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Professor David Read BSc PhD FRSC SFHEA NTF

Professorial Fellow in Chemical Education, Director of Outreach and School Teacher Fellow

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Professor David Read is Professorial Fellow in Chemical Education within Chemistry at the University of Southampton.

David Read obtained his BSc in Chemistry (1996) and PhD in Organic Chemistry (1999) from the University of Bristol, the latter under the supervision of Professor Roger Alder FRS. He then undertook two years postdoctoral work with Professor Peter Gaspar at Washington University, St Louis (USA).  In 2003/4, David trained as a chemistry teacher on the Graduate Teacher Programme at Theale Green Community School, just outside Reading. In 2007, he was appointed as School Teacher Fellow in Chemistry at Southampton. David was promoted to Principal Teaching Fellow in 2013, then Professorial Fellow in Chemical Education in 2015. 

David received a Vice Chancellor’s Teaching Award in 2008 for his role in integrating new forms of learning technology in teaching in Chemistry. In 2010, David was the recipient of the RSC’s Higher Education Teaching Award and the 'Most effective use of video in an educational context' award from the Association for Learning Technology. David’s contributions were recognised by students when he was awarded the 2014 ‘Lifetime Achievement Award: Teaching and Learning’ for the Faculty of Environmental and Life Sciences after being nominated by students in Chemistry and on the Science Foundation Year. He became a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in 2014, and has since mentored >15 colleagues across the University who have achieved FHEA or SFHEA.  David was awarded a prestigious National Teaching Fellowship by the Higher Education Academy in 2017 in recognition of his work to promote high quality, evidence-based teaching innovation nationally. 

David is currently Director of Outreach in Chemistry and teaches on CHEM1012 (‘Introduction to Chemistry for Biologists’) and CHEM3027 (‘The Undergraduate Ambassador Scheme’).  David’s main teaching role is on the Science Foundation Year, where he shares delivery of GSCI0009 (‘Fundamentals of Chemistry’) with Dr. Paul Wilson.  David also teaches on GSCI0011 (‘Laboratories and Coursework’) and GSCI0012 (‘Routes to Success’), being the module coordinator for the former. He was the Programme Leader for the Science Foundation Year from 2012-2017, and is currently the admissions tutor for the programme.  David is currently seconded 0.2 FTE to the University’s Centre for Higher Education Practice (CHEP) in the role of Collaborative Lead – Partnership with Faculties, where he is working to establish a network of practitioners across the institution to enhance the provision for professional learning in local contexts.  In this role, David leads on organisation of the University’s Festival of Learning and Teaching, which first ran in September 2019.

David is currently a member of the editorial board of the prestigious RSC journal ‘Chemistry Education Research and Practice’ and was a member of the editorial board of Education in Chemistry from 2009 until 2019, holding the position of chair from December 2010 – June 2016.  David was a member of the RSC’s Education Division Council from 2009 until 2012 and is now the Convener of the Education Policy Alliance (an umbrella for the coordination of education policy work of the RSC, RSB, IoP, RS and ASE).  He is currently the Treasurer of the Mid-Southern Counties Local Section of the RSC, having served as Chair from 2016-2019.  David has also worked with a number of A-level awarding bodies, advising on changes to specifications and providing viewpoints from both sides of the school-university divide. David has spoken at a number of international conferences, including invited keynotes/plenaries in Sri Lanka (2014), Pakistan (2016), Kuwait (2018) and New Zealand (2019), along with invited lectures at the European Conference on Research in Chemical Education in Finland (2014) and Poland (2016), and Gordon Research Conference – Chemistry Education Research and Practice in the USA (2019).

The School Teacher Fellow’s role

Funding from the RSC’s Chemistry for our Future programme supported the project from 2007-2009, with David splitting his time equally between the development of innovative educational resources to provide support for students making the transition from School-to-University and delivering outreach activities in local schools and colleges. Many of the new approaches implemented at Southampton have been inspired by the work of colleagues in other institutions, with the RSC School Teacher Fellow network proving a rich source of fresh ideas. During this time, and also subsequently, David produced a range of new teaching materials and resources that were shared with GCSE and A-level teachers via the internet and during CPD sessions.

Learning Technology

David first developed an interest in the field of Learning Technology while teaching at secondary level, and has built on that foundation since coming to Southampton. David has worked extensively on the use of electronic voting systems (‘zappers’), recently superseded by the online tool Meetoo, and the deployment of different types of video resources and has published a number of articles on these topics. In 2009, Chemistry pioneered the use of recorded lectures to support students in coming to terms with the different learning approaches required for success at university. David has subsequently worked with a number of colleagues who have adopted Tablet PCs as a tool for the delivery of material in lectures, this being an approach which has attracted positive feedback from students. After taking over teaching of the chemistry component of the Science Foundation Year, David pioneered the ‘flipped learning’ approach at Southampton, working in collaboration with colleagues elsewhere to promote the value of this strategy in making more effective use of precious face-to-face time and enhancing the learning experience for students.  These interests have led David to develop training for colleagues in this area, much of which centres on an interactive workshop session titled ‘Rethinking Lectures’ which he has been running across campus and at other universities since 2018.

Outreach and interaction with schools and colleges

In his first two years at Southampton, David worked with Professor Gill Reid, who was then Director of Outreach, and to expand the programme of outreach with local schools and colleges. In 2010 David took on the role of Director of Outreach in Chemistry, in which he has ensured that work with the young scientists and citizens of the future remains an important feature of activities in the department. Interactive talks, featuring the use of zappers, have been in great demand, with different versions being given to youngsters at different levels of education from ages 10-18. A talk on the role of chemistry in energy and sustainability has proved to be particularly popular, and David has delivered the talk to over 10000 pupils in the South East and beyond over the last 10 years. This particular talk includes discussion of the cutting edge research being done at Southampton in the fields of catalysis, fuel cells and lithium ion batteries.

David worked closely with a number of regional Science Learning Centres to design and deliver a range of CPD courses for practising chemistry teachers and continues to facilitate such courses in various parts of the country. He has also worked with a large number of teachers in schools and colleges locally and nationally to promote the implementation of a range of new initiatives, including the use of voting technology, educational video and ‘flipped teaching’. These activities have contributed to successful action research projects, some of which have been discussed in articles written for Education in Chemistry and other publications.

Beyond the chalkface

David enjoys spending time with his family and has already introduced his daughters to the wonders of science. David has played bass guitar since his second year at university, and played sporadically from 2010-2013 with Punk Recruit, a London-based outfit who have featured on BBC 6 Music.  He is currently playing with ‘Slings and Arrows’ in Reading (somewhat sporadically).  David also enjoys walking and cycling and is an avid follower of a number of sports, most notably football (supporting Everton and Torquay United), Formula 1 and Baseball (St. Louis Cardinals).

Research interests

Chemical Education Research

David has been involved in chemical education research over recent years, and has published in excess of 100 articles in magazines and peer-reviewed publications, along with a number of electronic and online reports and resources. David has supervised a number of undergraduate project students, and their work has contributed substantially to the progress that has been made in this area. David’s first Masters student, Charles Harrison, graduated in the summer of 2013 and continues to contribute to learning development projects and outreach as a staff member with the Education Group in Chemistry. Steve Barnes is currently working towards his Ph.D under David’s supervision, and is investigating the role of subject matter knowledge in teaching. Tom Wilson previously completed his Ph.D under David’s supervision in 2018, where he developed and evaluated a novel teaching tool designed to enhance learning through targeted feedback in the laboratory. Rachel Koramoah completed her MPhil in 2016 in which she investigated school students’ attitudes towards chemistry and science lessons.


Undergraduate project students and their dissertation titles:

Charles Harrison (BSc 2010, MA 2013): “Investigating the effectiveness of new approaches to teaching chemistry”

Rosie Brooks (BSc 2011): “Student perceptions of the impact of practical work in secondary school science”

Joanne Boniface (BSc 2011): “Investigating the significance of sharing learning outcomes with students in higher education”

Sarah Dinsdale (BSc 2011): “Video mark schemes to support pupil self-assessment in GCSE Science”

Hannah Ambler (BSc 2011): “Video resources for use in A-level chemistry classrooms”

Anneka McLeod (BSc 2012): “Combining animations and videos the help students to understand difficult concepts in chemistry”

Mariam Mohd Adenan (BSc 2012): “Evaluation of new approaches to laboratory work in physical chemistry”

Dawn Seddon (MChem 2013): “Context-based A-level teaching resources based on cutting edge research in Chemistry at Southampton: Creation and evaluation”

Steve Barnes (BSc 2014): “Enhancing A-level Students’ Skills in Mechanistic Organic Chemistry”

Ella Budgen-Strawbridge (2018) "Promoting Understanding of Antibacterial Resistance Through Outreach" –

Rachel Jordan (2019) "Evaluating the impact of targeted training on the attitudes of Chemistry postgraduates towards Public Engagement"

Annabelle Sessions (2021) "Using breakout rooms during online synchronous sessions to enhance learning for chemistry students"

Florence Sinkinson (2021) "Designing effective approaches to outreach"

Research group


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References and links

1) For an example, see:

2) News release regarding the 2010 ALT/Epigeum award for ‘Most effective use of video’.

3) Read, D. and Harrison, C. K., Review of A-level Chemistry Content. (accessed September 2010).

4) a) The Wax Fireball: 

b) The Mushroom Cloud Reaction:

c) Nitrogen Tri-iodide:


Book Chapters



Professor David Read
Chemistry, University of Southampton, Highfield, Southampton SO17 1BJ

Room Number : 30/4047

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