2nd Year Biomedical Science Undergraduate Shannon Guild Receives Essay Prize

  • Oriel Hall
24 May, 2016

Second year Biomedical Science undergraduate Shannon Guild has been awarded a runner-up prize in the Society for Endocrinology's national student essay competition.

The competition aims to recognise work of outstanding academic merit by students at both undergraduate and postgraduate level, and is open to any undergraduate or postgraduate studying at an institution of higher education in the UK or Ireland.

Shannon's college tutor Kristine Krug commented: "The Society for Endocrinology's Essay Prize is to recognise outstanding academic merit by students across the whole of the UK. Last year, there were over 100 entries. This national runner-up award is a tremendous achievement. Shannon's success is well deserved and I am very pleased for her."

We asked Shannon for more information about the competition, what made her decide to enter, and how she finds her studies here at Oriel. Here are her answers in her own words:

How did you find out about the prize, and what made you decide to enter?

It was actually in an endocrinology practical that it was mentioned in passing by the practical leader and one of my tutors for that year, Helen Christian. As it turns out, Helen is also the researcher I had done some work experience with and who I will be doing an internship with this summer. She told us to go to the website for more information and since I was a little ahead with my tutorial work, I decided it might be an interesting opportunity to research around the normal tutorial topics, get affiliated with the society and potentially improve my post graduate prospects.

What was your essay about?

The main focus of my essay was type 2 diabetes with the title: ‘Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus and Inflammation: Letters from a Beta Cell’. It discussed, from the point of view of a beta cell, some of the more recent theories about the factors contributing to damage of the cells secreting insulin in the disease. In particular, I focused on how inflammation in the pancreas may lead to the production of molecules that damage beta cells. The most exciting part was summarising research that looks at how targeting these cytokines may be a viable and novel therapy for type 2 diabetes.

What made you write about that topic in particular?

I love immunology and endocrinology so it made sense to combine the two. I had already done a little reading about inflammation and the disease for a tutorial essay and I was keen to expand on this. The prize gave me the perfect excuse! Type 2 diabetes is also on the rise and a serious health concern in the western world. It is thus highly relevant that we understand the disease processes involved if we want to treat and prevent an epidemic!

How do you feel about being awarded a runners-up prize? What does it mean to you?

It means a lot to have my work recognised and I am so grateful to Helen and anyone else who has supported me with it. I’m also really thankful to the society for the opportunity to apply and their generous prize. It has given me more confidence in my ability to communicate scientific research which is a good feeling when that’s a huge part of my career ambition. It’s also something I can add to my CV or talk about in interviews so I would definitely recommend giving these opportunities a go!

How are you finding Oxford/Oriel so far?

I love living in Oxford and Oriel has been the most supportive environment. From the Deans to my personal tutor Kristine to my amazing friends, I’ve had a lovely experience so far! The work is definitely stressful but on balance with getting involved in the OSDC disability campaign and enjoying some of student life in general, I’m ultimately enjoying being at university. Plus, there are lots of interesting talks on my subject, other subjects and other campaigns that have given me insight into new and interesting areas.

Do you have any ideas about what you want to do once you finish your degree?

I’m hoping to move towards post graduate study and maybe one day end up as a medical researcher. That’s the dream but I’m open to many different avenues. For example, I also enjoy teaching/tutoring which may be something I take on along the way.