupil Sara said she was initially daunted by the prospect of analysing tissues microscopically.
“When I was told I was going to be completing a project using microscopes, I imagined the light microscopes we use in school. However, on the first day of my placement, I was given a tour of the facilities at the centre and shown microscopes that filled entire rooms and cost more than £1 million. I was initially really nervous about using them but I managed to capture all the images I need.”
Head of Access and Educational Partnerships, Dr Damian O’Kane said the bursaries gave students a “wonderful opportunity to develop their research skills.”
The Step-Up programme is designed to provide opportunities for talented young people who would not have traditionally considered studying at higher education institutions