A pioneer in Australian STEM education and passionate advocate of science outreach has been recognised at the annual Universities Australia Teacher of the Year Awards.

Acknowledged as one of the preeminent educators and innovators of science-related education in Australia, Griffith University Professor Richard John has been a successful facilitator of STEM pathways for transforming lives, particularly young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Professor John received his Australian Award for University Teaching (AAUT) for Teaching Excellence in the Physical Sciences and Related Studies category at the Awards ceremony in Canberra.

AAUT Teaching Award recipient Dr Richard John with Griffith Vice Chancellor and President Professor Carolyn Evans

Dean of Learning at Teaching at Griffith Sciences (2013-2015), Professor John was a Smithsonian Fellowship recipient in 2007 and was seconded by the Australian Academy of Sciences in 2007-2008, as Managing Director of the National Science by Doing education project for secondary schools.

In his 24-year tenure at Griffith University, Professor John has led impactful regional, state and national STEM educator programs on behalf of a range of educational authorities and learned academics. He has also been instrumental in helping establish and promote ‘Science on the Go‘, Griffith’s leading STEM outreach facilitator as well as being the creator and author of the acclaimed student teaching tool Suzie the Scientist Early Reader Series.

“It’s recognition not just for myself but also the teams that have been with me over the journey particularly the incredible Science on the Go Team which is now in its 15th year and has a wonderful footprint across Queensland,” Professor John said.

The award also recognises my own undergraduate chemistry students, my staff who’ve undertaken significant personal development programs and lastly the terrific support from Professor Debra Henly (Senior DVC – Learning and Teaching), who gave me a free hand to ensure learning and teaching at Griffith Sciences was widely valued.”

Professor John also paid tribute to recently-retired Dean and Director of the Centre for Learning and Teaching Professor Alf Lizzio.

“As long as I’ve been at Griffith, Alf has been there as a mentor and leader in the teaching and learning space and his contribution not just to sciences but the University as a whole, has been outstanding.”

The following staff received AAUT Citations for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning:

Dr Brooke Harris-Reeves, School of Allied Health Sciences

Dr Brooke Harris-Reeves

Citation: Dr Brooke Harris-Reeves initiated, designed, implemented and evaluated innovative employability-focused curricula fostering student engagement, positive student experiences and graduate employment.

Dr Taeko Imura, School of Humanities, Languages and Social Science

Citation: For sustained commitment to transforming learning with innovative approaches and engagement with Japanese language and Japanese community to support students’ employability and life-long learning.

Dr Taeko Imura

Sarah-Jane Gregory, School of Environment and Science

Citation: For leading the collaborative and holistic development of innovative curriculum, community and scholarship in science that positively benefits undergraduate learning outcomes and experiences.

Ms Sarah-Jane Gregory

Dr Christopher Love, School of Environment and Science

Citation: For the development and implementation of innovative active learning and student-staff partnerships for enhanced engagement, learning and success in biochemistry and molecular biology

Dr Christopher Love