Brilliant Minds

Dr Judith Nicholson, a postdoctoral scientist in the Department of Oncology, recently won a chance to showcase her work to secondary school students in London.

Judith applied for and was selected to become a Brilliant Club tutor, which gave her the opportunity to design a tutorial course on her specialist area of research and deliver it to a group of Year 10 pupils at Lampton School in Hounslow. She attended a weekend training session to help develop her course, at which she was advised by the trainers to encourage the students to aim high.

Judith, who works in Dr Anne Kiltie’s DNA Repair in Cancer Treatment Group at the CRUK/MRC Oxford Institute for Radiation Oncology, developed a course entitled ‘The Universe Inside a Cancer Cell’. Over 6 tutorials, the students explored the structure of a cell and the role that DNA, RNA and proteins play in making cells work, but also in making them go wrong. The students also enjoyed a tour of the laboratories in the Old Road Campus Research Building, which gave them first-hand experience of a University research environment. At the end of the course, the students wrote an assignment which was marked University style to give them a final grade.

Judith was extremely impressed with the young people on her course, commenting “The students were amazing – very bright and switched on.” She added “It was very hard work, but I loved it.

The Brilliant Club is a non-profit organisation that exists to widen access to top universities for outstanding pupils from non-selective state schools. Their primary activity is to recruit, train and place doctoral and postdoctoral researchers in these schools to address educational disadvantage while at the same time, providing development opportunities for researchers.

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