SAMS news room

SAMS staff win teaching awards

Inspirational, innovative and engaging are just some of the compliments given to lecturers at the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) in the third annual teaching awards scheme run by students.

Organised by UHISA, the UHI Students’ Association, the awards recognise excellence in seven categories and go to: Dr John Howe, SAMS UHI, most inspiring lecturer; Jane Edwards, Perth College UHI, outstanding student support; Professor Toby Sherwin, SAMS UHI, best research supervisor; Colleen Maclean, Perth College UHI, most engaging online tutor; Matt Sillars, Inverness College UHI, best student adviser and most engaging video-conference tutor; Murray Stark, Inverness College UHI, best preparation for employment and Dr Kirsty MacDonald, Argyll College UHI, best assessment feedback.

The winners will all receive a trophy and certificate.

Most inspiring lecturer, Dr John Howe, a marine geologist at the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) UHI, was commended for his positivity and his passion for geology. One student commented:
“John is the most incredible lecturer I have ever had. With love for his subject, he has the ability to bring across knowledge in a short time and raise the interest of the whole class.”

Speaking about his award, Oban-based Dr Howe said: “I was surprised and delighted to be recognised in this way. Geology is all around us, from the tops of the mountains, to the bottom of the sea so it’s a very easy subject to get excited about! I’m pleased the students also find it so interesting - even when we do have to stand in the rain!”

Best research supervisor, Toby Sherwin, a Professor of oceanography at SAMS UHI, was selected for his commitment and support. One student
wrote: “Toby is a dedicated and diligent supervisor and has supported me over a number of years, including during a period of ill-health. He has an open door policy and was extremely supportive during the year I was unable to study because of ill-health. He collected samples at sea for me and drove me home when I was too ill to use public transport.”

Professor Sherwin said: “It's a great honour to be considered the best supervisor because there are a lot of very good teachers and supervisors in the university. This should also be a great fillip to the support team at SAMS UHI who do all they can to ensure students get the highest quality of support. Training a young researcher and watching them develop from their first hesitant steps to becoming a fully-fledged, mature scientist is a great reward in itself so to be honoured for doing this is a very nice experience.”

The University of the Highlands and Islands was one of the first institutions to work with the Higher Education Academy and the National Union of Students to introduce student-led teaching awards. They have now been adopted throughout Scotland and will be introduced to the rest of the UK this year.

UHISA president Nathan Shields said: “The awards clearly highlight that we have tutors who regularly go above and beyond their roles to support their students and create an outstanding student experience. The quality of nominations this year aptly reflects the students’ appreciation of the support, skills, and expertise that their lecturers bring to the classroom.”

For more information, contact Susan Szymborski in the UHI Comms team on tel: 01463 279222 or by email

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