Bedford School present groundbreaking research at the Royal Society

Six Bedford School students presented their ground-breaking research at the UK's Royal Society’s Annual Student Conference. The event, held in London on Wednesday, March 6, brought together leading scientists and students from across the country.
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The innovative project partnered Bedford School with Rothamsted Research and the European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) to carry out the first ever research using DNA barcoding to discover relationships between different species of snowdrops. The project aims to uncover how different snowdrop species have evolved from a common ancestor by studying DNA sequence similarities and differences.

The research project was made possible thanks to funding from the Royal Society Partnership Grants Scheme, which brings together university and industry researchers and local schools to carry out exciting, innovative science.

The Bedford School students are enjoying this unique opportunity to conduct groundbreaking research as part of a larger, sustained collaborative project offering hands-on experience of horticulture, molecular genetics and bioinformatics, working alongside established scientists and learning from their vast experience.

Team of Bedford School boys who presented at the Royal SocietyTeam of Bedford School boys who presented at the Royal Society
Team of Bedford School boys who presented at the Royal Society

Bedford School pupil Emir Kenrick explained, “I am enjoying the opportunities we are getting in this project because many of the skills we are learning and the work we are doing is at a postgraduate level and would usually be done after getting a university degree. We have been learning important skills such as micro pipetting and we have been learning the entire process of how to extract and sequence DNA.”

The research took the boys to Anglesey Abbey to work alongside experts to identify and gather different types of snowdrop species, to the state-of-the-art science laboratories at the Wellcome Sanger Institute where they worked with bioinformaticians from the internationally renowned European Bioinformatics Institute to find similarities in the DNA sequences, and to Rothamstead Research where they carried out the DNA sequencing.

Mrs Jean Mainstone, Teacher of Biology at Bedford School said, “This project has enabled students to develop practical skills they would not normally use until they undertook a degree, and to participate in science that has not been undertaken before. They have developed their investigative skills but also their communication skills and to see them present at the Royal Society with such enthusiasm and knowledge was extremely rewarding.”

The Royal Society student conference celebrates the work of students from across the UK who have undertaken investigative STEM project work via the Royal Society’s Partnership Grants scheme. The scheme funds schools to carry out a research project in collaboration with a STEM partner from industry or academia.

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