Last week saw the Science department celebrate British Science Week. We have summarised below how we celebrated the week and the winners of the week’s student prize draw.
Prize draw: Congratulations to Abbie, Ebony and Taylor for winning the Scientist of the Week prize draw. They will all receive a gift voucher in due course.
Lewis Arthurton (ex-student), has described how his study of science at Northgate has led to his PhD now at Oxford University:
Biology has always fascinated me, and I am constantly amazed by how parts of the body function. I was lucky to have this interest developed at Northgate High School. I remember dissecting pig’s hearts and lungs in my biology lessons and being fascinated that this seemingly unremarkable and disgusting looking piece of tissue, can be play host to such remarkable and complicated processes. It was at Northgate that I started thinking not just about how these organs let us live, but how and why they stop working, particularly when they develop disease. I remember studying the detrimental impact of smoking on your lungs and your health as we watched “cotton bud lungs” accumulate tar and go from a bright white to a disgusting orange colour. It is an experiment that I will never forget, and it was moments like these that led me to where I am today.
Following my GCSEs and A-levels I was accepted into the University of Liverpool to study physiology (how the body works). I was able to do more experiments and learn about every part of the body from the eyes, to what causes diabetes. After graduating from my degree in the midst of the Ebola epidemic, my curiosity about disease encouraged me to apply to go work in Sierra Leone for five weeks where I tested patient samples at the Makeni Ebola Treatment centre for Ebola and other diseases such as malaria.
My experience there and in Liverpool meant I could apply to continue working in biology at the University of Oxford. I was offered a place to study for a PhD as part of Dr. Alberto Baena-Lopez’s lab, where I remain to this day. My lab studies some of the processes in the body that when become faulty, could lead someone developing cancer. Every cell in your body has a purpose, and when it is no longer needed, enzymes give instructions to the cell that it should commit suicide. Cancer develops when these instructions go wrong, and the cells continue to grow without dying. I study a group of enzymes called the Caspases, which are best known for killing the cells when they are told to (e.g. when they are faulty, or during pregnancy to develop body parts such as the fingers). New research has shown that the caspase enzymes can also give instructions to cells that do not cause the cell to die. Every day I study these enzymes in fruit flies so we can better understand all of their roles. With the hope that one day, a medical researcher might be able to use my research to develop drugs which help the body regulate the caspase enzymes when they aren’t working properly.
I still have one year left of research before I present my research and graduate from my PhD, and I am still deciding what I want to do afterwards.
Alex Jones (ex-student), has written the below summary of his time at Northgate and how this shaped his decision to study Chemistry at degree level:
I studied at Northgate High School from 2009-2014 and DSFC from 2014-2016.
Studying science at Northgate and DSFC was the most I have ever engaged with any subject, during GCSEs the commitment from all of my teachers was invaluable to me and without them I have no doubt that I would have lost interest in science and my path would have been very different. I have always found that a passionate, engaging teacher is vital for me to enjoy a subject, so the excellent standard of Northgate teachers went a very long way and I now find myself exactly where I want to be.
Dereham 6th Form provided a perfect platform for me to grow and when I decided that I wanted to study a Chemistry degree my teachers pushed me to achieve more than I thought I was capable of. Extra revision sessions and after school meetings were just some of the ways that they helped me.
Chemistry was the fourth and final A level subject I chose, so it’s fair to say that I never imagined it being my degree choice, but as I studied it in more and more depth at DSFC, I became passionate about the subject and my teachers gave me the encouragement and the means to keep learning.
I was far from a model student at school but thanks to the hard work of teachers at Northgate pushing me in the right direction, I am currently finishing the second year of a four-year chemistry masters degree at Lancaster University. This summer I will be travelling to the University of Kentucky for a year studying abroad before returning to Lancaster for my fourth and final year. I have found that the more I study chemistry the more I enjoy it, so after the completion of my masters I plan to either: apply to study for a PhD, or train as a teacher.