Timetabling is a nightmare for our redoubtable HoD because the teaching staff must get exactly 17 or 19 contact hours each week, the students have and even fatter time-table [24-27 hours in class] and there are a finite number of rooms all at > 90% capacity between 9am and 5pm M-F. Lecture hours are easy enough to accommodate but laboratories are, for health and safety reasons, limited to 18 seats, and only one lab is equipped to service research projects. In the leisurely days of yore [2013 CE], there were only 16ish final year students and we ran things so that before Christmas they would carry out a Literature Review of their research topic, so that in the New Year they were fully informed to get down and dirty at the lab bench. 2014 doubled the numbers and we finagled it so that half the kids did their project in the old way and the other half, somewhat absurdly, did the lab work first and revealed its context in the library after Christmas. When numbers climbed above 2 x 18, even that bodge wouldn't work, so my appearance was somewhat providential. Because I am a danger to myself and others in the lab, I've spend the last 30 years doing research on computers analysing DNA and protein sequences to reveal the pattern and process of evolution.
At the end of Third Year, I shill for my 'bioinformatic' projects by telling the students war -stories about a) my 3 big ideas in a lifetime of science b) what the best their predecessors have achieved in their projects. For logistics, I have to take at least the number of students that are surplus to 2x18 = 36 and the computer room has 18-20 seats [any 2 of the computers are likely banjaxed on any one day) so I could have 18. Last year it was N=14 this year N=11. It is very busy: I scoot about the room talking to someone pretty much for the full 2 hours of each class.
Even these students have to carry out a Risk Assessment like everyone else but the hazards are not quite on par with resting your arm in a puddle of sulphuric acid, or spraying yourself with hot sticky agar fresh from the autoclave, or flicking radioactive phosphorous into your eye. Accordingly, the risk assessments are filled with
- tripping over bag
- repetitive strain injury
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