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New Fellow in Biochemistry has teaching front and centre

“My passion always has been teaching,” said Dr Dominic Alonzi, who earlier in Michaelmas term was inducted as Fellow in Biochemistry at Oriel College for a fixed term.

Alonzi graduated from Corpus Christi College, Oxford, with a master’s degree in Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry before completing a DPhil in Glycobiology at the Department of Biochemistry while based at Linacre College.

He joined Oriel College in 2021 as a stipendiary lecturer and the main organising tutor for Biochemistry and also Biomedical Sciences.

Outside of teaching, Alonzi has led on antiviral research and testing and also published articles on glycobiology. He said he finds this “all deeply rewarding,” but not so much as he does teaching.

“Oxford is a research-intensive university, but it also values teaching. And that’s a great thing about Oriel College in particular — they recognise not just my research but also what I do for teaching and pastoral care,” he added.

Alonzi was made responsible for coordinating Opportunity Oxford’s online and residential courses across the Medical Sciences Division in 2019 and has worked at the Centre for Teaching and Learning as an education development consultant since 2021.

Opportunity Oxford is an academic programme that aims to help students from underrepresented backgrounds prepare for studying at the University of Oxford and Alonzi will be retaining his role during his tenure as Fellow in Biochemistry at Oriel College.

“We’ve had hundreds of students go through the courses and then going on to achieve degrees. Seeing students develop and progress — it’s hugely rewarding,” he said.

The Centre for Teaching and Learning exists to support teaching and learning at the University of Oxford and to promote inclusive and flexible approaches to education and assessment across departments and faculties.

Alonzi’s role at the Centre for Teaching and Learning has seen him encourage greater diversity in assessment methods and structures. His approach follows a guiding thread: asking the correct questions first, designing assessments second.

“What is a good English student? Or a good lawyer? What should a Biochemistry student be able to do by the time they graduate? These are the sorts of questions that should be shaping assessments,” he said.

The role also sees Alonzi help younger and less experienced staff to develop their teaching skills and also to achieve recognition for their contributions to education.