Claire Garden
Claire Garden

Dr Claire Garden PFHEA MRSB

Associate Professor


Dr Claire Garden (she/her) PFHEA MRSB is Associate Professor of Lifescience Education and Head of Learning and Teaching in the School of Applied Science.

Claire graduated with an MBiochem first degree from the University of Bath with neuroscience placements at both University College London and Wake Forest University (NC, USA). She then completed a prestigious CASE PhD studentship in Molecular Neuroscience at the MRC Centre for Synaptic Plasticity, University of Bristol, sponsored by GlaxoSmithkline. This led to postdoctoral work and a Teaching Fellowship at the University of Bristol in the Anatomy and Pharmacology departments before her appointment as a lecturer at Edinburgh Napier University in 2007. She was promoted to Senior Lecturer and Subject Group Leader in Biomedical Sciences & Microbiology in 2013 and in 2017-8 became Head of Life Sciences with strategic responsibility for over 50 academic staff and in the region of 700 students, alongside teaching and research. Claire became the School's Head of Learning and Teaching in March 2020 and led the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. She leads the School's LTA strategy, underpinned by student engagement pedagogy. She has extensive experience of staff development, capacity building, mentorship, line management and coaching.

Claire trained in molecular and developmental neuroscience research and now focuses on pedagogical research. She has held Nuffield, Carnegie Trust, RS MacDonald Trust and Scottish Funding Council funding as Principal Investigator and has led a number of funded upskilling initiatives, most recently the Advanced Therapies Skills Training Network funded by the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult. She now researches novel teaching methods such as gamification, Lego Serious Play and Virtual Reality that improve student engagement, and is an elected member of the Researching, Advancing,& Inspiring Student Engagement network committee. Claire has worked with industry to include novel teaching approaches in training through the Innovation Voucher scheme and is also interested in barriers to the inclusion of industry-relevant skills in life sciences curricula. She regularly collaborates with Skills Development Scotland , Scottish Enterprise and Scottish Universities Lifesciences Alliance (SULSA) on upskilling initiatives, most recently instigating and hosting the first ever Scottish Life and Chemical Science Skills Summit in September 2023 . She is chair of the SULSA Skills Committee and is regularly invited to present on skills to industry committees. Claire has supervised a number of research degrees (PhD and MRes) to completion.

Claire has taught and led a wide variety of Biomedical Sciences modules both in Edinburgh and with international partners, she also has experience of programme leadership. She currently teaches Cell Biology and Pharmacology at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. She is module leader for the Honours Project undergraduate biological sciences module. As Subject Group Leader, she led Biomedical and Biological Sciences degrees to high levels of student satisfaction in the NSS (up to 100%) together with RCVS and RSB undergraduate degree accreditation. Claire has expertise in curriculum design, development and enhancement, and accreditation and quality assurance. She was recognised as Principal Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy in 2024 in recognition of her commitment and expertise in the strategic leadership of Teaching and Learning. She is a Member of the Royal Society of Biology and the Outreach Education and Inclusion working group for the Society of Experimental Biology. She is a proud advocate for equality and inclusion.


Advisory panels and expert committees or witness

  • Researching, Advancing & Inspiring Student Engagement (RAISE) Committee member
  • Scottish Universities Life Sciences Alliance (SULSA) National Agency for Life Sciences (NALS) committee member
  • Advanced Therapies Skills Training Network Forum Member
  • SDS/ SE Joint Working Group on Quality Assurance and Regulatory Affairs
  • U!REKA Partnership HERD Group Institutional Lead
  • Scottish Lifescience Association Higher Education Special Interest Group
  • Member of the Heads of Universities Biosciences
  • Scottish Lifesciences Association HR SIG
  • Scottish Universities Deans of Science Member


Conference Organising Activity

  • Life of Learning: Engaging Students in Learning, Teaching and Assessment in the Applied Sciences. Society for Experimental Biology Conference


External Examining/Validations

  • External Examiner Zhejiang University-University of Edinburgh BMS Programme
  • Abertay University Division of Science ILR External Panel Member
  • External Examiner DeMontfort University Biomedical Sciences Undergraduate suite


Fellowships and Awards

  • Principal Fellow Higher Education Academy (PFHEA)
  • Fellow Higher Education Academy
  • Senior Fellow Higher Education Academy


Grant Funding Panel Member

  • ENU Teaching Fellow Grant Panel Member
  • Member of Carnegie Trust Panel of Assessors


Invited Speaker

  • Getting Started with Gamification: Heads of University Biosciences Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
  • HEA STEM Conference, Online
  • U!REKA Conference, Online
  • Gamifying Formative Assessment for Student Engagement: The First Real How-To. SEDA Conference Workshop. Leeds, UK
  • Gamification for Engagement: A Framework to Study and Apply Engagement. ENU Research Conference. Edinburgh, UK
  • No Alarms and No Surprises. Universal Design for Learning: Taking Down the Barriers. Teaching Fellow Conference. Edinburgh, UK
  • Putting Theory Into Practice: Gamification for Student Engagement. Edulearn Conference. Palma, Spain
  • Theory and Games: Developing a Method for Gamifying HE. Edulearn Conference. Palma, Spain.
  • Remix Play Summit. Coventry, UK
  • An Exploration of Lego Serious Games for Teaching Cell Biology in HE. Playful Learning Conference Workshop, Manchester UK
  • Student-Centred Lifelong Employability for a Future-Proof Workforce. Invited Keynote: World Biodiscovery Conference. Sofia, Bulgaria.
  • Employability, Laboratory Skills and Competencies at Edinburgh Napier University. Invited Speaker: RSB/SDS Joint Meeting
  • Abertay University: Fetal Programming: Only from the Neck Down? Invited talk. Dundee, UK
  • BNA 2015 Festival of Neuroscience: Delayed cerebellar development as a result of in utero androgen hyper-exposure.


Membership of Professional Body

  • Member of British Educational Research Association
  • Member of the Society for Experimental Biology
  • Member of RAISE Network
  • STEM Ambassador
  • Member of the Royal Society of Biology


Public/Community Engagement

  • Williamston Primary School STEM Fair
  • James Young S1 STEM event
  • Letham Primary School STEM event
  • STEM Marketplace (Raising Aspirations in Science Education project)
  • S4 St Augustine's Outreach visit
  • Tweedlove Festival June 2015
  • Wellcome Trust Edinburgh International Film Festival Ideas Lab June 2015. Invited workshop participant.



  • Trends in Higher Education Journal Reviewer
  • Programme Reviewer SEB Annual Conference
  • Behavioural Sciences Journal Reviewer
  • Information and Learning Sciences Journal Reviewer
  • Programme Reviewer RAISE Annual Conference
  • Education Sciences Journal Reviewer
  • Journal of Further and Higher Education Reviewer
  • Programme reviewer HEA STEM Conference
  • Global Journal of Health Sciences Reviewer
  • Toxicology Letters Journal Reviewer



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