Work in science week sees National Geographic zoologist share her story to inspire next wave of future scientists

This year the TV presenter and National Geographic explorer Lucy Cooke met with school students to give an insight into the different directions a career in science can take. The talk to students forms part of the UCB’s annual Work in Science week, which take place each year at the company’s UK R&D headquarters in Slough.

As one of the UK’s leading pharma R&D investors, UCB believes that harnessing scientific innovation and moving to a higher level of R&D intensity is one of the keys to improving the UK’s future prosperity. But this relies on improving the flow of people into the economy who are educated in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). UCB hopes that this flow can be enhanced and industry needs to play its part by holding such events as work in science week.

During work in science week students have spent time in the UCB laboratories sampling the day-to-day experiences and practicalities of a career in scientific research. Working alongside professional researchers, scientists and technicians, the pupils have had the opportunity to conduct experiment, explore the world of drug discovery technology and learn about the high-skill, high-tech careers that are on offer when you have a science degree.

With a special focus this year on opportunities for women in science, UCB’s work in science week aims to encourage young people to pursue further education and, ultimately, choose a career in the field of science, strengthening the UK’s position as a world leader in research and development.

Describing the initiative, Lucy Cooke said: “The Work in Science Week programme is an effective way of showcasing the exciting possibilities that a science degree can bring. Being in the labs the students can build on the theoretical information learned in the classroom with first hand real world experiences. I hope that my participation has proved to the teenagers that we are nurturing a more diverse new generation of scientists.”

Darren Nicholas, head teacher at The Westgate School, said: “This is the third consecutive year when we have collaborated with UCB to provide this fantastic opportunity to our students. They are always amazed by the chance to use the state of the art technology in the labs, as well as learning from the scientists who can offer them first hand guidance of what a job in this field entails.”

To coincide with this year’s Work in Science Week, UCB has published the results of a new survey which found that contrary to the well documented lack of female representatives in science fields, there is general enthusiasm among high schools girls for STEM subjects. In fact, 75% of girls surveyed indicated that they are planning to study a science course at AS/A level, with a similar percentage saying that they might be interested in choosing a science-related career. However, almost a third (27%) of the girls who participated in the survey believe that advice regarding science careers is not easily accessible to them. This concern was confirmed by an even higher percentage of the surveyed boys, with 49% of them noting the lack of practical support to pursue such a career.

Gillian Burgess, UCB’s vice president of Discovery Biology, said: “The enthusiasm for science amongst all school pupils which was captured by the Aspire survey is something that we strive to foster and strengthen through initiatives such as Work in Science Week. It is vital that we build on their initial interest by exposing to the excitement of scientific discovery.” She continued, “The UK already boasts an impressive number of vibrant academic centres that produce highly-qualified scientists, and we believe this environment can be further strengthened through diversity.”

UCB has a tradition of investing in the development of life sciences skills through a variety of education initiatives, including student placements and support of university-industry collaborations. To complement its position as a global science skills leader, the company has an open innovation approach to drug discovery, partnering with leading academic centres, institutions and researchers to bring new medicines to thousands of patients and deliver an impressive early- and late-stage pipeline.

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