Research Internships at Edinburgh Napier: Heather Dunnachie

My Summer Internship Experience with the 3D and 4D Face Perception Lab

Summer internships provide all levels of students with the priceless opportunity to work for a short period of time in research fields relating to their degree subject.  This is a brief account of my experience working as a student intern within the 3D and 4D Face Perception Psychology Lab at Edinburgh Napier University.

As a 4th year undergraduate student being able to find paid work that relates to your degree course can be extremely difficult, so when offered the opportunity to take part in real life research I jumped at the chance.  From the start of the application process I was able to gain a variety of experience from practicing filling out application forms to additional experience of being interviewed.  After being offered the internship place I was ecstatic, I couldn’t believe I had been given the chance to aid real life research!  I did learn very quickly that research always comes with its difficulties and challenges along with its rewards.

To begin with the 3D and 4D photographing equipment that was provided by DI4D was complicated to work with.  There were 9 individual cameras set up as 3 different pods, each pod was linked to its own individual computer (see images below), this meant that when an image sequence was captured the data from 3 of the cameras (or one pod) was sent to a separate computer.  After having the sequence captured it had to be transferred to a shared storage drive in order for the image to be built up into its 3D and 4D form.  Constructing the un-edited raw 3D/4D images was very time consuming, however working as part of a team with the Research Assistant was very helpful for speeding up this process.  I think that for me, communicating and coordinating with other members of staff was the most important skill that I gained from this experience, especially when you have to focus and adjust 9 different cameras before collecting the data.

Some other challenges I encountered was working in a real life lab setting, as an undergraduate student I had previously only conducted research for small scale reports as part of coursework within a group.  In addition to this adapting research ethics forms and creating a lab protocol was a new experience for me, however again being able to work as a team with the Research Assistant these challenges were overcome rapidly.

One of my favourite parts of the internship was participant recruitment.  With all the advancements that participant recruitment has made over the years with using the internet you have to get very creative for coming up with new ways to recruit.  The flexibility that comes with research allowed me to spend time in and out of the lab looking at new ways to recruit.  As well as recruiting participants, engaging and meeting new people was enjoyable, you never knew who you might end up speaking to the next day.

Overall despite a few challenges the internship experience for me was incredible, I cannot thank everyone who helped me and gave me this opportunity enough.  The practical skills I have harvested from this experience will be put to good use as I enter my final year in my undergraduate program.  If anyone reading this is contemplating applying for any internship positions then I would highly encourage them to do so, it is definitely something you won’t regret!

Heather Dunnachie