Scientists of the future: sixth formers showcase summer science projects at the Babraham R...


Twenty sixth formers had an unrivalled opportunity to do scientific research this summer in leading labs around Cambridgeshire, organised by STEMteam Cambridgeshire and supported by the Nuffield Foundation.

Around 1000 such bursaries are provided each year, enabling sixth formers across the country to get first-hand experience of research and insights into scientific careers by spending four to six weeks working with inspirational scientists. The students presented their findings to scientists, teachers, parents and local industry at the Babraham Research Campus, after an inspiring lecture by Dr Klaus Okkenhaug, who heads a research team at Babraham investigating how the immune system develops.

The Babraham Institute this year hosted four students, two from Hills Road Sixth Form College and one from Peterborough High School and The Perse. They worked on projects investigating how cells communicate and relay intricate biochemical signals within cells; Babraham’s world-leading research in cell signalling has provided insights into medical conditions like high blood pressure, heart failure, cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. All four students were awarded Gold CREST awards for their projects, an accreditation from the British Science Association.
Nicholas Evans a student at the Perse School said, “I found this experience at the Babraham Institute very valuable in giving me an insight into the world of scientific research. It has definitely inspired me to narrow my future career path to either Research Science or Medicine.”
The John Innes Centre, like Babraham an institute of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), also supported two students, whose projects investigated the growth characteristics of different varieties of wheat. The University of Cambridge, MRC, Cambridge Institute for Medical Research and ARM Ltd also provided an exciting range of projects.
Hannah Stuart, 18, a Nuffield Bursary student in 2008, was also invited back as a guest speaker, having been awarded national prizes for her research project last summer at the Babraham Institute. As a finalist at the Big Bang – the UK Young Science and Engineers Fair in 2009 – Hannah was invited to present her research at an EU competition for young scientists in Paris in March. Her second award is an opportunity of a life-time; a research project in Borneo next summer with the Royal Society.
She said,“My Nuffield placement allowed me to gain invaluable hands-on experience in lab work and develop a deeper insight into an exciting scientific field. Returning to Babraham again this summer has cemented my desire to pursue a research career.”
Dr Simon Rudge, Hannah’s supervisor at Babraham explained, “This scheme is very useful, not only because it ensures that new ideas & experiments are explored in our lab, but I personally enjoy mentoring young scientists and providing them with an opportunity to develop their enthusiasm for research science.”
Dr Claire Cockcroft, who runs Babraham’s public engagement programme added, “The Babraham Institute places great emphasis on engaging with young scientists, providing unique opportunities to experience leading-edge research and work with inspirational scientific role models. It is through these schemes that pupils get first-hand insight into the world of research, and a greater understanding of its relevance to society. We hope this will inspire them to consider research or science-based careers, contributing to the UK’s future need for STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) skills.“
Sarah Saunders at The Nuffield Foundation said, “Our aim is to give students from all backgrounds a real insight into what a scientific career would be like. We are extremely grateful to the Babraham Institute for hosting students again this year - without project supervisors like those from Babraham, we would not be able to offer students such unique opportunities."
Contact details:
Photographs are available on request
Dr Claire Cockcroft   
Head, External Relations
Tel:       +44 (0)1223 496260
Fax:      +44 (0)1223 496002
Mobile: +44 (0)7786 335978
The Babraham Institute
Babraham Research Campus
United Kingdom
The Babraham Institute is a charitable organisation devoted to biomedical research and is an institute of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), underpinning government’s national responsibilities for healthcare research and training. With a strategic focus on ‘healthy ageing’, studying diseases at the molecular and cellular levels is delivering novel approaches for tackling chronic diseases and public health concerns like obesity. Research has provided insight into conditions like hypertension, cardiac arrhythmia and heart failure, autoimmunity, birth defects, bipolar disorders, cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. Babraham is an international leader in epigenetics, using state-of-the-art equipment to unravel the complexity of our genomes and understand how gene–environment interactions may have consequences later in life or on future generations. The Institute’s innovative research is commercialised through Babraham Bioscience Technologies Ltd, which also manages Babraham’s vibrant Bioincubator. Website:
STEM TEAM Cambridgeshire is an educational charity working with all schools in Cambridgeshire to deliver Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) activities to enhance the delivery of primary and secondary curricula and support the 14-19 strategy. We aim to inspire, encourage and help young people progress in STEM and raise the scientific literacy and appreciation of STEM among our school population. We provide resources and deliver STEM activities with a Work-Related Learning and Enterprise focus to schools. We organise and run annual science fairs and competitions and manage a number of national schemes for Cambridgeshire including Nuffield Science Bursaries and the British Science Association CREST award scheme. We have been contracted by STEMNET (the national organisation for the promotion of STEM) to be the STEMPoint for Cambridgeshire and to manage the STEM Ambassador Programme for the county. 
The Nuffield Foundation
The Nuffield Science Bursary Programme for Schools and Colleges is one of two programmes funded by the Nuffield Foundation to offer support at key stages in a scientific career. The other scheme is for undergraduates. The aim of the Nuffield Foundation is to fund research, development and practical experiment in education, science, social science and social policy and the Foundation has a long standing interest in science through curriculum development and schemes promoting access to science and scientific careers. The Nuffield Foundation is an independent charitable trust, founded in 1943 by William Morris (Lord Nuffield), the founder of Morris Motors. For more information, please visit

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Babraham Institute

The Institute is an independent charitable life sciences institute, sponsored by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

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