by Hailey Chitrin
The University of Leeds’ School of Food Science and Nutrition annually holds a two-day residential summer school. During the summer of July 2018, as a student from one of the Generating Genius programmes, I was able to attend the residential which consisted of two nights of living in university accommodation and attending university-style lectures, carrying out practical lab work and socialising with different people from across the country.
The aims of the event were to give us an introduction to this multidisciplinary science subject while offering the opportunity to experience life as an undergraduate student at the University of Leeds. Having the chance to experience what it is like to live away from home was very helpful in showing me how independent I will need to become once I am actually at university.
Prior to going to summer school, I had no idea that Food Science, as a subject, existed, however, from the name, I was expecting it to be something obviously linked with food and what it is made of, but to my surprise, I found out that Food Science is so much more…
Over the few days I spent there, I learned that there is so much science involved, including Biology, Chemistry and to my surprise Physics. Other interesting things I learned is just how many jobs and roles in the UK today rely on food science and especially food science graduates – this was evident when we went to a factory where they packaged and sent off tea and coffee to consumers around the world. I realise that, although not essential, having a degree in Food Science allow employees working in the factory or similar roles to have a deeper insight into how the products are made and that can help them when selling their products to larger companies such as supermarkets, who might want to introduce their brand to their stores.
Some of the activities organised for us helped me personally in my studies of A level biology; for example, during the lab session, we looked at the concentration of vitamin C and how having too much or too little can affect the body; additionally, we looked at different fruits and vegetables with health benefits which include helping with blood pressure. The techniques used were very similar to those that we use at school and so really helped to support my revision when I got home from the summer school.
Learning from experts in their field was a fantastic opportunity for me and I’m sure many others to gain an insight into what working in food science would look like and gave me a chance to network with many of them. It also made me more aware of how diverse careers in science are, as there are so many different degrees that I still haven’t heard of that I might be interested in.
Following my experience at the University of Leeds, I would definitely recommend signing up to anyone, whether if you are sure or not of what you want to study at university. This is an excellent opportunity to simply learn about new areas of science, as you never know when it may be useful to you in the future. The summer school is also an incredible chance to spend time at the university and the city of Leeds, as you never know if you might decide you like it there and choose to apply there when the time comes.