Zombie-inspired experiments!

by YPU Admin on January 21, 2019, Comments. Tags: biology medicine and health, biomedical imaging, diabetes, immunology, and science

My name is Jason Chu, and I’m a second year PhD student in Biomedical Imaging. For years, I debated what kind of career I wanted to follow - police, architect, restauranteur. In the end, I finished my Advanced Highers (the Scottish equivalent of A Levels) in 2012, with a curiosity for science. I went on to study Immunology at the University of Glasgow. This decision was heavily influenced by my fascination of TV and film adaptations of zombie outbreaks, and how our body’s defence system would fight against pathogens. As part of my Immunology degree, I did a placement year in 2015 at GlaxoSmithKline where I took part in research to develop novel antibody technology.

In 2017, I started my PhD in Biomedical Imaging at the University of Manchester. Here, I use 3D PET imaging technology to understand how an immune cell called macrophages is involved healthy and diabetic wound healing.

In Depth

Diabetes is a growing problem across the world. With massive modern lifestyle changes in recent decades (diet, technology, work, and healthcare) it is expected to quadruple and affect over 340 million people by 2030. One of the associated complications is an impaired ability to heal wounds. This can lead to chronic wounds, unresolved infections and in worst case scenarios – lower limb amputations.

Poor treatment to this affliction is partly due to a lack of mechanistic understanding. This is where the scientists come in. It is believed that immune cells such as macrophages may not be working normally in those that have diabetes and so prevent wounds from healing as they should.

What do I investigate?

I want to understand how these macrophages behave in healthy wound healing, and compare it with diabetic wound healing. To do so, I am using established techniques and developing novel ways to image these cells. The old-fashioned way is to take small tissue samples of the wound, process it into wax, cut them into extremely thin slices and stain it for macrophages – to see how many there are and where they are.

The novel technique I am developing is to use PET imaging to visualise the macrophages in 3D and in real-time. Positron Emission Tomography (PET) is an imaging technique used to observe biochemical processes inside the body. This requires a radioactive tracer: an organic compound labelled with a radioactive element. The organic compound is a jigsaw piece that fits nicely with your biological target (e.g. macrophages), and the radioactive element is a beacon to make it easier to see. A small and safe amount of this radioactive tracer is injected into the subject and accumulates at biologically relevant sites of the body (e.g. macrophages). When they do so, they release a pair of gamma rays. The PET scanner detects these and reconstructs them into 3D images of where the radioactive tracer is in the body.

This allows us as scientists to gain a better understanding of where and how macrophages behave in the context of wound healing. This new information and the imaging technology we develop is a small and exciting puzzle piece in a bigger picture to help improve people’s lives.

Going Further

Find out more about diabetes and wound healing from these websites -

Part of the reason I got involved in this project is because of my interest in imaging and photography, and here are some examples of this in the biological world -

To find out more about studying immunology in Manchester  -


Intern Journey: Study to Raising Aspirations

by YPU Admin on May 10, 2018, Comments. Tags: Graduate Intern and psychology


Hi, my name is Abbie, and I am from Macclesfield in Cheshire, which is approximately 25 minutes away on the train. On the outskirts of the Peak District, I am comfortably surrounded by lots of hills, forests and greenery, with the wonderful, vibrant city of Manchester just a train ride away! I'm working now as a Graduate Intern in Student Recruitment and Widening Participation at the University of Manchester, this blog is the steps I took to get where I am!

How I got here?

I followed a very traditional route of education. I completed my GCSE’s and then continued onto Sixth Form to complete A-Levels in Biology, Chemistry, Geography and Psychology. During my years at secondary school, I was sure that I wanted to pursue a career in science; I was good at it and did really well in my exams, and I also knew it was a very prestigious career to be in, with the potential to earn a lot of money.  

To improve my chances of getting onto a science degree, I completed an internship at the pharmaceutical company called AstraZeneca, where I worked alongside experts in a variety of different fields. Nevertheless, as I started my A-Levels, I soon realised that my love of science had diminished, and I found the subject a lot harder than many of my peers. I therefore could not imagine studying a subject for three years that I wasn’t passionate about.

Psychology was a new subject that I had never studied before and it soon became the most interesting and exciting subject I had ever studied. I enjoyed discovering new theories about human behaviour and understanding the depths of the human mind; something I had never really thought about before. My passion for Psychology grew constantly throughout my two years at sixth form, and it became very clear that I wanted to pursue this subject at university.

And now here I am a graduate from The University of Manchester with a BSc (Hons) Psychology degree, and my love for this subject continues to grow each day. I currently working as a Student Recruitment and Widening Participation Intern at the University of Manchester and my degree has been invaluable in the work I now do. It taught me so much, and I have been able to apply so much of the knowledge and the skills that I learnt to my current role.  

In depth

My role is extremely varied and involves working with students in Year 7 to 11, to try and encourage them to consider higher education in their future journeys. I am involved in the planning and organisation of many large scale events that bring young people onto our campus. I also deliver many in-school presentations and workshops to select groups of students. I also work with young people who are in care, and are currently living with foster families or in residential homes – it is extremely rewarding to see this cohort’s confidence grow when they take part in our activities!

The key aim of our work is to raise aspirations and show young people that higher education is accessible to anyone, no matter what your background; and this makes my job extremely rewarding – for me, and the young people I work with! I absolutely LOVE my job!


Intern Journey: Reaching out to make a difference

by YPU Admin on April 26, 2018, Comments. Tags: Intern post, Journey to Work, and University Experience


My name’s Anthea and I’m a currently a graduate intern with the Student Recruitment and Widening Participation (SRWP) team. After studying A Levels in Sociology, English Language, French and completing an extended project I went onto study Sociology at the University. I’m from a town local to Manchester and have grown up loving its rich diversity and things to do! Manchester was the obvious choice for me and I absolutely loved my degree and the opportunities it’s provided!

In Depth

When I started my first year I knew I wanted to work with young people but I was unsure about how I could go about this. I had volunteered with various projects whilst at college and wanted to expand my knowledge further. During my second year of University I applied for an 8 week summer internship through the careers service with a local mentoring charity called ReachOut. Throughout my internship I was able to work with new people and create workshops for Year 6 pupils transitioning into secondary school. After an amazing 8 weeks I was offered the opportunity to be a Project Leader working with a group of university mentors and primary school pupils once a week for a two hour workshop that I designed. The aims were to boost literacy and numeracy skills as well as character strengths such as fairness, self-control, good judgement and staying power. This was done through various fun activities such as drama, art and team building exercises. I ran the project whilst balancing the high pressured demands of my final year. Despite its challenges and learning to juggle my studies with my workshops, it was definitely a great learning curve! Although the purpose of the role was to improve the self-esteem of the mentees, I found that being pushed out of my comfort zone to encourage and motivate others had a profound effect on me!

Being a Project Leader drove my interest in the Youth Work sector and gave me more confidence in my abilities to work with young people. I went onto complete a graduate internship with ReachOut and gain a deep insight into how charities operate. I was able to assist the production and delivery of ReachOut Graduation Ceremony and despite its challenges the day was extremely successful! I liaised with corporate sponsors, helped recruit new mentors and assisting the training of new Project Leaders.

My time at ReachOut led me onto a graduate internship with the Student Recruitment and Widening Participation at The University of Manchester. When I applied for the job I definitely did not think I would get to do all of the different and varied jobs that I get to do! My main role is working with the Post 16 team on events which take place on campus. This includes the weekly accommodation tours in Fallowfield, Guided visits and campus tours and the massive open days which take place in June. These events allow me to work with student ambassadors across the University and meet people from around the world. I have been very fortunate that I have got to work with people from various faculties as well as prospective students. University was one of the most important experiences of my life and meeting people who are about to embark on that journey is so exciting. The role within the SRWP team means I have also been able to get involved with other activities happening around the team such as events with the Brilliant Club and Greater Manchester Higher. I’ve also been able to visit different colleges and deliver presentations as well as Higher Education Conventions around the UK to meet people who are interested in studying at Manchester. In the short time I have been here I have become adaptable and more confident in public speaking, having the support of the team has encouraged my own personal development and it has been an opportunity I am very grateful for!

Once my internship has ended I am hoping to gain my Youth Work qualification and work with many more different types of young people. I never thought when I first started studying at the university that I would be so fortunate to gain the experiences I have. Studying a broad subject which I was passionate about and making use of the opportunities offered by the university has increased my desire to continue to work with young people and to challenge myself whenever I can!

Going Further

 The Widening Participation programmes at Manchester, which encourage students of all educational backgrounds to apply to Manchester.

Open days and Campus visits are the best way to see what it really feels like to be at University!

ReachOut works with young people across Manchester, Oldham and London and is currently looking for Mentors and Project Leaders!


Performance and Politics - How can they work together?

by YPU Admin on April 12, 2018, Comments. Tags: Humanities, PhD, and Reasearch


My name is Asif Majid, and I’m a second-year PhD student in Anthropology, Media, and Performance. Broadly speaking, my work sits at the intersection of theatre and the lived experiences of marginalized communities. I research, teach, perform, and make work at this intersection in a variety of contexts and capacities.

(Storytelling | photo: the stoop)

My PhD research focuses on the ways in which applied theatre offers insights into the lives of British Muslim youth in Manchester. Through a series of workshops, performances, and interviews, I am facilitating a theatre-making process that addresses the sociopolitical narratives that British Muslim youth face. The process spans the current academic year (2017/18), after which point I will draw out common themes from the workshops, performances, and interviews in the writing of my thesis.

 In Depth

Both my academic trajectory and my current research straddle the worlds of performance and politics, bridging theory/practice and a wide variety of disciplines. Originally from the US, I earned my BA in Interdisciplinary Studies (Global Peace Building and Conflict Management) at UMBC in 2013. In 2015, I completed a MA in Conflict Resolution from Georgetown University. During both degrees, I focused on the ways in which the performing arts are used in conflict situations and social justice endeavors. Over time, my focus shifted from the broader arts to theatre in particular. This led me to pursue a PhD under the supervision of Prof. James Thompson at Manchester, who is one of the world’s leading experts on applied theatre. My program combines his expertise in Drama with the resources of the Social Anthropology department, such that I have a supervisor from each.

At the same time, I have been an active performer across a number of arts (music, theatre, etc.). This dovetailed with my research inquiries and has allowed me to use my knowledge of theatre and the wider arts to engage with British Muslim youth who are participating in my PhD project. I borrow heavily from a particular type of theatre known as “theatre of the oppressed,” which was developed by Brazilian theatre practitioner Augusto Boal. I also leverage a process known as “devising,” which involves making theatre by starting with an idea rather than a fixed script or text. In my case, the idea is the lived experiences of the project’s participants and how they want to represent those to a wider public. My task, essentially, is to facilitate a translation of their lived experiences into art.

My work is part of a broader conversation in the UK’s (and the West’s) cultural sector, which is increasingly thinking about how minority groups are represented in theatre, music, and dance. In the UK, discourses tend to represent British Muslims in largely negative ways: as foreigners, terrorists, or zealots. This project (and my wider work) seeks to push back against these characterizations by putting British Muslim youth at the center of the conversation about them, rather than on its fringes. At the same time, it challenges the public conversation about Britishness, which is continually looking for scapegoats and ways to equate Britishness with Englishness and whiteness, despite the country’s beautiful multiculturalism.

(as mowgli in The Jungle Book | photo: Brian Roberts)

Going Further

Playwright Omar el-Khairy and director Nadia Latif on British Muslims and theatre (


An important book about Britain’s current struggles with race and multiculturalism (


On changing the narrative around British Muslims (


A valuable book that critiques the ways that Muslimness is policed and securitized in the UK & US ( 


About theatre of the oppressed (


On devising theatre (


Drama at the University of Manchester (


Anthropology at the University of Manchester (




Inspired to Inspiration: MAP to Staff

by YPU Admin on March 29, 2018, Comments. Tags: internship, Journey, MAP, Progression, and Widening Participation


Hi, my name is Hamza and I am currently a graduate intern within the widening participation team at the University of Manchester.  As an undergraduate, I studied Law with Criminology. Over the course of my degree, I developed a strong interest in helping the wider community through volunteering as a student advisor in the University’s legal advice centre and as a student ambassador. As a student advisor, my role was to prepare case files, speak to clients from the local area over the phone, interview these clients and draft letters of advice for them.

As an ambassador, I was able to work on the University’s widening participation initiatives, the Gateways Programme, Greater Manchester Higher and the Manchester Access Programme (MAP). These schemes were aimed at increasing progression to university from particular underrepresented demographics (e.g. Young people from low income households).  My role as an ambassador was to facilitate activities for these students on campus and really engage with them, in order to raise their aspirations.

 Alongside being a student ambassador, I also used to work with the Donor Relations team at the University. I would meet regularly with donors and prospective donors- to talk about my experiences at the University of Manchester and how the MAP scholarship I was receiving helped me during my undergraduate studies. I was more than happy to express my gratitude for the scholarship and meet with donors, especially if there was even a slight chance that a prospective donor would consider donating a gift which would benefit the future generation of MAP students. 

 A combination of both these experiences have led to me to my current role as an intern in one of the widening participation programmes that I worked on as an ambassador, the Manchester Access Programme (MAP). My role involves monitoring and communicating with students who are on the programme but also to plan and run large scale events for students to attend on campus. I also deliver presentations regularly, write pieces for the University website and manage teams of student ambassadors on these event days.


In Depth

So why is Widening Participation something that I am really passionate about? Well, it’s because I came through the same programme that I now work on, MAP, as a student.  I was given a chance to come on to the University of Manchester campus and take part in various activities- from Academic writing workshops, Research, Revision and Referencing workshops, Personal Statement support and the opportunity to attend a University Life Conference (which involved delivering a group Enquiry Based Learning presentation during the day and an option to spend the evening in the University’s Halls of Residences).

MAP made me realise that progressing on to higher education was not a distant dream.  It gave me the confidence to actually believe that I was capable and deserving of a place at university. It is no surprise to see that I now currently hold a role where I get the opportunity to help other students who were like me.  I understand the barriers that students face as I have faced them myself. Having the chance to be involved in a programme which is attempting to level the playing fields and give students, who have the ability to succeed at university, that extra support that they need is something that I am extremely passionate about.

In terms of the future, I am still unsure as to where it is I will end up. The option to pursue Law is still there at the forefront of my mind but with my current role, the idea of engaging with young people and raising aspirations is something which has become increasingly attractive as a potential alternative route. What is for certain however is that I want to continue to help those who may be less fortunate and come from similar backgrounds to myself, as I wholeheartedly believe that everyone deserves an opportunity- once you have been given an opportunity, it is up to you to pass it forward to someone else.


Going Further... useful link to the widening participation schemes the university of Manchester run- Can check eligibility for each programme on the webpage! Might be slightly text heavy and aimed at an older audience but really useful to see all the work and statistics behind WP!