View all news

Chemistry lecturer inspires creative thinking - and earns teaching award


Sharlene King
14 March 2019

She’s been connecting students with science in creative and exciting ways for more than two decades. Now Southern Cross University’s Associate Professor Amanda Reichelt-Brushett has been named as one of Australia’s most exceptional university teachers.

The Australian Awards for University Teaching recognised Associate Professor Amanda Reichelt-Brushett from the School of Environment, Science and Engineering with a 2018 Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning:

For innovative chemistry teaching that uses scientific enquiry and creative thinking to motivate students to develop multifaceted problem-solving skills.

“I am enormously excited to receive this recognition because it truly reflects me as a person and how my own practices influence my strategies and ideas to develop content and innovate the classroom,” said Professor Reichelt-Brushett who is also an artist. 

Her approach to teaching and the support of learning is designed to influence, motivate and inspire students.

The Citation Awards Committee determined that Professor Reichelt-Brushett’s work was highly valued not only by her students and Southern Cross University but also the Australian Government. It said Professor Reichelt-Brushett presented:

… a strong citation submission that illustrates her innovative chemistry teaching that has led to curriculum and assessment redesign and improved student engagement with chemistry. Her work has clearly had an impact across her own institution and more broadly in the profession. A very strong application.

“I love the thought that I give my students permission for exploring creative thinking, open-ended enquiry, allowing them to think outside the box. I like to challenge the way they think about things,” said Professor Reichelt-Brushett.

“We dearly need to develop creative ways to apply scientific knowledge to complex environmental problems if we are going to develop solutions. Solutions are likely to be better if they are developed from transdisciplinary thinking.”

Outside the classroom, Professor Reichelt-Brushett’s research focus is pollution and its impacts, particularly in the marine environment. Her work on the environmental impacts of mercury contamination from small-scale gold mining was featured in the Australian Research Council (ARC)’s 2017–18 edition of Making a difference—Outcomes of ARC supported research.

Professor Reichelt-Brushett takes the same unique learning approach beyond the laboratory and out into the community at events like Lismore’s Arts Vs Science Festival. She’s also a regular presenter in the Science Tent at Splendour in the Grass where, with sessions such as ‘Chemistry! Colour, crystals and climaxes’, the influence of science in our everyday lives is shown in new and unexpected ways – much to the delight of festivalgoers.