I am currently an Honorary Associate in the Department of Environment, Earth and Ecosystems and hold a 3-year National Teaching Fellowship from the HEA, awarded in October 2014..
I studied Zoology at Newcastle University and did research for my Ph.D at Nottingham University in the Zoology department. While at Nottingham I startd working for the OU as a summer school demonstator and a tutor on the Science Foundation Course. I moved to the Zoology department in Edinburgh University where I was firstly a Demonstrator in Zoology and then a Lecturer in Parasitology. I joined the OU full time in 1981. Between 1992 and 1996 I was a Co-Director of the Biodiversity Consortium, a grouping of over 40 Universities producing multimedia teaching materials for Biology. I was a Sub-Dean in the Science Faculty for 6 years and held a secondment as Head of the Open Broadcast Unit for 3 years. In 2001 I spent 6 months in Japan as a visiting professor in higher education at Nagoya University.
I have a long interest in the use of broadcasting and the visual media generally in encouraging both formal and informal learning and have been an academic advisor on many BBC/OU co-productions, as well as taking part in broacasts. I have contributed videos to iTunes-U, a learning pathway on ecosystems for iTunes-U and a Galapagos ebook. I am the lead academic on the Introduction to Ecosystems MOOC on FutureLearn.
My principal research interest now is ultrasonic communication in bush crickets and I am interested in all stages of the acoustic pathway. I am working at field sites in the UK and Germany on one species, Leptophyes punctatissima, where there is acoustic communication between both sexes. The whole interchange between a male and a female can last as little as 25 ms and is entirely ultrasonic (40 kHz). The aim of the field work is to establish the optimum ecological and acoustic conditions for the species.
Distribution of Leptophyes punctatissima in relation to vegetation at three field sites.
Selection of singing sites by male and female Leptophyes punctatissima.
An investigation of possible acoustic interaction between Leptophyes punctatissima and bats.
I have contributed to courses at all levels in Science, but have particular interests in experimental science, including lab-based schools, and the application of new technology to distance learning.