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The Royal Society of Biology is pleased to confirm the final shortlist for the Higher Education Bioscience Teacher of the Year Award for 2024.


The shortlisted teachers from left to right: Dr Patrick Murphy, Dr Carys Watts and Dr Richard Thacker.

The yearly award celebrates outstanding achievement in the teaching of biosciences at university level.

The shortlisted candidates have each shown individual excellence in teaching through innovative and inclusive teaching practices, dedication to personal development, and commitment to supporting colleagues within and beyond their own institution.

Dr Patrick Murphy is Associate Professor/Biochemistry Programme Leader in the Department of Biology at the University of York, UK. Over the last 15 years, Patrick has taught and supported UK and Overseas students from a diverse range of educational and cultural backgrounds, across several different undergraduate and postgraduate programmes and universities. He is passionate about widening access and participation in Higher Education (HE) Bioscience and providing opportunities for all students especially those from underrepresented backgrounds. He has also taught part-time distance-learning adult learners and post-16 students with no previous experience of HE, on widening participation programmes.

Patrick has designed Inclusive Bioscience Education Research Projects for final year undergraduate students. The students work with primary and secondary schoolchildren, teachers and health professionals from local, national and international schools, charities, science, educational and health organisations.

Dr Carys Watts is a Senior Lecturer in Enterprise and Director of Engagement in the School of Biomedical, Nutritional and Sport Sciences at Newcastle University, UK. She leads on bio-enterprise, global and partnerships and outreach activities, and holds External Examiner and School Governor roles.

Carys is a microbiologist who found her teaching philosophy through combining her scientific experimentation approach with the creativity and innovation found in bio-enterprise education. She teaches across the undergraduate biomedical sciences curricula, runs the commended Business Enterprise for the Bioscientist module, delivers teaching at master’s level, and has a keen interest in staff enterprise development activities. She specialises in bioscience outreach innovation and development of inclusive, sustainable practical laboratory activities, recently developing a new international virtual exchange in bioengineering and health.

Dr Richard Thacker is an entomologist, a Senior Lecturer, and the Programme Leader for Applied Bioscience and Zoology (97% teaching satisfaction and ranked No. 1 in the UK in the 2024 Guardian League tables) at the University of the West of Scotland, UK. He is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, a consultant and External Verifier for the Scottish Qualifications Authority, and an External Examiner at the University of Essex.

Richard has worked in UK academia for over 30 years, and in addition has delivered lectures to students in Armenia, China, France, Ghana, Norway, Oman, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Slovenia, and the USA. Richard is also an active researcher, presenting at international meetings in Brazil, Morocco, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and the USA. Most recently in 2023 he delivered a speech to an audience of over 10,000 at a graduation ceremony for Mount Kenya University. He has published peer-reviewed articles, written articles for the popular press, and authored an entomology undergraduate textbook, later translated into Greek.

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.