Department of Biology
As a teacher my primary focus is to get students to think critically about material and be able to apply knowledge to new or unfamiliar situations. I have a strong belief that it should be possible for all concepts to be explained in a clear and rational way. I am a big believer in kinaesthetic learning (learning through doing) and have a practical outlook on life. As the academic lead on practical training and the module organiser for first year skills, I have a key role in the development and delivery of key skills throughout our programmes.
As a microbiologist with a background in both environmental and medical microbiology my primary passion is microbes. I teach most of the first year microbiology module which introduces these organisms to new students. I am absolutely passionate about these organisms that do so much collectively to alter the fate of both the planet and people without anyone actually being able to see them as individuals. My microbiology teaching covers a broad range of things, from bacterial cell structure through to industrial and environmental microbiology As well as teaching my own subject area I also teach extensively in transferable skills modules including first year skills and the schools strand of the second year Communicating Science module. I am a passionate believer in teaching students to pass on their enjoyment of the subject to others.
My tutorials are usually about how microbes can be used to treat pollution and environmental problems; discussing how microbes can be used on an industrial scale to treat contaminated environments through a process called bioremediation. However, I do sometimes stray in to the interface between environmental microbiology and medical microbiology, looking at things like pathogen survival and the real world problems that medical microbiologists face identifying pathogens. My tutorial sessions give students the opportunity to practise a range of skills; from learning how to find and critically evaluate literature through to experimental design and data analysis.
My projects are usually in the area of pathogen survival in the environment. I have a particular interest in how pathogens survive and are transferred to / from fabrics. However I sometimes offer alterative projects looking at practical aspects of microbiology. This can be quite varied, from discovering novel antimicrobial agents by looking at 16th century texts, through to developing new analytical tests for detecting E. coli levels in sewage sludge. The sort of techniques and skills my student learn are firmly founded in traditional microbiology techniques and microscopy.
I have quite a varied role in scholarship both within and beyond the university. Within the university I play a role in promoting access and participation working with the widening participation team and senior management. Beyond the university I am an advisor on outreach activities for the Teesside, Hull, York, Mobilising Knowledge Exchange in the Bioeconomy (THYME) project and work with the A level exam board AQA advising on practical content of A levels. I also serve as a course assessor for the Royal Society of Biology's Degree Accreditation programmes.