About Me

I’m an educator, learning coach and have a PhD in organic chemistry.

As an academic for over 16 years, I have been dedicated to all things learning. My research has focused on bridging knowledge gaps initially in chemistry education, using technology enhanced learning, assessment and feedback. I also research on cognitive enhancers (nootropics or smart drugs).  I am an Associate Professor in Learning & Teaching. A list of my relevant publications is available to view here.

My extensive background in education as a chemistry lecturer helped me to recognise the many challenges we face with exam nerves, lack of confidence, stress, anxiety and learning performance. I am most passionate about helping those who despite their potential, talents and strengths are holding themselves back and feel disheartened.

 How it all started

From my own experience, I used to feel so nervous days ahead of an important presentation. I would worry continuously for days. I couldn’t eat properly either.  On the day of the presentation, I would wake up feeling sick. I would be counting down the time and just wished for it all to be over with. I couldn’t understand why this happened for me. It was like a programme running in my brain. I never imagined that I could enjoy presenting or speaking in public and feel less self-conscious about it. But now I do (which was impossible for me to believe could happen) using the tools from cognitive coaching and hypnotherapy.

I realised I wanted to understand more about human emotions and why we do what we do. Students would call to my office for a chat. Sometimes we would discuss organic chemistry but often they would share their fears, anxieties and doubts. I wanted to help with performance nerves, stress and lack of confidence knowing that it works.

I learned from my own journey that whatever is holding us back from being our best versions doesn’t have to stay like this. We are not broken! The times that I have felt lost, uncertain, stuck have not been fun.

 

I was honoured to receive a teaching award from the Royal Society of Chemistry.  The award ceremony took place at Titanic Belfast on Nov 18th 2016.  Photo shows L-R Robert Parker (CEO RSC), Me (Dr Suzanne Fergus), Prof Sir John Holman (President RSC)

Awards

National Teaching Fellowship 2017

Royal Society of Chemistry Higher Education Teaching Award 2016

Presentations and Seminars

Invited Speaker (2022): Assessment Design and Links to Learning Outcomes. Global Academic Foundation, Egypt.

Invited Speaker (2021): Learning Chemistry and Engaging Students: challenges and triumphs. Seminar Series School of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, The University of Southern Mississippi.

Invited Speaker (2021): The Science of Learning and Studying Smart. The Quest Institute

Invited Speaker (2019): Using PeerWise to support first year transition and does awarding credit make a difference? PeerWise Symposium, UCL, London.

Keynote (2018): Doing a science education research project. Methods for Research in Science Education. Dublin, Ireland.

Invited Speaker (2018): The UK Student Experience. Erasmus funded collaboration with the Faculty of Chemistry, University of Castilla-La Mancha, Spain.

Invited Speaker (2018): . Open Stax Creator Fest. Houston, USA.

Conference presentation (2018). Objective structured chemistry examinations (SChemEs): Developing methods of assessment to improve laboratory-based skills. Biennial Conference on Chemical Education. Indiana, USA.

Keynote (2017): Quick wins and ‘slow burners’ to help transform our Year 1 chemistry experience. VICEPHEC Variety in Chemistry Education/Physics Higher Education Conference. York.

Invited Speaker (2017): Creative teaching ideas and innovations, what next? RSC Methods in Chemistry Education Research. London.

Keynote (2017): “The good, the bad and the ugly” to help transform our Year 1 chemistry experience. Irish Variety in Chemistry Education Conference. Dublin.

Professional training

I trained with The Quest Institute as a cognitive hypnotherapist. They utilise evidence-based approaches and clients with anxiety and depression were assessed using the same outcome measures currently used to assess the effectiveness of talking therapies within the NHS. The pilot study was published in the Mental Health Review Journal in 2015. It recorded that, using 118 cases measuring the effectiveness of Cognitive Hypnotherapy for the treatment of depression and anxiety, 71% considered themselves recovered after an average of 4 sessions. This compared to an average of 42% for other approaches using the same measures (like CBT).

I have taken other therapy trainings (Jacquin Hypnosis Academy- Professional Hypnotherapy Diploma, Resilience and Wellbeing in the Workplace training) to continue my professional development and because I love to learn.

I combine my unique blend of science, teaching and coaching in my work.

 

The Effectiveness of Quest Cognitive Hypnotherapy

for the treatment of anxiety and depression compared with other therapies such as CBT.

Results taken from a pilot study of 118 cases

  • Cognitive Hypnotherapy 71% 71%
  • Other talking therapies 42% 42%
NCH Logo