The following post was contributed by Joel Ambasna and Harriet Vann.
Through the Nuffield Foundation, we took part in a four-week summer research placement in the Chemical Engineering Department and the Water Innovation and Research Centre (WIRC) at the University of Bath. We joined the group of Dr Ana Lanham and were tasked with investigating the microbial populations of different wastewater treatment systems. Harriet looked into activated sludge systems and Joel into biological phosphorus removal systems. Both of these systems use microbial populations to do the work of “cleaning” the wastewater and we wanted to see what these microbial populations looked like and how different they were from one another. Minh (Nguyen, ChemEng/WIRC) and Megan (Stalker, CSCT), two of Ana’s students, threw us in at the deep end with some bulky books to read of which we initially understood nothing, but with their help we began to grasp the main ideas.
Claverton Rooms treated us to vegetarian chili, chips and rice, which was just as hearty as it sounds! The friendly man at Costa helped us to get through the latter part of the day with some piping hot tea! This was much more important than it sounds, because we’re not used to working 9-5 and barely getting by, so the tea really did help.
We had a glimpse at the lives of post-grad students, and they’re people just like us, so we could see ourselves in their shoes someday. This helpful insight has reassured us that university is the next step for us. We are actually planning our next steps into studying Chemistry after we finish our A-levels.
We would like to thank Ana, Minh and Megan for helping us with this project. It has been a valuable experience in more ways than one.