Keira Francis – Scholarship Student

Why did you choose this field?

“As a naturally inquisitive person I wanted to pursue a subject which could provide me with the answers capable of satisfying my curiosity for the wonders present in the world around me. What better way to nourish such a desire than to choose a course containing biology: the study of life. What I love about biology is that it is so broad, diverse and flexible allowing you to explore multiple disciplines (e.g., cell biology, genetics, botany and ecology) which is limited to neither laboratory nor field. Keele University offers a course which is a combination of biology and chemistry providing me with an in-depth understanding of the underlying principles of various biological processes.”

Why did you apply for the scholarship?

“I applied to the scholarship scheme because it’s a great opportunity to further expand my knowledge and understanding of biological aspects and apply it to my work.”

Are you looking forward to going to university, and why?

“I’m excited to go to university because it’s a whole new chapter in my life and the start of an extraordinary adventure. It gives me the chance to truly discover who I am, build up my self-confidence, independence and grow as a person.”

What opportunities/experiences are you most looking forward to?

“I’m ready to embrace a change in lifestyle, meet new people and explore the university campus and town. I also look forward to the possibility of carrying out a substantial piece of research whilst on a placement in a commercial/research institute during my second and final year.”

What are you hoping to bring back to the Island?

“I hope to come back to the Island with a qualification that will aid my progression and bring back some new scientific skills and techniques as well as knowledge and ideas that I can apply to the workplace for improved testing and food & water safety assurance.”

How will university help you develop your career path?

“There is a mix of compulsory and optional modules in year 2 and 3 of my course. Having the choice of choosing modules that best suits me, allows me to define my own unique path of study (hence career) and whether I specialise in biology or biochemistry. Some modules of the course are already complementary to what I am currently doing (in the laboratory) such as ‘Core Practical Skills’ and ‘Research and Analytical Skills’ which covers techniques that are used to collect, analyse and present scientific information, the setting up and safe use of laboratory/field equipment as well as compliance to good laboratory practices and international standards. Through these modules there is an opportunity for me to further enhance my skills in the use of statistical tests to analyse scientific data as well as the evaluation, suitability and validity of analytical methods, which I can then implement into a laboratory environment. I have the choice of choosing modules such as ‘Health & the Environment’ which looks at how an immediate environment may affect a person’s health (such as the respiratory system and the effects of pollution, stressors implicated in the causation of mental health problems and role of physical activity and exercise for health) as well as ‘Cancer Biology’ which looks into the therapeutic targeting of relevant cellular hallmarks and the latest developments in cancer research. Furthermore a module on ‘Microbes, Viruses and Parasites’ is also offered and gives an introduction to a range of pathogenic organisms, the diseases they cause and the strategies used to control them, and looks at ethics and sustainability issues in terms of global health.”

What skills are you hoping to develop?

“From undertaking this course, I aim to develop my communication and interpersonal skills through presentations, dissertations and reports. Furthermore, expand my technical, analytical, investigative and creative problem-solving skills through laboratory practical and research assignments, as well as the ability to use specialised software and databases to compile, analyse, compare and interpret data from experiments.”

How important is learning to you and how will your learning impact the future of St Helena?

“I feel that learning is important as it helps develop yourself as a person, grow and improve in your profession and unveil new opportunities.

My learning will have an impact on the Island, in terms of public health as I can apply what I have learnt, such as PCR, practical, analytical and innovative techniques for better and modernised approaches to the laboratory and other related workplace scientific practices.”

24 August 2021

St Helena Government Communications Hub

Telephone: 22470