2016 Bragg Medal and prize of the Institute of Physics

Stuart Farmer, Robert Gordon’s College, for outstanding contributions to enhance both the teaching and the public image of physics, making classroom science more relevant, attractive and visible.

Picture of Stuart Farmer

Stuart Farmer is distinguished internationally for his outstanding contributions to enhancing the teaching and public perception of physics. He has led and developed two physics departments, increasing student uptake in physics, staff numbers, and the departments’ reputations.

A member of the Association for Science Education (ASE) since 1984, Farmer has been Chair of ASE Scotland three times and also chaired ASE Council, its national trustee body. He is vice-chair of the Institute of Physics in Scotland Committee, a member of IOP’s Scottish Education Committee and is their teacher network co-ordinator for Grampian and the Northern Isles. He is a member of the UK Steering Committee of Science on Stage. He has organised many conferences and outreach meetings and delivered workshops at very many continuing professional development (CPD) events, supporting science teachers and sharing best practice in science education across Scotland and beyond.

Farmer has contributed to major curriculum and assessment developments in Scotland. He chaired the Scottish Qualifications Authority Physics Panel for seven years, seeing through its transition from that of the Scottish Examination Board. He was a member of the Higher Still groups responsible for revising the Scottish physics curriculum and assessment. As a member of the Optoelectronics College’s steering group, he contributed significantly to its teaching materials, apparatus design and CPD workshops, reaching many hundreds of UK science teachers. He also harnessed the European initiative Photonics Explorer and the education materials of the Canadian Perimeter Institute, to extend this to hundreds more. He has conducted research as part of the Relevance of Science Education Project and into the barriers to providing effective practical work in schools.

Farmer was a member of both the Science and Engineering Education Advisory Group and the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Education Committee, providing independent advice to the Scottish Government, and was a member of the Scottish Science Advisory Council. He is currently on the board of Aberdeen Science Centre.