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Personal profile

Scholarly biography

Dr Alison Willows is a Principal Lecturer in Analytical Chemistry and course leader for the BSc(hons), MChem and MRes Chemistry courses. She is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry. Her research interests lie in the development of stand-alone electrochemical sensors for marine habitat monitoring and environmental analysis. She also has a keen interest in the role of citizen science for education and environmental data gathering.

She is affiliated top the Chemistry Research and Enterprise Group and the Centre for Aquatic Environments at the University of Brighton

Approach to teaching

My area of expertise is analytical and environmental chemistry and I engage with students at all levels within these areas. I believe in giving students the tools they need for independent learning. My role is not as a teacher, these present information for a student to remember and this information is often quickly forgotten. I provide the skills and framework for the students to independently research and gain knowledge. This starts from a very early stage when the students enter the university and they become responsible for their own learning using our experts as guides. They will utilise technology as well as the more traditional textbooks and lectures. I use current research interactively within my lectures to get the students to understand the concepts and topics they need, seeing the applications really helps with understanding. By the time they leave I am confident they have all the skills needed to continue with their lifelong education. The success of this approach shows in our graduates and the feedback we gain from their employers.

Research interests

My main interests lie in the development of electrochemical sensors for environmental monitoring and the role of practical science for education at all ages.

Monitoring in the field is fraught with issues and often limited to certain compounds or concentration levels. I believe the key to worthwhile environmental protection and regulation starts with the ability to measure compounds of interest accurately and with low enough limits of detection. Too many times legislation is set by the limits of technology. My ethos is to keep analysis simple, cheap and accessible to all whilst maintaining the quality of the techniques.

Low concentration metal pollution has historically been a difficult area for field measurements resulting in only higher concentrations being able to be measured or samples having to be transported and analysed in laboratories. Many of the areas where monitoring is necessary are in remote or poorer areas in the world making laboratory analysis difficult. My research aims to develop sensors which can be used in the field with zero or minimal sample preparation but still obtain the trace level concentration measurements required for pollutants such as metals.

My belief is that education from an early age sets the attitude of a person to the environment they live in. By educating children about environmental issues in their immediate vicinity they will become more aware and considerate of the greater issues of the world. Children learn best by doing and as such I am currently developing a series of experiments to allow children to make real measurements of their local environment allowing them to discuss pollution issues and conservation measures. This project is developing through undergraduate research and so serving a double education role with that of the school children and of our undergraduates here at Brighton.

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Research Output 2002 2017

Lithium ion sensors

Kamenica, M., Kothur, R., Willows, A., Patel, B. & Cragg, P., 24 Oct 2017, 17, 10

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Open Access
File
Lithium
Ions
Ionophores
Sensors
Bronze

Senescence in the aging process

Faragher, R., McArdle, A., Willows, A. & Ostler, E., 25 Jul 2017, 6

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Open Access
File
Phenotype
Transcriptome

Assessment of tissue scaffold degradation using electrochemical techniques

Willows, A., Fan, Q., Ismail, F., Vaz, C. M., Tomlins, P. E., Mikhalovska, L., Mikhalovsky, S., James, S. & Vadgama, P., 2008, 4, 3, p. 686-696 11 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

A test method to monitor in vitro storage and degradation effects on a skin substitute

Ismail, F., Alison, W., Khurana, M., Tomlins, P. E., James, S., Mikhalovsky, S. & Vadgama, P., 1 Jun 2008, 30, 5, p. 640-646 7 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

On the microelectrode behaviour of graphite-epoxy composite electrodes

O'Hare, D., Macpherson, J. V. & Willows, A., 15 Apr 2002, 4, 3, p. 245-250 6 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Graphite epoxy composites
Microelectrodes
Atomic force microscopy
Electrodes
Binders