Melissa D'Ascenzio Passes Probation

Published on 5 December 2019

Dr Melissa D'Ascenzio, a Lecturer in Pharmaceutical Chemistry from the D’Arcy Thompson Unit, has passed her three-year probation period at the University.

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Melissa said, “Working as a lecturer here in Dundee has been a professionally transformative experience. The School of Life Sciences provides an exciting working environment while offering plenty of academic freedom. I have always enjoyed teaching, which I have done since the beginning of my research career, and find the interaction with our students to be intellectually stimulating and personally rewarding. I have great colleagues in the DTU who are friendly, helpful, and inspiring.”

Melissa joined the University in 2016 after completing her PhD and postdoctoral positions at the Sapienza University of Rome and the University of Oxford. Melissa has completed her Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice in Higher Education (PGCAPHE) during this time and graduated at Winter Graduation last month. By obtaining her PGCAPHE qualification she is now recognized as a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Some of the key activities that Melissa has undertaken alongside her teaching commitments during this period include: the review and restructuring of the undergraduate Biological Chemistry and Drug Discovery (BCDD) course, her work on the SLS Athena SWAN committee and instigating educational research projects.

Undergraduate Biological Chemistry and Drug Discovery (BCDD) course review and restructure

Melissa led the working group comprising of Art Crossman, Alessio Ciulli, Ian Gilbert and Andrew Woodland that focused on the review and restructure. Teaching and research staff working together has allowed the course to mirror the expertise of the School and continue to include the core ethos of research-led teaching. External feedback was gathered from Kevin Read and David Gray. The restructure is almost complete with the first graduates due to complete the new course in 2021. Changes to the course have included establishing a new level 1 Chemistry module, developing a level 2 Chemistry for Drug Discovery module, shifting content from level 4 to level 3 to allow for a new level 4 Chemical Biology module to launch in the 2020/21 academic year. This new module includes input from Ian Gilbert, Alessio Ciulli, Satpal Virdee, and Yogesh Kulathu.

School Athena SWAN Committee Work

Melissa joined the School Athena SWAN committee a couple of years ago as a representative for the D’Arcy Thompson Unit. She has subsequently become co-chair this year alongside Gopal Sapkota and Lesley-Anne Pearson. “The Athena SWAN committee has made impactful changes to the School policies and culture, thanks to the dedication of committee members and the support of former chair Inke Nathke. One of our most recent successes was to establish an undergraduate Athena SWAN committee for Life Sciences. They were the only voice missing as we have representation from across the rest of the School,” said Melissa.

Educational Research Projects

Melissa is currently working with Erin Hardee, David Martin and Steve Kelley on an educational research project to study the effectiveness of peer-to-peer teaching, where the students will be asked to produce short stop motion educational videos that tackle any concepts that they found difficult or challenging to understand from their first semester. This library of videos will then be used by the following year students during their studies.

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