I have just finished my year’s placement at the Biocompute Lab, my ‘Year in Industry’ from my BSc in Biological Sciences at Cardiff University.

I began with little understanding of how CRISPR worked, just an interest in it, and during the year:

Overall, it was a great year which I was lucky to have, in which I grew as a scientist and as a person and decided that the lab environment is where I want to be in my career.

I developed so many skills, including wet lab skills (primarily molecular cloning and bacterial cell culture) research skills, and the patience required to undertake an independent project. One key thing I had to remind myself is that mistakes are often necessary for success, especially in a lab environment (see caption below)!

Many opportunities were offered to me, one which was particularly exciting was performing lab work for a Nature paper, now published with my name on it. To achieve a long-term goal in the first few months of a placement was a big deal to me!

The social aspect of the lab was great too, with a friendly group of PhD students who I felt I could go to about any issues which arose in or out of the lab. The weekly Journal Club helped me to broaden my understanding of synthetic biology and all the different topics it encompasses.

Whilst the inevitable (COVID-19) did affect my project in terms of lab work, the CRISPR review I co-wrote during lockdown with another undergraduate challenged me to lead a paper and (pending review) get my first primary authorship which is far more valuable.

Once I graduate, I am very keen to pursue a PhD in molecular or synthetic biology, especially CRISPR. Whilst I know it’ll be challenging; I believe this year gave me the skills and confidence required to take it on and am excited for what the future holds!

Confidently making plates of LB broth instead of agar… waited for 30 minutes for them to dry before realising my mistake

A rare photo of someone smiling doing lab work

Learning to be productive from Pierre, of the PhD students.