Scientific Internships at Random42

29th January 2020 Company News

Random42-Sarah-GrattonTowards the end of last year, PhD student, Sarah Gratton, joined our science team as part of her Professional Internship for PhD Students (PIPS). This placement formed part of Sarah’s PhD programme, supported by the White Rose Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) Doctoral Training Partnership, which she is completing at The University of Sheffield. In this article, Sarah reflects on her time working with us here at Random42…

Starting at the end of July 2019, I spent three months working at Random42 for a PIPS placement as part of my PhD programme. As a member of the science team, my role involved writing and editing material for the animations, brochures, virtual reality experiences and augmented reality apps. The projects I worked on typically focussed on the molecular processes underlying the pathology of a disease and the mechanism of action for disease treatments. Each new project was a learning experience, and I really enjoyed immersing myself in the literature addressing interesting areas of scientific research.

Random42 Science Team in Office

During my time at Random42, I saw projects develop from an initial concept into some truly stunning animations made by the in-house production team. I had the most involvement in the early stages of the project, which begins with writing and referencing a narrative script as well as a parallel script outlining scene directions for the accompanying visuals. At later stages, a storyboard is made to communicate visual concepts to the artists, and this is later updated to showcase the initial imagery to clients before proceeding further. As well as researching, writing and editing, I attended conference calls with overseas clients and inhouse meetings with the artists.

I also regularly recorded scratch voiceover recordings which act as a timing guide while the production team bring the different scenes together. I felt extremely self-conscious the first time I donned my headset at my desk and began reading a script out loud (in the middle of an open-plan office), but I soon got used to it! I had opportunities to try out virtual reality equipment like the Oculus Quest and preview some augmented reality apps as a test user. I was also fortunate enough to time my internship at the same time as the ‘Great Random42 Bake-Off’ which was a competition between production team artists to produce the most realistic and delicious-looking science-themed animated cake!

Mixed reality headset

I secured the internship at Random42 simply by asking! There were no advertised internships at Random42 at the time, but I had spent time investigating UK-based medical animation companies and I had decided that Random42 would be my preferred place to work. I chose Random42 for two main reasons. One reason was that I was really impressed by the finesse of the animations and detailed scientific content. The other reason was the fact that the science, marketing and production teams were all based in-house, meaning everyone from writers to artists work together. I thought (and still think) this is beneficial from both work and social perspectives. All in all, I am extremely pleased with my decision!

I feel like the internship at Random42 has helped me reflect on what skills I have gained from my undergraduate biology degree and PhD so far, and to see how I can put these skills to use in the context of a job outside academia, which is the direction I’ll be heading in next. In many ways, it has also better prepared me for thesis writing and referencing as I enter the second half of my PhD. Lastly, I would like to say I am extremely grateful to everyone at Random42 for hosting me, and the BBSRC for incorporating internships into the PhD programmes they fund.

If you are interested in completing an internship at Random42 please get in contact at [email protected]. We often have opportunities within our Science, Marketing and Production teams.


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