UCL Mathematical & Physical Sciences


Faculty teaching award winners announced

3 July 2015


We are delighted to announce this year's winners of the Faculty of Mathematical & Physical Sciences Teaching Awards.

These annual awards recognise excellence in teaching by staff and teaching assistants at all levels within the faculty.

The winners

  • Teaching staff: Dr Helen Grounds (Chemistry)
  • Postgraduate Teaching Assistant: Mr Sam Livingstone (Statistical Science)
  • Support staff: Mr Bernard Bristoll (Physics & Astronomy)

Many congratulations to them on delivering a first-class learning experience for our students.

Helen Grounds

Dr Helen Grounds is Lab Manager and Senior Research Associate in UCL Chemistry. She led the development of new lab modules for 3rd year undergraduate students, shifting the focus onto core research skills, and away from the abstruse subdivisions of chemistry. She has also worked to develop online resources for students, including videos and social media related to the courses.

She says: "I have been developing laboratory modules for 3rd year chemistry students. In particular one new innovative module  brings together traditionally diverse elements of inorganic and organic chemistry to present it as a unified whole to our undergraduates, making connections which while recognised at research level are often not obvious to the undergraduate cohort. The students now learn a much larger range of core research skills compared to a traditional lab course with assessment made against recognised good practice taken from industry and academia. The new course also allows us to accommodate increasing student numbers."

The student nomination for her award praised her "outstanding, professional and remarkably inspiring" contribution to students' education in the department.

Sam Livingstone

Sam Livingstone

Sam Livingstone teaches a number of undergraduate statistics tutorials, as well as a course on probability on UCL's Master's in Risk, Disaster & Resilience. His nomination by Prof Tom Fearn, head of UCL Statistical Science, commends him for his ability to involve students and encourage participation in tutorials, not allowing them to just become passive teaching sessions. 

He says: "I don't really think you need gimmicks to be a good teacher, in my opinion you just have to care, take advice on board, be adaptable and try hard."

Prof Fearn says: "It was obvious to an observer that he enjoys teaching, and the effect of this enthusiasm on the students was clearly very positive."

Bernard Bristoll


Bernard Bristoll is the Undergraduate Laboratory Technician in UCL Physics & Astronomy. Bernard takes a close interest in the electronics module taught to 2nd year undergraduates, and has taken a key role in delivering the teaching on this course.

He says: "This year, and indeed for the last 20 years, I have been demonstrating an undergraduate practical experiment in which the students are expected to build a digital electronic thermometer. The exercise includes elements of design, calibration, test, and programming, and by the end the students will have gained an understanding of the basic principles involved in the design of a data acquisition system. My background experience and qualifications are in electronics, and the students really do appreciate the extra advice and information I can bring into my demonstrating because of this. It hasn't been without problems: the experiment has run for many years now, and with technology fast changing, many of the components have either become obsolete, or are only made in a packaging form far less appropriate for our application which requires the manual insertion of electronic components. Much of my work this year has been involved in designing a more up to date version of the circuit and circuit board for the experiment which utilises components which are widely and readily available. it gives me great pleasure to announce that this new version will be going into production this summer."

Prof Jon Butterworth, head of UCL Physics & Astronomy, said: "The level of Bernard's commitment to teaching is remarkable, and all students could benefit from his passion to teach and appreciate his competence in electronics."