Dr Peter Cartwright
Associate Dean (International and Development), Senior Lecturer and Coordinator of La Trobe’s postgraduate biotechnology program
Since 2007, La Trobe’s postgraduate biotechnology course has grown from 15 to 100 students – a change that course coordinator Dr Peter Cartwright attributes to its renewed curriculum and strong focus on preparing students for future research work.
Peter says the course emphasises interactivity and is heavily practical, providing a pathway to La Trobe’s PhD scholarships. ‘We don’t stand and deliver lectures – they’re more like workshops,’ he explains, adding that students take their readings from journal articles rather than textbooks to become familiar with the most up-to-date research information available.
The practical elements of the course are particularly appealing to the international student body, as these students have often had difficulty gaining laboratory experience. ‘La Trobe has always been very focused on practical training – we focus on lab work in all our science programs,’ Peter says. ‘We are training people to think and behave like scientists.’
Peter adds that La Trobe’s postgraduate biotechnology lecturers promote an open-door policy. ‘Students can always come and talk to us, and they really value that they are able to get help when they need it,’ he explains. ‘That professor/student barrier doesn’t really exist here at La Trobe.’ He adds that every semester, students are invited on daytrips to places such as Healesville and Sovereign Hill, giving them a chance to take their student experience beyond the University campus.
In recognition of his work, Peter received a Dean’s Medal for outstanding service to science and engineering in 2007, followed by a Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching and Learning in 2008. In 2011, the Biotechnology Coursework Masters Group received both a faculty and University citation for outstanding contribution to student learning.