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Belong, Believe, Achieve: PhD candidate Daniel Ranson is inspiring the next generation

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Daniel is interacting with school pupils via the 'Skype a Scientist' programme

'Belong, Believe, Achieve' is a series of profiles showcasing inspiring students and staff at the University of East London. Each week, we bring you a new story about someone in our amazing community.
This week we applaud PhD candidate Daniel Ranson.

Daniel Ranson is in his second year of a PhD in the field of alcohol addiction. He studied for his undergraduate degree at UEL before staying on to pursue a master’s degree and then his doctorate.

He said, “I chose UEL for my undergraduate degree as it offered an IBMS (Institute of Biomedical Science) accredited Biomedical Science degree and offered the opportunity to have a placement year while studying. 

“I chose to do a master’s degree because I was heavily influenced and inspired by UEL’s bioscience staff. I decided that if I was happy and achieving my personal best, why would I want to rock the boat and potentially disrupt things?  

“The decision to do a PhD decision was similar to the master’s. I was emotionally involved with the project that I had completed for my master’s degree (on alcohol addiction) and I wanted to continue and develop the project further.”

Looking to the future, Daniel hopes to become an academic and inspire and shape the next generation of scientists. In fact he has already started.

Last November, he stumbled across ‘Skype A Scientist’ - a science outreach programme that allows pupils in schools to interact with scientists using the online video communication platform.

Since then, Daniel has already spoken to children in six schools in North America – four in the United States and two in Canada.

Daniel said, “You just sign up, put in your area of expertise and say what you are comfortable talking about. Then the website organisers match you to schools.  

“I was matched to three schools straight away. My first Skype a Scientist video call was with a class of 14-15 year olds in Texas. It was really good fun and the students were very engaged, which was great.”

So how does Daniel keep the young students, who range in age from seven to 16, interested in science?

“The session is split into two halves," he explained. "For the first half I ask the teacher to prepare questions for me and, based on those questions, I pitch my presentation. In the second half of the session the students can come forward and ask me more questions based on my presentation.

“You’re making science real for kids rather than just following the curriculum.”