Researcher biography

My current research is all about finding ways to improve teaching and student learning, with a focus on biology and other sciences. This is a new and exciting direction for me to which I and my group are now dedicated. Of particular interest to me is finding ways to improve communication abilities of science students through the design, testing and implementation of effective curricula, class activities and assessment methods. Naturally, no learning occurs in isolation, so my current research also looks at learning scientific reasoning, information literacy, and how to improve the relevance and authenticity of practical/lab classes and assessment tasks.

Previously my research focussed on using physiological approaches and techniques to address questions in ecology, conservation and aquaculture, especially in vertebrates living in extreme environments (see references for examples). I continue to be involved in biological research through teaching, co-supervision and examination of postgraduate students.

My current projects aim to find effective ways to...

  • Improve abilities of first year biology students to work effectively in groups.
  • Improve science students' communication abilities through the development and implementation of a new 3rd year course titled Communicating in Science.
  • Improve scientific reasoning and writing in first year biology students.
  • Improve tutor support and consequently student learning through implementation of a program of tailored tutor professional development.
  • Improve information literacy in first year biology students.
  • Motivate students to improve their biological knowledge and use of modern communication technologies by implementing authentic assignments throughout the curriculum e.g., websites, video, blogs.
  • Improve the ability of students to articulate the skills and knowledge they develop in undergraduate ecology research through the use of a skills portfolio.
  • Improve student practice and confidence in avoiding plagiarism and adhering to academic integrity.