Teaching

As a teacher I aim to provide my students with skills, knowledge and confidence critical to their academic and personal development. I take an inclusive approach, developing strong relationships and encouraging discussion. I am currently working towards a Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education qualification.

Module development

2017-18 BL6024 Quantitative skills for biologists using R
Quantitative skills required by postgraduate students to successfully conduct and publish their research, with a focus on data analysis and graphing, statistics, and basic modelling, as generally implemented by zoologists and ecologists. Supported by a new R Peer Group mailing list and pop-up clinics.

Teaching

2017 BL6024 Quantitative skills for biologists using R.
2016 South American rainforest biodiversity and conservation.
2015 Introduction to GIS. (Teaching Assistant)
2015 Animal Biology. (Teaching Assistant)
2014-2015 Undergraduate residential field course.
2014 Bird survey techniques.

Thesis supervision

2017 MRes research project. Threats affecting breeding hen harriers in Ireland. University College Cork.
2017 BSc research project. Comparing hen harrier chick condition across Europe. University College Cork.
2015 MSc research project. Behaviour and stress in sympatric hare species. Queen’s University, Belfast.
2014 MSc research project. Activity and behaviour of hares in Mid-Ulster. Queen’s University, Belfast.
2013 MSc research project. Estimating hare population densities. Queen’s University, Belfast.
2013 BSc research project. Resource and habitat partitioning of herbivores. Queen’s University, Belfast.

Instruction and demonstration

2016-17 Course tutor: ornithology, camera traps, social media. Eco-Explore, Cardiff.
Developed materials and taught courses on UK bird identification, the use of camera traps in ecology, and social media for scientists.

2016 Lecturer and field ornithologist. Operation Wallacea, Ecuador.
Co-developed and delivered a 5-part series of lectures focussing on rainforest biodiversity and conservation, and conducted bird ringing studies including demonstrating techniques and training students in biometric data gathering. Also trained an assistant on mist nest extraction and data recording.

2015 Otter surveys, MSc, Queen’s University Belfast.
Trained a Master’s student in otter survey techniques and field signs, and advised on camera trap survey methodology.

Teaching statement

I aim to provide my students with the skills and knowledge which are necessary for the study of ecology and conservation. I would like my students to be able to appreciate the wonder of the natural world, but also to use the tools they acquire through their studies and experiences to critically observe and address relevant questions. I lead by example, demonstrating these abilities in my research and teaching. As a teacher, I think it is particularly important that that foundational concepts are understood, as these provide the basis for continued learning and development. It is also crucial that students develop their analytical, communication, critical thinking and problem-solving abilities. Many of the skills acquired through the study of ecology are not exclusive to science and, indeed, not all of my students go on to become scientists. These skills are applicable to a multitude of career paths, however, and will serve the students well in the future.

I believe that students learn best when they are actively engaged in a subject. As such, I routinely encourage feedback and make myself available for discussion should students have any questions. Technology offers additional means of engaging with students including via multimedia presentations and social media. I taught on an undergraduate residential field course where a large number of students were divided into teams and allocated to staff to develop and conduct research projects. I guided my team through the process of developing a project, encouraging them to think creatively and develop research questions and methodologies. I taught them how to identify species, using a variety of media, demonstrated survey techniques in the field, and then allowed them to take the lead, offering guidance when appropriate.

My passion for teaching and education extend beyond academia. I have engaged with schools, for example, developing wildlife-related projects with their students using an interactive approach, allowing the projects to be driven by the students’ interests. These experiences were extremely fulfilling, and strengthened my commitment to teaching. I am a UK STEM Ambassador and have attended a number of events where I have discussed science, and ecology in particular, with students of all ages. I have also created a Twitter-based rotated-curation project, Biotweeps, which gives biologists a platform to talk about their work and interests with and an ever-growing and highly appreciative audience.

I am committed to improving and refining my teaching skills by pursuing any available opportunities, from the development and presentation of modules, to enrolling on formal training courses, to presenting interactive workshops for nature groups or schools. I am keen to continue to share my passion and knowledge about science and the natural world, and hope to inspire and guide developing scientists and citizens.