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Personal profile

Academic Biography

Helen graduated from the University of York with a BSc Honours degree in Biology, and a Master of Science degree in Forensic Science from the University of Strathclyde. Before joining the University in October 2005, Helen worked at the Pirbright Institute, Surrey, in the Community Reference Laboratory (CRL) for Bluetongue virus (BTV), a viral disease in sheep. Her work focused upon the design, implementation and validation of a BTV specific PCR diagnostic test as well as heavy involvement in the quality assurance and control of the CRL.

Within the School of Health and Life Sciences (SHLS) at Teesside, Helen lectures in cell biology and human embryology, as well as forensic biology and DNA analysis and is module leader for four undergraduate modules.  Helen has more than 10 years experience of Programme Leadership for the BSc (Hons) Biological Sciences degree and the BSc (Hons) Forensic Biology degree.

In addition to this, Helen was a member of the workforce development team working with the Centre for Policing and the Metropolitan Police, and was Programme Leader for the Foundation Degree in Science in Forensic Practice (Fingerprint Identification). Helen is the current elected academic staff member for the University on the University Academic Board and was the academic member on the Board of Governors.  Helen is also now a member of the University International Committee.

In 2016, Helen was seconded to the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Team within Academic Registry working on a range of projects within the areas of group work assessment and feedback. She was also responsible for the Enhancement and Evaluation Fund and was co-author of the QAA Audit Self-Evaluation Document.

Helen is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology. Helen has worked on the Higher Education Academy funded project: “A Marked Improvement: Transforming Assessment in Higher Education” as well as being a collaborative member of the Higher Education Academy, The Biochemical Society and the Heads of University Biosciences research entitled “The Status of Practical Work in UK Undergraduate Bioscience Degrees”.  Helen is Branch Treasurer for the Royal Society of Biology Northern Branch.

Summary of Research Interests

Her research interests include the recovery of biological evidence from unusual samples including from bathwater and personal cleaning implements. She is also working with a team of colleagues to examine the transfer and persistence of human and animal hairs within a forensic context.  Helen has also undertaken research into the recovery of fingerprints from mobile devices and PC peripherals, and has published work on quality standards within the forensic field.

Research Projects & External Funding

Helen has previously secured funding from the Royal Society of Biology to host a BioArt trolley at the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art for Biology Week.

She has also gained funding from Teesside University's "Student as Researcher" scheme and has published work relating to both the research work undertaken and the pedagogical benefits of the scheme.

External Roles and Professional Activities

Helen is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and is a panellist/reviewer for their GTEA and NTFS awards. She is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology, and is Treasurer of the Northern Branch committee. 

Helen is also an External Examiner for the forensic degrees at Kingston University.

External Research Collaborations

Helen has worked with Forensic Rescue Limited to examine the use of their patented Evidence Recovery System (ERS) for the recovery of trace biological evidence.

Helen has also worked with Julienne Foster, Director of Fostering Forensics Ltd, on research work.

Enterprise Interest and Activities

Helen is interested in collaborating with companies through workforce development. She is interested in developing both accredited and non-accredited programmes, working with companies to produce assessments which are relevant and fit-for-purpose for your own workforce.

Learning and Teaching Interests and Activities

Helen is interested in student engagement and how different strategies can be used to improve the student experience and subsequent student performance. She has previously examined how engagement with the wider academic research arena can build confidence in students and provide CV enhancing opportunities. Currently she is looking at ways to develop and implement the use of technology to enhance laboratory learning and build student confidence in basic laboratory skills.


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