Dr Kathleen McDougall

Kathleen McDougallSTEMNET Co-ordinator, University of the Highlands and Islands

Beltane Fellow: 10 Jan 2011 – 4 July 2011

Kathleen McDougall has recently taken up the post of STEMNET co-ordinator with the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI).  Her role involves supporting teaching in schools across the region with advice and resources for STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) activities, particularly in context with the interdisciplinary nature of the Curriculum for Excellence.

Kathleen previously worked as a Post-Doctoral Research Associate at the Environmental Research Institute (ERI), a small research facility with a broad range of research themes including: Biogeochemistry; Biotechnology and Bioresources; Climate Change; Ecology and Ecosystems; Emerging Contaminants and Ecotoxicology; and Renewable Energy and the Environment.  She contributed to the interdisciplinary nature of ERI’s research through activities across several of the themed areas, together with the provision of support for staff and students in techniques such as chromatography and microscopy, particularly scanning electron microscopy.

At ERI she developed a strong interest in public engagement and co-ordinated STEM and other outreach activities there, including participation in schools activities, community events and science festivals. As part of her public engagement activities, she also represented ERI in the local community as a member of the Caithness Biodiversity Group and Caithness Branch of the British Science Association.

Kathleen’s Beltane Fellowship is titled “Public engagement training at UHI”; the aim is to enhance skills and capacity for public engagement at UHI through the development of training materials to complement the Beltane Certificate. To do this she will undertake a review of current public engagement training opportunities for research staff and students at UHI, which will help to establish public engagement contacts, highlight gaps in current training and identify opportunities for development. It will also provide a database of key contacts and areas of expertise across the UHI network from which to establish a UHI public engagement community and encourage sharing of best practice. By seeking input from staff and students on training requirements, the materials developed will be specifically tailored to meet the needs of UHI, and will be designed for a combination of different modes of delivery including utilising the virtual learning environment (VLE) resources at UHI.