Nuffield Foundation Science Bursaries offer bursaries each year, for students to work alongside professional scientists. Students in the first year of a post-16 science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) course are eligible to apply for a bursary and spend 4-6 weeks over the summer working on a research project.
Niall who is studying at at Holy Cross College in Greater Manchester spent the summer of 2011 in the lab of Professor Kathryn Else in the Faculty of Life Sciences investigating the immune response to intestinal worms.
He was investigating a particular type of intestinal cell called a goblet cell and looking at the role that the cells’ nuclear receptor proteins played during a worm infection. Niall said,
“In my project I carried out a variety of modern immunological techniques, including immunohistochemistry and other staining methods, but also gained an insight into the world of scientific research and worked at the forefront of immunological research, which for an A level student like me was a fantastic experience.”
Niall entered his project for a Gold Crest Award which he achieved, as well as gaining a place in the finals of the National Science and Engineering Competition which were held at the Big Bang Fair in Birmingham. 360 projects were entered and Niall was one of the five shortlisted for a ‘dragons den’ style judging event. Niall said,
“The judges included Professor Jim Al-Khalili OBE, Vivienne Parry OBE, Professor Molly Stevens and Nobel Prize winning biochemist Sir Tim Hunt. As you can imagine it was a very memorable experience! After an intense few days I was awarded with a ‘Highly Commended’ in the Senior Science and Maths Category, so I can proudly say I am one of the top 5 young scientists in the UK!”
Niall has since received an offer from Durham to study Natural Sciences and hopes to go into research afterwards, something he was not considering until completing his Nuffield Bursary.
Find out more: Science Bursaries for Schools and Colleges