BY FANTASTIC INTERNSHIPS WE ARE INSPIRING THE NEXT GENERATION OF SCIENTISTS, CONSERVATIONISTS AND ZOOKEEPERS!
Our unique programme offers students the change to work alongside some of our experts within various teams at the zoo, including our science team and animal sections.
Through supporting future generations to develop their knowledge and inspiring them to want to act for wildlife, not only are we supporting them to develop their studies, we’re working towards our mission of preventing extinction.
Below we catch up with Kieron Marshall, our one-year science intern in Conservation Physiology…
WAS THE INTERNSHIP AT CHESTER ZOO WHAT YOU EXPECTED?
I was expecting to work in industry for a year gaining scientific skills in endocrinology and to carry out a research project. However, I gained so much more. The experience I gained was so valuable and the team were so helpful and great to work with. The guidance I received was amazing and I had more experience and was involved in more than I thought I would be. I was able to be hands on with my project in the lab and was shown how to use equipment and carry out procedures safely and correctly and at times work alongside different teams. The intern workshops also enabled me to gain a better insight into the different aspects of Chester Zoo and the lunchtime talks and lectures from specialists were informative and enjoyable.
WHAT FIVE WORDS BEST DESCRIBE YOUR PROJECT?
I believe the five words I could best use to describe my project would be:
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE THING ABOUT WORKING WITH CHESTER ZOO?
Through working in the endocrinology lab at Chester Zoo, I have been able to work with a whole range of species the from across the zoo from carnivores and ungulates to primates and birds. Working in the lab has been amazing in enabling me to develop scientific skills that have benefited me greatly. But despite being able to work with these incredible species, it is the team of people that make working at Chester Zoo so interesting and diverse. Being able to work alongside the science team and other sections whether it be behavioural science or the animal teams has been so valuable.
My favourite thing would be using the results that we have generated in the lab to visualise data that is able to be used and interpreted to help diagnose and monitor pregnancies, making the work itself very rewarding. Being able to see the benefits this has to conservation and Chester Zoo is amazing.
Advice for future interns/scholars/fellows?
The best advice I could give would be to make the most of every opportunity, there are always opportunities for interns to get involved with different things and there’s so many great members of staff and people to talk to all with different skill sets and expertise all of which can help you. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, in science a lot of things can and will go wrong yet these mistakes are what help to develop your understanding and improve your techniques. Overall, enjoy the work and get involved because your time at the zoo goes so quick.
What has been the biggest success?
I think the biggest success has been that I have been able to be involved in planning a project for the development of an assay for the measurement of immunoglobulin A (IgA) in the faeces of African and Asian herbivores, which will hopefully to go on and enable IgA to be used as a biomarker which will help in the conservation of these amazing mega herbivores. Being able to learn the skills involved in using endocrinology to successfully diagnose and monitor pregnancies in the least invasive ways possible is also something I see as a success.
What skills do you feel you have gained from working with Chester Zoo?
My knowledge of endocrinology has developed vastly. Thanks to the amazing team I have learned the different techniques and processes involved in endocrinology and the use of Enzyme immunoassays (EIA). I have also developed more transferable skills including team collaboration through working with the incredible team of specialists at Chester Zoo. Project planning is a skill I have also developed whilst at Chester Zoo. By planning a project, I believe this will help me greatly in planning for my dissertation when I return to university. I feel I have also gained skills in scientific analysis and interpretation through generating data in the lab and interpreting the results into data that can be plotted onto graphs.
The experience and skills I have gained whilst at Chester Zoo have definitely helped me to influence my career choices as well as improve my competency.
How has your work/research changed under lockdown?
Thanks to Chester Zoo I have been able to continue with work outside of the zoo. I have been able to input endocrinology data which will go on to be used in future research. I have also been able to be involved in other aspects of science such as behaviour where I have been able to input data relating to visual studies as well as completing a range of literature reviews thus expanding my knowledge on behaviour and reproductive physiology across a range of species.