Mirjam tells us about her love of teaching, exercise and foraging.
- Tell us about your role at the University.
I’m the course coordinator of a large first-year methods course in Psychology, and I also teach across other years – Social Psychology, Personality, and qualitative research methods. I’m also the students’ go-to person for help with essay writing. I have a preference to do things slightly different from what students (or colleagues!) might expect, and I like to question why things are the way they are – with the aim to improve teaching. I enjoy being involved with the Centre for Academic Development as well, sharing my ideas and results of pedagogical research.
- How do you usually start your day?
I live 4.5 miles away from university, so I like to run-commute, stopping at the swimming pool on the way for 50 lengths. Only then I feel my day has begun properly! I’m one of those annoyingly happy people who sing first thing in the morning.
- What brought you to the University of Aberdeen?
I did my PhD at Keele University. A research fellowship post at Aberdeen was the first job I applied for – I recall walking back to the hotel on Union Street after the interview (having just received the good news), phoning my husband to ask how he’d fancy living in the North East of Scotland. That was 10 years ago and we’re still here – my work environment is great and we’ve fallen in love with the Shire.
- What’s your favourite thing about your job?
I love the daily contact with students, during and outside of class time. We have many students in Psychology and they all know me as I am course coordinator and lecturer for all the large classes. It’s great to walk out into my corridor and enjoy the banter. It always makes me happy that the students feel free to make jokes and ask me about my weekend – I’d hate to be unapproachable.
- What are your work priorities at the moment?
We’re in an interesting position in Psychology with about 50% of our students coming from EU countries. We’re trying to ‘Brexit-proof’ ourselves by attracting more Scottish and International students – one of the things I do at the moment is helping to strengthen bonds between our School and Colleges of Further Education (in Aberdeen and beyond). Another thing I do is help to develop a strand of qualitative methodology teaching that will run across all our 4 years. Aside from that, I’m trying to do as much pedagogical research as I can, mainly on the topic of identity.
- How do you like to relax outside work?
My active commute is a great form of everyday relaxation – I come home with a roaring appetite and I sleep like a baby. In the weekends I fully unleash: I spend as much time as I can outside, hillrunning and cycling. I’m also a keen forager and am able to get most of my fruit for free, most of the year. Our Shire is a wonderful larder.