I was awarded a Student as Producers Grant by the Centre for Learning and Teaching to present my poster on ‘Associations between methylation age and brain age in late adolescents’ at the World Congress of Psychiatric Genetics 2022 held in Florence, Italy. I thoroughly enjoyed being able to discuss the project’s findings with experts in psychiatric genetics, both with individuals with and without direct experience of working in biological ageing. Both perspectives provided very important insights through questions asked at the poster session, focussing on both methodology and concepts of ageing.
The conference was held at the Firenze Fierra Congress Centre at the Fortezza da Basso, a medieval fort in the centre of Florence. The location was particularly inspiring, as the renaissance architecture of Florence provided a continuous reminder of the beauty of complexity.
I travelled to the conference and presented the findings along with my supervisor, Dr Esther Walton, and PhD students at the lab, including Vilte Baltramonaityte and Constantinos Constantinides, who I have been working as a research assistant since my first year at the University of Bath.
The theme of this year’s conference was ‘vanishing boundaries in psychiatry’. I was able to learn new methods to address current limitations of psychiatric genetics, including methods which are able work across ancestries and provide a deeper understanding of the genetic underpinnings of psychiatric disorders for larger populations and able to provide more insights into the complexity of genetics role in psychiatric disorders.
Throughout the conference, I really enjoyed being able to choose to attend talks and symposiums on themes that I was interested and working in, as this enabled me to stretch my thinking and to challenge myself to plan how I can incorporate the most advanced methods into future projects. As an undergraduate, I really appreciated this as I was able to learn about new skills that I could start learning from these topics that I could then incorporate into new projects.
I thoroughly enjoyed the conference, and I felt incredibly fortunate to be able to listen to the future directions of psychiatric genetics and to apply these to my own projects as an undergraduate student. This opportunity has been extremely beneficial for me in planning my postgraduate study plans going forward. Furthermore, the conference was an incredible experience to end my placement year on, and now I am feeling even more excited to start final year, so that I can apply the methods and thinking paradigms learned in the conference to topics covered in my modules.
I also was really pleased to meet colleagues from international institutions that I have worked with on projects but not previously met in person, including from the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry & the Department of Epidemiology at Erasmus Medical Centre, Rotterdam in the Netherlands.
I am very grateful to my supervisor Dr Esther Walton for providing me with the opportunity to investigate the project to present, to the PhD students in the lab that I have been able to learn from throughout the process, and to the Centre for Learning and Teaching for providing a travel grant in order for me to attend and present my poster at the international conference.
Faye Sanders, 21, 4th Year BSc (Hons) Psychology
The Centre for Learning and Teaching has lots of funding opportunities including student grants. Find out more about Students as producers enabling undergraduate and postgraduate students to present and publish research outputs they have either created individually or have been generated by collaborating with academic or professional services staff.