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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 2020.

The award celebrates bioscience teachers in higher education who have a proven dedication to enhancing the learning of their students.

Those shortlisted are able to demonstrate the positive impact they have had on students through innovative teaching practices, and the design and development of successful teaching approaches.

Dr Sue Jones, Dr Alfred Thumser and Dr Peter Klappa will prepare and present a case study on their teaching methodology and practice, followed by an interview by the judging panel in March.

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FLTR: Dr Sue Jones, Dr Alfred Thumser and Dr Peter Klappa


Dr Mark Downs CSci FRSB, chief executive of the Royal Society of Biology congratulated those shortlisted: “Each of the three shortlisted candidates for this award have shown their commitment to providing the best possible learning experience for their students.

“At the RSB we recognise how the importance a good lecturer can be to those pursuing a career in the biosciences.

“The award aims to recognise educators who take extra care, with a thoughtful and inventive approach to teaching, to equip bioscience students with the skills and knowledge they need to thrive.”

The overall winner of the award will be announced during the 2020 HUBS Annual Meeting, taking place 20-21 April at the Francis Crick Institute in London.

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’s free membership to the Society.

PKlappa landscape

Dr Peter Klappa, Reader in Biochemistry at the University of Kent, has been shortlisted for his work utilising emerging technologies to improve education delivery.

Inspired by KhanAcademy, Peter creates video tutorials and lecture-captures as additional learning resources. Fascinated by the educational possibilities of the emerging technologies of the internet and in particular social media, Peter recently adopted live-streaming of lectures via Facebook and YouTube.

For this, Peter was named by the joint information systems committee as one of the UK’s top ten Higher Education social media superstars in 2017. Peter will present the latest results of this project in his case study.

Since 2011, Peter has been master of Rutherford College at the University of Kent. In 2014 he was awarded a national teaching fellowship, and in 2016 he became a senior fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Peter has also been awarded several science faculty teaching prizes for his innovative and student-centred teaching.


Dr Sue Jones, director of biomedical sciences at York St John University, has been shortlisted for her work in developing a biology programme with exceptional student support, curricula design and assessment processes.

Sue has taught biochemistry to undergraduate and postgraduate students for over 15 years. Since 2014, she has successfully designed, delivered and embedded the first and only biology-based programme at her university.

Sue has repeatedly won the student-voted best lecturer in biomedical science award and been nominated for two student union teaching excellence awards. Sue was also an institutional nominee for the national teaching fellowship scheme in 2019.

Sue’s personal experiences of accessing higher education, and its subsequent life-changing impact, drive her commitment to widen participation and inspire all students to reach their full potential. Her case study focuses on transformative student outcomes through sustained student support, effective curricula design and using iterative / integrated assessment strategies.

AThumser landscape

Dr Alfred Thumser, senior teaching fellow in biochemistry at the University of Surrey, has been shortlisted for his work on leading the way in improving feedback practices.

Alfred completed his studies in biochemistry at the University of Cape Town and, after two post-docs, signed on to an academic career at the University of Surrey.

Alfred’s teaching-focussed learning journey started with his ‘Mind the Gap’ workshop on feedback practices to colleagues. For his case study he will revisit the project in a contemporary context, to reflect on student progression. 

The Higher Education Bioscience Teacher of the Year award is made possible through sponsorship from Oxford University Press and Heads of University Biosciences (HUBS), a special interest group of the RSB.