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  I have been a freelance writer and photographer specialising in science and the environment since 1996.   My route from research student to photojournalist was somewhat tortuous, but none the worse for that - I picked up a lot of valuable experience on the way.  It's summarised here:

Curriculum vitae
Writing and journalism
Photography
Research in biology
Science education
Project and line management, employment research
Science education in developing countries


 

Curriculum Vitae (synoptic)

Education and qualifications
University of Leeds,              1968 - 1971  BSc (Leeds) IIi Hons Agricultural Zoology                            1971
University of Nottingham      1971 - 1974 PhD (Nottingham) Physiology of reproduction in mammals     1978
Huddersfield Polytechnic      1977 - 1978 Postgrad Certificate in Education (Leeds)                               1978

 
Employment
1996 -  Freelance Writer and Photographer 
1994 - 1996 University of Malawi,  Senior Lecturer in Biology Education
1993 - 1994 Freelance Writer and Education Consultant 
1989 - 1992 Chesterfield College of Technology and Arts,   Head of Division of Science and Mathematics 
1987 - 1989 Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council Education Directorate, 
Planning Officer for Further Education
1983 - 1987 Doncaster Metropolitan Institute of Higher Education, Lecturer II in Biology
1978 - 1983  Doncaster Metropolitan Institute of Higher Education, Lecturer I in Biology
1975 - 1976 St Bernadette's School, Nottingham,  Science Teacher

 
Professional Associations
1979 - Member of the Institute of Biology     Yorkshire branch committee member
1999 - Member of the British Association of Science Writers

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Writing and journalism

I've had a lifelong fascination with science, and especially biology.  I am intrigued by the continually unfolding story of how our complex material world operates.  I am also interested in the impacts of scientific discovery and technological development on peoples' lives, their wider environment and the natural world.  I learnt from my time in science education that one of the best ways to understand something is to try to explain it to someone else.  Writing, with its opportunities to inform and entertain, is another way of advancing my own understanding by explanation.  If all goes well, the results are concise, coherent and readable.

Having travelled a fair amount, I don't have a parochial, Eurocentric view of science and technology.  I recently worked in science education in Africa (in Malawi) and I have also travelled independently in other African countries, the Indian subcontinent and south-east Asia.  I'm interested in stories that explore the relationship between western science and the indigenous cultures of such countries.

More about the writing I offer may be found at services, while a selection of credits and samples of work may be found at credits


Photography

I am an entirely self-taught photographer.  My interest in the medium was stimulated in the mid 1980s when I started a succession of independent trips to south-east Asia, the Indian subcontinent and Africa.  In wanting to bring back a record of my first trip to the Malaysian rain forest, I discovered there is more to photography than 'point 'n press' and an eye for composition.  Over the next few years I learnt from my mistakes to develop a range of professional skills, both artistic and technical. My photographs have since appeared in a variety of publications, as both stand alone reproductions and combined with my own text in several photofeatures.  A collection of African images is managed by a photographic library.  For more about my photography visit services.   Stock lists and more pictures may be found in the gallery pages, and samples of published work at credits.

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Research

In the early 1970s I started my PhD at Nottingham University.  At that time, I was fascinated by the strategies that mammals in different  environments adopt to ensure successful reproduction.  I was also interested in how advancing knowledge of  physiology could be used to manipulate and manage reproduction in farm animals and humans.

In my work on the laboratory rat, I developed a radio-immuno assay to investigate patterns in the secretion of testosterone by the male, and the role of the hormone in modulating the effects of environmental change on the reproductive system.  I showed that testosterone levels in the blood are not stable.  Several peaks and troughs occur throughout a day, levels vary seasonally (even in the apparently constant and stable environment of the laboratory rat colony) and change with age after puberty.  Raised testosterone levels are found in the proximity of oestrus (receptive) females, and when males search for females using only the sense of smell.  The work contributed to the emerging story of the endocrine control of the male reproductive system and sexual behaviour.

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Science and environmental education

At Nottingham University I did a lot of laboratory demonstration work and project supervision - the start of my exploration of life science education over the next 15 years.  After school teaching in Nottingham, I took a Postgrad.Cert.Ed. at Huddersfield Polytechnic, and spent the following nine years as a biology lecturer at Doncaster Metropolitan Institute of Higher Education.

The challenge in any area of science education is to help students gain the analytic and linguistic skills that are essential for understanding and practice.  Within academic and vocational education for the 16-19 and adult sectors, those challenges are enhanced by the huge diversity of courses, and by a wide range of individual abilities and backgrounds.  Building the materials and refining the skills on which successful teaching and learning depend kept me fully occupied for nearly a decade.

Colleges of Further and Higher education must respond rapidly to changing patterns of demography and employment. In the table of teaching programmes below, some courses lasted but others came and went as society changed dramatically.  In South Yorkshire, throughout the 1980s, the demise of the traditional industrial base of coal and steel affected all walks of life, altering the very fabric of society.  It was a time and a place where the impact of technological change and social policy were keenly felt.  I learnt that demonstrating the relevance of science education to the lives of ordinary people could be as important as the development of specific skills.

Courses taught.

Biology and environmental science Courses for industry and
technician education
Applied science for the 
service industries
Paramedical
BEd Hons (Sheffield)  Occupational Hygiene BERB Preliminary Certificate in Ionising Radiations; Non-ionising Radiations BTEC and C&G courses in Catering and Hairdressing Prenursing studies
Dental technicians
INSET (in-service teachers) Diploma in Environmental Studies (Sheffield) BTEC Higher Certificate Chemistry (Toxicology)    
GCE A and O Level/GCSE Biology, Human Biology, Environmental Science BTEC Science (full-time, part-time, and by distance learning)    
National Diploma in Environmental Sciences      
Environmental studies for mining industry courses      

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Project management, employment research, line management

In the late 1980s a series of initiatives from the then Conservative Government were aimed at making the Further and Higher Education service more responsive to, and accountable to their core markets of employment and continuing education.  As part of that process, I was seconded to manage the production of the Further Education Development Plan for the Doncaster Local Education Authority area.  I produced two, highly regarded, three-year rolling development plans that modelled the procedures for course development by colleges, and their responsiveness to changing patterns of demography and employment.  In addition, I managed applications for grant-aid, bringing in funds for several FE development projects.  These included a research assistant post to establish greater efficiency in gathering the national, regional and local intelligence used by employers and training providers - a project which I supervised.

In 1989, I took up the post of Head of Division of Science and Mathematics at Chesterfield College of Arts and Technology, a line management responsibility for some 30 full and part-time lecturers, their ancillary staff and the development of courses in science and mathematics.  After three years, as the college prepared for its incorporation as an independent institution, I took the opportunity to change direction and explore new horizons in science education in developing countries, science writing and photography.

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Science education in developing countries

One should never live in the 'land of regrets', a fate for myself, had I not fulfilled a long-held ambition to work in a developing country - to experience at first-hand both cultural diversity with its rich rewards, and the challenges faced by third world nations in their search for a route out of poverty.

In September 1994, I started work as Senior Lecturer in Biology Education at the University of Malawi.  I was employed on a local contract, earning a pitifully low salary by western standards, but a fortune to the overwhelming majority of people in this exceedingly poor country.  I stayed for two years, teaching B.Ed. students the theory and practice of science education, supervising their work in schools throughout the country, and developing teaching materials for the University's Curriculum Department.  I also worked with NGOs including VSO, on their inservice training programmes.

Though economically impoverished, Malawi is rich in natural beauty.  I enjoyed to the full the wonderful opportunities open to the enthusiastic naturalist in this land of mountains, forests and lakes.  But life in Malawi is a bitter-sweet experience.  Some of the world's most spectacular scenery, and the Malawians' great charm and friendliness in spite of adversity, vie for attention with the terrible ravages of AIDS, malaria, malnutrition and environmental degradation.

My time in the country provided many opportunities for photography, and I supplemented my income with photographic commissions for aid agencies.   A selection of pictures from Malawi can be found in the galleries.  I also gathered material for subsequent writing. You can find more on Malawi in some of my recent articles.  An audio-visual presentation about Malawi and its people is available.

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