Immunologist’s teaching recognised in national award

Dr Andy Foey with Dr Helen Collins, BSI Education Secretary and head of the judging panel that awarded the prize 

An academic hailed as ‘inspirational’ by his students has won the inaugural Teaching Excellence Award given by the British Society for Immunology (BSI).

Dr Andy Foey, Associate Professor in Immunology in the School of Biomedical and Healthcare Sciences in the Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, was presented with the accolade at the BSI national awards ceremony earlier this month. 

The BSI established the Immunology Teaching Excellence Award to recognise immunologists who use excellent communication skills to convey immunology concepts to a range of students in an engaging and accessible manner, and inspire the next generation of experts in the profession. 

Having taught at the University for more than 10 years, Andy has inspired many classes of students to move forward in the field, with some progressing to postgraduate study in national and international research laboratories in Oxford, Cambridge, Kings, Birmingham, Bristol and Maastricht. 

One student said in an anonymous end-of-year survey: Amazing teacher, tutor and mentor….inspired me to follow in your footsteps and become an immunologist…probably the biggest compliment I can give you.” 

Andy’s teaching has also been publicly acknowledged by his students, having being nominated for the University of Plymouth Students Union Student, Staff, Teaching and Representation (SSTAR) Awards Most Inspiring Teaching prize in 2012 and 2017, and winning this award in 2015. 

His research also contributes to the infection and immunity theme of the institution’s Institute for Translational and Stratified Medicine (ITSMed), where he collaborates with colleagues in research areas such as gut immunology and periodontal disease. 

Helene Stern, research masters student in the School of Biomedical and Healthcare Sciences, nominated Andy for the award, and said: 

“Andy’s lively, interactive, and surprising teaching elements serve to keep students involved and attentive throughout lectures. He has inspired me to pursue a career in immunology. He has instilled in me a love of research through his infectious passion for the subject and his relentless motivation to inspire the next generation of immunologists.”

Dr Andy Evenden, Associate Dean for Teaching and Learning in the Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, also put Andy forward for the prize, adding: 

“I am absolutely delighted on behalf of the School and the Faculty that Andy has won this award, as his teaching methods are both innovative and effective. Amongst traditional lectures, seminars and practical work, he has introduced peer-review and peer assessment into his modules as well as journal clubs. He uses animations as well as board games to explain the complexities of cellular immunity. Andy is an incredibly dedicated and passionate immunologist, keen to enlighten as many people as possible in the complex, fascinating, vital world of immunology and a hugely deserving winner of the BSI Teaching Excellence Award.”

Dr Andy Foey said: 

“I’m honoured to have received this award from the British Society of Immunology, and am very grateful to everyone who supported me to be shortlisted. Immunology is a fascinating area of biomedical science, and one which I hope many more students will come on to enjoy here in their time at Plymouth.” 

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