Placements, Preparing for your future, Work Experience

Martina: Inspiring young scientists with work experience

Martina Bonassera writes about her summer placement

Martina Bonassera writes about her summer placement, which has provided her with vital work experience, a salary and a head start on building up her portfolio, all while working remotely overseas during the coronavirus pandemic.

“I believe it is true when they say: “It is in the darkness that one finds the light.”

My name is Martina Bonassera and I am a 20-year-old Biochemistry student at Cardiff University. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic struck me with doubts and fears of what was going to happen next. Like me, many other students may have felt this way: with not enough direction and concerned of what the future had in store for us.

It was during these dire times that FRAME U.K (Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical Experiments) granted me the opportunity to produce my very first report that will be published in the journal ATLA (Alternatives to Laboratory Animals). My work has been funded with a 10-week salary (£250 per week) and I have received real-time supervision via remote working with Dr BéruBé, an expert in Animal Replacement Strategies (3Rs) and head of “The Lung and Particles Research Group” at Cardiff University.

My project intends to critically analyse NTS (Non-Technical Summaries), written for lay-persons that researchers must use to support their experiments on animals. In particular, I was interested in researching NTS related to “lung and respiratory diseases” since this topic has recently gained more relevance with the advent of COVID-19 and climate change. In particular, this study intends to determine whether the use of animal research models was justified by the lack of alternative approaches and if not, to discern factors that may have influenced such choice.

Before undertaking this project, I used to think that the 3Rs just aimed to avoid unnecessary suffering to laboratory animals. I have now learnt that it is also about good scientific practice. In fact, over-relying on the use of animals to predict drug behaviour in humans can lead to significant experimental inaccuracies as well as wastage of time and money.

I think that many other Cardiff University BIOSCI undergraduates would benefit from experiences like the one that FRAME and Dr BéruBé offered me. Therefore, I encourage them to get involved and strive for such opportunities that I guarantee will assist them in shaping their future career as research scientists.”

Interested in a summer placement?

For more information about paid summer placement opportunities with academics at Cardiff, contact or search work experience on the intranet.

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