Jennifer Colley awarded first ever University Medal in science communication

Friday 18 December 2015
Jennifer Colley (centre) with former students Kelsey Marshall (left) and Alyssa Wang (right).

CPAS honours student Jennifer Colley was this week awarded the first ever ANU University Medal in science communication.

The medal recognises Jen's outstanding undergraduate and honours record, including her outstanding honours thesis on the topic 'A comparison of the nature of science within five international curricula'.

CPAS congratulates Jen on this fantastic achievement, and will be pleased to welcome her back in 2016, when she will commence a PhD in science communication.

But Jen is a secondary school science teacher by day, and when she graduated this week, she also walked across the same stage as two of her former students.

“I definitely enjoy being a teacher and I always put my school and my students first,” she says.

She must be doing her job right because two of her students from Burgmann Anglican School, Kelsey Marshall and Alyssa Wang, went on to graduate from the Bachelor of Medical Science at ANU.

Jen completed a Bachelor of Science at ANU with a double major in chemistry, before studying a Graduate Diploma of Education at the University of Canberra and becoming a science teacher.

But when Jen started teaching science, she became ‘frustrated’ with the science curriculum and decided to return to ANU and complete her honours on a topic aimed at changing that system.

“As a science teacher I think there is a lot of focus on science content and not science holistically,” she says.

“It’s really important for students, particularly for students who aren’t going to continue on as scientists, that they understand what science is about so that they become scientifically literate citizens.”

Jen, who managed to fit her research in around a busy teaching schedule feels “honoured and privileged to win a University Medal”.

“I wrote about 12,000 words of my thesis in a two week holiday period,” she says.

Her research looks into the way science is taught at schools in Australia compared to curriculum internationally.

Thankfully she found her perfect match with supervisor Professor Sue Stocklmayer, outgoing CPAS Director.

“Sue is just phenomenal, I couldn’t ask for a better supervisor,” she says.

“I think the Centre is amazing in what it aims to do and what it achieves in a really wide range of areas. So I’ve signed up with them again!”

Because of Jen’s love for teaching and dream to make a difference, she has chosen to embark on a PhD with ANU. One area she will focus on will be how to support teachers in using science curriculum to teach science literacy skills.

“I picked ANU because I’d been living in Canberra since year six and I didn’t really want to leave. And now you can’t keep me away!” she says.

Whatever the future may hold for Jen, one thing is certain, she will be running into former students everywhere she goes for a long to time to come. 

Adapted from story by Dale Druhan, Science Marketing and Communications.

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