In love with lab work

In love with lab work


Eight scientists, many of which are students, have been at the frontline of Covid-19 testing. Dr. Zoé Vincent-Mistiaen’s team (which only began as a small team including herself and Edward Cruz Cerveca) have kept up an extraordinary pace of work ensuring a ensure a high frequency output of 450 swabs per day – over 1% of the population.

“We prioritise frontline workers health worker, people who are more likely to get Covid. If we pick up a positive, the rest of the operations for the contact tracing team will contact that person and any close contacts that they’ve had to quell any spread of the virus”, said Zoé. “The idea is to try to quickly catch any positives and the main feature of the lab is that we do same-day testing. Mostly it’s within a couple of hours we get the results. Before this lab we used to send the screening to samples in Spain and then to be tested there. Obviously, we had to wait 3-4 days for the results and by that point that person has already infected everyone. So, our main strength is really how quick we can get our results back”.

It was early this year that students Alice Garret, Matthew Yome, Anabella De La Chica, and Rebecca Dumas joined the team at the laboratory. What was supposed to be a month or two of a summer placement extended well into the long-term. Some students, like Matthew Yome, will do their placement year at the laboratory.

“I’ve been really, really impressed”, remarked Zoé. At the beginning of their placements, she and Edward were hesitant to let the undergraduate students work “crazy hours”, feeling a 10am to 5pm shift was sufficient.

However, they soon proved themselves as competent and efficient and by the second week Matthew worked 43 hours.

Matthew is a student at the University of Bath, just finishing his second year. “I came back at the end of April and I got called in being asked if I would like to work in the lab. At first I didn’t know what to expect but knew in the long run it would a great experience. So I came in not really knowing what to expect but it has been demanding but I know the work that I do has a profound impact for the community as a whole. I know the work I’m doing here is definitely worth while in the long run”.

Matthew decided to stay put after seeing the workload increase, “and being part of something so frontline is very exciting really”.