My Dissertation Experience – Josh Jenkinson

Supervisor and project title:

Karen Wright- Investigating the effects of atypical cannabinoid O-1602


Why I chose this topic:

Although you select the top areas you would like your dissertation to be related to, there is also a section in which you can put specific requests, I chose to request a topic relevant to cancer if one was available, and I was lucky enough to get my choice! Remember that the topics are given out depending on first year averages, so although first year doesn’t count towards your overall degree specification, it still helps to pay attention!


How much time was spent in the lab?

It’s hard to say exactly how long I was in for each week, but I usually attended around four days a week, some days were shorter as I only had a few tasks to complete, other days were longer if experiments needed to be set up. I would estimate around 20-30 hours a week was how long I spent in university, but some of that time was spent waiting, and therefore you aren’t spending all the time in the lab.


What I investigated:

Each member in the dissertation group was given a different cannabinoid, and then we were told to investigate the cannabinoid’s effects on THP-1 cancer cells, derived from Acute Myeloid Leukaemia. We tested our chemicals effect on cell viability, as well as the release of cytokines from these cancerous macrophages.


What I discovered:

The small amount of research that had been done previously on my cannabinoid was conflicting but pointed toward the fact that O-1602 had little to no effect on cancer cell viability, and my results agreed with this statement. Not very exciting really is it? Unfortunately, not many dissertation projects will result in you coming up with a ground-breaking discovery, however being involved in the process of investing new chemicals for the treatment of cancer was fascinating and gives you a great glimpse into what working in a research lab might be like, even if you decide that it might not be for you.


If I could do it again, what would I change

I’ll be very honest here and admit that I was not the ideal student when it comes to my dissertation, I’ve never been great handling big deadlines, and usually end up doing stuff the day before its due. The first deadline you are given, is to start your literature review over the summer. As much as it sucks, starting to look at the literature already published in the area of your dissertation allows you to better understand your project, and this means that you can decide to take your Diss into different direction (within reason). So yeah, do your research basically, it’ll make things a lot easier and more interesting in the long run.


Any hints or advice?

Aside from actually doing your work on time (shocker I know), I’d say make sure you engage with the topic. Participation makes up 15% of your grade, so although it’s tempting to sack stuff off and head home early, remember that it may end up coming back to bite you. Another tip is to not be afraid to ask for help and advice from your supervisor, they’re there to help you and although they can’t write your dissertation for you, they can still be a huge help, so don’t be afraid to ask them.