In March, I had the amazing opportunity to attend the Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics, an annual event at which young people identifying as women are invited to partake in lectures, seminars, laboratory tours and networking over a weekend. This event exposed me to some incredibly inspiring women involved with physics research and industry; in particular, I was fascinated by the research being conducted by Professor Sonia Contera, an Oxford Physicist working in Biophysics and Condensed Matter. After some research of my own, I discovered she was looking for interns to help her with a summer project, ‘Physical Sciences Approaches to Improve Cryopreservation of Cells and Proteins’.
Having decided to specialise in Physics after a diverse set of first year options, I was eager to spend some time in a Physics lab. Since my interest lie in multi-disciplinary fields, this project was ideal.
I spent two months in the Contera lab investigating various approaches to improving cryopreservation. The structure of my days was fluid, and it was incredible to have the free reign of such an exciting project. I learnt masses from Sonia, as well as from the other members of the lab and my lab partner. Every day brought a new problem that we would approach with diverse ways of thinking and solving. It was refreshing to be in an environment where there are no one right way to think; diversity of mind and method were encouraged. It was a pleasure to be so welcomed by the Contera lab who made my time there truly a delight.
The skills I learned during my time in Oxford will stay with me, and I’m sure come in very handy. Besides many practical skills with new and exciting physical equipment – notably, I had an amazing chance to use an Atomic Force microscope – I learnt a lot about working in a lab, teamwork and collaboration. I feel enriched and more prepared to enter my third year equipped with these!
I’d like to express my thanks to Sonia for having me in her lab, to all the members of Contera lab for their support, and to Viraj for being an excellent lab partner. I’d also like to thank the Gateway programme, and Dr Owen Saxton for their kind donations which enabled my undertaking of this amazing internship.