Currently listening to: Mile End - Pulp
One of the things playing heavily on my mind at the moment, and removing all daydreams of medical school is the third year project, what every SBCS student must complete in their final year. This can take three forms:
A research project (worth 30 credits, i.e. two modules)
Project Skills in the life sciences (worth 30 credits, i.e. two modules)
An investigative project (worth 15 credits, i.e. one module)
To be eligible for the first two, you must have an average first year mark of above 55% (which thankfully I have). I'm definitely not doing the "investigative project", because it's worth only one module and I'd like as few exams as possible. I'm pretty good at coursework, not so good with exams.
So that leaves the "research project" or the "project skills"...which is really Sophie's Choice...the research project will require copious amounts of hands-on lab work, followed by a 10,000 word dissertation and presentation to a lecture theatre full of SBCS academics and students. Fun fun. On the other hand the "project skills" will involve less lab work and only a 4000 word dissertation, but instead has such riveting tasks as "learn[ing] about how science papers are published. You will referee a real (but anonymous) paper submitted to a journal"...the type of thing that I grumpily refer to as "scientific busywork" and which I hoped to god I'd never have to do. What a choice, eh?
The form is due in on the 12th and so far I'm leaning heavily towards the research project. I might despise lab work, but if the alternative is spending weeks reading and critiquing scientific papers (aka the dullest things ever written), the lab sounds positively fun.
Now the tricky part, which research project would I be interested in? Given that I have no great love for my degree, I'm very picky about what aspects I'd enjoy. I generally find I only do well in things I'm interested in, so it's important that I get do something I like. There are about 80 possible projects to choose from, however, I hate anything to do with cell biology, molecular biology, genetics, bioinformatics or immunology, so that's quite a lot of possible projects out of the way.
My first choice would have been something to do with pharmacology, though SBCS helpfully don't offer that. There is a tiny chance I might be able to do it at another university (UCL, please?), but that is a very remote possibility, so lets look at the more realistic alternatives:
Dr Holness: Insulin resistance
Dr Le Comber: Human skeletal morphology and disease
Professor Bignell: Food microbiology.
Dr R Cutler: Infectious Disease and Pathology
Dr Puddefoot: Novel mechanisms of action of antioestrogens
Even within these "realistic alternatives", I know the only ones I'm going to be properly interested in are Dr Holness' or Dr Le Comber's. Le Comber's one looks especially interesting, the description states "One or more projects may be available in collaboration with the Museum of London, looking at the pathology of different archaeological specimens", which would actually be quite good...London is filled with old burial sites, there's no doubt that many of the skeletons dug up will have evidence of ancient diseases, e.g. the plague, smallpox, etc...how cool would that be?
Dr Holness' project also looks good, I sent off my CV for it weeks ago. He's based in Whitechapel at Barts and the London SMD and he's a really good lecturer. His course (Nutrition and Metabolism) is quite intense and heavy going at times with all the biochemical theory, but all in all very interesting. I could see myself enjoying that as well. Diabetes might not be my favourite disease, but it sure beats peering down a microscope and fiddling with bacteria for eight weeks.
Sadly I know that "interesting" stuff tends to be very oversubscribed. I'm not a mega swot and my first year marks are "above average" at best, but certainly nothing outstanding, which makes me feel a bit fatalistic and overwhelmed when this type of thing comes up, (i.e. competition with several hundred other students). So fingers crossed that everyone else suddenly develops a fetish for cell biology and bioinformatics, leaving the interesting projects for me!