Charles Hipkin was awarded the Swansea University Distinguished Teaching Award this June. Out of a group of nine outstanding teachers, Charles was one of only seven to gain the prestigious award this year.
Charles began his teaching in Swansea as a University of Wales Fellow in 1976 when he organised and taught in the Intermediate Biology Foundation Year. Back then the number of academic staff teaching plant biology was more or less the same as the total number bioscience teaching staff in the whole School today. At present he is the School’s only teaching botanist covering subjects as disparate as plant taxonomy, plant anatomy and plant biochemistry. His main research interests have been in the biochemistry and physiology of nitrogen assimilation in plants and his discovery of photoautotrophic nitrification in plants led to noteworthy publications in the Biochemical Journal and Nature. Many students remember him best for the field courses he has run in Gower and the Brecon Beacons over the last 20 years, bringing plant biology to life. He has also been a major contributor to outreach activities, giving lectures to local groups on subjects like the high alpine flora of North America. He climbs mountains for relaxation!