Two minutes with… Marie Rider (Student Programme Leader – GTA Programme)

The Graduate School has appointed Student Programme Leaders in order to give doctoral students the opportunity to engage with our Professional Development Programme and shape its design and delivery.

In our new ‘Two Minutes with….’ series we will be introducing you to our current SPLs and finding out their thoughts so far on the role!

Name: Marie Rider

Department: Physics

Introduce your research:  I work in the condensed matter theory group, and I study topological nanophotonics, where we’re working to understand how light interacts with topological materials at the nanoscale.

Student Programme Leader: Graduate Teaching Assistant Programme

Why did you choose to apply for this particular SPL role?

GTAs are a crucial bridge between students and academics. We can have a massive impact on the student experience and the GTA programme provides vital training on how to approach the role. We’re the next generation of academics, and the approach to teaching and learning we develop now will stay with us throughout our careers so I really wanted to be part of the professional skills programme teaching those skills.

Three things you’ve found interesting: 

  1. The way the GTA role is defined varies massively between faculties and departments, so it’s an interesting challenge to make the programme relevant and useful for GTAs across college.
  2. GTAs have really different experiences of teaching and there’s as much to learn from each other as from the programme leads.
  3. Co-leading sessions for the GTA programme is a lot different from teaching a STEM subject!

Three things you’ve enjoyed most:

  1. Working with SPLs from other faculties.  Under ordinary circumstances we might never had met!
  2. Getting the opportunity to co-lead some of the programme sessions. Peer-run sessions are really fun and very different to the usual teaching I get to do
  3. Working with the programme leader, Richard. He’s so passionate and informed about what he does, so it’s been great to learn from him

What impact have you had on the programme?

We’ve been collating information from all departments across college on how they define their GTA roles and what skills they want their GTAs to have, so that we can tailor the content of the programme courses better

What advice would you give to other students thinking of applying for the SPL role in future?

Do it! Find a programme you’re passionate about and jump in.

Why do you think professional development training is important?

Being a scientist or engineer is about much more than our technical skills. The things you learn in professional development training help you grow as an academic and as a person.

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