Scientia Education Academy

Inspiring Educational Excellence

Established in October 2016, the Scientia Education Academy gives UNSW and its outstanding academics a platform to showcase excellent teaching. The academy recognises outstanding educators, and harnesses the drive and enthusiasm of the Scientia Fellows to enhance learning and teaching across UNSW.

The UNSW Scientia Education Academy champions, inspires and celebrates excellence in education. Its strategic vision for education is to

  • Promote a scholarly, evidence-based approach
  • Champion innovation
  • Enhance the student experience
  • Advise on policies and strategies
  • Model a collegial community of mentoring

The Scientia Education Academy Lecture Series

The Scientia Education Academy Lecture Series highlights the innovative educational practices of our outstanding educators who inspire our students to achieve great outcomes both in their studies and future careers. UNSW’s Scientia Education Fellows provide leadership and vision through their own teaching and their mentoring of colleagues. You will hear about their particular approaches to enhancing the educational experiences and outcomes of students as well as their personal career journey.

Join the fellows for the lecture followed by drinks and conversation in the Tyree Room, John Niland Scientia Building.

Upcoming lectures

  • 21 February 2018, Wednesday, 5pm: Professor Alex Steel, UNSW Law - registration open
  • 22 March 2018, Thursday: Professor Chihiro Kinoshita Thomson, School of Humanities and Languages
  • 2 May 2018, Wednesday: Dr Michelle Langford, Senior Lecturer, Film Studies, School of the Arts & Media

Previous 2017 lectures

The Scientia Education Academy looks forward to sharing insight, projects and initiatives as they develop with the broader community.

Scientia Fellow Biographies

Committed to learning and teaching practice within UNSW, the Scientia Academy Fellows provide leadership and vision in learning and teaching across UNSW and in the higher education sector.  Below, please find a brief description of their respective contributions that have enhanced the profile and quality of learning and teaching:

Scientia Education Fellows 2016-2020

Dr Chinthaka Balasooriya

Chinthaka is an inspirational educator whose expertise has been recognised at the highest levels. He has received the Faculty of Medicine Teaching Excellence Award (2008), the Vice-Chancellors Award for Teaching Excellence (2012), an Australian Learning & Teaching Council Citation (2011) and a UNSW ARC Postgraduate Council Award for Excellence in Postgraduate Supervision (2015). He is a Fellow of the Australia and New Zealand Association for Health Professional Education.  Chinthaka has a background in Medicine and a PhD in Medical Education. His experience extends across the UNSW Medicine program to Higher Degrees by Research programs and Postgraduate Coursework programs. He is the Director of the Health Management Program at the School of Public Health & Community Medicine. 

Associate Professor Richard Buckland

Richard is an Associate Professor in Computer Security, Cybercrime, and Cyberterror at the University of New South Wales. His research areas lie in Learning and Teaching and Security Engineering.  Richard is the Chair of the Academic Board of the Australian Computer Society, a member of the UNSW Academic Board and the University Quality Advisory Committee, the Director of First Year Studies and the Chair of the Skills Syllabus Group of the School of Computer Science and Engineering at UNSW.  He holds degrees in Science and in Economics, and has been awarded the University Medal in Computer Science and the Vice Chancellors Award for Teaching Excellence (twice). He has been awarded numerous state national and international teaching awards including awards from the Australian College of Educators, the Australasian Association of Engineering Educators, and the The Australian Learning and Teaching Council. Richard was the Australian ICT educator of the year in 2013 (iAwards) and in 2008 was the Engineering Educator of the Year for Australia and New Zealand.  Richard's online computing lectures have had over two million views and in 2012 he ran the first Australian MOOC "UNSW Computing 1". He is co-founder of education startup an open MOOC and flipped teaching platform designed to delight students as well as teachers.

Associate Professor Gigi Foster

Gigi is an Associate Professor with the School of Economics,  having received her BA from Yale University majoring in Ethics, Politics, and Economics, and her PhD in Economics from the University of Maryland.  She has authored over 25 academic works published in a wide variety of economic and multidisciplinary outlets such as Journal of Public EconomicsQuantitative EconomicsHuman RelationsEconomics of Education Review, and Journal of Economic Psychology.  Her work related to education, behavioural economics, and Australian policy has appeared in national and international media outlets and informed public debates, and her award-winning teaching features strategic innovation, interactivity, and integration with research. She has served the profession in a variety of roles including as ARC Expert Assessor, as a member of the National Economics Learning Standards working party, and as the most junior female member of Australia’s National Economic Panel.

Professor Sami Kara

Sami  is a professor in the School of Mechanical & Manufacturing Engineering. He is the founder and academic-in-charge of the Sustainable Manufacturing & Life Cycle Engineering Research Group and also the co-director of the Joint German-Australian Research Group on Sustainable Manufacturing. Since joining UNSW in 2001 with a long track record in industry,  he has involved various administration roles in the school and the faculty while maintaining a very high standard of teaching and research.  Sami’s passion and commitment for teaching and supervision has been recognised with numerous awards including; UNSW Innovation in Teaching and Education Technology (ITET) Fellowship (2003),  UNSW Vice-chancellor’s Postgraduate Teaching Award (2004), UNSW Faculty of Engineering Carrick Citation Nomination (2007), UNSW Faculty of Engineering Dean’s Teaching Award (2009), UNSW ARC Excellence in Postgraduate Research Supervision Award (2012), UNSW Postdoctoral Academy Supervisor of the Year Award (2012), UNSW Vice-chancellors Teaching Award (2012), UNSW ARC Excellence in PG Research Supervision Award (2013), and OLT - Australian Awards for University Teaching (2014). 

Dr Michelle Langford

Michelle is Senior Lecturer in Film Studies in the School of the Arts and Media and she has over 15 years experience as an engaging and innovative teacher. Since joining UNSW in 2005 she has successfully team-taught the large first year gateway course, Introduction to Film Studies, a course that consistently rates very highly with students. Michelle has embraced technology-enhanced learning and was one of the first in her School to adopt a blended approach by using a flipped classroom method. Her approach to assessment design aims to provide authentic learning experiences through which students learn to apply abstract theoretical approaches to real-world practice.  Michelle has extensive experience of leadership in learning and teaching, having served a four-year term as Deputy Head, Learning & Teaching in the School of the Arts and Media (2012-2016). Among her many achievements in this role, Michelle led major curriculum review and development across a wide range of disciplines, including Media, Music, Film, English, Creative Writing and Theatre and Performance Studies.

Dr Benson Lim

Benson is a senior lecturer at the Faculty of Built Environment . He received his Bachelor degree in Building Construction Management (BBCM, with first class honours) from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in 2003, and completed his PhD studies at the National University of Singapore (NUS) in 2009.  Benson has a strong passion to learning and teaching, and sharing his experience. Since joining Built Environment in July 2010, Benson has hitherto received 12 Associate Dean of Education Teaching Excellence recognitions. In 2014, he received the BE Dean Teaching Excellence award. Benson has developed a teaching model, entitled “C.P.E.G.S.”, which integrates five concepts of learning: (1) Constructive Alignment; (2) Problem-based; (3) Experiential; (4) Game-based; and (5) Scaffolding. Also, he has published several research papers on the topics of scenarios-based learning, game based learning and communication development. 

Associate Professor Louise Lutze-Mann

Louise is an Associate Professor in the School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences where she is Deputy Head of School and Director of Teaching. She coordinates Science courses on Genetics and Molecular and Cellular Biology and also coordinates Molecular Biology teaching in Medicine.  She is School representative on the Faculty of Science Standing and Education Committees, and the Faculty of Medicine Education Committee. Louise teaches across a range of courses from large (1000 students) to small senior courses (30 students) and to students in both the basic sciences and in professional degrees, in three different faculties. She has been the recipient of nine teaching awards, including a National Teaching Excellence Award in 2014, and she conducts research on the use of blended learning and online resources in teaching. During her tenure at UNSW, she was invited to participate in the development of academic programs for a new university in the California State System.

Associate Professor Simon McIntyre

Director of Learning and Innovation at Art &Design, Simon’s research explores how online pedagogies, open education and resources, and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) can evolve education into a globally networked practice. He has been instrumental in developing award winning leading online teaching practices and open professional development programs, helping establish an internationally recognised quality online learning reputation for UNSW. Through his continued research and online teaching practice, Simon hopes to continue to help develop strategies to improve the quality and delivery of online education across any discipline.

Associate Professor Emma Robertson

In 2014 Associate Professor Emma Robertson was awarded both the Art & Design Faculty Dean's Sustained Teaching Excellence, and the UNSW Vice-Chancellor's Teaching Excellence Awards. Previously in 2008 she won the Dean's Award for Innovative Teaching for her two University wide creative thinking online courses. Emma researches new models and developments in creative thinking processes as applied to drawing, design and other disciplines. In her practice she explores the relationships between words, objects and memory in mixed media drawings and bookworks.  In addition to teaching creative thinking, innovation and entrepreneurship to undergraduate and postgraduate students in nine Faculties at UNSW, Emma also teaches content relating to the influence of scientific illustration techniques on design processes, including those used in the film industry.

Associate Professor Cathy Sherry

Cathy is a leading Australian expert on strata and community title, and the author of Strata Title Property Rights: Private governance of multi-owned properties (Routledge, 2016). She provides advice to government and the private sector on the complexities of collectively-owned property.  Cathy's research focuses on the social implications of private communities, as well as optimal planning for children.  Cathy has a special interest in urban farming and the challenges of providing growing space in high density cities.  Cathy is the recipient of a Vice Chancellor's Award for Teaching Excellence and a NSW Department of Training and Education and Australian College of Educators' Award. She was also a winner in the individual category of the Legal Innovation Index 2015, for her online Moodle site for Land Law.

Professor Alex Steel

Alex researches and teaches in criminal law and legal education.  His legal education publications range across the pedagogy and regulation of legal education, curriculum design, assessment practices and student wellbeing.  He is member of the nationally funded Smart Casual project developing online professional development for sessional law teachers and a blog on legal education issues.  Alex has received a Commonwealth Government Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning (2015); the LexisNexis ALTA Major Award for Excellence and Innovation in the Teaching of Law: Highly Commended (2013); Faculty of Law Award for Outstanding Research in Learning and Teaching (2013); Vice Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence (2008); a UNSW Learning and Teaching Award (2005/6) and an Innovative Teaching and Educational Technology Fellowship (2003). He was Associate Dean (Education) (2009 - 2013) and Associate Dean (Academic) (2014-2016).

Professor Chihiro Thomson

Chihiro is Professor of Japanese Studies in the School of Humanities and Languages in Arts and Social Sciences. She is an internationally recognised educator and reseacher of Japanese language, having served as President of the Japanese Studies Association of Australia (2007 -2009 & 2012 - 2016), an alliance of Japanese language education associations in 11 countries and regions. For her contribution to Japanese language education and postgradute supervision in applied and educational Japanese liguistics, she has received a number of awards including, a Japanese Foreign Minister's Commendation (2016), a Vice Chancellor's Award for Teaching Excellence (2013), a Commonwealth Government Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning (2012), Arts and Social Sciences Dean's Award for Excellence in Supervision (2014/2015), for Best SOLT Publication (2010) and many others. Her teaching and supervision are based on her research into educational pratice such as Communities of Practice and Sociocultural Approach to language learning and teaching. The highly reputed undergraduate Japanese program she leads at UNSW functions as a cluster of Communities of Practice, which network with each other and connect with the Japanese speaking community within Sydney and beyond. This offers our students opportunities to experience real-world usages of Japanese. For the postgraduate program, she hosts a HDR study group Community of Practice, which has become a "hub" for Sydney area HDR students of Japanese language and language education, attracting participation of students and supervisors from USYD, UTS, WSU and Macquarie. She publishes in the areas of Japanese language, language education, learner autonomy and motivation. 

Associate Professor Chris Tisdell

Chris is Associate Dean (Education) at UNSW Science who is a globally-acknowledged leader in digital innovation and technology in education.  Chris is driven by the challenges of: scale; personalized learning; and inclusion and diversity in education. Chris has responded to these critical needs through innovative approaches to online and blended learning.  Chris has been an early leader in innovatively applying technology to respond to critical needs in learning and teaching, such as: scale; personalised learning; and inclusion and diversity.  Chris’s innovation and sustained success with blended and online learning has fundamentally enhanced the way students learn. For example, his virtual classroom has included over 10 million people in 200 countries since 2008. Recognition and indicators of success include: A current class of 50,000+ learners on his YouTube educational channel, 10,000,000+ views of his YouTube educational videos, in 2013, this placed his educational channel in the top 40 worldwide on the platform YouTube EDU (and #1 across Go8), together with Oxford and Princeton,  10,000,000+ readers of his interactive etextbooks, making them one of the most popular books of their kind, and an OLT Teaching Excellence Award in 2014. Chris also has extensive experience innovating with: online educational games; mobile learning; MOOCs; and other online educational resources.  UNSW has celebrated his new links between digital innovation, technology and inclusion in education via a Staff Excellence Award (Diversity & Inclusion) in 2015.

Professor Gary Velan

Gary is a dedicated medical educator with more than 25 years of experience at UNSW. He is Professor and Head of the Dept of Pathology (2005-2016) and Director of Learning and Teaching Development (2011-2016) within the School of Medical Sciences. In 2016, he was appointed as Associate Dean (Education) in Medicine.  Gary’s innovations in education include the introduction of online formative assessments to UNSW, as well as the development of virtual microscopy adaptive tutorials (VMATs). Those resources have resulted in improved learning outcomes for students in Medicine and Medical Science at UNSW and beyond.  He is internationally recognised for research in medical education, focusing on eLearning as well as assessment and feedback, and has been a key contributor to educational research projects funded for more than $4.5 million.  In 2015, Gary received a UNSW Learning and Teaching Fellowship to develop and implement standards‐based assessment in the biomedical sciences. In the same year, his contribution to scholarship in medical education was acknowledged by the award of a Fellowship of the Australian and New Zealand Association of Health Professional Educators (ANZAHPE).  Gary’s achievements in education have been recognised within UNSW by two Vice Chancellor's Awards for Teaching Excellence (2003 and 2009), at a state level by a NSW Minister of Education's Quality Teaching Award (2003), and at a national level by a Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning (2007) and a Teaching Excellence Award (2010) from the Commonwealth Government’s Office for Learning and Teaching.

Scientia Education Fellows 2017-2021

Biographies of the Academy members who joined in November 2017 will be made available from 2018. 

See who joined the Scientia Academy in 2017 here.