The 2006 Invitrogen Education Award: Susan Hamilton

Susan HamiltonSusan did her BSc(Hons) and PhD at the University of Queensland, investigating hydrolytic enzymes in Professor Burt Zerner's laboratory, and she acknowledges his very positive influence in both research and tertiary teaching. She started her academic career as a Senior Tutor at UQ in 1976. After a year at the University of Illinois, her research moved into protein phosphorylation and phosphatases. Collaborative research on the purple acid phosphatases and proteases from ginger and pineapple have been her most recent areas of interest. Susan has maintained a longstanding interest in tertiary education. She was instrumental in developing a program of peer-assisted study sessions (PASS) for first year students at UQ, beginning as a pilot on biochemistry in 1995, and now embedded in many first level science, maths and economics courses. A CAUT-funded project led to the production of a series of video resources for first level biochemistry teaching to support the PASS program. As project director of the $2.2 million Atlantic Philanthropies funded Bright Minds project, she initiated a range of programs for science students, including the Advanced Study program for very able BSc students, and outreach programs aimed at improving science education in primary and secondary schools. Susan was awarded a UQ Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1995, was Chair of the ASBMB Special Interest Group in Education for two years and has just completed three years as Chair of the FAOBMB Education Subcommittee. She has been recently nominated as the Education representative of IUBMB.

For the past six years Susan has been the Director of Studies for the Faculty of Biological and Chemical Sciences, and is involved in a major review of the BSc at the University. Her other activities include chairing the University's Gender Equity Subcommittee and membership of the State Government Task Force to increase the number of women in science-, engineering- and technology-based careers.

Susan is honoured to be the recipient of the inaugural Invitrogen Award, which she will use to attend the 2006 Conference of the International Society for Scholarship in Teaching and Learning (Washington DC), and to visit several US institutions with strong science education research units, including the University of Washington and the University of Indiana. Her interest is in developing reliable ways to measure course effectiveness in the context of biochemistry, based on exciting initiatives in other disciplines. These studies provide strong evidence that the use of diverse 'interactive engagement' methods can increase course effectiveness in both conceptual understanding and problem solving well beyond that achieved by traditional methods.