Lancaster PhD student heads to Westminster

31 January 2019 15:32
Rebecca Shepherd
Rebecca Shepherd


A Lancaster PhD student has been selected to present her research at the Houses of Parliament on March 13.

Rebecca Shepherd is doing a PhD at Lancaster Medical School funded by the Anatomical Society.

She has been chosen as part of the STEM for Britain competition which aims to raise the profile of Britain's early-stage researchers at Westminster by engaging Members of both Houses of Parliament with current science, engineering and mathematics research.

Around a hundred MPs and members of the House of Lords are expected to attend the event, where researchers will present their work and be awarded prizes for the best posters.

She said: “I feel this is an amazing opportunity to engage policy makers with my research.”

Rebecca’s project is looking at the anatomical role for fat cells (adipocytes) in the bone marrow matrix and how these may contribute to the formation of bone structures.

“My research looks at whether fat cells found inside bone affect bone formation, focussing on patients with osteoarthritis. Characterising the role of fat cells in bone formation could help improve our understanding of bone diseases, which could in turn open up new treatment opportunities for diseases such as osteoarthritis.”

“The scheme is important for PhD students like myself as it gives us an opportunity to publicise our research outside academia, demonstrating the significance of our research to policy-makers and the wider public. It enables us to develop our skills in science communication and public engagement, ensuring that important science does not remain locked up in a laboratory.

“Many of us get our funding from public funds or charities, and it is important that we should be able to explain to anyone why our research is worth funding.”

Many researchers also gain an awareness of the challenges and excitement in other areas of research, possibly resulting in collaborative projects. They receive a brief introduction to Parliament and can discover also how Parliament deals with science, engineering, medicine, technology and mathematics.

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