Piling into the Old Anatomy Lecture Theatre as a flow of postgraduate students it felt a lot like Freshers week again. Introductory lectures, meeting my new course mates, the old ‘where are you from/what are you studying’ question set. Familiar territory but new faces.
There are seven of us in the 2016 cohort, from different universities and with a variety of lab experiences. During the first couple of weeks we’ve undertaken Home Office Training, a four day introduction to PCR and Histology techniques, health & safety lectures and presenting our backgrounds to each other and our course directors. We also fitted in quite a few lunches, coffee times and the odd drinks out…
Something we were all excited for was the Mini Project presentations. Seven of us sitting in a seminar room, we had a stream of PIs from all of the five institutes present their projects to us, in what felt somewhere between a scientific conference and an episode of Dragons Den. There were so many exciting areas of research put forward from passionate scientists it was hard to narrow down a shortlist. Deborah Meaden doesn’t have a limit on how many bacon-scented alarm clocks she can invest in but there were just three preferences we could submit.
I was thrilled to get a project co-supervised by Charles ffrench-Constant and Anna Williams in the CRM looking at the heterogeneity of oligodendrocytes (the cells forming myelin sheaths around axons in the central nervous system) in human tissue samples.
Over the ten-week rotation I’ll be learning lots of immunohistochemistry techniques, imaging brain and spinal cord slices and analysing numbers of cells within them. This will culminate in a short project write up and a presentation in December – it’ll be the ‘investors’ (students!) presenting this time so the projects will be a fast-paced learning experience to gain knowledge and skills as well as a sense of that lab environment. These past few weeks I’ve been guided by an experienced and patient post-doc as I find my feet in a new area of research.
Being part of CRM also meant I was able to join the annual retreat where we heard talks from PIs, post-docs and students across the labs and got a chance to meet new people through the afternoon games and evening dinner.
Settling into a new lab has been helped by the welcome from everyone here and the support from the other students on the programme. Settling into Edinburgh has been great fun, getting to know the city pubs, parks and places of interest (see Manohar the dog enjoying Arthur’s Seat). Settling into life as a PhD student… so far, so good.