The Last Lecture Series provides students with an opportunity to select an inspiring lecturer to address the whole of the university at a “red-velvet” event that symbolises the end of the academic year.

This year, Professor Kiaran Kirk, BSc(Hons), PhD, DPhil, Director of the Research School of Biology in the College of Medicine, Biology and Environment has been nominated to present a lecture to be delivered on Thursday, 31st October at 5.30pm in The Hall, University House.

Professor Kirk possesses high qualifications to speak at this symbolic end to the academic year. He has been awarded numerous teaching awards for his contribution of “more than a decade of inspiring lecturing and educational leadership in the field of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology”. Accolades include The Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Research Supervision (2007), the Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning (2008) and the Australian Teaching and Learning Council Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning (2009).

As these awards certify, Professor Kirk is well-appreciated by students who attend his Molecular Biology and Cell Physiology in Health & Disease lectures. Classes are known to be energetic, highly visual and engaging. One anonymous student has described the honour and privilege felt upon being taught by  “a man who is obviously brilliant but able to present in a comprehensible fashion and not make you feel demoralisingly slow.” His ability to influence and inspire students has also been recognised through the Kiaran Kirk Fan Club in August 2010. The Facebook page not only commends his academic and teaching excellence -“[e]ven Kiaran’s lecture on how to deliver lectures is amazing…yes we are currently there!”- but also testifies to “the most amazing [e]yebrows of any individual. Ever!!”

Whilst the content of Professor Kirk’s lecture remains unknown, those who have attended his lectures throughout semester may speculate as to whether he will incorporate his renowned and “unashamedly theatrical” style. Kirk has recognised that students best absorb complex scientific ideas when they are presented with the lively use of “deliberately amateurish” models. He describes how “molecules are represented by scrunched up balls of paper that are thrown around the lecture theatre … enzymes acting on substrates are represented as scissors chopping up old envelopes.”

Professor Kirk studied at the University of Sydney from 1985-1988 before studying at Oxford where he held several medical and research fellowships. The current focus of his research is the physiology and biochemistry of the human malaria virus. His work at the School has been directed towards diseases in the developing world that affect significant sectors of the global population and yet have not been invested in by drug companies.

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