Keynote speakers

Professor Brian Schmidt

Brian Schmidt

Professor Brian Schmidt is the 2011 Nobel Prize Winner and is a Laureate Fellow at The Australian National University’s Mount Stromlo Observatory. Professor Schmidt was raised in Montana and Alaska, USA, and received undergraduatereceived degreesundergraduate indegrees Physicsin Physics and Astronomy from thefrom the University of Arizona in 1989. Under the supervision of Robert Kirshner, he completed his Astronomy Master's degree (1992) and PhD (1993) from Harvard University.

In 1994 he and Nick Suntzeff formed the High-Z SN Search team, a group of 20 astronomers on 5 continents who used distant exploding stars to trace the expansion of the Universe back in time. This group’s discovery of an accelerating Universe was named Science Magazine’s Breakthrough of the Year for 1998. Brian Schmidt joined the staff of the Australian National University in 1995, and was awarded the Australian Government’s inaugural Malcolm McIntosh award for achievement in the Physical Sciences in 2000, The Australian Academy of Sciences Pawsey Medal in 2001, the Astronomical Society of India’s Vainu Bappu Medal in 2002, and an Australian Research Council Federation Fellowship in 2005. In 2006 Schmidt was jointly awarded the US$1M Shaw Prize for Astronomy, and shared the US$0.5M 2007 Gruber Prize for Cosmology with his High-Z SN Search Team colleagues. In 2008 he was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Sciences, a Fellow of the United States National Academy, and Foreign Member of the Spanish Royal Academy of Sciences. His work on the accelerating universe was awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics, jointly with Adam Riess and Saul Perlmutter. Professor Schmidt is continuing his work using exploding stars to study the Universe, and is leading Mt Stromlo’s effort to build the SkyMapper telescope, a new facility that will provide a comprehensive digital map of the southern sky from ultraviolet through near infrared wavelengths.

Public lecture: Thursday 19 September 2013, 6-7pm at Finkel Lecture Theatre in the John Curtin Medical School, ANU

Professor Ian Chubb (Chief Scientist of Australia)

Professor Ian Chubb

Professor Ian Chubb commenced his role of Chief Scientist of Australia on 23 May 2011. Prior to his appointment Professor Ian Chubb was Vice-Chancellor of the Australian National University (2001-2011), Vice-Chancellor of Flinders University (1995-2000), Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Monash University (1993-1995) while simultaneously the Foundation Dean of the Faculty of Business and Economics for 16 months.

Professor Chubb’s research focused on the neurosciences and was supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council, the Australian Research Grants Scheme and by various Foundations. He has co-authored some 70 full papers and co-edited one book all related to his research. He was a member of the Grants Committee, and a member or Chair of several Grant Interviewing Committees, all of the National Health and Medical Research Council.

In 1999 Professor Chubb was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for “service to the development of higher education policy and its implementation at state, national and international levels, as an administrator in the tertiary education sector, and to research particularly in the field of neuroscience”. In 2006 he was made a Companion (AC) in the order for “service to higher education, including research and development policy in the pursuit of advancing the national interest socially, economically, culturally and environmentally, and to the facilitation of a knowledge-based global economy”. In 2000, Professor Chubb was awarded a Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa) from Flinders University. He was made the ACT’s Australian of the Year in 2011 for his contribution to higher education.

Professor Richard Baker

Richard Baker

Professor Richard Baker has recently been appointed the ANU Pro-Vice Chancellor (Student Experience). He is a geographer with a passion for teaching and learning. He was awarded the ANU Vice-Chancellor’s Award for teaching Excellence in 1996 and 2002. Subsequently his work has received national recognition through two individual and one team national teaching awards. In 2004 he was appointed as the inaugural Associate Dean, Teaching and Learning, in Science at ANU. In 2007 he was promoted to Deputy Dean of Science and in 2012 to Director of Science Education. He has been the driving force being establishing the ANU Vice-Chancellor’s courses “Creating Knowledge”, “Unravelling Complexity” and “Leadership and Influence” – for more details on each see

His research interests relate to Indigenous Australian land management issues. His publications include two books related to his work on Indigenous issues “Land is Life” and “Working on country”. He has also published in international journals on the issue of linking teaching and research. More details of his research, teaching and former students are available at

Keynote presentation title: Research-led education and student engagement. See abstract

Professor John Loughran

John Loughran

Professor Loughran became a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia in 2009, and was awarded a Doctor of Letters by Monash University in 2011. He has been the recipient of several ARC grants supporting research projects involving the preparation and induction of teachers and the identification and explication of pedagogical content knowledge in practicing teachers. He has authored or edited over 20 books on teacher education and teacher practice and published over 150 papers in these and related fields. He is very interested in developing and articulating teachers' professional knowledge and reflective practice - especially in science - and in drawing more attention to why we need to better value the work of teachers. Professor Loughran is highly regarded throughout the world for his research contributions in the areas of reflective teacher practice and professional development of both novice and experienced teachers.

Keynote presentation: 40 years of Science Education Research: the State of Play and its Application to Teaching and Learning in Tertiary Science. See abstract.

Professor Roy Tasker

Roy Tasker

Roy Tasker is currently Professor of Chemistry Education at the University of Western Sydney, and Provost of its Hawkesbury campus. His primary teaching responsibilities are in first-year chemistry, and his research interests are in how and what students learn using interactive multimedia resources.

He graduated from the University of Queensland in 1978 with a science degree and a diploma of education, and then moved to New Zealand where he obtained his PhD in synthetic inorganic chemistry at the University of Otago in 1982.

Following postdoctoral positions at the University of Tasmania and the University of Adelaide, he was appointed as a Foundation Lecturer at the University of Western Sydney in 1985.

In the mid-90s he produced a suite of molecular-level animations in his collaborative VisChem project. From research with students he then developed the VisChem Learning Design as a best-practice strategy to use these animations to assist students to build their own mental models of the molecular world, and understand chemistry in a deep way. He has applied this work as a co-author of a multimedia-rich, university chemistry textbook entitled Chemistry: Human Activity, Chemical Reactivity.

He is also a consultant for universities in Australia and Singapore interested in moving away from passive delivery of information in face-to-face contexts to interactive, evidence-based teaching. This involves developing learning designs, informed by an evidence-based model for how we learn, and mediated using wireless student response technology and data mining to monitor learning gains and affective factors.

In 2011, Roy was awarded the Prime Minister’s Award for Australian University Teacher of the Year.

Keynote presentation: Research into practice: Visualising the molecular world using a cognitive learning model. See abstract.

Keynote abstracts

Professor Richard Baker - Research-led education and student engagement

Research-led education has been on the higher education scene for several decades with strong advocacy from prominent scholars (Boyer, 2000). There are multiple meanings associated with the phrase; with academics conveying to students the excitement of both the process and outcomes of research (Holbrook & Devonshire, 2005; Lopatto, 2004). There is evidence indicating that the student experience, both engagement and learning outcomes are greatly enhanced when research-led education is implemented. Educational evidence is often of snapshots of individual courses and programs taking up the endeavour (Healey, 2005; Seymour, Hunter, Laursen, & Deantoni, 2004). In the meantime, whole institutions have taken on-board the research-led paradigm (Wilson, Howitt, & Wilson, 2007; University of Canberra, 2011).

This keynote will present a case study of ANU as the institution journeys into research-led education. Do student journeys reflect the paradigm? Examples of ANU’s “research-led education” will be presented, as will some from other institutions. The focus will be on innovative practices in the teaching of Science at ANU but examples will also be drawn from across the ANU including the ANU Vice-Chancellor’s Courses (see that the speaker has been the key player in establishing. Trials and tribulations, constraints affordances, student voices and what next for ANU will also be discussed.

Professor John Loughran - 40 years of Science Education Research

40 years of Science Education Research: the State of Play and its Application to Teaching and Learning in Tertiary Science.

Since the early days of recognizing that students should play a central role in their own learning in the 1970s a wealth of research has pointed to the importance of student-centred learning approaches in science education and to the increasing complexity of the teacher’s role. Our understanding of the place of the teacher in teaching and learning has developed considerably over the last 30 years, particularly through the development of a theory of Pedagogical Content Knowledge, which describes the complex intersection of teacher content knowledge and knowledge of effective ways of teaching this content. The structure of the knowledge we teach has also been explored through research into the nature of scientific concepts and how students engage with these. This work also began some 30 years ago through research into nature of science misconceptions that students bring to the classroom and how these impinge on their capacity to learn new concepts. In all of these areas Australian researchers have played an integral part.

Professor Loughran’s research has focussed on answering the question, “How do teachers learn how to teach and how do they then put that into practice and develop their knowledge, skills and ability over time?” This is now a question of increasing interest to tertiary teachers of science.

Professor Roy Tasker - Research into practice: Visualising the molecular world using a cognitive learning model

My early experience with students, confirmed by the chemical education literature, indicated student misconceptions and difficulties in chemistry stem from an inability to visualize the invisible molecular world. To address this challenge I developed an integrated suite of molecular-level animations in our VisChem project in the mid-90s. However, I quickly realised that you cannot change a student’s mental model at this level by simply showing animations that portray our expert models of this world, and then just expect novices to adopt them for understanding chemistry concepts.

This started my journey to develop and evaluate learning designs1 to enable students to engage with and learn from multimedia resources, based on an information-processing model consistent with the latest research in cognitive science. The most successful learning design is demonstrated here. Tasker, R., & Dalton, R. (2006). Research into Practice: Visualisation of the Molecular World Using Animations. Chemistry Education Research and Practice, 7(2), 141 - 159.
See pdf.