CERG Committee

Chair: Jane Essex, University of Strathclyde

Jane took a degree in Toxicology and Pharmacology at the School of Pharmacy, University of London, before doing a P.G.C.E. in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. She taught Science, with a specialism in Chemistry, in a range of all-ability state schools from 1986 to 2002. Whilst working as a teacher she undertook an M.A. in Education and undertook an Ed D, looking at whether mentoring could raise achievement in chemistry.

A move to the University of Keele to work as P.G.C.E. tutor in Chemistry in 2002, enabled her to research and publish in various aspects of Chemistry education arising from her teacher education work, such as the cognitive demands of chemistry for teachers of the subject. Her major research areas of practice and research are science for learners with special needs, specifically intellectual difficulties, and the effectiveness of science outreach. She has continued to work in these areas during subsequent teacher education posts at Brunel University London and Strathclyde University. Jane also supervises M.A. and doctoral students in the area of Science education.

She currently serves the R.S.C. on its Education Division Committee and Membership Committee, and was previously C.E.R.G. treasurer. She was awarded a Fellowship of the R.S.C. in 2013.

Treasurer: Saima Salehjee, Strathclyde University

Saima Salehjee is a Chemistry Lecturer in the Department of Education, Strathclyde University, Glasgow, responsible for teaching and research work with particular emphasis on STEM education. Saima has recently completed her Ph.D. at Brunel University London – her research focuses on science identity and identity transformations over a lifespan of individuals from a different ethnic, religious and sexual backgrounds. She was nominated for the Brunel Doctoral Research Prize in 2017 and received the Grace Peeling Memorial Prize for her MA in Educational Management in 2011. She is an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (AFHEA) and an Associate Member of Royal Society of Chemistry (AMRSC).

Saima is a passionate science lecturer, motivating her student teachers to implement science interventions in schools and to research the impact of these interventions. Her aim is to inspire more primary and secondary school students to progress into STEM education and careers as future scientists.

Secretary: Michael Seery, University of Edinburgh

Michael is a Reader in Chemistry Education at the School of Chemistry, University of Edinburgh. His research interests align with two main themes: (1) technology enhanced learning to prepare students for learning and (2) laboratory education. He is a previous winner of the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) Higher Education Teaching Award and the (Irish) National Association for Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning Award. He is Chair of the Editorial Board of Education in Chemistry, a magazine published by the RSC for chemistry teachers, as well as being Associate Editor of the journal Chemistry Education Research and Practice. He is currently researching the topic of preparation for laboratory work in chemistry, and maintains a blog on various aspects of education at www.michaelseery.com.

Member: Jenny Burnham

Jenny is a Senior University Teacher at the University of Sheffield since 2005 responsible for lectures, tutorials, project work, and laboratory work, and now a programme level approach to the teaching of chemistry. She has varied interests in learning and teaching and is fascinated by the process of learning. She has completed an MEd in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education and continues to do research into students as experimenters in the teaching laboratory.  Jenny set up a network for teaching in the Faculty of Science, and is using her experience in this to steer the RSC Higher Education Chemistry Teaching Network.  Her latest venture is running writing retreats for teaching staff.  Jenny is a University of Sheffield Senate Award winner for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, and is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, a Member of the RSC and Chartered Chemist.

Member: Phillipa Cranwell, University of Reading

Philippa is a Lecturer in Organic Chemistry in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Reading and is currently the Undergraduate Admissions Tutor.  She is heavily involved in teaching the undergraduate students, from first year to fourth year. Her work revolves around three key themes: inspiring students so they excel in research; nurturing students to achieve their full academic potential; and making learning enjoyable. One area where these three themes merge is in her work towards enhancing the undergraduate practical course, allowing students to develop both the academic skills required for university success and the softer skills required beyond graduation. In 2017 she was awarded a University Teaching Fellowship from the University of Reading for her contribution to teaching and learning within the University and beyond. She has presented at a range of conferences, has published a range of research articles relating to chemistry education, has written two textbooks and is currently writing a third.

Member: Suzanne Fergus, University of Hertfordshire

Suzanne is an Associate Professor in the School of Life and Medical Sciences, University of Hertfordshire. In 2016, Suzanne was awarded the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Higher Education Teaching Award and in 2017 was awarded a National Teaching Fellowship. Suzanne’s research areas include contextualisation of chemistry in applied chemistry programmes, using technology to enhance student learning and the cognitive aspects in learning chemistry. Suzanne is now supervising her first chemistry education PhD and engages in peer review for Chemistry Education Research and Practice, Pharmacy and Advances in Pharmacology and Pharmacy. She has initiated a blog at www.suzannefergus.com 

Member: Sarah Masters, University of Canterbury (New Zealand)

Sarah graduated from the University of Edinburgh with a BSc(Hons) Chemistry (1997) and a PhD in Structural Chemistry (2000). She held a Royal Society of Edinburgh BP Research Fellowship in the School of Chemistry at the University of Edinburgh before moving to the Department of Chemistry, University of Canterbury (UC), New Zealand in 2011. She obtained a Postgraduate Certificate of Tertiary Teaching from UC in 2014. She is the Director of Postgraduate Studies for the newly formed School of Physical and Chemical Sciences at UC with leadership in all postgraduate chemistry teaching. Her research involves understanding the fundamentals of gaseous molecular structure and dynamics using electron diffraction techniques. She has developed new experimental and theoretical methods to advance the technique, applying these to short-lived species and multi-conformer systems.

She has held several Learning and Teaching Grants, developing new and innovative ways of engaging students in learning and communication of their understanding. She has also developed a series of introductory laboratory videos for Stage 1 Chemistry teaching, engaging postgraduate students in the development process.

Member: Stephen Potts, University College London

Stephen graduated from University College London (UCL) with an M.Sci. degree in Chemistry (2005) and stayed on to undertake a PhD on the synthesis of precursors for the chemical vapour deposition of tungsten and zirconium carbonitride thin films. After his Ph.D., he moved to the Netherlands to take a postdoctoral position at the Eindhoven University of Technology on precursors for plasma atomic layer deposition.

In 2013, Stephen returned to the UK to focus on teaching matters as a Lecturer in Inorganic Chemistry (Teaching & Scholarship) at Queen Mary University of London. He was responsible for teaching undergraduate chemistry courses from foundation up to third year level, with a particular focus on transition metal coordination chemistry and its applications. He also became the School’s go-to person for advice on Moodle quizzes. His pedagogical research involved the introduction of tablets to first-year undergraduates and development of the lab skills acquisition record. His efforts were recognised in 2016, when students voted him “Teacher of the Year” at the Queen Mary Student Union awards.

In 2016, Stephen returned to UCL as a Chemistry Teaching fellow. Aside from undergraduate chemistry teaching, his role has a particular focus on e-learning methods for enhancing the student (and staff) experience in lectures and the lab.

Member: Raj Randev, University of Warwick


Member: Simon Rees, Durham University

Simon is Head of Scholarship at the Foundation Centre, University of Durham and a Senior Fellow of the HEA. His research interests are in the areas of the language of chemistry, digital learning and widening participation. Within the RSC, he is currently a member of Education Division Council, Chair of the Educational Techniques Group and Chair of the 11-16 Curriculum and Assessment Working Group.  Further information on his most recent activities and publications are available at the website: https://www.dur.ac.uk/directory/profile/?id=9097

Member: Barry Ryan, Technological University Dublin
Barry is a lecturer, and Programme Director, in Technological University Dublin where his teaching focuses on introductory organic chemistry and advanced biochemistry. Barry is a Senior Fellow of the HEA and has been awarded institutional and national honours in recognition of his innovative teaching. He is passionate about practical implementation of research informed teaching. He has completed three postgraduate qualifications in higher education and these underpin a growing publication record in educational research. His current educational research interest lies in communities of practice for foundation chemistry students. He currently supervises two PhDs and seven masters students in educational research. Barry is the Co-Chair of MORSE (Methods for Science Education Research), a conference which seeks to widen the impact of practitioner driven method development in educational research. He is also the Chair, and Editor, of the Irish Journal of Science Undergraduate Research Experience which aims to promote and centralise research at all levels within the undergraduate curriculum. Within the RSC, Barry sits on the All Ireland Steering Committee and is a regular reviewer for CERP.

Member: Gan Shermer, University of Bath

Gan is currently a Senior Teaching Fellow in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Bath. After completing a PhD in organic chemistry and having spent time working in the pharmaceutical industry, Gan completed an RSC Fellowship in the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology communicating scientific topics and writing briefings for ministers. She joined Reading University in 2007 as a project officer for a Chemistry for our Future funded project combining her two passions; encouraging more people to take an interest in chemistry through various outreach activities and developing Chemistry teaching in Higher Education. She joined the University of Bath in 2008 and in her current role teaches on the organic and drug discovery courses, and has strong interest in innovation and pedagogic research. She has presented at a number of conferences and has published articles and a book chapter on a range of innovations in Chemistry teaching and support. She also acts as Admissions Tutor and coordinates the department’s schools outreach and public engagement activities, working closely with school teachers and pupils from a range of backgrounds.