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Dr Debra Willison

Principal Teaching Fellow

Pure and Applied Chemistry

Personal statement

Current Responsibilities

Chair of Strathclyde Online (2017-present)

Committee which oversees the coordination and development of digital education activity across the institution with the aim of realizing opportunities, maximizing connectivity and support.

Vice Dean Academic, Faculty of Science (2015-present)

Responsible for the strategic development of teaching and learning in the Faculty of Science, playing a key role in the development of the Faculty academic plan and guiding departments in determining their academic strategy to support this plan.

Key areas of activity include:

  • student recruitment
  • curriculum development
  • learning enhancement
  • retention
  • widening participation
  • quality assurance

Director for the Centre for Forensic Science (2016-present)

Provide leadership for staff within the Centre in the areas of teaching and knowledge exchange.


How to overcome barriers to student engagement with work based placements (SPELT) : stage two
Willison Debra
Enhancing student transition from study to employment through student driven engagement with alumni (SPELT)
Willison Debra
Direct entry students : transition into the science faculty
Willison Debra
Students Transitions Event, (2017)
Student driven engagement with alumni in the faculty of science
Willison Debra
Students Transitions Event, (2017)
Empowering students by enhancing their employability skills
Scott Fraser J., Connell Pauline, Thomson Linda A., Willison Debra
Journal of Further and Higher Education, (2017)
A study to assess the work experience and placement activity within the faculty of science at the University of Strathclyde
Willison Debra
3rd International Enhancement Themes Conference, (2017)

more publications

Research interests

My research interests centre on the enhancement of learning and teaching within the following areas of focus: 

  • Student Transitions in Higher Education
  • Students as Partners in Academic Development
  • Personal Development Planning
  • Employability
  • Widening Participation

Previously, my research profile centred on the synthesis of ferrocene derivatives and metal carbonyl complexes and their use as chiral auxiliaries in asymmetric synthesis.

Professional activities

Monash University
Visiting researcher
University of South Australia
Visiting researcher
Higher Education and Industry STEM Coordination Group (External organisation)
Northumbria University
Visiting lecturer
University of Southampton
Visiting lecturer
Scottish Government (External organisation)

more professional activities


Internationalisation: Harnessing International Alumni to Improve International Opportunities for Students
Willison, Debra (Principal Investigator)
Alumni and Development Office funding (£5000) allowed the engagement of two marketing student interns to develop materials to support international engagement.
Period 02-Jun-2014 - 26-Sep-2014
The Chemistry Clinic
Willison, Debra (Principal Investigator) Liggat, John (Principal Investigator)
Knowledge Exchange Development funding (£10000) supported the establishment of the Chemistry Clinic, a fourth year class where students have the opportunity to solve real life problems brought to the university from industry.
Period 01-May-2013 - 30-Apr-2014
Roll-out of Student Led Peer and Community Personal Development Planning (PC PDP)
Willison, Debra (Principal Investigator) Gould, Helyn (Principal Investigator) Green, Brian (Principal Investigator) McLaren, Andrew (Principal Investigator) Thomson, Avril (Principal Investigator)
Education Excellence funding (£19759.28) supported the engagement of student interns from across all four faculties to support the roll out of PDP.
Period 06-May-2013 - 13-Sep-2013
Engaging Students in Delivering High Quality, Consistent, University Wide Student Assessment and Feedback
Willison, Debra (Principal Investigator) Bonnar, Elizabeth (Principal Investigator) Gould, Helyn (Principal Investigator)
Education Excellence Funding (£27996.25) supported the engagement of student interns to co-create assessment and feedback processes to inform the creation of a university wide assessment and feedback policy.
Period 01-May-2012 - 28-Sep-2012
Life Long Learning in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering
Willison, Debra (Principal Investigator)
The European Commission, Education, Audio-visual and Cultural Executive Agency funded 8 separate work streams on life long learning. The funding (€625,000) was used to support the project but did not flow through the university. 120 international partners were involved.
Period 03-Sep-2012 - 01-Sep-2015
Alumni Clubs: Enhancing the Student Experience Through Vertically Integrated Student-driven Engagement with Alumni and Employers
Willison, Debra (Principal Investigator) Haw, Mark (Principal Investigator)
Education Excellence Funding (£5852) to engage student interns to develop methodology to create alumni clubs in science and engineering.
Period 01-May-2012 - 01-Oct-2012

more projects


Pure and Applied Chemistry
Thomas Graham Building

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