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A group of researchers and students led by Dr Tim Viney visited Didcot Girls School to run a ‘hands on’ event about the brain at the school’s Science Club.

Members of the Viney group talk about the structure of the brain with A-level students at Didcot Girls School

Around 30 Year 9-10 students, along with some A level students and teachers, learned about the research activities of the Department, including Alzheimer’s Society-funded research from the group of Dr Viney on the origins of memory and memory loss. The presentation was followed by a quiz, dispelling several myths about the brain.

Next, to find out about the specializations of different brain regions, the students handled mouse brains and processed several brain sections using histological techniques. Then they examined the slides they prepared under the microscope. The team also brought along a high-power microscope so that students could observe details of individually-labelled brain cells, such as axons and dendritic spines. The students also had the opportunity to hear about the diverse career paths of the team.

Dr Justine Lai MRSC, Assistant STEM Coordinator and Sixth-Form Science Technician, said that the event was very well received, and that having dedicated students from the Department showing small groups what to do made the experience unforgettable.

She also commented “we thought that your introductions were great, as it showed our students that every path is different, and we can change our minds about career decisions made at this age, and also the possibilities on an international front”.

Dr Viney thanks Shan Jiang, Sara Hijazi, Emily Hunter, Barbara Sarkany, and the four MSc Pharmacology students (Yueming Ren, Rebecca Braine, Jiah Lee, Bruno Paso Castello) for their excellent contributions and enthusiasm.

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