Francisco Salema Oom de Sacadura
UCL - Sciences
Neuro-Mechanisms of Pain Perception and the Human Experimental Model
I am a Second year neuroscience student at UCL and second year Laidlaw Scholar.
This experience has made me more certain than ever that I want to be an academic. Now whenever I have the chance I try to advertise the scholarship to others in their first year so they also have the opportunity to benefit from this experience like I did. I’ve written some articles and shared my experience in talks trying to let people know that this experience is really worth applying for. In terms of the research component of the scholarship I think it really helped me to progress in my career because I want to go into academic research. The most important thing is to have experience so to have this two years of funded academic research really enhances my CV and my future prospects. For the leadership component the soft skills that I have gained has prepared me for a future as a researcher because they are vital when giving talks, presentations and networking.
Before I became a Laidlaw scholar I had never undergone any leadership training but had read some books on the neuroscience of leadership. The leadership components of the Laidlaw program was very helpful in my research directly and in other areas of my life, not only because of the soft skills it gave me but also because it allowed me to meet the other scholars and learn from their experiences. The program was very enjoyable because the people training us did so in an interactive way and the things we learned will stay with us for a long time. For future applicants of the Laidlaw scholarship they should really consider the importance of the leadership component because many people, with myself included who enter the program only thought about the research component. It not only changed how I look at the research but also at my future career and so they should really embrace it. Overall it really changed the way I approach things and taught me to take initiative and be authentic.
I was studying the neuro-mechanisms of pain perception. It takes healthy volunteers and exposes them to an illusion that produced pain whilst being completely innocuous. We used this illusion to study the brainwaves associated with this pain perception which can help scientists to study chronic pain in healthy people and help chronic pain patients. This was first time I’d experienced research from the very beginning to completion, which involved designing experiments, carrying out data collection, analysing the data and now writing up the project. My professor was very helpful and to this day he still gives advice. I’m very grateful because I feel it is very important for my career to have a mentor like him.
I was part of the first generation of scholars. In the beginning I didn’t feel that much sense of community but through the leadership weekends and our socials activities we really built this sense of community. I think this year is better than last year and hope it keeps improving so the new generation of Laidlaw scholars will benefit from this community we have built. The friends I have made allowed me to go to conferences and meet some people that will be important in my future career.