DCAT Vacation Studentship - Thineskrishna Anbarasan

At the end of my 1st year of Medical School I was fortunate to be granted an opportunity to undertake an 8 week attachment in the Ninewells Ultrasound Lab, working on the Sonopill programme.  Being able to be involved in proper research as a student was extremely exciting, having only either read about or heard from other researchers’ experience. I looked forward to the start of my project but there was always an apprehension as to the possible mishandling of equipment and the damage and cost I could incur to the lab.

My initial thoughts on the demographics of the lab on the first day came as a big surprise as majority of the researchers were engineers instead of the life scientists whom I was expecting. There I was, a student who would struggle to even overcome High School calculus, amongst a group of graduate and doctoral engineers working together on a project. However, my inadequacy in engineering concepts was accepted by other researchers and I was taught some of the key concepts at every teaching opportunity.  As I journeyed longer into my project, I realised that modern research is a collaboration of many disciplines and I contributed to the project by bringing in another set of skills, in the form of anatomical and basic clinical knowledge. My pre-conception of research being a solitary individual working away towards a breakthrough was turned on its head and I learnt, to the contrary, that working in a multi-disciplinary team is what modern research is about. I spent most of my time, in fact every day, working together with an MSc Biomedical Engineering student, Mohammed Sunoqrot, with whom I shared many experiences, and his friendship, along with a vast amount of knowledge of ultrasound, are some of the many things I gained from my 8 weeks being part of Sonopill.

My induction into the lab was an extremely smooth process, made possible by my supervisors Professor Sandy Cochran and Dr Ben Cox, whom I could always turn to if I had a question or was unsure about an instrument. Looking back, there were times when I had some really ludicrous ideas which I proposed to Dr Cox but he kept my interest ignited by nudging me into the right direction rather than immediately dismissing my ideas. In addition to my supervisors, there were always senior researchers in the lab such as Dr Holly Lay, Dr Vipin Seetohul, Rada Yanakieva and Fraser Stewart who also helped me along the way, making my attachment both a very immersive and enjoyable experience.