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Overview
Affiliations
AffiliationRoom numberTelephone
Assistant Director in the Durham Centre for Academic Development (DCAD) +44 (0) 191 33 44581
Research Associate in the Department of Physics318+44 (0) 191 33 43781

Biography

After growing up in the rural North West of England, Sam went to study for his MSCi in Physics at Imperial College, University of London. Followed by a Ph.D. in Gamma-Ray Astronomy at Durham. After graduating, Sam worked through NASA funding for 12 months, based at Purdue University, USA.

After this time, Sam returned to Durham where he has been based since. Sam initially worked as a PDRA in Physics before moving into an Associate Fellow in Astronomy role in 2007. Sam then moved to a post as Head of Scholarship at Durham University's Foundation Centre, as well as working for the Cherenkov Telescope Array project as an outreach associate, based at the University's Department of Physics in 2010. Over this time Sam's research interests have grown from High Energy Astrophysics, through Science Communication to the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SOTL).

In his role as as a Head of Scholarship Sam developed a national profile and in Physics Educational Research (PER). From 2012-2018 Sam sat on the Higher Education Committee of the Insitute of Physics.

Sam sits on the editorial board of the HEA journal New Directions in the Teaching of Physical Science and the journal Practice and Evidence of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in HE. In 2014 Sam was awarded a University Excellcence in Learning and Teaching Award. 

Sam created and developed the Transitions into HE project, which utilises funding from the Enhancing the Student Learning Experience Awards at Durham to develop an innovative e-learning course to support incoming first year undergraduate students develop a range of study skills prior to arrival at Durham. With 90% approval and with over 4000 students using the course annually, in 2016 Sam led the development of a similar program for PGT students.

In 2015, Sam created the Enhancing Student Learning Through Innovative Scholarship meeting, the first international interdisciplinary meeting of teaching track staff which took place at Durham. Sam chairs the conference which attracts over 150 staff annual and has been held in UCL, Sheffield, Bristol and Edinburgh since. In 2019 the conference will take place in Keele University.

In 2016 Sam was a co-editor and contributing author of the book Widening Participation, Higher Education and Non-Traditional Students published by Palgrave i.

At the end of 2015, Sam took up a new role as Assistant Director at the Centre for Academic, Researcher and Organisation Development (CAROD). At CAROD Sam led the skills development program for PGR students, postdoctoral researchers and Academic Staff, where he secured the HR Recognition Award from Vitae and led Durham through successful reaccreditation with the HEA.

In 2016 Sam was awarded a National Teaching Fellowship, followed in 2018 by the award of Principal Fellowship of HEA (now Advance HE) for his strategic leadership of staff and PGR development at Durham. 

In June 2018, Sam took on his current role as Assistant Director of the Durham Centre for Academic Development (DCAD). DCAD brings together UG, PG and Academic Development, with English for Academic Purposes, Academic Communication, 2 MA Programs in English Language Teaching and a Foundation Programme for Mature Students. 

Sam is an active keynote speaker on a broad range of topics including learning through simulation, game-based learning, and supporting the transition of students between school and University. 

Citations

Google Scholar Profile

Committee Membership

2018-

Member of Research Student Sub-Committee of Education Committee

Represent researcher development, lead working groups on researcher development review

2015-2017

Member of Postgraduate Coordination Committee

Represent researcher development, lead on development of new resources

2015-2018

Member of Postgraduate Faculty Education Committee (Science)

Represent researcher development 

2012-2015

Member of Undergraduate Faculty Education Committee (Science)

Represent Foundation Programme science routes

2012-2015

Elected AEA Member of Senate

Represent teaching fellow issues

2012-2017

Chair of Teaching Focussed Academic Network (formerly Teaching Fellow Network)

I started and chair this network, which offers Durham staff a chance to share their Scholarship beyond their departments. This network played an active role in the development of the teaching track promotion criteria. 

2017-2018

Member of Academic Staff Development Working Group

Review and develop new approach (DELTA) to teaching and learning enhancement

2018-2019

Lead Researcher Development Task and Finish Group

Review and recommend enhancements to researcher development Programme

2016-2019

Member of Teaching and Learning Building Steering Group

Represent academic staff development needs within building design phase

2017-2018

Member of DCAD Development Group

Contribute to the development of the DCAD concept and arrange a number of workshops and interventions for all staff to aid in the bringing together of a number of different departments from across the University.

2018-

Deputy Chair, DCAD Senior Management Team

Deputise for Director, report on strategic project work where DCAD is working with other departments

2015-2019

Member of Concordat Implementation Group (CIG)

Coordinate development of Research Staff Association, lead on retention of HR Excellence in Research Award and action plan for CIG 

2019-

Member of DELTA Management Group

Represent DELTA3 (Leadership in Learning and Teaching) and DELTA4 (Strategic Leadership in Learning and Teaching)

2019-

Coordinator of PGCERT Design and Review Groups 

Funding to support Scholarship Activities, Awarded as Principle Investigator

 

  • Developing Pre-Arrival Virtual Experiments for Physics Dept, 2009, E-Learning Fund (DU), £5,000
  • Enhancing Interactive Screen Experiments for Physics Depts, 2010, Enhancing Student Learning Experience Fund (DU), £4000
  • Breaking Barriers for Foundation Science Through E-Learning, 2011, Enhancing Student Learning Experience Fund (DU), £6,000
  • Developing Augmented Reality Students for Foundation and Chemistry Depts, 2012, Enhancing Student Learning Experience Fund (DU), £6,000
  • Developing Pre Arrival E-Learning Course for Foundation Science, 2013, Enhancing Student Learning Experience Fund (DU), £ 5,000
  • Developing Pre Arrival E-Learning Course for Foundation Social Science, 2014, Enhancing Student Learning Experience Fund (DU), £ 5,000
  • Virtual Experiments to Support Level 3 Quantum Theory, 2015, Enhancing Student Learning Experience Fund (DU), £ 5,000
  • Developing Transitions into HE course for all Durham Freshers, 2015, Enhancing Student Learning Experience Fund (DU), £35,000
  • Developing Transitions into PG course for all Durham PG Students, 2016, Enhancing Student Learning Experience Fund (DU), £34,000
  • Sharing as OER resources developed at Durham with Universities of Liverpool and Leicester, HESTEM Funding £2,000
  • Leading Workshop for HEA on Virtual Laboratories, 2012, HEA Funding £1,200
  • Building Bridges, Using Lego® Serious Play® to support student well-being and mental health, 2019, Disability Premium (government funding via DU), £10,000
Scholarship Publications (2013-)
  • Marshall, Catherine A., Sam J. Nolan, and Douglas P. Newton. Widening Participation, Higher Education and Non-Traditional Students. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016.

  • Nolan, Sam J., Simon Rees, and Carole Rushall. "Breaking Barriers: Overcoming Anxieties in Practical Science." Widening Participation, Higher Education and Non-Traditional Students. Palgrave Macmillan, London, 2016. 73-88.
  • Nolan, Sam J., Megan Bruce, and Steve Leech. "Engendering an online community: Supporting students on the transition into university life." Widening Participation, Higher Education and Non-Traditional Students. Palgrave Macmillan, London, 2016. 119-131
  • S.J. Nolan, M. Szablewski, T.J.L. McComb and I.G. Hughes: (2013) ‘Using Interactive Screen Experiments as Pre-Laboratory Tasks to Enhance Student Learning’. New Directions 9(1), 24-27. DOI: 10.11120/ndir.2013.00011
  • Sam Nolan: (2013) Book Review of Electricity and Magnetism, 3rd Edition, by E. Purcell & D. Morin. New Directions 9(1), 109-110. DOI: 10.11120/ndir.2013.00016
  • S.J. Nolan: (2013) ‘Using Interactive Screen Experiments as Pre-Laboratory Tasks to Enhance Student Learning’. Open Educational Research Journal, http://www.oerj.org
  • Simon Rees, Megan Bruce, and Sam Nolan: (2013) ‘Can I Have a Word Please – Strategies to Enhance Understanding of Subject Specific Language in Chemistry by International and Non-traditional Students’. New Directions 9(1), 8-13. DOI: 10.11120/ndir.2013.00012
  • Megan Bruce, Sam Nolan and Simon Rees: (2013) Can I have a word please – strategies to enhance understanding of subject specific language in non-traditional students, Emerge, 5, 17
Scholarship Workshops and Conference Talks (2012-)
  • “Supporting Student Learning with Screen Experiments”, HEA STEM: Developing the virtual laboratory, Durham, March 2012
  • “Opening up the Laboratory”, Three Rivers Annual Learning and Teaching Conference, Teesside University, March 2012
  • “Overcoming Misconceptions: Testing the Conceptual Understanding of Mechanics with Mature Learners”, Foundation Year Network Conference, Keele University, July 2012
  •  “Interactive Screen Experiments – Using Technology to Make Science Labs Less Scary”, Foundation Year Network Conference, Keele University, July 2012
  • “Conceptual Understanding in Physics”, Prof. Derek Raine, Dr. Sam Nolan, Dr., Antje Kohle & Dr. David Sands, Variety in Chemistry & Physics Higher Education Conference, Edinburgh University, August 2012
  •  “Nurturing a Community of Learners: Creating a Cost Effective Online Pre-Arrival Portal”, Blackboard Users Conference, Durham University, January 2013
  • Nurturing a Community of Learners: Creating a Cost Effective Online Pre-Arrival Portal”, Three Rivers Annual Learning and Teaching Conference, Teesside University, March 2013
  •  “Overcoming misconceptions: testing the conceptual understanding of mechanics with mature learners”, HEA: What can higher education contribute to improving social mobility in the UK?, Manchester, March 2013
  •  “Overcoming misconceptions: testing the conceptual understanding of mechanics with mature learners”, Universities Association for Lifelong Learning, Durham University, March 2013
  •  “Foundation Centre: Pre-Arrival: Enhancing Student Learning from Day One”, Foundation Year Network Conference, Durham University, July 2013
  • “Technology to Sustainably Support Laboratory Learning: Two Perspectives on Screen Experiments, Institute of Physics, University of Edinburgh, October 2013
  •  “Flexible e-Learning to Sustainably Support Laboratory Learning?”,Blackboard Users Conference, Durham University, January 2014
  • Working with students as partners to enhance the Transition into HE, ESLTIS 17, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, 2017
  • Curiosity Leads: Recognising and Rewarding the Impact of SoTL in Research-Led Universities, International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Conference (ISSOTL19), Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at Kennesaw State University, Atlanta, USA, 2019
  • Enhancing Well Being Through the Use of Structured Writing Retreats for Students and Staff, 3 Rivers Conference, 2019
  • Building bridges or barriers? A critical examination of the playfulness of serious play, Society for Research into Higher Education 2019 Conference, 2019

Invited Talks

  • Three Case Studies in Student Generated Physics Learning Content, Institute of Physics, University of Manchester, 2012
  • Technology to Sustainably Support Laboratory Learning: Two Perspectives on Screen Experiments, Institute of Physics, University of Edinburgh, 2013
  • Breaking Barriers: Working with Students as Partners to Develop Innovative Virtual Laboratories, 20th International Conference on Multimedia in Physics Teaching and Learning, Ludwig Maximilians Universitat, Munich Germany, 9thSeptember 2015
  • Using Game Based Learning to Enhance Student Engagement, Malta Information Technology Agency, Erasmus Funded Project

Research interests

  • Physics Higher Education Research
  • Gamma-Ray Astronomy
  • Astroparticle Physics
  • Neural Net Development

Research groups

  • Gamma Ray Astronomy

Awarded Grants

  • 2015: UK Participation in the Pre-production Phase of the Cherenkov Telescope Array 2015 - 2017(£220948.00 from STFC)
  • 2010: The preparatory phase for the Cherenkov Telescope(£59208.23 from European Commission)

Esteem Indicators

Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • Physics: Gamma Ray Astronomy, Physics Education, Astroparticle Physics
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics: Gamma Ray Astronomy, Physics Education, Astroparticle Physics
  • Education:
  • General policy:

Publications

Chapter in book

  • Nolan, S, Mathias, J & Dodd, M (2016). Teaching Mathematics to Adults: Integrating New and Old Knowledge. In Widening Participation, Higher Education and Non- Traditional Students. Nolan, S, Newton, D.P. & Marshall, C. Palgrave Macmillan. 1: 57-72.
  • Nolan, S, Rees, S & Rushall, C (2016). Breaking Barriers: Overcoming Anxieties in Practical Science. In Widening Participation, Higher Education and Non- Traditional Students. Nolan, S, Newton, D & Marshall, C Palgrave Macmillan. 1: 73-88.

Conference Paper

  • de Almeida, U. Barres, Chadwick, P., Daniel, M., Nolan, S. & McComb, L. (2009), Event-sequence time series analysis in ground-based gamma-ray astronomy, in Aharonian, F.A., Hofmann, W. & Rieger, F.M. eds, AIP Conference Proceedings 1085: High energy gamma-ray astronomy: 4th International Meeting on High Energy Gamma-Ray Astronomy. Heidelberg, American Institute of Physics, Melville NY, 775-778.
  • Aye, K.-M., Brown, A. M., Chadwick, P. M., Hadjichristidis, C., Latham, I. J., Le Gallou, R., Mc Comb, T. J. L., Nolan, S. J., Noutsos, A., Orford, K. J., Osborne, J. L., Rayner, S. M. & Hess Collaboration (2005), Atmospheric sensing for the H.E.S.S. array, in Aharonian, Felix A., Völk, Heinz & Horns, Dieter eds, AIP conference proceedings 745: 2nd International Symposium on High Energy Gamma-Ray Astronomy. Heidelberg, Germany, American Institute of Physics, Melville, 724-729.

Conference Proceeding

  • Brown A. M., Chadwick P. M., Dickinson H. J., Hadjichristidis C., Latham I. J., Le Gallou R., Masterson C, McComb T. J. L., Nolan S. J., Noutsos A., Orford K. J., Rayner S. M., Spangler D. & HESS Collaboration (2005). Active atmospheric calibration for HESS applied to PKS 2155-304. Proceedings of the 29th International Cosmic Ray Conference, Vol 4: OG 2.1, 2.2 \& 2.3 Forsch Zentrum Karsruhe Inst Kernphys; Univ Karlsruhe; Inst Expt Kemphys; Tata Inst Fundamental Res; Int Union Pure \& Appl Phys, TATA INST FUNDAMENTAL RESEARCH.
  • Chadwick, P. M., Dickinson, H. J., Latham, I. J., Nolan, S. J., Osborne, J. L. & HESS Collaboration (2005). Simultaneous X-ray and VHE gamma-ray observations of microquasars. Proceedings of the 29th International Cosmic Ray Conference, Vol 4: OG 2.1, 2.2 \& 2.3 Forsch Zentrum Karsruhe Inst Kernphys; Univ Karlsruhe; Inst Expt Kemphys; Tata Inst Fundamental Res; Int Union Pure \& Appl Phys, HOMI BHABHA MARG, NAVY NAGAR, COLABA, MUMBAI, MH-400005, INDIA, TATA INST FUNDAMENTAL RESEARCH.
  • Brown, A. M., Chadwick, P. M., Dickinson, H. J., Hadjichristidis, C., Latham, I. J., Le Gallou, R., McComb, T. J. L., Nolan, S. J., Noutsos, A., Orford, K. J., Osborne, J. L., Rayner, S. M., Spangler, D. & H E S S Collaboration (2005). Atmospheric monitoring for the HESS Cherenkov telescope array by transmissometer and LIDAR. PROCEEDINGS OF THE 29TH INTERNATIONAL COSMIC RAY CONFERENCE, VOL 5: OG 2.5, 2.6 \& 2.7 Forsch Zentrum Karsruhe Inst Kernphys; Univ Karlsruhe; Inst Expt Kemphys; Tata Inst Fundamental Res; Int Union Pure \& Appl Phys, TATA INST FUNDAMENTAL RESEARCH.
  • Chadwick, PM, Chaty, S, Daniel, MK, Haswell, CA, Kolb, U, McComb, TJL, McKenny, JM, Nolan, SJ, Norton, AJ, Orford, KJ, Osborne, JL & Rayner, SM (2001). VHE gamma rays from binary systems. HIGH ENERGY GAMMA-RAY ASTRONOMY Max Planck Inst Kernphys; DFG; Int Union Pure \& Appl Phys, 2 HUNTINGTON QUADRANGLE, STE 1NO1, MELVILLE, NY 11747-4501 USA, AMER INST PHYSICS.
  • Chadwick, PM, Daniel, MK, McComb, TJL, McKenny, JM, Nolan, SJ, Orford, KJ, Osborne, JL & Rayner, SM (2001). VHE observations of high energy peak BL Lacs. HIGH ENERGY GAMMA-RAY ASTRONOMY Max Planck Inst Kernphys; DFG; Int Union Pure \& Appl Phys, 2 HUNTINGTON QUADRANGLE, STE 1NO1, MELVILLE, NY 11747-4501 USA, AMER INST PHYSICS.

Journal Article

Other (Digital/Visual Media)

  • Bellamy, L, Bell, A, Davies, C, Nulty, D, Nolan, S, Price, M, Stefani, L, Strohfeldt, K & Vlachopoulos, P (2019). University Teaching Core Skills. Online Course(1).

Presentation

  • Nolan, S & Whitton, N (2019), Building bridges or barriers? A critical examination of the playfulness of serious play, SRHE ociety for Research into Higher Education 2019 Conference. Celtic Mannor Resort, Newport, Wales.
  • Nolan, S (2019), Curiosity Leads: Recognising and Rewarding the Impact of SoTL in Research-Led Universities, International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Conference. Atlanta, GA, USA.
  • Nolan, S & Hatherly, P (2013), Technology to Sustainably Support Laboratory Learning: Two Perspectives on Screen Experiments, Institute of Physics, Higher Education Group Meeting. University of Edinburgh, Scotland.