Professor Vanessa Kind

Professor Vanessa Kind


I studied biochemistry at Queen Elizabeth College, University of London, then worked in molecular biology prior to becoming a chemistry teacher. Teaching led to interest in the impact of teacher knowledge on student learning and achievement. I completed a doctorate study at the University of York investigating longitudinal changes in understanding occurring in post-16 chemistry students, leading to development of novel teaching strategies for specific concepts. I tested and developed these further as Head of Chemistry (and physics) in a Hull sixth form college, which led to my writing  Beyond Appearances: Students’ Understandings of Basic Chemical Ideas for the Royal Society of Chemistry and a resource file Building Success in GCSE Science: Chemistry. I moved to a lectureship in science education at the Institute of Education, University of London, where I worked in science teacher education. In this role I was seconded to the Royal Society of Chemistry to write a resource book for chemistry teachers, Contemporary Chemistry for Schools and Colleges.  In 2002 I moved to Trondheim, Norway to become principal of an international school, where I also worked periodically with trainee science teachers at NTNU and learned Norwegian. I moved to Durham University, UK in January 2005 working there for seventeen years. At Durham, I initially continued working in teacher education. Teaching School Subjects 11 – 19: Science (written with Keith Taber) summarises my approach to teacher education at that time.  I developed research exploring how teachers’ science subject knowledge, beliefs, views about science, self-confidence and attitudes impact teaching and student learning outcomes.This led to contributions to international debates surrounding the nature of teacher knowledge and connections between science teacher education policy and practice, and in particular a well-regarded review paper, Pedagogical content knowledge in science education: perspectives and potential for progress, published in 2009. As P-I /Co-I, my funded science education projects include an ESRC-DfID funded project Transforming Pedagogy of STEM Subjects in Ethiopia; a UK-wide study of practical work in science funded by Gatsby Charitable Foundation; development of a diagnostic test of chemistry teacher knowledge for the Royal Society of Chemistry; a Newton Fund project on chemistry teacher project at the University of the Wiwatersrand in South Africa; and a Wellcome Trust People Award held with Durham Law School on students’ understandings of stem cell research and human cloning via the medium of law. Currently I am the international consultant for a Norwegian Research Council project, Teachers  Research Literacy  for Science (TRELIS) led by OsloMet University; and, with colleagues at Durham, evaluator of ‘God and the Big Bang’ for the John Templeton Foundation, . 

I became involved in academic leadership at Durham intially as Director of Science Learning Centre North East (2011- 2013) then as Deputy Head of Faculty (Postgraduate) in Social Sciences and Health (2015-2019), becoming Deputy Executive Dean from 2019 onwards. I developed initiatives for PGR students, contributed to development of Durham’s Research Methods Centre and held responsibility for PGT programme development, QA and recruitment working within a Faculty team. I gained Principal Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy in July 2021. 


  • Head of the School of Education

Research interests

My research interests centre on science teacher knowledge, beliefs  and pedagogical strategies. I am also exploring how international teacher education policy and practice impacts student learning outcomes, for example, as evidenced by measures such as the Trends in Mathematics and Science Study and the Programme for International Student Assessment. I have worked on a range of projects and interests  in science education, including creativity, ‘how science works’ (essentially philosophy of science), practical work and inter/ transdisciplinary issues. 

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • Principal Fellow, Higher Education Academy, 2021
  • DPhil University of York, 1995
  • MA Science Education, University of London Institute of Education 1990
  • PGCE Chemistry, University of London Institute of Education 1985
  • BSc Biochemistry, University of London Queen Elizabeth College 1983

Professional memberships

  • Fellow and Chartered Chemist, Royal Society of Chemistry
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts
  • European Science Education Research Association
  • National Association for Research in Science Teaching

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>The school welcomes enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>