Dr Bronwyn Relf

Dr Bronwyn Relf

Associate Lecturer

Centre for English Language and Foundation Studies

Lifelong learning

A big believer in the benefits of tertiary study, Dr Bronwyn Relf is looking to see what works – and what doesn’t work – within enabling education spaces in Australia.

At the heart of Dr Bronwyn Relf’s research are students – near and far, young and old, eager and unsure. The passionate scholar puts their needs at the centre of her work at the University of Newcastle’s (UON) Centre for English Language and Foundation Studies, resolutely vowing to help bridge the widening gap between secondary school and tertiary education.

“Failing to complete the HSC or receiving a near-miss ATAR doesn’t automatically spell the end of a student career,” she affirms.

“Enabling programs exist as alternate pathways into university.”

“Enrolments in them are on the increase, which is really pleasing.”

Focused on calculated and cutting-edge curriculum design, Bronwyn’s studies are spurred on by her strong conviction that good enabling curriculum design enhances widening participation.

“I think it’s vital that we define what makes these ‘university-ready’ courses unique, special and necessary,” she comments.

“My job isn’t high-flying, but it’s nice to be able to make a difference to people’s lives at a ground level.”

Sheep, koalas and starfish

Bronwyn took a “very roundabout route” to get to this point, beginning her celebrated career with a PhD in Molecular Biology in 1991. Awarded a scholarship by the University of Western Sydney (UWS) (now known as Western Sydney University) and the CSIRO to undertake the study, the savvy scientist sought to identify the genes involved in wool growth.

“I stayed on as a researcher and teacher at UWS after completing my candidature in 1999,” she recalls.

“While there, I investigated the antimicrobial proteins that are found in the pouches of koalas.”

“I also took a postdoctoral position at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead where I looked at the genes associated with sleep apnoea and obesity in infants.”

“It was a large-scale project undertaken both here and in the Philippines.”

As fascinating as it is full, Bronwyn’s resume includes two stints at the University of Sydney as well.

“I was responsible for isolating specific molecules, called ‘growth factors,’ from the nerve cords of native Australian starfish,” she explains.

“That work resulted in a publication, which I’m exceptionally proud of.”

Doughnuts and dinosaurs

Swiftly transitioning to educational research in 2010, Bronwyn moved to Newcastle to tackle a Graduate Certificate in the Practice of Tertiary Teaching.  During that time, the accomplished academic was employed on a sessional basis in UON’s Open Foundation program.

“It was a wonderful opportunity as it enabled me to combine my primary interests – biology and lecturing,” she asserts.

“What I could therefore do, and can continue to do, is explain scientific concepts in fun and unusual ways, such as with ‘Doughnuts and Dinosaurs.’”

“The doughnuts are red blood cells, the dinosaurs are the antibodies that can destroy the cells if you have an incorrect transfusion, and the jelly babies are the proteins, or antigens, on these cells.”

“All are colour-coded to represent different blood types.”

“I like making science relevant – everyone can relate to food!”

The “best possible”

Now a full-time Associate Lecturer at the Centre for English Language and Foundation Studies, Bronwyn is busy pioneering a handful of exciting research endeavours.

“I’m collaborating with Cathy Burgess on a project that examines the effectiveness of my ‘Science for Nursing and Midwifery’ course curriculum,” she shares.

“Part of my current work is looking at maths anxiety too.”

“Both of these are focused on making Open Foundation experiences the best they can be so that students are equipped with enough skills and knowledge to successfully complete undergraduate degrees and acquire a lifelong love of learning.”

Another feather to her already impressive cap, Bronwyn is heading up a team with Associate Professor Mahsood Shah and Dr Barry Hodges on the Office for Learning and Teaching project “Lighting the Path(way): articulating curriculum design principles for open access enabling programs”. The initiative will see the experts from UON work with other researchers at Edith Cowan University and the University of Tasmania to articulate the goals for curriculum design in Open Foundation courses.

“We want to do this because nobody has defined what makes up a really good enabling program,” she insists.

“This is despite there being constant talk about student retention and attrition.”

“Our research will hopefully help to inform policy and practice.”

Bronwyn Relf

Lifelong learning

A big believer in the benefits of tertiary study, Dr Bronwyn Relf is looking to see what works – and what doesn’t work – within enabling education spaces

Read more

Career Summary

Biography


Dr Bronwyn Relf has experience in educating enabling and first year students from diverse backgrounds and is currently employed in the University of Newcastle’s Open Foundation program.   She holds a Bachelor of Rural Science (Hons) and PhD in molecular biology.  Bronwyn is currently the project leader of a 2016 OLT seed grant “Lighting the Path(way): articulating curriculum design principles in open access enabling programs” and the convenor of the Curriculum Design Special Interest Group for the National Association of Enabling Educators of Australia.  She has a strong track record in project management, delivering outputs on time and budget for NHMRC, ARC and other government funded projects at The Children’s Hospital Westmead, University of Sydney, CSIRO and the University of Western Sydney. 

 Research Interests:  Bronwyn has a strong interest in the scholarship of teaching and learning, with a particular focus on curriculum design in open access tertiary preparation programs.  She is interested in the role of the student voice in innovative curriculum design.   With colleague Cathy Burgess, she has led a major renewal of the general life sciences’ curriculum in the UON Open Foundation program, presenting results at national and international conferences.  Prior to her employment at UON, Bronwyn had a diverse career in genetic research.  She was involved in projects indentifying genes involved in wool growth, metabolic syndrome and sleep apnoea.  

Teaching expertise: Bronwyn has over 15 years experience teaching science to enabling and undergraduate students’ from diverse backgrounds.  Bronwyn is the course coordinator of the ‘Science for Nursing and Midwifery’ courses in the Open Foundation program and was responsible for developing and designing this course.  In 2017, the course will be offered online.

Bronwyn is the Student Academic Conduct Officer for the English Language and Foundation Studies Centre and has responsibility for investigating academic integrity matters within the Centre.


Qualifications

  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of Western Sydney
  • Bachelor of Rural Science (Honours), University of New England

Keywords

  • Curriculum
  • Enabling education
  • Molecular Biology
  • Science education

Fields of Research

Code Description Percentage
130212 Science, Technology and Engineering Curriculum and Pedagogy 33
130209 Medicine, Nursing and Health Curriculum and Pedagogy 33
130202 Curriculum and Pedagogy Theory and Development 34

Professional Experience

UON Appointment

Title Organisation / Department
Associate Lecturer University of Newcastle
Centre for English Language and Foundation Studies
Australia

Teaching

Code Course Role Duration
EPCHEM314 Introduction to Chemistry and the LIfe Sciences
English Language and Foundation Studies Centre, University of Newcastle
Lecturer and tutor 1/10/2010 - 1/12/2010
EPSCIE120 Studies in Science
English Language and Foundation Studies Centre, University of Newcastle
Tutor 1/03/2011 - 30/06/2012
EPBIOL259 Introduction to the Life Sciences
English Language and Foundation Studies Centre, University of Newcastle
Lecturer and tutor 1/07/2011 - 1/12/2012
EPHLTH170 Science for Nursing and Midwifery 1
English Language and Foundation Studies Centre, University of Newcastle
EPHLTH170 will introduce students to basic mathematics, biochemistry, anatomy and physiology of the human body relevant to studies in the health sciences. Through the use of relevant examples, these theoretical concepts will be applied to a clinical setting. Topics will cover a range of processes that are important to the maintenance of life and some of the medical methods used to measure and understand these. This course is particularly valuable to students wishing to study nursing or midwifery
Course coordinator, lecturer and tutor 14/02/2013 - 31/12/2016
EPHLTH270 Science for Nursing and Midwifery 2
English Language and Foundation Studies Centre, University of Newcastle
EPHLTH270 will provide students with an introduction to the organisation and control of the human body from cells to the entire organism with a focus on the clinical environment. Topics will cover the cellular basis of life, tissues, major body systems and control mechanisms. The relationships between anatomy (structure), physiology (functioning) and biochemistry (molecular interactions) of the human body will be explored. This course is particularly valuable to students wishing to study nursing or midwifery.
Course Coordinator, lecturer and tutor 1/07/2016 - 31/12/2016
EPHLTH370 Science for Nursing and Midwifery
English Language and Foundation Studies Centre, University of Newcastle

EPHLTH370 will introduce students to basic mathematics, biochemistry, anatomy and physiology of the human body relevant to studies in the health sciences. Through the use of case studies and practical examples, these concepts will be applied to a clinical setting.

Topics will cover a range of processes essential to life, clinical methods of measurement and diagnosis, major body systems and control mechanisms. The relationships between anatomy (structure), physiology (functioning) and biochemistry (molecular interactions) of the human body will be explored. This course is particularly valuable to students wishing to study nursing or midwifery.

Course coordinator, lecturer and tutor 1/07/2013 - 31/12/2016
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Publications

For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.


Journal article (6 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2014 Burgess C, Relf B, 'Improving Academic outcomes of Enabling students in Undergraduate Nursing', Journal of Institutional Research South East Asia, 12 98-109 (2014) [C1]
2010 Relf BL, Larkin EK, De Torres C, Baur LA, Christodoulou J, Waters KA, 'Genome-wide linkage of obstructive sleep apnoea and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol in a Filipino family: bivariate linkage analysis of obstructive sleep apnoea', JOURNAL OF SLEEP RESEARCH, 19 349-357 (2010)
DOI 10.1111/j.1365-2869.2009.00797.x
Citations Scopus - 9Web of Science - 8
2005 Byrne M, Cisternas P, Elia L, Relf B, 'Engrailed is expressed in larval development and in the radial nervous system of Patiriella sea stars', DEVELOPMENT GENES AND EVOLUTION, 215 608-617 (2005)
DOI 10.1007/s00427-005-0018-7
Citations Scopus - 19Web of Science - 17
2005 Byrne M, Cisternas P, Elia L, Relf B, 'Engrailed is expressed in larval development and in the radial nervous system of Patiriella sea stars', MECHANISMS OF DEVELOPMENT, 122 S160-S160 (2005)
2002 Relf BL, Machaalani R, Waters KA, 'Retrieval of mRNA from paraffin-embedded human infant brain tissue for non-radioactive in situ hybridization using oligonucleotides', JOURNAL OF NEUROSCIENCE METHODS, 115 129-136 (2002)
DOI 10.1016/S0165-0270(02)00003-1
Citations Scopus - 15Web of Science - 14
2000 Yardley G, Relf B, Lakshmanan J, Reinshagen M, Moore GPM, 'Expression of nerve growth factor mRNA and its translation products in the anagen hair follicle', Experimental Dermatology, 9 283-289 (2000)

The cellular localization of NGF mRNA and its translation products have been identified in ovine hair follicles. NGF mRNA was detected in the proliferating cells of the follicle b... [more]

The cellular localization of NGF mRNA and its translation products have been identified in ovine hair follicles. NGF mRNA was detected in the proliferating cells of the follicle bulb and differentiating cells of the suprabulbar region, but was absent from the outer root sheath. Western analysis revealed the presence of a 73 kDa NGF prohormone in extracts of ovine flank skin, but the mature 13 kDa NGF was absent. Immunohistochemical analysis with antibodies specific to mouse NGF and a pro-NGF specific domain localized the NGF prohormone to outer root sheath cells in the upper bulb region of the follicle, adjacent to the zone of keratinization. Antibody binding was also associated with the luminal epithelium of the apocrine sweat gland and the pilary canal of the follicle at its junction with the epidermis. These observations, together with the reported presence of high- and low-affinity NGF receptors in the follicle, implicate the NGF prohormone-responsive neuronal system in the regulation of hair growth.

DOI 10.1034/j.1600-0625.2000.009004283.x
Citations Scopus - 20Web of Science - 19
Show 3 more journal articles

Conference (5 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2015 McCall D, Relf BL, 'A GPS for Group work: Providing the best route to a successful group work experience for enabling students', STARS 2015 Handbook & Proceedings (2015) [E2]
2014 Relf B, Burgess C, 'Using Student Feedback to Renew Courses in Open Access Programs', http://www.aairforum.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Relf-1530-1700-Laneway-Thurs.pdf (2014) [E3]
2014 Relf B, Burgess C, 'The challenges of curriculum design in a large enabling pre-nursing open access course', Foundation and Bridging Educators of New Zealand (FABENZ) Conference 2014 (2014) [E1]
2013 Relf BL, Burgess C, 'A flexible response: Monitoring and researching the performance of enabling students in the first year undergraduate nursing', National Association of Enabling Educators of Australia Conference (2013) [E3]
2008 Relf B, Larkin EK, de Torres C, Baur LA, Christodoulou J, Waters KA, 'Genome-wide scan for obesity and obesity related traits in a large filipino family supports genetic etiology of metabolic syndrome and sleep apnea', INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF OBESITY (2008)
Show 2 more conferences

Other (1 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2015 Cameron H, Carter B, Relf BL, Brawn B, Borwein J, 'Maths anxiety amongst enabling students.', (2015) [O1]
Co-authors Helen Cameron

Report (1 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2017 Relf BL, Hodges B, Shah M, O'Rourke J, Crawford N, Sharp S, Barnes R, 'Lighting the path(way): Articulating curriculum design principles for open access enabling programs', Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching, 117 (2017)
Co-authors Mahsood Shah
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Grants and Funding

Summary

Number of grants 3
Total funding $260,389

Click on a grant title below to expand the full details for that specific grant.


20162 grants / $221,389

Improving the ‘beaten track’: investigating alternative pathways to increase higher education participation for mature-aged low socio-economic status students in regional and remote Australia$201,439

Funding body: Department of Education and Training

Funding body Department of Education and Training
Project Team Doctor Bronwyn Relf, Ms Helen Cameron, Doctor Emma Hamilton, Dr John O'Rourke, Dr Nicole Crawford
Scheme Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Programme (HEPPP)
Role Lead
Funding Start 2016
Funding Finish 2017
GNo G1601088
Type Of Funding Other Public Sector - Commonwealth
Category 2OPC
UON Y

Enabling Pedagogies and Transitions$19,950

Funding body: Centre for Excellence in Equity in Higher Education (CEEHE)

Funding body Centre for Excellence in Equity in Higher Education (CEEHE)
Project Team

Anna Bennett, Sara Motta, Cathy Burgess, Kim Gray, Emma Hamilton, Sharlene Leroy-Dyer, and Jim Albright

Scheme CEEHE Commissioned Project
Role Investigator
Funding Start 2016
Funding Finish 2017
GNo
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON N

20151 grants / $39,000

Lighting the path(way): Articulating curriculum design principles for open access enabling programs$39,000

Funding body: Office for Learning and Teaching

Funding body Office for Learning and Teaching
Project Team Doctor Bronwyn Relf, Doctor Barry Hodges, Aprof MAHSOOD Shah, Dr John O'Rourke, Mrs Sue Sharp, Dr Nicole Crawford, Dr Susan Johns
Scheme Seed Projects
Role Lead
Funding Start 2015
Funding Finish 2015
GNo G1501084
Type Of Funding Aust Competitive - Commonwealth
Category 1CS
UON Y
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News

UON innovation and development grants

January 19, 2016

The University of Newcastle (UON) has achieved success in the latest round of Office of Learning and Teaching (OLT) funding for innovation and development projects.

Dr Bronwyn Relf

Position

Associate Lecturer
Centre for English Language and Foundation Studies
Academic Division

Contact Details

Email bronwyn.relf@newcastle.edu.au
Phone (02) 4921 6131
Fax (02) 4921 6901
Link Research Networks

Office

Room MCLG35
Building McMullin
Location Callaghan
University Drive
Callaghan, NSW 2308
Australia
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