Dr Anna Wilson

  • Reader in Interdisciplinary Research in Education (School of Education)

Biography

I joined the University of Glasgow as Reader in Interdisiplinary Research in May 2022, after working at various universities in the US, Australia and UK. I've held positions as a physicist, an academic developer, an HCI/social science researcher and an education academic.

I started my academic career as a nuclear strcture physicist, completing a PhD in Nuclear Physics at the University of Liverpool in 1996. If you are interested, I studied superdeformed states in the mass-190 region using the techniques of gamma-ray spectroscopy.  After a post-doc position at York and a couple of visiting periods at CNRS-Orsay in France, I took up a position at the Australian National University. It was there that I discovered how much I loved, and was fascinated by, teaching and learning. I took a Graduate Certificate and then a Masters in Higher Education, run through ANU's Centre for Educational Development and Academic Methods (CEDAM). This was when I started working with Gerlese Akerlind (a key figure in Phenomenograhic Research) and my excellent colleagues Kate Wilson (no relation), Pam Roberts, Denise Higgins and Susan Howitt.  We were all interested in undergraduate students' experiences of research, among other things. As a result of the research we undertook in that area, I also found myself increasingly drawn to working with colleagues, both to understand their experiences of teaching and to help them learn and develop as teachers. I became the Associate and then Deputy Director (Education) of the Research School of Physics and Engineering, and was seconded part time to contribute to CEDAM's programmes. I also spent a year seconded part time to the University of Canberra's Teaching and Learning Centre, where I had the opportunity to contribute to strategic developments around work-based learning and interdisciplinarity as well as research-led education.

After a while I began to feel guilty about playing at being an education researcher when I'd had very little training in the field. After all, we'd never have let someone who had been a teacher march into the accelerator lab and start running experiments - or worse still, tell us how we ought to be running them. So, after a brief period as an academic developer at Oxford University's Learning Institute, I took the plunge, went back to full-time studenthood, and undertook a second PhD in education at the University of Stirling. This was where I discovered Deleuze, ANT, sociomateriality and more. 

Since then, I have worked as a post-doc on a Horizon 2020 project (Commonfare.net), leading on the HCI and social research needed to design an ethical reputation system, and as a lecturer in Lifelong Learning at the University of Stirling.

 

Research interests

Both my research and my teaching focus on how we learn (and how we learn to learn) to approach, understand and deal with complex knowledge, situations and challenges. These include but are not limited to:

  • sustainability (e.g. waste, plastics, energy, the climate crisis)
  • technologisation of work and life (e.g. datafication, increasing use of digital technologies to support decision-making, design for ethical systems)
  • research (e.g. how we learn to "do" research)

"We", in the above, can mean individuals, groups, communities or organisations.

These interests inevitably lead to a need to play with and develop new research methods and methodologies. Just now I'm working a lot with fiction and made-up stories, ways of speaking that allow us to imagine alternative pasts, presents and futures, and that in so doing express some important realities.

Grants

Current grants:

  • Waste Stories (a Leverhlume Trust Research Project): https://wastestories.org.uk
  • Water and Fire (a GCRF project in collaboration with the University of Stirling, the Sustainable Livelihoods Foundation, the University of Cape Town and the University of Western Cape).

Completed grants: