Introducing… Leisa Nichols-Drew

Leisa Nichols-Drew is honoured to be a member of the newly formed CATE-Net and a friend of the NTF Committee.

I am a Senior Lecturer in Forensic Science and have been at De Montfort University since 2016, for the Chartered-Society-of-Forensic-Sciences (CSoFS) accredited undergraduate degree programme, where I work in a team with truly fantastic colleagues. However, my journey to DMU started in 2000, as a Forensic Scientist at the Home Office Forensic Science Service, coordinating the laboratory examinations of crime scene exhibits.

I am proud of this practitioner career and refer to myself as a ‘pracademic’. On the way to DMU, I facilitated Further Education qualifications including the BTEC Extended Diploma in Applied Science, in addition to university modules, enabling me to qualify for both DTLLS and PGCertHE. This FE experience has undoubtedly informed and shaped my HE pedagogy, which is a holistic blend based of connectivism and constructivism.

In 2017, I obtained my Senior Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy, and in 2018, I was awarded a DMU Teacher Fellowship, and honoured with a prestigious Churchill Fellowship to investigate international approaches to knife crime in Australia and Canada. Also, in 2018 as part of the acclaimed CrashEd team led by Professor Angela O’Sullivan (NTF 2017), we were delighted to be successful with a spotlight and CATE award. In 2019, I was beyond proud when my application for National Teacher Fellow was successful. In 2020, my practitioner expertise was recognised with Chartered Forensic Practitioner (ChFP) status by the CSoFS.

I have an altruistic pedagogic partnership with Angela O’Sullivan and Julia Reeve, who are creative and inspirational DMU colleagues. Our conference workshops and online disseminations have included lego, xylophones, 150-year-old crimes, and treasure chests!

I am also undertaking practice-based PhD research. Recently, my first ever journal article, on rounded knives was published, hopefully preventing future injuries.

During the Covid-19 lockdown, it is a privilege to have collaborated with 2 other forensic science NTFs; Associate Professor Rachel Bolton-King (Staffordshire University, who is a CATE winner too!) and Professor Ian Turner (University of Derby). Together, we have launched a forensic science community (#RemoteForensicCSI) for FE/HE lecturers, practitioners and trainers, sharing ideas for teaching in a blended way using novel resources, promoting engagement and transforming forensic science education. Our first webinar (August 2020) was viewed by participants from around the world, focussed on three areas: crime scene, forensic laboratory, and court. Our resources are hosted on a website ‘Lecturemotely’, established by three DMU academics: Dr Jo Rushworth (NTF), Dr T J Moore and Dr Beth Rogoyski. This website also includes the #DryLabsScience material by Dr Nigel Francis, Dr Francis Smith, and Prof Ian Turner (which originally inspired #RemoteForensicCSI), and Final Year Project material by Dr Dave Lewis.

Here is the link to the ‘lecturemotely’ website and #RemoteForensicCSI resources:

Forensic science is my absolute passion and it remains an honour to be both an NTF and CATE in this subject, so I look forward to building connections within the CATE and NTF community and communicating these awards across all sectors (HE and FE).

Leisa Nicholls Drew, NTF, CATE

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