A University of Worcester student has secured a prestigious summer internship at one of the most reputable research institutes in the country.
Kristijonas Raibuzis, who studies Biology, will be working with the Francis Crick Institute, in London, as part of a team researching how coronaviruses package their genome. He was one of only 20 people accepted onto the placement programme.
“It was really exciting when I found out and then I called all of my family members and friends,” said the 21-year-old. “I felt amazing because I feel it was quite an achievement. They’re a flagship of research in the UK, one of the leading institutes in the country, if not in Europe, so it’s a prestigious place to be. Not all the institutes do these placements either.”
Kristijonas, an international student from Lithuania who has just finished the second year of his studies, will be working with post-doctoral researchers on a specific project related to coronaviruses. A virus is a small particle which has a genome, but if it’s not packaged correctly, it will not be able to infect and spread. The researchers want to understand more about this process and how viruses can infect new hosts so effectively. This knowledge could help to further improve vaccines or antiviral treatments.
Kristijonas hopes the experience will help him develop as a scientist, using different laboratory techniques, but also allow him to see if a researcher role is what he wants to pursue as a career. He also believes it is a valuable opportunity to make connections in the world of science. “It’s connections, it’s getting skills and seeing how it is,” he said. “They offered a wide variety of opportunities for learning. It’s going to be training for a few weeks and then it’s going be working independently with their supervision. I can learn what techniques I want, so I will be able to find a better job and improve my dissertation.”
The placement starts at the end of the month and will last nine weeks and Kristijonas is now busy doing some background reading to prepare.
Kristijonas applied after his tutor suggested the opportunity. He went through an intensive selection process to win his place, with only 60 selected for an interview out of around 360, and only 20 people accepted. Kristijonas said his lecturers had been helpful, doing mock interviews and giving him feedback. “The attention and help provided from tutors made me realise that I made the correct choice by coming to this university,” he said.
Kristijonas had always wanted to study abroad and first heard about the University of Worcester at a study fair several years before. When he decided to study in the UK, he decided Worcester was right after attending some online Open Day sessions. When looking into the University and the course, he said he was impressed by what was offered. By coincidence, his family had been using a Worcester-themed version of the board game Monopoly for the last 15 years, which his father picked up on a visit to the UK. “We played that quite often,” said Kristijonas. “It was only when I came here that I realised we had the Worcester Monopoly version!”