Meet the Team: MSc Equine Science
Meet the friendly and dedicated team who run our online Equine Science programme. Find out more about what they do and why they enjoy working on this programme.
I am Programme Director of the very successful MSc in Equine Science online programme, which is one of the first online programmes to be run from the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies (R(D)SVS), University of Edinburgh.
The programme started as an on-campus one year MSc, with about 12 students a year participating, but then switched to being run completely online in 2008/2009. That means we've offered the course as an online programme for 12 years and now have about 100 students on the programme at any one time.
I have been involved in the teaching, co-ordination and running of the programme for the last 9 years and became Programme Director in December 2019.
I have been passionate about horses since I was a young child, and was very lucky to get every little girl's dream, my own pony - a grey, Welsh mountain called Cloud, when I was 9 years old. I grew up on a dairy farm so have a general love of being around animals, but the horse, to me is a truly beautiful, intuitive and fascinating animal to share a partnership with.
As a teenager my passion was eventing and I did this at pony club level, and then I became interested in western riding and trained with the UK’s leading western riding trainer at the time. It was not until my late twenties that I actually went to university and studied Equine Science at Hartpury College in Gloucestershire, UK and graduated with a first class degree in 2006. I won the Dissertation Year Prize and become a finalist at the Royal Agricultural Society of England, Eqvalan Duo Thesis of the Year Award the same year.
I came to work at the Equine Hospital at the R(D)SVS during my undergraduate degree, deciding to take a gap year and help look after horses with Equine Grass Sickness. It was in this subject that I ended up completing not only my undergraduate degree dissertation, but also later an MSc by Research at Edinburgh.
I studied alongside nursing horses in the hospital and travelling all over Scotland for sample collection to try and find the cause of this devastating disease, which still eludes us today. I currently sit on the Equine Grass Sickness Fund committee and continue to disseminate information about the disease as widely as possible. I hope to release a Continuing Professional Development online course in 2021.
My other responsibilities include leading the Horse Husbandry teaching and examination for our undergraduate veterinary students. I also manage the recruitment, training, health and welfare of our ten wonderful teaching horses, who are used for a wide variety of practical classes (one of the horses, Phoenix, is pictured in the photo above).
I am dedicated to improving horse welfare and human safety around horses. For this we need to fully understand the behaviour of horses and respond to subtle behaviour changes, so embedding learning theory and equitation science principles into both the veterinary curriculum and postgraduate equine science programme is vital.
My current horse is an American Quarter Horse called Sparky who has taught me such a lot and is my inspiration for continuing to educate the next generation of vets and equine scientists about horse behaviour and welfare.
Thoughts on our students and programme team
I am extremely fortunate to have some fantastic equine veterinary surgeons and scientists from the University of Edinburgh, Roslin Institute and SRUC who all contribute to the Equine Science programme.
Over the years, I have been delighted to recruit guest lecturers from all corners of the world who are leading scientists in their areas to contribute to the programme, one of the brilliant advantages of online learning.
Many of the lecturers on the programme are dissertation supervisors too; we come from many different backgrounds but with the same goal in mind, to improve horse health and welfare. I really could not run the programme without the dedication of Liz, Ruth and James who you will hear more about below, we are a small but close-knit team that ensures that students feel supported throughout their studies.
What can I say about our students? They are a fabulous group of people, coming from all walks of life, some are professional riders, vets, nurses, farriers, physio and horse owners all with a passion for learning all things horse. I continue to learn so much from them and I am continually amazed by the diversity of dissertation project ideas they come up with.
I am exceptionally proud when they complete the programme, knowing how hard they have to work to juggle study with work and caring responsibilities (horse and human). I enjoy going along to support them delivering their dissertation findings at well-known scientific conferences throughout the world, and many go on to study at PhD level, continuing to further our knowledge on equine science.
I completed my BSc in Zoology here at Edinburgh University, followed by an MSc in Applied Parasitology and Medical Entomology at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. I then undertook my PhD in Molecular and Cellular Parasitology at Imperial College, London. This was followed by research positions in parasitology and cell biology at King’s College London and the University of Edinburgh.
More recently, I've been involved in various teaching and learning roles, including authoring science festival and undergraduate Biology e-learning materials, and facilitating problem–based-learning for medical students. From 2010-2018, I taught both undergraduate and postgraduate Biological Sciences students and ran the Food Science and Biotechnology postgraduate programmes at Heriot Watt University.
I was delighted to be able to join the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies at the University of Edinburgh in July 2018. My scientific interests include food science, agriculture, parasitology, microbiology and eukaryotic cell biology.
I grew up with horses in nearly every field around my house, so although something of a surprise, facilitating learning about horse-shaped biology has been a welcome return to my Zoological beginnings. My role is to support the programme director, Bryony, who is amazing, but cannot, despite her very best efforts, do everything!
My role is therefore quite broad, but includes second marking assignments, commenting on project proposals, acting as a personal tutor to several of the students and making sure the learning materials and assessments are ready to go on the Learn sites. What impresses me most about our students is their passion and motivation for the subject. I enjoy watching and encouraging them develop from equine enthusiasts into equine scientists.
At home, I am chief cook, bottle washer, taxi driver and chaos-reducer for my teenage son. I like making pottery and going for walks in the local hills and beaches, with a pair of binoculars, where seeing wildlife makes me happy!
After completing a business studies course at Napier in Edinburgh many moons ago, I joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and spent 10 years working in London and Zambia. I met my husband in Zambia and after living there for a few years (by which time we had a daughter), we travelled around the world with his job, most recently to Oman which has been our ‘second home’ since 2003.
I joined the Vet School in October 2012 as its first Administrator for Taught Online Postgraduate Programmes. At that point, there were three online MSc programmes but this has increased to 13 over the years, and thankfully the admin support has too!
Having grown up with ponies as a child and having had my own horses in Zambia, I was delighted that one of my programmes was (and still is) the MSc Equine Science.
My remit involves anything non-academic, such as course enrolments, interruptions of study, withdrawals, releasing and processing marks and feedback, and dealing with a wide variety of queries.
I am also fortunate to work with some fabulous people at the vet school and support an amazing and diverse cohort of students from around the world!
In my spare time, I enjoy walking the dog, reading and travelling off the beaten track. I also love camping, fishing and beach life (in Oman that is, it’s too cold in Scotland!). I also enjoy horse riding but sadly haven’t had much opportunity to pursue this in recent years (so instead live vicariously through the equine students!).
Digital Learning Developer, Digital Education Unit
I have been a member of the Digital Education Unit here at the R(D)SVS since 2019 and have worked in Digital Learning since 2011.
I work with four of our post graduate programmes and the Equine team are certainly the biggest programme both cohort and content wise that I look after. They are a great bunch.
Areas of professional and academic interests
I gained an MA in Digital Learning from the University of Leeds and I am currently contemplating potential doctoral projects in the same field.
My research interests surround the use of contemporary media and marketing techniques to promote and foster technological adoption and progress in and out of the classroom.
I am also interested in new media and augmented reality and their application in teaching and learning at scale and distance.
Prior to my career in education, I worked in music and event production in the UK and Australasia.
Under normal conditions I enjoy comedy, travel hacking, gastronomy, photography, investing and entrepreneurship.