UCL OpenLabs is a student initiative opening up research laboratories for all bioscience undergraduates. Our aim is to inspire aspiring scientists through deepened learning and understanding of academic life, thereby enabling them to take stock of their future career.
Our core event is OpenLabs. It is an opportunity for students to get familiarized with the laboratory setting and gain deeper insight on the scope of research undertaken at UCL. Furthermore, this is a fun and interactive tool for students in managing career expectations. There are simply too many stories out there of graduates with a science degree not knowing what to do next in life – we want to put an end to that!
We welcome freshers who are keen broaden their university learning experience.
We welcome second years who are scouting for third year research projects.
We also welcome final year students who are looking beyond for potential PhD opportunities.
OpenLabs are held on Wednesdays from 2 to 3pm during term time. Each visiting group is limited to 10 students; the purpose is to give each student an unobstructed view, prevent overcrowding and accidents in the lab, as well as keeping the duration short - roughly one hour per session to sustain attention and interest throughout.
Students are first given a presentation from a principal investigator postdoc from the lab to have a brief overview of the field. Then they get the chance to use laboratory equipment such as microscopes to observe and manipulate specimens. To wrap it up, a tour of the entire lab facility is given.
Our open-lab sessions have been a great success, with average ratings for our Zebrafish events at 8.75 out of a maximum of 10. Since our inception in December 2011, we have fostered a healthy working relationship with teaching heads and researchers at the Division of Biosciences to provide students this rare learning opportunity. Our goal is to continue on with our mission by incorporating OpenLabs into the science curriculum and expanding our reach to ten labs by 2014.
To end this we would like to share with you an excerpt from the 2012 Richard Dimbleby lecture:
“We have a real opportunity in the UK of improving the translation of biomedical science into better treatments through an innovative partnership between researchers, the NHS and industry, promoted by the Academy of Medical Sciences. The UK has a great advantage with very strong life sciences research base, a unified health service, and an active pharmaceutical industry. If all three work together we can carry out research which will not only bring better health services but also help our economy. … I am passionate about science because it has shaped the world and made it a better place, and I want to see science placed more centre stage in our culture and economy. Our present economic troubles have promoted a debate about the future of our economy, and that future must include a major role for science. We need a new Enlightenment, an Enlightenment for the 21st century, and Britain is the place to do it with its history of freedom, rationality and scientific achievement. We need more science in Government, the boardroom, and public services, we need more funding for science, we need greater engagement with the public and a society comfortable with science, we need to convey the wonder of science, and what it contributes to our culture and our civilization.”
- Sir Paul Nurse, geneticist and Nobel laureate.