February 11, 2020, by Kelly Calladine
Getting out there: My experiences at a Physiology Young Life Scientist’s Symposium
In November 2019 I attended the Neuroscience of Energy Balance 2019 in Manchester as a student member of the Physiological Society: This membership is possible being enrolled BSc Medical Physiology and Therapeutics course. It was a great opportunity to apply what I had learnt in my year 2 neuroscience lectures, to network with top researchers in the field and also to discover ongoing projects across the U.K. Although we study a lot of physiologically –focussed modules in BSc MPT, neuroscience was definitely one of the most exciting for me: It was amazing to be able to see what I have been learning in a real-life, research environment. I found that I was already familiar with a lot of topics presented on the day due to what I had already learned through our degree. In fact, one of the best things I think this degree offers is the variety of knowledge it gives graduates; for example, I was able to attend a neuroscience conference but I’m not limited to just this as I also get to study pharmacology, anatomy, the respiratory, cardiovascular and productive systems, infection and defence……….the list goes on. I think this diversity is a strength for future employability because I am equipped with knowledge and skills to be comfortable to approach any work sector related to health-science that interests me.
The meeting was a Young Life Scientists’ Symposium supported by The Physiology Society, the Biochemical Society and also the British Pharmacological Society and was designed to provide Early Career Researchers and opportunity for them to meet and present their work. Before going to this event I entered an Abstract Competition where I had to submit an abstract to be judged against other students including new PhD students. As part of the abstract, I was required to read a current neuroscience journal provided to me and summarise one of the key figures in the report. The winners of this competition were awarded on the day and I was pleased and also very shocked to receive a runner-up prize!
The Physiology Society day provided a fantastic opportunity to draw on knowledge I had learnt in both neuroscience and pharmacology lectures in MPT – if I hadn’t got that background I would definitely have struggled a lot. One research study I found particularly interesting was investigating schizophrenia by injecting phencyclidine, or, ‘angel dust’ into mice. I was able to use my knowledge of NMDA and AMPA receptors in glutamate neurotransmission to understand further what the study was investigating…but it wasn’t long until the professor covered content that surpassed my knowledge and I was left looking at a screen with 5 graphs on and lots of acronyms. Needless to say it was beneficial in the way it challenged my academic understanding!
Although this event took 2 days out of my week where deadlines were building up and the end of the term was fast approaching, I still found it very worthwhile and would recommend anyone to attend. It’s so important at this point in our lives that we undertake extra work experience and actively get involved in the wider community to separate ourselves from each other. Everyone will graduate with a degree, but it’s the extra passion demonstrated and evidenced through partaking in extracurricular activities that the employer will seek. Not only this, but whilst you gain experience you also find out what you like and what you don’t like which is so important; it can’t be a bad thing to help narrow down the career path you wish to go down and equip you with more knowledge and experience than everyone else.
My main purpose to attend this conference was to see what current research is focusing on and also to start networking with PhD students and researchers. Although I am not entirely certain that I want to go into research, having these contacts is great in case I change my mind. Furthermore, with the new contacts I made, I can ask for work experience which will be invaluable whatever career I decide to choose.
If you aren’t sure what you want to do after your degree, I would definitely recommend signing up to become a student member of the Physiological Society as they provide students with so many fantastic opportunities to boost their C.V. and network. Although it may seem a little bit daunting going to big events without knowing anyone, the more you go to them the more people you will start to know.
Year 2 BSc MPT student
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