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Curtin forensics lecturer wins prestigious national award

Media release

Curtin University of Technology’s Associate Professor Simon Lewis has received a prestigious national university teaching award.

The head of Curtin’s Forensic and Analytical Chemistry Research Group in the Department of Chemistry has won an award for Teaching Excellence in the 2009 Australian Learning and Teaching Council Awards for University Teaching.

He was recognised in the category of Physical Sciences and Related Studies.

The awards, worth $25,000 each and with only 24 recipients Australia-wide from across all discipline areas, recognise the nation’s top university teachers and most outstanding programs and services aimed at improving the quality of student learning.

Besides Associate Professor Lewis, Curtin’s Master of Business Administration (MBA) program was recognised for enhanced learning in the Postgraduate Education category — the only postgraduate program in WA singled out this year  —  and Glen Hutchings, of Curtin Business School, was also recognised for teaching excellence.

“It’s a great honour to be recognised for doing something you are passionate about,” Professor Lewis said.

“I have always believed in putting the students at the centre of the learning experience.”

“This, along with providing practical lessons through close partnerships with forensic science professionals, allows me to really engage with the students and give them a valuable learning experience.”

Associate Professor Lewis believes in adopting a holistic approach incorporating scientific fundamentals, his own research, authentic case studies and the involvement of students in the teaching process.

“You really need to interact with students and provide them with skills and information that will help them once they graduate.”

In addition to his teaching, he is actively involved in educational outreach programs with primary schools, high schools and the general public, using his knowledge and experience to stimulate interest in science.

His research focuses on chemical techniques applies to forensic analysis. This covers areas as diverse as new fingerprint reagents, decomposition chemistry and the detection of drugs and explosives.

This work has been carried out in collaboration with various forensic science providers such as the Australian Federal Police, Western Australia Police and the Victorian Police Forensic Services.