I have always firmly believed there is no real substitute for the natural, in-person connections we innately seek as human beings. It is also one of the most effective skills we have to share ideas, foster creativity, and ultimately drive innovation. My past life as a science teacher reminds me that the ability to look an audience in the eye and transmit a concept, whether to schoolchildren or like-minded peers, is very powerful. This enthused me to apply for the BACR 60th Anniversary Meeting in Nottingham, having experienced two years of buffering slideshows and spontaneous microphone interruptions with which any Zoom user will be intimately familiar. The opportunity to return to a meeting of minds with world leaders in my field greatly excited me.
My research career has taken me all over the country, from an undergraduate degree at Warwick and a Masters at Hull before I spent three years working as a research assistant at the CRUK Manchester Institute. The time spent there applying my skills and knowledge to cutting-edge research cemented my decision to do a PhD at Newcastle University, where I currently undertake CRUK-funded research into advanced prostate cancer in the lab of Luke Gaughan. As a Londoner, I am working my way north over the years, though I am rapidly running out of space now I am in the North East! My career so far has thus given me a great appreciation for the outstanding research done throughout the UK.
Throughout my PhD so far, I have been fortunate enough to work on an inspiring project, applying novel CRISPR technologies to answer important questions about alternative splicing and how it contributes to therapy resistance. This has all been made possible by excellent supervision and a great team whose support and friendship have been of immense value to me. However, the pandemic has hampered my opportunity to collaborate and share my work with scientists from around the world, and this was an experience I was not going to pass up. The BACR 60th Anniversary Meeting had an excellent programme, with a broad range of speakers scheduled to present some truly incredible science. So my decision to apply with the hope of presenting during the poster session was a no-brainer. To discover my abstract had been selected for an oral presentation was a complete surprise and a source of great pride. I and two good friends from the lab, Beth Adamson & Emma Lishman-Walker, battled train strikes to make it to Nottingham and the Premier Inn sanctuary.
The conference began with an outstanding keynote lecture from Charles Swanton; seeing revolutionary research in a completely different area than my own was an inspiring opening to proceedings. Excellent talks from a wide range of speakers continued, and equally inspiring were the poster sessions in which researchers at a similar stage of their career to myself shared their work. This was a vital chance to network and share the ups and downs of life doing a PhD. The final day of the conference was met with a mix of nerves and excitement as it was time for my presentation. To present my PhD project to an outstanding array of scientists was a career opportunity I will always value. The audience was welcoming and receptive, whilst the constructive questions and suggestions I received demonstrated that people had really thought about my work and the directions it could go in next. In addition, the post-talk coffee breaks enabled me to receive inputs from numerous people in the kind of organic, spontaneous discussion you will never find through a computer screen.
The programme was closed with an excellent talk and lesson in persistence by the second keynote speaker, Kevan Shokat, who highlighted that the answers to a biological problem are not always obvious but need patience and dedication. My experience at the conference was overwhelmingly positive, and I would implore anyone considering presenting their work at a meeting such as this to start applying today. My attendance was also only feasible due to the generous funding of a travel grant by the BACR, who I am greatly thankful for enabling this opportunity.
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