Dr Rebecca Barnes

School of Biosciences


+44 114 222 4249

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Dr Rebecca Barnes
School of Biosciences
Firth Court
Western Bank
S10 2TN

Career history

I completed a BSc (Hons) in Biochemistry and Genetics at the University of Nottingham. I then did my PhD in the lab of Richard McCulloch at the Wellcome Centre for Molecular Parasitology, University of Glasgow, where I studied DNA repair systems in the African trypanosome and their role in antigenic variation of the parasite.

Next I moved to the USA, joining Elisabetta Ullu’s group at Yale University. There I continued my work on trypanosome molecular biology, examining the molecular mechanisms of RNA interference, as well as being heavily involved in teaching at Yale and in the wider community. I have been working as a teaching specialist in MBB since 2013.

  • 2013 - present: University Teacher, Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, University of Sheffield
  • 2012 - 2013: Associate Research Scientist and Postdoctoral Teaching Scholar, Department of Internal Medicine, Yale University
  • 2012 - 2013: Teaching Affiliate, Gateway Community College, New Haven, CT, USA
  • 2006 - 2012: Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Internal Medicine, Yale University
  • 2002 - 2006: PhD, Wellcome Centre for Molecular Parasitology, University of Glasgow

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All publications

Journal articles


  • Barnes R, Ullu E, Kolev N & Tschudi C (2012) RNA Metabolism in Trypanosomes In Bindereif A (Ed.), RNA Metabolism in Trypanosomes (pp. 167-185). Berlin/Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Barnes R, Klingbeil MM & McCulloch R (2007) The Three R's of the Trypanosomatid Genomes: Replication, Recombination and Repair In Barry D, Mottram J, McCulloch R & Acosta-Serrano A (Ed.), Trypanosomes - After the Genome RIS download Bibtex download
Teaching interests

I teach across the degree on topics around genome integrity and gene expression. Much of my work centres around the first-year experience in MBB, helping students gain the skills they will need to excel in the rest of their degree; I was awarded an Early-Career Senate Teaching Fellow award by the University for this in 2018.

For instance, I have made a number of improvements as coordinator of the Level 1 practical module, and created a new optional module to develop the numerical skills and confidence of students without A-level maths.

I am interested in educational games and their impact on learning, and have developed a card game to consolidate our lab sessions on protein purification methods (available for free download from licensing.sheffield.ac.uk). I run the Science Communication third-year project option.

Students create and evaluate a portfolio of resources around a single molecular biology theme. In my role as MBB Programme-Level Approach lead I am leading changes to our teaching, particularly around skills development and education for sustainable development, working with colleagues from around the University.

Teaching activities

Level 3 Modules

  • MBB363 Genetics Data Handling
  • MBB360 Science Communication Project
  • MBB313 Genome Stability and Genetic Change

Level 2 Modules

  • MBB262 Genetics 2
  • MBB263 Microbiology 2
  • MBB267 Genes, Genomes and Chromosomes

Level 1 Modules

  • MBB110 Maths for Molecular Bioscience (Module coordinator)
  • MBB164 Molecular Biology
  • MBB165 Practical Molecular Bioscience 1 (Module coordinator)
Professional activities

I completed my MEd in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (run by the School of Education) in 2019. My dissertation used mainly quantitative methods to look at sense of belonging in our undergraduate students.

I am now following this up with focus groups to examine the experience of under-represented groups more closely, across the whole Faculty of Science. This work will lead to concrete recommendations to improve practice around the Faculty.

I am also keen to evaluate the success of our teaching in an evidence-based, scholarly manner, including for example a project on game-based learning, and evaluation of student satisfaction and workload at different stages of the degree. I regularly attend and present at educational conferences.

Leadership Roles

  • Level 1 Year Tutor
  • Programme Level Approach Lead