Category: Research

Volunteering to support COVID-19 testing at Milton Keynes’ Lighthouse Lab

Dr Stephanie Ascough at work in the lab
Dr Stephanie Ascough at work in the lab

Dr Stephanie Ascough shares her experience of volunteering at the UK Biocentre in Milton Keynes, one of three Lighthouse Labs supporting large scale analysis of COVID-19 swabs from across the whole of the UK. 

In mid-March, along with many of my colleagues at Imperial, I transitioned to working remotely, and our group sadly suspended all clinical research at the Hammersmith and St Mary’s Campuses. After the first few days of writing manuscripts in the garden though, I think many of us were surprised to realise how much we missed the lab, and I was no exception. On top of this was the feeling that, as an immunologist working with respiratory viruses, I had a skill set that would be valuable in the middle of a global pandemic. So, as soon as the call went out for volunteers to help with COVID-19 testing, I signed up. Within a week I heard back from the NIHR UK Biocentre in Milton Keynes. Shortly after this, in mid-April I found myself driving up an almost deserted M1, past signs reminding us to ‘Stay home, Save lives’ and restrict ourselves to ‘Essential travel only’. (more…)

Embracing a new work-life balance during lockdown

Dr Carol Sheppard and her family
Dr Carol Sheppard and her family

Dr Carol Sheppard explains how lockdown has reinvigorated her research by providing a much-needed opportunity for planning and reflection.

In 2015 my husband and I were some of the first people in the country to take shared parental leave, an arrangement we both highly advocate. I had a baby (girl), published a first author paper and learnt to drive, all in the space of a year. It was a challenging year with a steep learning curve but I was immensely proud of all of my achievements. No-one patted me on the back more than myself! (more…)