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For staff


Thirteen inspirational academics have been honoured for the outstanding quality and approach to their teaching.

The 20th annual Pilkington Prizes, which honour excellence in teaching across the collegiate University, were held at Murray Edwards College last night.
The prizes are awarded annually to academic staff, with candidates nominated by Schools within the University.
The Pilkington Prizes were initiated by Sir Alastair Pilkington, the first Chairman of the Cambridge Foundation, who believed passionately that the quality of teaching was crucial to Cambridge’s success.
This year’s recipients received their awards at a ceremony attended by Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz and Lord Watson of Richmond CBE, the University’s High Steward.
The prize-winners, and excerpts from their citations, are given below.
Dr Jennifer Bavidge, University Lecturer and Academic Director, Institute of Continuing Education: “Jenny Bavidge has overseen the development of Creative Writing as a new specialism for ICE; modules in Creative Writing are now included across the spectrum of courses. She has made a major contribution to the Master of Studies degree in Creative Writing, as well as a Certificate in Creative Writing, which was launched this academic year. Jenny has also played a key role in developing the Master of Studies in Advanced Subject Teaching, which helps English and History teachers enhance their subject knowledge.”
Dr Abigail Brundin, Senior Lecturer in Italian, Department of Italian: “Abigail Brundin has made sustained, outstanding contributions over a number of years to undergraduate teaching, access initiatives and coordination of undergraduate programmes for the Department, Faculty and University. In particular, she has made innovative, striking and successful use of visual material, PowerPoint and CamTools to deliver a wide range of undergraduate education in the field of Italian Renaissance studies. Students enthusiastically select options to be taught by Abigail, and feedback on her teaching is invariably excellent.”
Dr Christine Farr, University Lecturer in Genetics, Department of Genetics: “Christine Farr holds a University Lectureship in Genetics and has made an enormous contribution to teaching in the department over many years. Her role as Part II Genetics Course Organiser has been central to the high regard with which this course is held. It received great praise during the 2010 Teaching and Learning Review, with enthusiastic student feedback, and it trains many alumni who go on to become active scientists. Christine was instrumental in successfully overhauling the course to its current modular structure. Her lectures on chromosomes are especially well received, resulting in her examination questions being very popular.”
Dr Dick Fenner, Senior Lecturer, Department of Engineering: “Dick Fenner has been the Course Director of the highly successful MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development since its establishment in 2002. With students from over 60 countries ranging in age from 20-65, some with considerable professional experience and some with very little, he has had to devise many innovative approaches to teaching. He has constantly evolved the course to reflect the changing needs of the students, and his transformative educational experience has included role plays, games, debates, site visits and mock inquiries, and field trips.”
Dr Andrew Flewitt, Reader in Electronic Engineering, Department of Engineering: “Andrew Flewitt has consistently delivered excellent and innovative electrical engineering teaching in the Engineering Tripos for over ten years. He set up a new fourth year course in Micro-Electrical-Mechanical Systems, which has attracted students specialising in many different areas of engineering. His introduction of an innovative coursework element to this gives students the much-valued opportunity to get into a clean room to fabricate simple devices. He has also devised a new third year course in Semiconductor Engineering, and has reinvigorated laboratories for the general Part I.”
Dr Richard Hickman, University Teaching Officer, Faculty of Education: “Richard Hickman is held in the highest regard by his students, past and present, who have described him as ‘an inspirational character’ whose teaching is ‘consistently exceptional’. He draws on his unique combination of skills as an accomplished painter and educational researcher to provide engaging teaching for the PGCE course in Art and Design, and the MPhil in Arts Culture and Education.”
Dr Christopher Lester, University Senior Lecturer, Department of Physics: “Chris Lester was appointed to a Lectureship in 2006, and promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2010. During this time he has rapidly emerged as one of the Department of Physics’ most outstanding teachers. This is not only the result of an attractive personal style, but also a matter of considerable investment in preparation and careful thought about content. The key to his success is that he invariably finds new ways of interpreting and explaining concepts in physics, often relating these to the students’ own experiences.”
Dr Lesley MacVinish, Senior Teaching Associate, Department of Pharmacology: “Lesley MacVinish has been a Teaching Officer in the Department of Pharmacology since 2007. This appointment marked a return to the department where she worked first as a Research Associate and then a Senior Research Associate from 1984 to 1999, before a brief intermission in the Department of Medicine. Lesley is clearly adored by her students, not only for her enthusiasm in teaching but also as a mentor who they can approach for advice on any problem – academic or otherwise. In feedback they described her as ‘a lecturer who genuinely cares’, ‘one of the best teachers I’ve had whilst at Cambridge’, and ‘where there’s MacVinish there’s smiles, laughter, and supervisions with standing room only’."
Dr Sanjay Ojha, School of Clinical Medicine: “Consultant Nephrologist Sanjay Ojha is an excellent medical educator, who works to the highest standards in all aspects of his professional life. He is a skilled, meticulous and caring physician, and these characteristics have made him an exceptional role-model for clinical medical students and junior doctors. As Stage 1 Coordinator he manages students’ crucial transition from pre-clinical to clinical medical studies, which many find daunting. Their feedback is a testament to his success. One student said: ‘It was Dr Ojha’s teaching prowess and genuine love of the medical field that made sure we were motivated, and challenged us to learn more. He has become an inspiration as the type of doctor to be in the future’.”
Dr William O’Reilly, Lecturer in Early Modern History, Faculty of History: “William O’Reilly is an exceptional teacher of history. Evaluations from students have been extraordinarily positive since the first year he joined the Faculty as a lecturer in 2006, praising his ‘unrivalled devotion to his students’. One student noted, ‘he is the only lecturer I’ve come across who had more people attending in week eight than week one, because word had spread that his lectures were just wonderful’.”
Professor David Tong, Professor of Theoretical Physics, Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics: “David Tong has made extraordinary contributions to education in the department and beyond, and his lecturing abilities are widely lauded. Feedback from undergraduate students at all levels reflects his infectious enthusiasm for his subject, from the IID course in Statistical Physics to the IA course in Dynamics and Relativity. His dedication to reorganising courses, providing high-quality notes and even video lectures shows his willingness to go beyond what is expected, and is much appreciated not only by Cambridge undergraduates of all abilities but by students around the world.”
Dr Benjamin Walton, Faculty Teaching Officer, Faculty of Music: “Benjamin Walton has taught at all levels in the Faculty of Music, from large first-year lecture courses through to MPhil and doctoral supervisions. He has maintained a consistently excellent standard across his considerable Faculty and College teaching responsibilities, which he holds alongside major administrative duties. Benjamin served as Director of Undergraduate Studies for three years, from 2009 to 2012. Feedback about his courses from students is universally positive; they have described his lectures as ‘my favourite course of the year’ and ‘extremely informative, logically structured, well delivered and very interesting’.”
Dr Jessica White, School of Clinical Medicine and Hughes Hall: “Jessica White successfully combines her busy clinical career as a Consultant Chest Physician at West Suffolk Hospital with an important educational role at Cambridge for both standard and graduate entry medical students. An enthusiastic and dedicated teacher, she is very popular with students who describe her as ‘always willing to go the extra mile’, and ‘one of the most approachable members of staff at Cambridge’.”
Picture (from left to right): Dr Sanjay Ohja, Dr Jessica White, Dr Abigail Brundin, Professor David Tong, Dr Richard Hickman, The Vice-Chancellor, Lord Watson of Richmond CBE, Dr Christopher Lester, Dr Jennifer Bavidge, Dr Lesley MacVinish, Dr Dick Fenner, Dr Andrew Flewitt, Dr William O’Reilly and Dr Christine Farr. Dr Walton was unable to attend the event.


21 June 2013