Phil is a Reader in Palaeobiology, Head of Palaeontology Research Group and STFC Science in Society Fellow
"Students might remember me as a teacher who worked hard to get them to learn, integrate and understand the topics I taught."
Research is my Life
My research aims to piece together evidence from the fossil record and living organisms to improve our understanding of the evolution of life on Earth.
My research is my life. Being able to teach topics, which I feel passionate about, is often reflected in my delivery. If the students can see your enthusiasm for a topic, they often feed off this. As more technology becomes integrated in the classroom, I am also keen to use new methods of delivery and teaching to help augment courses and enthuse students, such as using interactive iBooks (see, ‘Chemical Ghosts’, free on the iTunes store).
A Two-way Street
Teaching is a two-way street, where I also learn from my students as I teach them. Through teaching I better understand how I can translate my research to wider audiences, which often feeds back into my research programme. SEES integrates the cutting edge research being undertaken by faculty directly into the teaching programmes. This provides all undergraduates with a clear advantage in a competitive graduate market.
I have been working in Manchester on and off for over 22 years. However, I have been working in the School these past seven years. The people with whom I collaborate across the faculties are the greatest force keeping me in Manchester. The splendid facilities within the University also help to maintain and retain my whole research group.
Understanding is Key
Knowledge can be acquired relatively easily. However, understanding is the key. If the student can apply and integrate their knowledge, they have achieved the latter and succeeded by my measure.
I hope they see me an enthusiastic teacher and passionate about my science. They might remember me as a teacher who worked hard to get them to learn, integrate and understand the topics I taught.