Dr Sheila Amici-Dargan

Dr Sheila Amici-Dargan

Senior Lecturer

School of Biosciences

+44 (0)29 2087 0825
Sir Martin Evans Building, Museum Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3AX

Research overview

I graduated with a BSc hons in Cell Biology from the University of East Anglia (UEA) in 1998 and completed a PhD in Biophysics at UEA in 2001, in the laboratories of Prof Alan Dawson FRS and Dr Edward Lea.  My PhD involved setting up a novel technique (excised-patch single-channel recordings of purified receptors reconstituted into giant liposomes) to investigate the pharmacological regulation of IP3 receptors. In 2002 I moved to the USA to work as a postdoctoral researcher in the laboratory of Professor Ian Parker FRS at the University of California Irvine (UCI), where my main research projects involved using line-scan confocal imaging and flash photolysis of caged compounds in Xenopus oocytes to investigate modulation of IP3-mediated calcium signals by calcium buffers and neuronal Ca2+ binding proteins.  On returning to the UK, I took up a temporary post at the Biochemical Society as a Professional and Education Projects Manager, which involved running scientific events, maintaining educational websites and forging links with external organisations.

In 2004 I joined the University of Bristol, where I conducted postdoctoral research in the laboratories of laboratories of Professor Graham Collingridge FRS and Professor David Jane.  My research there focused on the role of glutamate receptors in synaptic plasticity in hippocampal brain slices using simultaneous 2-photon microscopy, whole-cell electrophysiology and calcium imaging. In 2009 I was appointed to a University Lectureship in Physiology at Cardiff University. I completed a postgraduate certificate in higher education in 2012 (awarded Graduate School of Education, Bristol University), and was promoted to Senior Lecturer at Cardiff University in 2013. I currently teach Physiology and Neuroscience to undergraduate students, am the degree scheme coordinator for Physiology, academic lead for enrolment and module leader for BI1002 Structure and function of living organisms.  I have active interests in science outreach and pedagogic research and am a member of the Physiological Society’s Education and Outreach committee.

Scientific Research

My scientific lab-based research is described on my overview page.  Most recently I was using simultaneous electrophysiology and 2-photon calcium imaging in hippocampal brain slices to investigate the role of ionotropic glutamate receptors in long-term potentiation (LTP) and long-term depression (LTD). For more details please see my publication list.

Educational Research

My main educational research interests are focused on how we can enhance research-led teaching in large student cohorts.  I am currently leading several pedagogic projects with academics at Cardiff University and in other higher education institutions.  The main aims of my research are (1) to create educational resources and active learning sessions to engage university students with current research and statistics, and (2) to create free educational resources for teachers and pupils in secondary schools. I also have active collaborations with Steve Rutherford (shadow modules and flipped lectures), Andrew Shore (transition to higher education) and Hannah Shaw/Andrew Shore (student-authored assessments).

Public engagement

I have been consistently involved in public engagement activities since commencing my first postdoctoral position in the USA in 2001.  The events I have organised are too numerous to list here, so here is a small selection to give a taster of the types of activities I have been involved with over the years:

  • STEM ambassador (2009 – present) e.g. NSEW launch event, Senydd, Cardiff (2014)
  • Founder of Cardiff CUBE (Collaborative University Bioscience Engagement) website (2014)
  • Teacher’s panel day: pitched Physiology activities to secondary school teachers (2013)
  • Photo in “Science Grrl” Calendar to promote roles of women in science (2013)
  • Supervised undergraduate summer students, final year project students and CREST gold award pupils conducting bioscience engagement research projects (2012-2015)
  • Organised practical sessions for the International Brain Bee Competition (2011-present)
  • Organised and ran hands-on science activities for Learn About Life events (sponsored by a £875 Grant from the Physiological Society) (July 2010 - present)
  • Organised and ran a Neuroscience engagement event in Seoul, South Korea (Nov 2008) http://www.bna.org.uk/static/docs/BNA_Bulletin_Summer09.pdf
  • Academic representative for the University of Bristol on the Science Engagement and Researching Change (SEARCH) project (2007-2009) http://www.bristol.ac.uk/publicengagementstories/stories/2009/103.html
  • Brain Awareness Week: organised hands-on science and engagement talks (2005-2015)
  • Presented hands-on neuroscience activities at Science in the Gardens, Sheffield (2006)
  • Invited to BA festival as a “soapbox scientist”: How neurons communicate, Dublin (2005)