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PLANT Biology lecturer scooped the prize pool in teaching awards this year, winning a prestigious Carrick Award, Vice Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Teaching and Deakin University Award for Teaching Excellence.
While the awards will not come as a surprise to the grateful students she has taught, it is something of a surprise to Dr Gibson, who had never considered teaching before she gained a position at Deakin University.
“I never, ever thought I would be a teacher, but I joined Deakin 16 or 17 years ago and I’ve really enjoyed it,” Dr Gibson said. “I think university teaching is very different to teaching in a school because the students are older and interested in being there.”
Before working at Deakin, Dr Gibson had worked briefly as a biotechnologist, but found the business world was not for her. She always knew that she wanted to work with plants and her role at Deakin provided her with the opportunity to learn more and teach others what she knew.
“I love working with plants. I grew up on a plant farm and have always been surrounded by them and by the bush. I’ve always been curious about how they worked, and studying Botany and now teaching anything and everything about plants has enabled me to travel that path. Now, it’s nice to see my students get excited about plants in a way that some of them never thought would be possible.”
Apart from lecturing, Dr Gibson is passionate about her research, which has most recently focused on the reproductive biology and ecology of algae, bryophytes and lichens.
Much of her work explores environmental health and the use of various organisms as potential bioindicators. Current projects include investigations into the long term flowering patterns of melliferous plants. The regeneration of bryothytes after clearfell logging and the uptake of atmospheric pollutants by bryophytes, particularly arsenic.
“I’m very much an outdoors person and I personally would love to do a lot more research in the future,” Dr Gibson said.
In the meantime, she is happy supervising seven PhD students and providing inspiration to undergraduates who never thought that the study of plants could be so fascinating.