The Biosciences Educators' Network (BEN), supported by the Heads of University Biosciences (HUBS), provides a UK-wide support network for bioscience educators from all career stages and a forum in which to discuss career progression, fellowship opportunities and pedagogical research. In addition, the network facilitates peer mentoring and mentoring relationships with more experienced colleagues to provide targeted support. The link with HUBS ensures information and initiatives are shared with the wider Biosciences community.
The ongoing aims of BEN are to:
- Help attendees to identify career goals, and the means to gather evidence for applications.
- Signpost individuals towards existing resources (e.g. RSB HE Teacher Career Progression Framework; Advance HE Fellowship Category Tool)
- Establish a mentoring network to support career development in a sustainable way.
Members of the BEN Steering group
- Dr Sue Jones (York St John University)
- Dr Katharine Hubbard (University of Hull)
- Dr David Smith (Sheffield Hallam University)
- Dr Gina Manning (University of Wolverhampton and HUBS link)
Resources created and used by the network are shared via Advance-HE connect: https://connect.advance-he.ac.uk/topics/27251/feed
Dr Katharine Hubbard is a Reader in Biosciences Education at the University of Hull. She is a National Teaching Fellow, Senior Fellow of AdvanceHE, and won the RSB HE Bioscience Teacher of the Year award in 2016. She is a plant scientist by background, but is now a biology education specialist. Katharine is also a Senior Fellow of the University of Hull Teaching Excellence Academy, where she is responsible for developing the university strategy for reducing awarding gaps. Her research interests are inclusive education, how undergraduates engage with research literature, and the effectiveness of laboratory based teaching. She is also a passionate supporter of education focussed careers within Biology, and has extensive experience of mentoring at a local and national level. Her biology education and careers expertise has been disseminated at national and international conferences, and she is regularly invited to give keynote and external talks on bioscience education.
David Smith is a National Teaching Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and has been awarded the Royal Society of Biology HE educator of the year. His research interests bring together protein chemistry, cell culture and mass spectrometry to investigate the molecular basis of Parkinson's disease. This research is applied directly to his teaching giving context and authenticity, an approach that has been recognised through the nomination of the University Inspirational Teaching Award a maximum of three times and the college award eight times.
David is passionate about disseminating and enhancing teaching practices. He has worked directly with bioscientists and other academics across multiple institutions on teaching enhancements and delivers invited workshops and conference presentations on student engagement. He has developed the pedagogical theory of object-based learning through the use of 3D-printed biological molecules, producing digital tool kits to disseminate this practice. He has also integrated various forms of technology-enhanced learning and, collaborative learning tools to facilitate interaction and lecture flipping.
Sue Jones gained her Principal Fellowship (PFHEA) in 2021 and has previously won the Royal Society of Biology HE Bioscience Teacher of the Year award (2020). She is committed to supporting students from non-traditional backgrounds to access higher education and thrive once there. Sue has created a Biosciences programme that reduces awarding gaps and has excellent student outcomes. In her current role as Head of Teaching and Learning Enhancement, she is sharing good practice institutionally and enhancing the development and pedagogical approaches of staff from a variety of disciplines.
Sue is a biochemist but has been a Learning and Teaching focussed academic since 2005. She supports academic colleagues to reach their full potential and has extensive experience of mentoring early career lecturers, plus other colleagues for different categories of Fellowship applications. Sue has been collaborating with colleagues at the University of Leeds and University of Sunderland to support the dissemination of a variety of Capstone Experiences for level 6 students in Biosciences across the UK and internationally, resulting in winning an Advance HE Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence (CATE) award in 2021.
Gina Manning is a Biologist with a BSc in Biological Sciences and PhD in Microbiology. She has been teaching microbiology and biology in academia since 2005 and prior to that worked at a government research agency where she began her research work on the major human food-borne pathogen Campylobacter jejuni. As a Head of Department now Gina has oversight of a range of Biosciences courses and is passionate about supporting colleagues at all levels to reach their own potential. Gina is a member of the Heads of University Bioscience (HUBS) Executive committee as well as a member of the RSB Accreditation Committee. Gina is keen to enhance employer input into the Biosciences and works closely with employers to ensure that the courses meet their needs and address any apparent skills gaps. Gina also has an interest in inclusivity and chaired the session at the HUBS Annual Conference earlier in 2021 on Inclusivity in the Biosciences.