On 28 July, 40 international students from the London International Youth Science Forum (LIYSF) visited The Genome Analysis Centre (TGAC) as part of their tour of Norwich Research Park to discover the research that takes place on the park, as well as seek out potential career paths for science graduates.
LIYSF is a two-week residential event held at Imperial College London that attracts over 400 of the world’s leading young scientists, aged 17-21, from more than 60 participating countries to learn about the UK’s science and different cultures. With lectures and demonstrations from expert scientists, visits to industrial sites, research centres, scientific institutions and organisations, including world-class laboratories and universities.
Starting off their TGAC visit, the students were given an introductory session on the institute by Public Society & Engagement Officer Peter Bickerton. On to a tour of the TGAC labs, learning about the cutting-edge sequencing technology and the applications of DNA sequencing, led by members of the Platforms & Pipelines team Dave Baker and Darren Heavens.
The students were given an overview of the lab processes; from receiving organism samples to analysing the genetic data, showing the students how RNA and DNA samples are prepared and transformed into DNA libraries prior to sequencing. The lab staff demonstrated the institute’s next-generation sequencing suite, including the Illumina HiSeqs and PacBio, as well as our new genome mapping equipment such as the BioNano.
Several students had an already-impressive knowledge of genomics and DNA sequencing techniques and were encouraged to ask questions in order to foster a dialogue about the techniques we use and the work TGAC does.
“Many of these students are at the age at which they are deciding which path to pursue in terms of careers, with many of them showing a great interest in the work we do at TGAC, particularly bioinformatics,” said Peter Bickerton, Public Engagement & Society Officer in the 361 Division at TGAC.
“The students came from a range of countries, including Argentina, Austria, Canada, China, Cyprus, Egypt, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Jamaica, Malta, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Switzerland and Taiwan, placing TGAC on an international platform.
We asked the students to give us feedback from the tour, and what interested them most about the work we do at TGAC? We got some great responses:
“I find genetics really interesting and I found the technology that they have extremely fascinating.”
“I really appreciated the level of detail in which the TGAC staff explained their research. Also, I was interested by the advanced technology used.”
“The vast amount of data that can be collected here and the implications of the results of the data.”
“I loved learning about all these super interesting, cutting-edge instruments, especially the antiques from the human genome project, nice to see a piece of history. Dave and Darren were AMAZING!”