We benefit from a diverse international community of students and supervisors, and are strongly committed to equality according to gender, race, religion, and disability. Research shows that many communities and groups within our society are underrepresented amongst graduate students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects. This situation disadvantages the affected communities/groups, and ourselves in terms of lost potential. Our partnership with UNIQ+ and Nuffield Foundation Placements represents a step towards redressing this imbalance. UNIQ+ is a University of Oxford scheme for UK based undergraduates who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. The scheme is for 6 weeks, encompassing taught courses and a lab placement. Students live in Oxford Colleges and are provided with a generous stipend to offset lost vacation work opportunities. Our programme has committed to accommodate up to two UNIQ+ students each summer. The Nuffield Foundation Placements scheme aims at a younger age group, year 12 school students in STEM subjects, again selecting students from a disadvantaged background. The students participate in 4-week lab placements with bursaries provided by the Nuffield Foundation. Our first two placement students will be arriving this summer and will work in the lab of Neil Brockdorff on a project using fluorescence microscopy to investigate epigenetic modification of the inactive X chromosome.
Laura Hankins was named the Young UK Cell Biologist of the Year at the BSCB/BSDB 2019 Spring Meeting, where she presented both a talk and a poster. Laura is a third year DPhil student in Jordan Raff’s lab at the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, where she is studying the process of centriole biogenesis as a model to understand how organelle growth is regulated within cells. She was presenting a recent discovery from the lab that two proteins act as oscillators to time and execute the growth of separate components of the centriole’s structure. These two oscillators crosstalk with each other to ensure that the organelle itself grows in a coordinated manner, ultimately ensuring that the centriole reaches the correct size.
The award involves a fully funded trip to the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) meeting in Washington, DC, where she will have the chance to present this research to the US community. Laura also has another trip to America planned this year, having been accepted onto the 2019 Woods Hole Physiology Course on the basis of her graduate research thus far. She is looking forward to participating in this famous course, whose long history has seen such important breakthroughs as the discovery of cyclin B.