Dr Henrietta J. Standley

Dr Henrietta J. Standley

Senior Lecturer

School of Biosciences

+44 (0)29 2087 6735
+44 (0)29 2087 4116
Sir Martin Evans Building, Museum Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3AX

Biosciences research

My research background is in developmental biology. My specific interests are the community effect signalling interaction and the mechanism by which the dorsoventral axis is established in the Xenopus embryo.

Scholarship of learning and teaching, and pedagogic research

Developmental biology is my teaching focus across CQFW Levels 4-6. In addition to the scholarship of learning and teaching within the context of a spiral curriculum in developmental biology, I pursue my interests in the internationalisation of higher education, the international student experience, critical thinking skills development, and foundation-level learning and teaching and the subsequent transitions to CQFW Level 4 and beyond.

Roles within the School, College and University

In addition to my teaching and scholarship roles, I am the International Student Exchange Coordinator for the School of Biosciences, directing engagement with the Erasmus+, Study Abroad, and IAESTE exchange programmes.

I am Deputy Chair of the Competencies Management Group. I am Chair of the Boards of Studies and the Examination Boards for two University programmes: the Preliminary Year in Science and the International Foundation Programmes in Health & Life Sciences, Business, and Engineering.


I graduated from the University of Cambridge with a First Class BA (Hons) in Natural Sciences (Zoology). During my degree I became particularly interested in developmental biology. I continued at the University of Cambridge for my Ph.D., researching the community effect signalling interaction during Xenopus myogenesis (Fig. 2) in the laboratory of Professor Sir John Gurdon (1997-2001).

I subsequently moved to the USA, joining Professor Janet Heasman’s laboratory at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Research Foundation as a postdoctoral Research Fellow (2002-2004). My research focussed on functional analyses of maternally-expressed Xpygopus and XTcfs in the Xenopus Wnt signalling pathway (Fig. 3).

I rejoined Professor Sir John Gurdon’s laboratory, at the University of Cambridge, as a postdoctoral Research Associate investigating endoderm commitment and nuclear reprogramming (2005-2007). As College Lecturer in Cell Biology and Fellow of Newnham College, University of Cambridge, I was responsible for directing studies, small group teaching, and admissions interviewing (2005-2007). I also lectured on developmental and stem cell biology for Natural Sciences (Zoology).

I joined the Cardiff University School of Biosciences as a Lecturer (Teaching and Scholarship) in 2007, and was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2016. My teaching profile spans cellular, molecular and developmental biology, genetics, and biochemistry. I have led development of several new modules in developmental and stem cell biology.


BA Honours Natural Sciences (Zoology), Class I, University of Cambridge

Ph.D., University of Cambridge

Postgraduate Certificate in University Teaching and Learning, Cardiff University

The Leadership Foundation for Higher Education Aurora Programme

External appointments

2015-2019:  External Examiner, FdSc & BSc (Hons) Human Biosciences, Lancaster University and Blackpool & The Fylde College.

Professional memberships

  • Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA)
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology (FRSB)
  • Royal Society of Biology South Wales Branch Committee
  • Cambridge Philosophical Society, Lifetime Fellow
  • Society for Developmental Biology
  • British Society of Developmental Biology
  • Foundation Year Network

Academic positions

2007 - 2016: Lecturer (Teaching & Scholarship), School of Biosciences, Cardiff University

2005 - 2007: College Lecturer in Cell Biology, and Fellow, Newnham College, University of Cambridge

2005 - 2007: Postdoctoral Research Associate, Gurdon Institute, University of Cambridge

2002 - 2004: Postdoctoral Fellow, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Research Foundation

1997 - 2001: Graduate student, Gurdon Institute, University of Cambridge

Speaking engagements

Conference presentations

2016: Developing critical thinking skills in diverse student cohorts - can internationalisation aid the acquisition of higher-order cognitive abilities? Internationalising the Curriculum conference, Nottingham Trent University.

2015: Assessment for Learning: Developing awareness of good academic practice in an exceptionally diverse cohort of foundation students. Foundation Year Network conference, University of Leeds.

2013: Principal address: IAESTE (British Council) Summer Reception.

2011: Jones, H. Standley, H., Bartlett, T. and Crosthwaite, P. (2011) The perceived added value of peer marking in formative assessment – a cross-disciplinary Study. Presented at: All Wales Teaching Showcase, Cardiff.

2009: The Role of a Lecturer in Teaching and Scholarship. University of Cambridge.

Learning and teaching workshops

2016: Developing Critical Thinking Skills in the Biosciences. Welsh Baccalaureate Conference.

2015: Biological Data in Research Welsh Baccalaureate Conference http://blogs.cardiff.ac.uk/welshbacc2015/ (Fig.1).

2010: The Role of a Lecturer in Teaching and Scholarship Developing an Academic Career in the Sciences and Engineering. Developing an Academic Career in the Sciences and Engineering, Cardiff University.

Module leaderships

  • BI0001 Cells and the Chemistry of Life
  • BI2258 Developmental and Stem Cell Biology
  • BI3002, BI3003 and BI3004 Biosciences Erasmus Placement Research Projects
  • BI1051 Genetics and Evolution (until 2014)
  • BI2350 Animal Development (until 2014)

Teaching contributions

  • BI0002 Genetics, Evolution and Diversity
  • BI0004 Nutrition, Transport and Signalling
  • BI1001 Skills for Science
  • BI2001 Research Techniques
  • BI3006 Biosciences Final Year Project (literature and scientific engagement projects)
  • BI3223 Advances in Developmental and Stem Cell Biology
  • Dentistry (BDS)
  • Medicine (MBBCh)
  • BI2251 Cellular and Molecular Aspects of Blood (until 2012)

Biosciences research background

I am particularly interested in understanding the mechanisms by which a combination of inherited factors and intercellular signals cause a cell to become committed to a particular fate. I have focused on the community effect and axis formation in development of Xenopus laevis embryos, which are especially amenable to micromanipulation.

The community effect describes a signalling interaction within group of cells that is essential for them to be able to differentiate. One such interaction takes place within the group of muscle precursor cells found in the dorsolateral mesoderm of the early gastrula embryo. During my Ph.D. with Prof. Sir John Gurdon at the University of Cambridge I used a candidate approach to identify the community factor responsible for mediating this interaction. I determined that eFGF behaves as the endogenous myogenic community factor (Fig. 2). More recently I have used single cell transplantations to investigate when cells of the vegetal hemisphere become determined to contribute to the endoderm germ layer, where they will give rise to the intestines and associated organs.

The dorsoventral axis of the developing Xenopus embryo is established by activation of the Wnt/ beta-catenin pathway. The components of this pathway are synthesised maternally and are present in the Xenopus oocyte before fertilisation. While in Prof. Janet Heasman's laboratory at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Research Foundation, I used antisense methods to deplete oocytes of maternal mRNAs encoding various members of the Wnt pathway. I then analysed the phenotypes of embryos developing from these depleted oocytes to determine the contribution of each factor to normal development. I found that the beta-catenin interacting proteins XTcf1, XTcf4, and pygopus have distinct and required roles in establishing the dorsoventral axis (Fig. 3).

Scholarship of learning and teaching, and pedagogic research

My current research interests are the internationalisation of higher education, the international student experience, critical thinking skills development, and foundation-level learning and teaching and the subsequent transitions to CQFW Level 4 and beyond. I am developing the Inclusive Curriculum Design in a Global University unit for the University’s Academic Practice for Early Careers Staff programme.