My experience as an intern at the RI

Maya Pidoux

Find out more about the experiences of Maya when she interned at our L'Oreal Young Scientist Centre. 

Maya doing a demonstration in the Ri Library, pouring coloured liquid

Delivering workshops

“There has been a murder! Two sources of DNA have been found at the crime scene – one from the victim and the other is currently unidentified. There are five suspects in custody, and it is our job today to see if the DNA from the crime scene matches the DNA of any of these five suspects.”  This is our how our Forensics workshop starts – setting the scene before the day of science begins. As an intern in the L’Oréal Young Scientist Centre my role involves helping to set up, deliver and present this workshop. 

In the Forensics workshop we teach the students about restriction enzymes, biological catalysts that work as molecular scissors to chop up pieces of DNA, and gel electrophoresis which separates pieces of DNA based on their size. Using these techniques, the students identify which of the suspects DNA matches the DNA that was found at the fictional crime scene. I’ve loved putting a story around the science so that the students can get an idea of how the scientific techniques they are learning can be applied. 

Other workshops I have helped to deliver include Cosmetic Chemistry (lots of fun making bath bombs and lip balms), Extract Your Own DNA and Colour Chemistry. Through these workshops I have had the opportunity to learn a lot about science communication from the amazing young scientist centre team. 



Maya in the lab

Learning new science

As well as learning science communication skills I have had the chance to learn new science myself. In February the RI had a family fun day event focussing on artificial intelligence (AI) - I had to do lot of background research on how AI works so that I could develop activities to explain AI in an exciting and engaging way to children. 

Furthermore, one of the workshops, Magnets and Motors, focuses on physics, a subject I hadn't studied since my early on in my school career. I loved learning the physics behind these topics and their link to the history of the RI. 

I also got to spend some time working with the digital team at the RI, researching food science to make TikTok videos. Through this research I have learnt lots of fun facts about food including that mangoes contain the same poisonous substance as poison ivy! 

Learning many new scientific concepts during my internship has emphasised to me that involvement in science communication is a great way to keep learning and to stay in touch with scientific discoveries. 

Presenting my PhD research

During my time at the RI, I have had the opportunity to present my PhD research to a variety of audiences, ranging from a 15-minute presentation to Year 5 students to an hour-long talk targeted at children aged 13+ and the general public.

These talks have encouraged me to think of ways to make my PhD research on killer T cells interesting and accessible to a range of people. As the RI is famous for its demos, I came up with some visually exciting ways to explain my PhD research. I got some amazing questions from audience members at these talks which was very encouraging, and it was great to see how interested people were in my research!

Maya making fire in the Theatre

Benefits from doing an internship                                         

This internship at the RI has provided me with many opportunities to present scientific content to diverse audiences, enhancing my confidence in presenting and communicating. I have had the chance to interact with different teams, from the Digital Team to the Demos Team, allowing me to understand the range of roles within a science communication organisation. 

As well as learning new skills, doing an internship part way through my PhD has given me the opportunity to take a step back from my research and think about what to focus on for the remaining year and a half of my PhD. 

I have absolutely loved my time at the RI and am very grateful to have had this opportunity.