Laboratory technician scoops national award

19 Apr 2013 10:42:22.680
PA 122/13

A laboratory technician who has worked tirelessly to enhance the student experience at The University of Nottingham has been recognised with a national award.

Teresa Needham, who has been employed as a technician in the University’s School of Geography for almost a decade has been awarded the Higher Education Academy (HEA) Geography, Earth & Environmental Sciences (GEES) Technician of the Year Award, one of the inaugural HEA STEM Technician of the Year Awards.

Teresa said: “I am utterly thrilled to have won this award and I am very grateful to all my colleagues within the School of Geography who took the time to nominate me. It’s fantastic to receive recognition for my role as a technician, which I find thoroughly rewarding.”
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Teresa joined the School of Geography back in 2003 and has played an integral role in assisting in the development of new practical modules, courses and laboratory-based activities, training staff in the use of new laboratory equipment, advising on health and safety issues and providing teaching and technical support during practical sessions.

AsThe University of Nottingham grew into a global institution, Teresa was also called upon to contribute to the development of new modules and courses at its campuses in China and Malaysia, helping to provide continuity for those students studying at both in the UK and overseas during the course of their degree.

Her previous job as a school science teacher has given her the skills and practical experience that has allowed Teresa to particularly flourish in her role as mentor to many of the School of Geography’s undergraduate students — which led almost 80 per cent of students quizzed in the 2011-12 Student Evaluation of Teaching to ‘strongly agree’ that Teresa has assisted them in their learning.

She has used a flexible approach to assess the prior knowledge of students and then adapt her teaching to the learning needs of the individual, with an emphasis placed on putting students at their ease and giving them the confidence to ask questions.

During school field trips she has taken on the role of enabling students with mobility issues and other disabilities to participate in practical activities and has worked in an advisory role for student dissertation projects as one of the ‘dragons’ in their Dragon’s Den style dissertation exercise.

More recently, she has been helping the first cohorts of international students from The University of Nottingham Ningbo China campus to adapt to life and study in the UK and has ensured these students can access the help and information they need to settle in by developing an induction programme.

She is also passionate about inspiring the next generation of geographers and informing the general public about the research conducted in the school — she has worked as an ambassador for the School of Geography during the University’s Community Open Day events and uses the laboratory to host activities for A-level and summer school students as part of the University’s widening participation strategy.

Professor Louise Crewe, Head of the School of Geography, said: “I am absolutely delighted that Teresa has been awarded the prestigious title of Technician of the Year. The award could not have been presented to a more deserving individual.

“During her time here in Geography, Teresa has established herself as something of a ‘School treasure’. She is a dedicated technician who always delivers everything that is asked of her and far, far more, is utterly professional and gives a great deal of her spare time and energy to enhancing the student experience at The University of Nottingham.

“She is absolutely invaluable in the support and mentoring of students and ensuring the smooth and safe-running of our laboratories and is regularly highlighted as a key member of staff by our undergraduate students.”
Teresa received her award on Wednesday evening at a conference dinner of the HEA STEM Annual Conference in Birmingham.

Presenting the award was Kelly-Ann Vere, a fellow Nottingham technician in the University’s Institute of Biophysics, Imaging and Optical Science (IBIOS), who was at the conference to deliver a talk on her work to promote the work of technicians in higher education.

Kelly-Ann said: “My congratulations go to Teresa. I am absolutely thrilled that a University of Nottingham technician has won this award and it made presenting the award all the more special.

“Technicians make a huge contribution to the success of universities on a number of levels, not least to the students teaching and learning experience. It is wonderful to see this contribution formally recognised by the Higher Education Academy through their annual Technician of the Year Awards.” 

The Higher Education Academy (HEA) is a national body for learning and teaching in higher education. It works with universities and other higher education providers to help bring about change in learning and teaching. It does this to improve the experience that students have while they are studying and to support and develop those who teach them. Activities focus on rewarding and recognising excellence in teaching, bringing together people and resources to research and share best practice, and helping to influence, shape and implement policy — locally, nationally, and internationally

Dr Janet De Wilde, HEA’s Head of STEM comments: “As the national body for enhancing learning and teaching in higher education, the HEA recognises that technicians, in the field or in the laboratory, have a very important role in supporting the student learning experience.”

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Notes to editors: The University of Nottinghamhas 42,000 students at award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It was ‘one of the first to embrace a truly international approach to higher education’, according to the Sunday Times University Guide 2013. It is also one of the most popular universities among graduate employers, one of the world’s greenest universities, and winner of the Times Higher Education Award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Sustainable Development’. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong and the QS World Rankings.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise. The University aims to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health. The University won a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education for its research into global food security.

Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest ever fundraising campaign, will deliver the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. More news…

Story credits

More information is available from Teresa Needham on +44 (0)115 846 7831,; or Emma Thorne, Media Relations Manager in the Communications Office at The University of Nottingham, on +44 (0)115 951 5793,

Emma Thorne Emma Thorne - Media Relations Manager

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 951 5793 Location: University Park

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