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The Royal Society of Biology is pleased to announce the shortlist for the Higher Education Bioscience Teacher of the Year award for 2021.

The award seeks to identify the country’s leading bioscience teachers in higher education. Recognising outstanding individuals who are innovative in their approaches to teaching, embed inclusivity, and positively influence student learning beyond their own department.

The finalists are now busy writing their case-studies for the next stage of the competition, in which they are asked to expound on a particular aspect of their teaching practice, before being interviews by the judging panel.

The overall winner of the award will be announced during the 2021 HUBS Annual Meeting, taking place 12-13 April, online.

The winner receives the £1,000 Ed Wood Memorial Prize, £250 worth of Oxford University Press books, and one year’s free membership to the Society. The remaining finalists will receive £150 and one-year of free Royal Society Biology membership.

Dr Helen Vosper is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Pharmacy and Life Sciences at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen. She teaches biology, physiology and pharmacology to students on a range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses.

Helen Vosper

Dr Helen Vosper from Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen

Helen is a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a Senior Fellow of the Staff and Educational Development Association.

She is also a Chartered Human Factors specialist and uses human-centred design approaches in curriculum development to optimise the student learning experience.

Helen’s case study is on how to embed a systems science approach to curriculum development.

She describes her teaching philosophy as being based on “twin pillars of genuine student engagement and staff development.”

Said Helen in her statement: “Student engagement underpins the development of learning communities where students feel safe and supported in becoming ‘masters of their own learning.’”

“It’s hard to facilitate a high-quality student journey if staff feel as though they’ve been left behind in the car park!”

Dr Nigel Francis is an associate professor at Swansea University Medical School. He studied pharmacology at the University of Bath before completing a PhD in immunology at the University of Birmingham.

Nigel Francis

Dr Nigel Francis from Swansea University

After a postdoctoral position at Cardiff University, he started working at Swansea University, where his teaching focuses on immunology and the development of graduate skills across all years of the undergraduate programmes.

Nigel is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology and Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. In 2020 he was awarded the British Society for Immunology Teaching Excellence Award and is a recipient of Swansea University’s Excellence in Learning and Teaching Award.

On his teaching philosophy Nigel says “I believe that for students to get the most from their education they need to be actively engaged with the learning material.

“For me, this means providing students with the opportunity to review resources in their own time and create an environment where they are encouraged to experiment, question assumptions and most importantly not be afraid of making a mistake.”

His case study will discuss the use of videos to enhance student learning and engagement during laboratory teaching.

Our final shortlisted candidate is Dr Dave Lewis, a Senior Lecturer in Pharmacology and Bioethics in the Faculty of Biological Sciences, University of Leeds.

Described as a “student-education focused colleague,” he is passionate about reducing educational inequality and increasing inclusion.

He creates innovative and inclusive intra and extra-curricular opportunities for student personal and professional development.

He collaborates with colleagues and Professional Record Standards Body in India, China and across Africa to co-create and deliver professional education courses in research animal sciences for researchers.

Dave Lewis

Dr Dave Lewis from the University of Leeds

Dave has created a portfolio of 15 traditional research and non-traditional projects for his undergraduate students, enabling them to select the one which best provides the work experience and develops the skills required for their particular career intentions.

He has facilitated workshops, created micro-learning courses, and shared his supporting resources with others globally.

The Higher Education Bioscience Teacher of the Year award is sponsored by Oxford University Press and Heads of University Biosciences (HUBS), a Special Interest Group of the RSB.