Hello! I’m Anna, an incoming third year Biologist.

Firstly, let me introduce you to the charity I have chosen to work with. The British Neuroscience Association (BNA) is the leading neuroscience charitable organisation in the UK, and functions to bring together researchers, organisations and individuals which are involved with, or have an interest in, neuroscience. It’s a charity chiefly run for and by scientists and thus must have specifically tailored marketing strategies to appeal to such a niche demographic – which is what first drew my attention to BNA.

The beginning of my internship did not start well. I woke up on Monday morning feeling absolutely awful, and made it halfway down the road before I gave in and had to call in sick. My supervisor was really lovely about it, and agreed that we’d start on Tuesday, in Cardiff, instead. As I was based in Bristol, two trains were required to reach the BNA office in Cardiff – the first of which was (typically) majorly delayed and the second of which I consequently missed. I therefore ended up starting my internship a day late and literally late… not a great beginning, I think you’d agree.

Regardless, as soon as I managed to actually begin I found myself really enjoying the project. After discussing with my supervisor, we identified a couple of project niches: how to increase undergraduate membership (and potentially set up some kind of student representative scheme), and how to effectively market the new membership category, associate membership.

I was given quite a lot of freedom to brainstorm this, and was also afforded the opportunity to speak to leading neuroscientists, who were serving on the BNA committee. Not only could I ask people who started off with the same credentials as myself (a degree in Biology) about how they informed their career paths, but also talk to experts who shared my scientific interest. After listening to their thoughts on the reality of carrying out my project, I began to plan day-by-day what I would actually be doing.

I spent Wednesday in Bristol, and Thursday in Brasenose College, Oxford, where I talked to Prof. John Jefferys about my plans for the next few weeks. We had lunch in the Brasenose senior common room (think wood panelling, huge fireplaces and unbelievable portraits), and afterwards took a brief look around the Ashmolean. It was a lovely day – I had a lot of fun, and it was great to be able to talk with such an interesting individual!

Brasenose College I
Brasenose College II

On Friday, I was lucky enough to sit in on a lab meeting between Neuroscience postdocs at Bristol University. They were interested in how natural circadian rhythms of stress hormones like corticosterone could be mimicked to improve the side effects of prescribed steroids, using rats as a model animal (if you’re interested, here’s a bit of background). Everyone was really friendly and happy to discuss their data with me; hopefully at some point I can go down to the labs and actually see some of their research.

Luckily I arrived just in time for the Bristol Harbour Festival on the weekend, which was a great chance to explore the city and eat some awesome food. I also looked around Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, where I got to see Rembrandt’s Self-portrait at the age of 63, one of the last paintings he did before his death.

London National Gallery Next 20 09 Rembrandt - Self Portrait at the Age of 63
Self Portrait at the Age of 63

To conclude: I’ve had a great introduction to my internship and am really excited to continue with my project next week…


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