Thanadol Sutantiwanickul, from Thailand, studied at the University of Sussex as an International Junior Research Associate.
Thanadol’s research story
In the summer of 2016, Thanadol Sutantiwanickul arrived at Sussex from Mahidol University in Thailand. He was here to take part in an eight-week research placement as part of the International Junior Research Associate scheme. Intended to offer undergraduate students at our international partner universities a taste of what it’s like to be a researcher, Thanadol felt it was too good an opportunity to miss.
It wasn’t as if Thanadol was short of opportunities, as he was also considering Asian Science Campus in India. But the University of Sussex offered him the chance to join an active research project in a lab and to develop specialist skills and knowledge.
Working in Dr Erika Mancini’s lab, Thanadol was part of a team studying aspects of a type of blood cancer called acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). Looking at proteins that regulate gene expression in the disease, Thanadol says, ‘It was a fantastic opportunity to be part of something that may ultimately lead to a design for a drug that can cure AML.’
He got to use a variety of biochemistry techniques, realising that something called x-ray crystallography is where his interests really lie. The experience was key in helping him focus his career plans and now back at Mahidol he wants to do a PhD and make the most of what he learnt at Sussex.
I realised that discussion is the critical thing for research. This is the missing key for my country and I’m so glad I found it.” Thanadol Sutantiwanickul
International Junior Research Associate
But for Thanadol, the scheme gave him so much more than the science and the practical skills. ‘I got to work with brilliant people from totally different backgrounds who brought such a range of experiences to the research,’ he says.
‘What Sussex has taught me is the importance of collaboration, of working in a team. It offered an environment where the research continued outside the lab, spilling over into conversations during tea breaks and beyond. I’d never been anywhere where I could talk to my colleagues all day, every day, on any topic. That’s so important for moving ideas forward and I learnt so much.’
‘After I got back to Thailand, I realised that discussion is the critical thing for research. This is the missing key for my country and I’m so glad I found it.’
Thanadol’s supervisor, Dr Mancini, is equally positive about Sussex’s commitment to supporting international students to get involved in research. ‘I’m delighted to have hosted Thanadol in my laboratory,’ she says. ‘I was very impressed by the passion of these young students, who are ambassadors for their countries and for their research subjects.’