1. When did you participate in MSSF? In 2000, 2001 and 2002
2. What is your current profession? Resident academic at the University of Malta.
3. What were your topics at MSSF and how did you tackle it/ them?
In 2000: The question was “With the announcement this year by Prime Minister Blair and President Clinton of the sequence of the Human Genome, what do you think will be possible in the field of Genetics in the coming future?”.I discussed the possibility of having personalised medicine, better cancer screens and a bit about the cloning of Dolly and what the ambitions of scientists might be for the near future.
In 2001: the question was “With the announcement this year by an American Biotechnology Company, on their ability to clone human cells what do you think will be possible in the field of Genetics in the coming future?”. I decided to discuss different applications of such technology based on how ethically acceptable they were, since the easier it is to get ethical approval, the faster a technology can get funded and progress.
In 2002: the question was “Explain the science involved in Human Reproductive Cloning and why such a procedure may undermine our sense of self or identity”. I covered the basics of the procedures, the key scientists involved and the opionions of various stakeholders such as infertile couples, bioethics committees, etc.
4. What was it like to participate in MSSF?
The first year was a bit intimidating. I was among the youngest, with no similar experience, the number of participants was quite large and the topics discussed were mostly beyond my average reading interests. I had a lot of catching up to do from the O-level textbooks to cutting-edge science, especially in computing and local environment. I made quite a few new friends from the other 6th Forms and over the sessions the competitive nature of the MSSF started becoming more evident.
5. What changes did you see in yourself from the first session till the end?
During the first year I didn’t see much change. Everything was new and a bit confusing. However, by the end of MSSF (2000-2001) I realised the topics discussed by scientists were very different from what we did in class and over the next two years I got involved in more challenging discussion topics and tried to look way beyond the local science scene.
6. What skills do you feel that you gained through MSSF?
Confidence, data analysis and presentation skills
7. What made you decide to participate again?
My wish to join LIYSF and visit London again.
8. How was your experience in LIYSF? What skills did you gain?
Magical! One of the best student seminars ever. There were students from all over the world, from so many different cultures and such varied science interests. We had the opporunity to visit some of the world-leading research centres in London, Oxford and Cambridge.
9. Has MSSF contributed to your career, and if so in what way?
Definitely! I had the opportunity to visit LIYSF twice, thanks to the MSSF. During LIYSF 2001 I visited the Jodrell Institute at Kew Gargens and then I applied for a summer placement there in 2006, working on orchid genetics. Then during LIYSF 2003 I met Prof. Stephan Beck who at the time was at the Sanger Institute, Hinxton and then I applied for a summer placement there in 2007, working on Type 2 diabetis-related proteins.
10. What would you tell 6th form and 1st year students at tertiary institutions to encourage them to join MSSF?
It’s good practice for the future, especially if you want to work in academia. If you get the chance to visit LIYSF, it will definitely change your outlook on science and most probably get you closer to fulfilling your dream in science.
11. Anything you wish to add.
As a 6th form student preparing for A-levels or a first year university student you will definitely be busy but dedicating an evening a month is a minimal investment of time and effort to get a chance to experience LIYSF and science abroad.