Work experience in the NVRL

4th year student Siofra Egan recently completed a work experience placement in the National Virus Reference Lab (NVRL). Here, she tells us a bit about her experience.

I’m Siofra Egan a student of 4th year in The Institute of Education and I recently completed a work experience placement in the NVRL on the UCD campus.

The days were long and hectic but very enjoyable and I learnt a lot, particularly about lab safety, identifying and classifying virus and virology in general.

On Monday we were given notes and a swipe card to access all the labs in the building. We were then given a tour of the labs and shown a specimen reception, where samples of virus are first taken when they arrive to the lab and are labeled and initial testing is done.

We were then shown virus isolation and micrology labs. Later we were given a presentation on virus and DNA, which really opened my eyes to the different fields of biology.

The following day we saw tissue culture in action and this was a stand out experience for me personally. We also got to look at slides under the electron microscope, which was fascinating.

Throughout the week we learned about different viruses that affect humans including CMV, HIV and hepatitis.

We also got the opportunity to job shadow people working in the various labs and take part in the testing of samples.

On Thursday we got the chance to extract DNA from different samples.

On the final day of the course we presented a project that we had prepared during the week on a virus of our choice to the group. I did my project on the CMV virus and I found researching it really engaging and interesting.

Overall I found the experience at the NVRL very eye opening and would recommend it to everyone. It broadened my knowledge of virology and human virus vastly, and learning all these things whilst in a top class facility was an invaluable experience.