Written by Mateen Wagiet (2nd Yr. PhD Darwin Trust Scholar)


Figure 1: Skyline of the Great City of Edinburgh.


Founded in 1983 by Sir Kenneth ‘Ken’ Murray FRS FRSE FRCPAth (1930 – 2013) with the purpose of: “promoting education and research in Natural Sciences and in particular Molecular Biology”. The Darwin Trust of Edinburgh was established to support students from outside the UK who wish to study towards a PhD in the UK. Since 2015, the Randall Centre has been the home at KCL offering Darwin Trust studentships for postgraduates from Africa.

2016/17 saw two new Darwin students joining the Randall Centre. 2017 also saw the second Darwin Trust PhD student symposium (a gathering of sought) held at the University of Edinburgh from June 26 -28. Seventy-five students across the UK attended the meeting, with talks from 32 students in their 3rd / 4th year of study, and 43 1st and 2nd year students presenting posters. The meeting commenced with the opening talk by Professor Andrea Brand PhD FRS FMedSci, a recently installed Trustee and holder of the Darwin Trust Research Professorship of the Royal Society of London (Herchel Smith Professor of Molecular Biology, Member of the Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience, Gurdon Institute, Cambridge University). An interesting discussion introducing to the Darwin Symposium the research of: “Stem cells to synapses: regulation of self-renewal and differentiation in the nervous system.” All work and no play was certainly NOT the order of the symposium! During our visit to Edinburgh, ample opportunities for sightseeing, and tasting of local cuisine was forthcoming (and yes the weather played its’ role too).


Figure 2: (a.) The Castle; (b.) Local cuisine… delicious; (c.) Local replenishing fluids uisge-beatha; (d.) Aerial sights; (e.) South African War memorial; (f.) The Queen’s Gallery; (g.) University of Edinburgh map; (h.) Scottish Parliament (i.) Climbing the hill.

No symposium in Scotland would be complete with a traditional Ceilidh (see video… attempting to put our best foot forward).



Figure 3: KCL Darwin Trust Scholars, (a.) Rosemary, (b.) Reuben and (c.) Mateen … on the move, and armed with our mobiles (or poster), watch out twitter, instagram, WhatsApp (silent cricket sounds); (d.) The not so defeated, certainly NOT all present, Darwin Trust Scholar family, post Ceilidh.


Since our 2nd Symposium, the KCL–Randall Darwin family has grown, the tally now stands at 4 🙂 ! Welcoming another student, (Nicholus).