Chemist named Educator of the Year

Published 28 November 2017

UNE Chemistry Senior Lecturer, Dr Erica Smith, has been named the Royal Australian Chemistry Institute’s Educator of the Year.

Erica was presented with her award at a ceremony in Melbourne last Friday in recognition of both her teaching in the lecture theatre, and the high school outreach programs and activities she has been involved in over several years.

She said the recognition from Australia’s oldest science institute helped to reinforce that her approach to science education was on the right track.

“Personally, I am proud to receive this recognition, but from UNE’s point of view this is proof that we can hold our heads high from a teaching perspective.

“My aim in the teaching and learning of chemistry is to improve the confidence and achievements of students through inspiring, motivating and innovative teaching, improved curriculum and empathetic, respectful student support.”

“This award is also a great promotion for the University and shows we are every bit as effective at teaching as anywhere else.”

While Erica has many years’ experience working in the US, UK and Australia, and has received a number of awards and citations for her teaching, such accolades once seemed a distant dream when she was a struggling student.

“I failed my first chemistry exam in Year 11,” she admits, “and failed second year chemistry at uni, so it’s a big thing for me to get this award.”

“It really encourages me to keep working hard and keep moving along the path I’m on.”

“People often think chemistry doesn’t relate to them but everything is made of molecules so chemistry is all around us.”