They grow up so fast, especially during lockdown – undergraduate project students

Another Uni year is coming to a close and before it all ends I want to give a shout out to the Lauren Atherton, Molly Mitchell and Keith Purcell who conducted research projects in our group. Usually at this time, I grab an obligatory pic of the students in action presenting posters or talks but alas the projects ended with none of the usual fanfare. But that doesn’t mean they weren’t appreciated!

The team this year worked on different aspects of our head and neck cancer project. The each took a different cohort of oral or oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma and processed literally hundreds of patient specimens with anti-LaNt a31 antibodies and then correlated staining intensity and distribution against patient outcome. Its a huge body of work and really valuable. It has allowed us to assess the biomarker potential of this new protein and have identified some surprising findings. Some of the new data has already gone into a grant application and the rest will end up in publication in the future. As I said, we really did appreciate having them join us!!

In situ hybridisation… more to come

However, it doesn’t really tell the whole story. The best thing about training the next generation of scientists is when you have students who really want to learn and engage throughout. With Lauren, Molly and Keith we absolutely had that, and it was a joy to have them around. The end of the time in the lab, unsurprisingly, was cut short with the ‘Rona. This was a real shame as we lost the chance to finish on a high. In the last weeks in particular, Molly had managed to get past some tough optimisation of a new technique and was just generating super-cool new data involving in situ hybridisation.

However, c’est la vie, and we will have a fun place for the next students to start from.

As always, a shout out to Lee for all his efforts in supervising all aspects of these projects.

In their own words


“My time working with Kevin and Lee on my Honour’s project this year has been an invaluable learning curve. Although it was challenging, as any 3rd year project should be, Kevin was an amazing support system throughout the year and I have completed the project feeling proud of myself! I wish Kevin, Lee and the research team the best of luck on everything they will work on in the future, and I am excited to learn more about the LaNt proteins, I will definitely be keeping up to date with the work! Thank you 😊”


“I really enjoyed working on this. I appreciated being given so much flexibility around the direction the project would take, and being able to follow the results and focus on the most exciting findings. Both you and Lee were great to work with and the whole experience definitely renewed my interest in pursuing further education/career in research.”


“In terms of quotes, there’s a lot to be said really. I enjoyed this module quite a lot as it gave me the space to work on things in my free time. I much prefer this kind of module to exams now!”

Congrats to all, and thank you!

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