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A-level students receive Gold Crest Awards as part of Nuffield Research Programme


Three Hugh Baird College A-level students have successfully completed the Nuffield Research Placement and will each receive a Gold Crest Award.

Mia Hankinson, Theresa Okunbor and David Campbell each attended the placement during the Summer Holidays, which was held remotely this year due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The Nuffield Future Researcher programme provides a meaningful and rewarding research experience where students develop essential science, technology, engineering and math's (STEM) skills by working with a professional researcher on a live research question and embark on new and innovative ways of working within a virtual learning environment.

Theresa who studies biology, chemistry and math's A-levels at the South Sefton Campus is planning to study medicine at University. She joined the Nuffield Research Placement Programme, to help her get research experience to add to her CV and personal statement to support her university application. She was tasked with the very topical research topic of ’Strategies employed to manage cytokines storms in Covid-19 patients’, due to the pandemic she was unable to conduct the actual research herself, so instead focused her research on the work of other clinicians and investigators.

Theresa said of her experience during the programme:

I explored how clinicians and investigators had tested critically ill Covid-19 patients, what results they obtained and what conclusions they gathered from each treatment. Additionally, my report also discussed the pros and cons of each treatment and I suggested a treatment that could be used to improve the patient’s health and hence increase survival rates.

It was a bit scary at first, because I have never written an academic scientific report before and I have never done an academic poster in my life, but with dedication and hard work I was able to achieve this and much more. I have also gained lots of skills that will equip me for university, such as writing a good report; developing my communication, time management and organisation skills; taking constructive criticism; resilience; and I’ve improved my research skills. The experience has increased my confidence for university to a whole another level. Additionally, through this programme, I was able to achieve the Gold Crest Awards and finally, my first ever manuscript or scientific article is on the way to getting published.

Mia Hankinson who also studies biology, chemistry and math's, researched a very topical subject too. She was given the chance to explore, ‘How stem cells control our immune system, and their potential uses in combating Covid-19’.

Mia commented on her placement experience:

I study my A-levels at the South Sefton Campus and the Nuffield Future Researchers Programme has opened my eyes to the world of scientific research. My report was based around a very current situation, and I found it so fascinating learning about a virus that has controlled all of our lives and understanding the immunology behind it. I have learnt a wide range of transferable skills (such as communication and time management) which I will be able to use in higher education and future careers. In the future I would like to become a doctor; so there may be occasions I need to carry out my own scientific research, the programme has set me up to be able to do this and given me the confidence to fulfil my aspirations.

David Campbell, who studies A-levels in biology, chemistry and physics at the South Sefton Campus said of his placement experience:

My Nuffield project was about whether a dogs breed affected the age it was seen at the vet. It was really interesting finding out how different dog breeds (big and small) were seen at the vet at different ages. My project mentor was a university professor and it meant I was working with real data from vets all across the Merseyside region. The Nuffield research project was a great way to enhance my university application and made me gain many valuable professional skills.

Joe Poole, Director of Curriculum, said:

Receiving a Gold Crest Award is an amazing achievement and I'm incredibly proud of Mia, Theresa and David. The skills they have gained by completing the Nuffield Future Researcher Programme will certainly ready them for their next steps, and I know they have benefitted greatly from the experience. I must also thank staff within the Faculty of Maths, Science & Health who have encouraged and supported Mia, Theresa and David throughout this programme.

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