Professor Simon Belt

Year of NTFS award: 2010

Institution at time of NTFS award: University of Plymouth

I obtained my BSc and DPhil in Chemistry from the University of York in the 1980’s, and then carried out post-doctoral research as at the Universities of California, U.S.A. and Ottawa, Canada. I returned to the U.K. in 1993 and took up the position of Lecturer in Environmental Chemistry at the University of Plymouth. I was appointed to Senior Lecturer in 1998, to Principal Lecturer in 1999 and to Professor in 2005. For my teaching, I received the Royal Society of Chemistry Higher Education Teaching Award in 2003 and the Chemical Synthesis Services award for Teaching in 2005.

<p>Professor Simon Belt<br></p>

My NTF application was based largely on my contributions to teaching using so-called Context/Problem Based Learning (C/PBL) and its use in teaching chemistry undergraduates. In addition to using this approach to inspire chemistry students in Plymouth, I have also been awarded close to £500,000 to develop, publish and evaluate C/PBL resources, which are now embedded in university chemistry curricula all round the world. I have also created novel approaches to teaching laboratory work that encourage students to develop a research ethos in their learning. Indeed, I attribute much of my teaching philosophy to a parallel career as a research scientist.

I have also contributed to the field of chemical education research, publishing >20 peer-reviewed publications and giving national and international conference presentations on C/PBL in chemistry, often as Keynote lectures. I also act as a mentor to newly appointed academic staff, both in Plymouth and beyond. I have also served on national HE committees including the Advisory Committee of the HEA UK Physical Sciences Centre.

I currently have a more research focus to my role, but keep a keen interest in developing students’ research skills through supervision of masters level research projects. I retain a role as mentor to new academic staff and prospective NTF applicants.

My pedagogic expertise: 

  • context/problem based learning
  • research skills
  • mentoring.