Welcome to the blog of the British Ecological Society’s Teaching and Learning Special Interest Group (BES T&L SIG).  The webpage and blogs are maintained by group Communications Officers, Drs Becky Thomas (Royal Holloway University of London) and Julia Cooke (The Open University) on behalf of the committee listed below.

Please also visit our Twitter Feed and learn more about the British Ecological Society.

Committee Members

Alice Mauchline (@alicemauchline) – Co-secretary

Alice is the co-secretary and also represents the Enhancing Fieldwork Learning Team on the T&L SIG committee. She is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Reading and has research interests in agricultural ecology and fieldwork pedagogy. She is particularly interested in the integration of citizen science and participatory methods into my research and teaching.


Dan Forman – Co-secretary

Dan is a Senior Lecturer, the head of Zoology in the department of Biosciences, Swansea University and the representative for the Welsh HE sector on the British Ecological Society Education, Training and Careers Committee . He is one of the co-founders of the Teaching and Learning SIG and has a particular interest in practical skills development and inclusivity in education.

Dan Forman

Karen Bacon (@KarenL_Bacon) – Events

Karen is a lecturer in Ecology & Global Change, with a specialism in plant palaeoecology at the University of Leeds.  Karen’s teaching and research interests span general plant ecology, urban ecology, field work and palaeobiology. She is particularly interested in communicating the relevance of the fossil record to students through field work and use of museum collections.

Karen Bacon

Julia Cooke (@CookeJulia) – Communications

Julia is a Senior Lecturer in Ecology at The Open University.  She is a plant functional ecologist with interests in plant silicon, comparative trait analysis, responses to climate change and plant-animal interactions. Julia’s teaching focuses on ecology and environmental science, skill development and making authentic field studies available to distance education students.

Julia Cooke

Becky Thomas (@BeckyMicrocebus) – Communications

Becky is an urban ecologist and Senior Lecturer at Royal Holloway University of London. Her teaching focuses on ecology, especially in the field and her pedagogic research focuses on using technology to improve field based learning, specifically in using apps and social media.

Becky Thomas

Yoseph Araya (@YNAraya) – Equality and Diversity

Yoseph is a plant ecologist, working as an academic at The Open University. He is passionate about education and the public’s engagement with their natural environment. At BES T+L Special Interest Group, he represents the Equality and Diversity committee and aspires to make ecological knowledge accessible to all.

Yoseph Araya

Joanna Bagniewska (@JMBagniewska)  – Equality and Diversity

Joanna splits her time between two roles: Senior Lecturer in Environmental Sciences at Brunel University London, and Communications and Public Engagement Officer at Oxford University. Her Equality and Diversity interests centre on supporting women in science, empowering students with disabilities, and improving access to – and career progression within – academia.

Julie Peacock (@juliepeacock06) – HE Policy

Julie is a plant ecologist and a teaching focused lecturer in the School of Geography, University of Leeds. She was previously an academic advisor at the HEA Bioscience subject centre, having the privilege of working with leading academics on national teaching projects. Julia is happiest teaching in the field and her pedagogic research focuses on improving field learning for all students. She is delighted to be on the SIG as one of the two policy reps.

Julie Peacock

Nick Worsfold – HE Policy

Nick is a Senior Lecturer in Environmental Science at Brunel University London, where he teaches ecology, leads a BSc in Environmental Science and works for the Brunel Educational Excellence Centre, developing innovative teaching across the University. He is a community ecologist interested in how ecological communities assemble and disassemble, using microbial model systems to test theory. His pedagogical work focuses on understanding how universities can embed environmental sustainability across the curriculum and on developing interdisciplinary teaching on subjects such as climate change.


Barbara Tigar – Treasurer

Barbara is a Lecturer in Environmental Biology and Ecology at the University of Central Lancashire and has a range of research interests in applied ecology including entomology, conservation biology and art-science interactions. She has a particular interest in experiential and practically based learning and teaching, such as embedding student-led research, field work and opportunities for engagement with role models and the world of work into the student experience.


Hannah Peel – Schools/young people

Hannah is Head of Biology and Ecology at Moreton Hall School in Shropshire. Before teaching she worked as an Ecological Consultant after a degree in Zoology and an MSC in Nature Conservation. She is passionate about Ecology and tries to pass on her love of the natural world and interest in Ecology to her students both in and out of the classroom. She hopes through her involvement with the SIG to help develop ideas and resources that can be used by students and teachers in primary and secondary schools to foster interest and passion for Ecology.

Jon Hale (@BeaulieuBio) – Schools/young people

Jon is a Chartered Science Teacher and currently Head of Biology at Beaulieu Convent School in Jersey. He has a passion for the outdoors, and as a qualified Mountain Leader and Rock Climbing Instructor he is often seen introducing Ecology to his students in more informal settings. An advocate for practical science, Jon strives to have his students demonstrate the key skills of a scientist in every lesson.

Jon Hale