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Summer Workshop

The Manefield group runs a one week workshop in the first week of December for undergraduate students to get some genuine academic research laboratory experience. A common gripe amongst undergraduates is the lack of exposure to scientific research and scientists during undergraduate courses. In the Summer Workshop, under the guidance of postdoctoral staff, undergraduates in small groups (3 or 4) learn how to establish aerobic and anaerobic enrichment cultures, monitor biodegradation processes using gas chromatography and conduct basic molecular microbial community analyses. The experiments are related to our research so you get a good feel for what we do, why we do it and how challenging it can be. In 2017, the workshop will be free!

If you would like to participate in the workshop in 2017, please email enquiries to Mike Manefield (manefield@unsw.edu.au). Space is limited so get in early.

Feedback from past participants.

'Once again I want to say Thank you! for the amazing experience you've offered us this week. It was much  better than what I first imagined it would be. Besides getting a real feel of what it's like to work in a real (compact) lab a whole week (versus a large, very spacious and empty undergraduate lab, for just ~3h/week), I also honestly improved on some techniques I've performed in my normal course labs (e.g. plate streaking (which I was apparently over-complicating), loading samples onto gels, degassing anaerobic media). I've also learnt some procedures that were completely new to me, such as Gas Chromatography (no doubt this will come in handy for some of my future chemistry courses) and Denaturing Gradient Gel Electrophoresis. Some of the advanced instruments you've shown us were really fascinating. Another great feature was to witness firsthand absolutely all the steps of the protocols, including steps that (in normal undergraduate course labs) are performed by lab technicians. This workshop is a great concept and I would like to see more schools and research groups take up this idea.'

Silviu Dobrota, 2016.

'The microbial workshop coordinated and run by Mike Manefield's team is a wonderful example of how research opportunities and first hand experience enhance student education. I concur that the earlier students can become involved in research experiences during their degree, the more they will thrive in any honours or post graduate research they may undertake. My only complaint is that there are not more of these workshops available for other fields.'

Aria Ahmed-Cox, 2014.

'The workshop was a great way to experience lab life nicely bundled into a week’s worth of experiments. The small group sizes meant we were all able to be actively involved in most protocols and the fact that the samples were actually being used for research, rather than just a setup, was a much appreciated contrast to course practicals. Working in the PC2 lab was also a highlight, for the novelty value. There’s something about donning a lab gown and gloves that imparts a sense of importance. I enjoyed the week which ran well thanks to your friendly team.'

Jessica Horton, 2014

'I enjoyed learning the overall process of analysing samples from preparation, DNA extraction,  PCR and DGGE, which is really helpful. I liked the daily meetings with Mike every morning during which we reviewed what we have done and solved some problems.'

Wenxi Yu, 2014.

'I really loved the one week workshop. As a final year student, I could still find myself learning new things that I was not able to experience throughout my undergraduate. For example, I didn't expect a thorough explanation of Gas Chromatography by Matt Lee - expert in that field. We managed to organise ourselves to each of us to have a go in every process. A great insight of what it feels like to be an environmental microbiologist. It was refreshing. Thank you for hosting such workshop and giving everyone an equal go for those that failed at the SVRS stage.'

Derrick Lau, 2014.

'Overall the workshop was a fantastic way to learn and be exposed to new lab techniques and what laboratory work is like.'

Lawrence Menz, 2014.

'The most beneficial aspect of this workshop was the exposure to senior scientists in a laboratory setting. Through observation and hands-on approaches we were instructed in many techniques which had remained outside the scope of our undergraduate practical classes - using a gas chromatograph, preparation of gels for denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis, anoxic culturing techniques, headspace analysis and fluorescence microscopy. Additionally, techniques which were familiar to most students, such as PCR, were applied to samples relevant to our demonstrator's research. It was a very valuable experience, allowing a glimpse into several research laboratories and the projects underway within them. This workshop also prompted us to engage with research autonomously through the relevant literature. I am grateful for the experience and would strongly encourage others to take advantage of the opportunity.'

Matt Williams, 2014.