Society for Natural Sciences Newsletter August 2022
The newsletter is available on the Society website society-for-natural-sciences-newsletter-august-2022
Welcome to this Newsletter from the Society for Natural Sciences
Our planned event to launch the Society had to be cancelled as a result of COVID19. We now intend to have an equivalent event on Monday 3 April 2023 at the Francis Crick Institute. Three years on, the Society is up and running so we can scarcely call it a “launch event” but it will be our first big conference. We plan to combine the event with our annual student conference at UCL which will give us the opportunity to showcase Natural Sciences to a wider audience.
Congratulations to Professor Nicola King on the award of a National Teaching Fellowship.
Professor Nicky King, chair of the Society for Natural Sciences and Professor of Natural Sciences Education at the University of Exeter has today been announced as one of the winners of the prestigious National Teaching Fellowship Scheme awards for 2022, run by AdvanceHE.
Nicky led the development of our ground breaking accreditation framework which embeds interdisciplinarity at it’s heart and supports institutions to develop and share best practice around interdisciplinary science education. This work was core to Nicky’s NTFS nomination alongside her endeavours developing Natural Sciences at Exeter and advocating for both wider access to higher education and a more compassionate approach to educational leadership.
Nicky says “I’m really proud of the work we’ve done with the Society for Natural Sciences to introduce an accreditation scheme for UK HEIs and to champion interdisciplinary science education. This award recognises the value this scheme and I hope will act as a platform to raise the profile of Natural Sciences education and the role of the Society for Natural Sciences in the wider scientific community”
Journal: Undergraduate Journal in Natural Sciences
The student journal is now up and running with the appointment of our senior editor, Prof Stephen Ashworth, and three interns. The online journal will publish undergraduate research which we expect will be largely drawn from student projects. If you are completing an undergraduate project this is your chance to reach an international audience! See the web site for details of how to submit.
Journal: New Directions in the Teaching of Sciences
Following the assumption of responsibility for the journal by the Society we are delighted to announce the appointment of a new editor-in-chief. She is Dr Sweta Ladwa from the University of Greenwich. The Journal, which publishes articles on Science in Higher Education is Open Access and free to publish. You can view the journal at https://journals.le.ac.uk/ojs1/index.php/new-directions
Nottingham Student Conference
The annual student conference was hosted by Nottingham University. We had keynote talks from Dr Peter Harvey from the Precision Engineering Beacon, Emily White from C40 Cities and Zachary Peggs, a graduate student in respiratory medicine. Over the two days there were student presentations by students from Bath, Lancaster, Leeds, Loughborough, Nottingham, Open University, UEA, UCL and York. Prizes for the best talks and posters went to Georgina Alabone (UEA); Martha Neugarten(UCL); Georgina Bonney(Leeds); Elizabeth Rider (Nottingham); Lucy Baker (Nottingham).
Channel Talent seminars
We continue to offer online seminars on Interdisciplinary science to schools and year 11/12 pupils. These provide the chance to disseminate the opportunities in Natural Sciences to prospective university applicants. The most recent talks were:
How chemical bonds make magic materials: the case of carbon by Dr. Ilija Rasovic (University of Birmingham)
Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectroscopy: how chemists can use physics to understand biology. Dr. Tharin Blumenschein (University of East Anglia)
Slides of the talks and follow-up resources are available on the Society web site
For 2022-23 we have the following programme
- October 19 @ 16:15 – 17:00 Society for Natural Sciences: Astrobiology – Finding Life on Planets – Tutorial (KS5) Find out more »
- October 6 @ 12:30 – 13:15 Society for Natural Sciences: Energy Crisis, Fusion & Studying Natural Sciences (KS5) Find out more »
- November 17 @ 12:30 – 13:15 Society for Natural Sciences: The Interdisciplinary Science Of Chemical Pollution (KS5) Find out more »
- November 23 @ 13:00 – 13:45 Society for Natural Sciences: Medical Imaging & Studying Natural Sciences (KS5) Find out more »
Seminars for Pedagogic Research (PedR) and the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL)
The program of seminars continued this year with
Scientific case-building as a learning objective: using an open-ended interdisciplinary lab to teach rhetoric by John Pearl (University of Leicester)
Experiences in interdisciplinary learning: from studying Molecular Sciences to the Head of Natural Sciences by Tharin Blumenschein (University of East Anglia)
Systems thinking approaches to interdisciplinary learning for sustainable development by Glenn Hurst, (University of York)
This is what we believe – a perspective on interdisciplinarity by Derek Raine (University of Leicester)
How you can help: We are also planning to research aspects of interdisciplinarity, one of which will be the impact of a Natural Sciences degree on teaching in schools. If you are a graduate of a Natural Sciences programme who has gone into school teaching, or if you have any such contacts, we would like to hear from you. (email email@example.com)
Affiliation of Student Societies
From the start of the academic year in September we will be offering affiliation status to undergraduate Natural Science societies in institutional members of the Society. Affiliation is free and offers free membership of the Society to members of the local society or group. The only requirement is the agreement to a named contact person in the local society and the submission of names of local members. When members of affiliated societies on the list apply to join the Society for Natural Sciences the membership fee will be waived.
One of the other benefits of affiliation will be eligibility for membership of the Student Council (see below).
It is the intention of the Society to set up a Student Council. One representative from each affiliated society will be eligible for membership of the Council. The aim of the Council will be to advise the Society on activities that will contribute to member benefits and to the wider charitable aims of the Society to promote interdisciplinary and Natural Sciences.
Report on Accreditation
One of the objectives of the Society is the accreditation of degrees in Natural Sciences. Accreditation is designed to confirm that multi-disciplinary and interdisciplinary degrees reach equivalent standards of rigour and level to that of single-subject awards. In addition accreditation signifies that a Natural Sciences degree demonstrates some benefit from the interdisciplinary structure beyond the combination of separate modules from single subject programmes.
The Society has accredited 11 programmes in the first round. These are Bath, Birmingham, Exeter, Keele, Leeds, Lancaster, Leicester, Loughborough, Nottingham, Open University, UCL, York.
STEM Horizons Conference
The Society sponsored a workshop at the STEM-Horizons conference at UCL in June. The workshop offered support to academics applying for AdvanceHE professional status and awards. The conference itself was hugely successful being over-subscribed with three keynote speakers and four parallel sessions over two days. The official publication for the meeting is the Society journal New Directions in the Teaching of Sciences https://journals.le.ac.uk/ojs1/index.php/new-directions
Professor Nicky King has been invited by the Science Council to chair a session at an interdisciplinary Climate Conference at the Institute of Physics on 29 September
The Society is run by a main committee that meets (virtually) four times a year. Membership of the Committee comprises the heads of subcommittees with additional members co-opted for specialist expertise. Subcommittees meet as needed, two to eight times a year. At present we have vacancies for the Membership and EDI subcommittees. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in helping us to run the Society.