My’s blog post

This month My shares with us her latest secondment experience and gives us a very fresh insight of secondments!

The mobility scheme of each ITN requires us ESRs to have secondments in different institutions within the network. Allowing us the chance to acquire new knowledge and to develop professional network. Here, I am happy to share with you my first experience during my secondment at Imperial College London in the lab of Prof. Bernadette Byrne, whose whole lab I want to thank for the great help and support during my secondment.

What is the purpose of this secondment?

Beside the general purpose of secondments as mentioned above, my project specific purpose was to find optimal conditions to crystallize OmpG (Outer membrane protein G), a model membrane protein I am working with, and to increase the previous crystallization volume for the application of a phase diagram setup.

What added value(s) do you think this secondment will bring to your PhD?

I had the chance to get an insight into a lab with experience in membrane protein crystallization and learned about expression, purification and stability assays for α-helical membrane proteins using the mosquito® crystallization robot for commercial crystallization screening approaches, the Rigaku X-ray generator and other crystallization facilities. These were hands-on experience, which you can’t acquire by doing literature research and the value of it is essential for my PhD. Based on this experience I have built up confidence in applying the methods for a new model membrane protein.

What do you miss most from your home institute/city?

After living and working for almost 1.5 years in Maynooth and getting used to everything, I have missed the most my friends, colleagues and the small city life. However, the stay in London was for short term and I can’t complain about the coffee breaks and the weather. I had great company and many sunny days!

How is the city you’re staying in? What would you recommend to anyone visiting?

London is a great city and offers a lot of different things to do. It allows you to be spontaneous, so no need to plan everything in advance but rather enjoy exploring. Renting a bike to cycle around the Hyde Park was great ‘if you are not in a rush to be somewhere on time’. Keeping your own pace in such a fast-pace city life was for me a great way to enjoy London.

Would you prefer to spend more or less time in your secondment as to the research work you are doing/ had to do? 

One month of secondment was just the right amount of time to finish my experiments and to obtain a sufficient amount of results to work further on my project in Maynooth.

If it was possible, would you like to go back? If yes, how long? What for?

I had a great time in the lab of Prof. Bernadette Byrne and was acquiring a good amount of knowledge and hands-on experience, but I am also excited to move on to my upcoming secondments at the University of Surrey and MiTeGen to obtain knowledge from a different perspective. However, I think it is generally good if we have the possibility to come back to a secondment place, since we got an insight into the facilities and could plan the experiments more precise or repeat experiments if it doesn’t work out the first time.

Therefore it would be good if the secondments are flexible and can be adapted to the progress of the project.