Professor Stephen McHanwell
My career started in Newcastle University where I graduated with a degree in physiology in 1975. I completed a PhD in Bristol in 1979 working in Tim Biscoe’s lab on motoneurone anatomy and development. I moved with Tim to UCL spending two years there before securing an MRC French Exchange Fellowship in Nicole LeDouarin’s laboratory in Nogent-sur-Marne. I returned to the UK in 1983 to Newcastle University to take up a lectureship in Anatomy. Though much of my research up to that point had been anatomical it was mainly in histology and developmental biology. I had no experience in human gross anatomy and so had a steep learning curve to travel before I was able confidently to teach in the dissecting room. Though I continued with a research programme I gradually found myself gravitating towards teaching and teaching leadership and following a series of university reorganisations and then a major restructuring of the university in 2001-02 I moved from anatomy via neuroscience into the dental school teaching their anatomy programmes across all five years of the course and leading the first two years of the dental programme. Prior to this I had been elected to AS Council and shortly thereafter was invited to take up the post of Honorary Education Officer a position I held for a full three terms. It was a good time to take up this post. I responsible for overseeing education sessions at the twice-yearly meetings ensuring an active programme of events. It was during this period working with my colleagues on the Education Committee that the first iteration of the AS Core syllabus in anatomy was brought into being and which we able to present at a joint meeting of ASGBI and SAE in Madrid in 2006. This work together with teaching leadership in Newcastle, with AS and in the newly formed European TEPARG group formed the foundation of successful applications for a National Teaching Fellowship and a personal chair in 2007. Joining the NTF network was the stimulus for developing other projects this time not in anatomy but on reward and recognition of teaching within Newcastle but also nationally and internationally. There have been two key things that have contributed to what success I have had in my career. Being active in the professional networks of AS and then NTF led to some of my most successful professional activities. Many of those projects arose serendipitously in ways I not foreseen. I think it important, especially at the start of an academic career to network internally and externally, be active in those networks and be open to grasp opportunities that arise unexpectedly. After 40 years in HE I retired from Newcastle in 2020 as Emeritus Professor (weeks before the first lockdown) though I continue with a number of professional activities teaching, examining and writing.