Cecylia – profile
Role: Fourth year PhD student, Department of Biological Sciences, Royal Holloway University of London
Funded by the Imperial College London-Royal Holloway University of London BBSRC Doctoral Training Programme
Subject area: Learning and memory in insects
Nationality: British and Polish
Hi! I’m a PhD student working on learning and memory in bees. This involves getting bees to complete different tasks, such as learning to recognise colours or patterns that mean they receive a sweet reward, and then seeing how long they can remember it for. When I’m not working I enjoy volunteering, hiking and hanging out with my cat.
Interview with Cecylia
Hear from Cecylia, who is researching the learning and memory of bees.
GCSE (or equivalent): Maths, Statistics, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, ICT, RE, French, Latin, Music, English Language and English Literature
A-Level (or equivalent): Biology, Chemistry, Music, Polish and AS-levels in Maths and French
• BSc Biology, Imperial College London
• MSci by research in Ecology, Evolution and Conservation, Imperial College London
• MSci Biological Sciences, Royal Holloway University of London
• PhD Biological Sciences (ongoing), Royal Holloway University of London
Detail about Cecylia
My research focuses on how much energy an individual animal must put into learning a task and forming memories. Because energy is limited, putting energy into forming a memory may mean that you have less energy for other processes in the body. I’m trying to find out what (if any!) body processes are sacrificed by bees when they put energy into learning and memory.
When I first saw a live bumblebee colony I was fascinated by how every bee appeared to know exactly where to go and what to do – over 100 of them! I have been hooked on working with bees ever since.
Who is your STEM hero?
My dad. When I was younger we would always do projects together, like building volcanoes and bird houses. This nurtured my love of science.
Most significant discovery/invention?
An emerging field of science studying gut bacteria and the gut-brain axis. Scientists are discovering some amazing things, including how your gut bacteria affect your behaviour and mood, and how this may be linked to different diseases. We couldn’t live without our resident gut microbes, yet we know so little about them.
Career options after study
- Researcher at a university or institute
- Biology teacher/lecturer
- Curator/Researcher in a museum
- Editor in science publishing
- Data scientist
My hobbies are volunteering on an ambulance and doing first aid, hiking, and doing sudokus. I also have pet shrimp.
Cecylia talks about her research
Cecylia talks about her research into how much energy an individual animal must put into learning a task and forming memories through studying bees.
Bumblebee queen experiment acknowledgements: Elli Leadbeater and Ana Ramos Rodrigues, Royal Holloway University of London; Peter Sima, Koppert