Biology, ecology and biomedical science at Brighton

University of Brighton biosciences blog

Dr Nadia Terrazzini
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Dr Nadia Terrazzini

Dr Nadia Terrazzini is the course leader for Biological Sciences BSc(Hons), Biological Sciences MSci and Biological Sciences BSc(Hons) (with integrated foundation year).

Tell us about the subject area(s) you teach at undergraduate level

My professional field of expertise is Immunology and I teach it at undergraduate and postgraduate level.

What are some examples of activities that students in your subject area participate in during their studies?

I am very passionate about promoting the understanding of Immunology to students, who often find this subject very complex. Enhancing its accessibility is a priority in my work. To foster engagement, I try to introduce an element of fun in my teaching and I strive to keep my lectures student-centred and highly interactive, including everyday analogies (e.g. comparing the working of the immune system to a football match), story-telling and animated PowerPoint diagrams or animations.

I also use online game-based learning platforms such as Kahoot and Nearpod to make complex immunology mechanisms and concepts more approachable and easier to visualise. Students engage with the teaching using their laptop/tablets, so that I can introduce questions, polls and videos, pace the lecture and create breaks that give students time to reflect on the learning and work with peers in small groups. I also include examples of experimental data in my presentations and I design assessments to test the students’ ability to understand and interpret scientific data presented in literature. This supports students’ professional development as scientists and ultimately their employability.

What opportunities are there for students to be involved in your research, or research projects of colleagues?

I lead research investigating host immune responses to infections.  I like to involve undergraduate students in my research projects. For example, thanks to school funding, recently one of my undergraduate students was able to work with me on a summer placement. This offered the student not only the opportunity to develop lab technical abilities (useful for future employment or studies) but also allowed their inclusion in a manuscript (Watkins E. et al. Inflammatory and psychological consequences of chronic high exposure firefighting, under review).

I am a keen ambassador for vaccinations; I have been running national and local surveys with project students to understand believes, hesitancy and barriers to vaccinations. Involving my project students, I am organising a public engagement event in a local community centre.

I have also taken undergraduate students with me to national and international conferences to present their work. For example, I took one of my undergraduate medical students to a conference organised by the British Society for Immunology to present the poster ‘’IL7 Candida albicans sustains the cross-talk between skin and resident T cells’’ (Brighton, Dec 2017).

What support is available to undergraduate students at Brighton?

In Brighton, we aim to make students feel part of a community that supports them while at university and for life, for all aspect of their academic and personal life. We have teams to support and advise on anything from what do when experiencing personal difficulties to careers.  New students are assigned an academic tutor to support their core academic skills. In our school, there is a strong emphasis on the application of science and we train students to put theory into practice using specialist labs and equipment as well as fieldtrips. We support our teaching with top of the range specialist facilities and we offer training in ecology, microbiology, molecular biology and tissue culture laboratories. Staff are recognised specialists in their subject area; they run practical sessions and design final year projects to involve students in research. This supports enhancing the employability of students and allows for the co-creation of new scientific knowledge.

What do you enjoy most about teaching at undergraduate level?

The best thing about teaching undergraduate students is how much I learn myself. While making my lectures up-to-date and engaging, I keep learning new material and new ways to present it. Therefore, teaching my specialist subject area gives me a deeper understanding of topics. I also love when students who initially found Immunology difficult, tell me it is their favourite subject!

What’s your favourite location in Sussex and why?

We are very lucky to live by the sea surrounded by magnificent countryside. I love walking with my dog Honey on the South Downs as much as taking a stroll on the beach. The open spaces, the great views, the sound of the waves relax me and help clear my mind.

Which three people (alive or dead) would you invite to your dream dinner party?

I would definitely choose to have my mum. I lost her to cancer just a month before graduating and I miss her every day. If this was too much to ask, it would be fun to have a dinner party with a group of three comedians called ‘Il trio’, who were very famous in Italy in the 90s. My brother Sergio and I enjoyed them so much we still repeat some of their sketches, which we know by heart! They are a source of so many inside jokes, my brother would have to be there too. And my mum was the best cook ever. So here you have it: Il trio, my brother, my mum.

Find out more about Dr Terrazzini and the research of our Centre for Stress and Age-Related Disease (STRAND), and our Centre for Regenerative Medicine and Devices and the Brighton and Sussex Cancer Research Network.

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