Dr John Barrow tells us about his role as a Senior Lecturer in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. 

Tell us about your role at the University.

I am involved in teaching undergraduate students across the many different degree programmes we have in Medical Sciences.  I teach predominantly biochemistry and molecular biology subjects, but also dabble in physiology and pharmacology teaching.  I’m also responsible for the assessment processes within the undergraduate medical science degree programmes with the official title of Examinations Officer (I don’t have uniform!).  Outside of my direct involvement in teaching, I coordinate the University-wide Students4Students (S4S) peer mentoring scheme and sit on various committees that decide on student engagement, feedback and assessment, and other projects like the new Science Teaching Hub.

How do you usually start your day?

I’m usually up at 6 am, have a cup of tea, get the kids ready for school and then I’ll check my calendar to see if I need to go to Foresterhill or Old Aberdeen first as I have classes and meetings between campuses on most days.

What brought you to the University of Aberdeen?

Honestly…it was the only place that would take me to study a BSc Pharmacology degree as I came here as an undergraduate student in 1998!  I came to Aberdeen via Clearing as I didn’t get the grades required to study a Pharmacy degree.  The day I got my A Level results was the biggest motivator I have ever had to work hard and put the effort in, and since then I have never looked back!

What’s your favourite thing about your job?

Making a difference to the student experience and education.  There is nothing better than taking a room full of students that are a bit grumpy because they do not understand a topic and have them leaving your class with smiles on their faces because they have had that “lightbulb” moment and suddenly understand.  I also like the everyday chats with students and staff, and really feel privileged to teach and hopefully make a difference.

What are your work priorities at the moment?

At the moment I am involved with a lot of undergraduate teaching and getting things ready for our exams at the end of term by sending exam papers to our External Examiners at other universities to make sure we are doing a good job of our assessments.  I’m also working on a project funded by the Physiological Society that is looking into the use of augmented reality to visualise cell biology processes, which I am planning on using in one of my courses this year.  Further to that, I am working with my colleagues across different disciplines to decide how the new Science Teaching Hub will be used by our students when it opens in 2021.

How do you like to relax outside work?

I enjoy getting out and about with my family in the amazing countryside we have around here, as well as listening to music and cooking (I make a mean curry)!  I might also add, I don’t do all of those things at the same time, although cooking while listening to music on top of Bennachie could work if I put my mind to it!