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Sarah Hall

Professor Sarah Hall


School of Biosciences

+44 29208 75164
Sir Martin Evans Building, Room Cardiff School of Biosciences, The Sir Martin Evans Building, Museum Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3AX, Museum Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3AX












Research, Public Engagement and Science Education

My research career was built on a foundation of electrophysiology and I spent many happy years studying excitable cells, with main interests in cardiac cell physiology and ion channel regulation.  In recent years, I have developed a strong interest in education and have found this aspect of academic life very rewarding.  I now spend much of my time designing, developing and delivering teaching and learning activities for undergraduate students.  I contribute to teaching (and assessment) at all levels and across all Biosciences degree schemes, as well as the medical and dental courses.  My teaching portfolio is focussed mainly on physiological and pathophysiological mechanisms and I have a particular interest in the acute and adaptive responses to exercise.  I remain connected to current research across the spectrum of biomedical sciences through my duties as the director for the Professional Training Year (PTY) for all Biomedical Sciences degree schemes.  We are sending a growing number of students out on research placements each year; these placements allow students to experience the process and practice of research in the context of a real workplace and I am happy to say that they are usually a very positive and productive experience for everyone involved.

I contribute to a variety of outreach and engagement activities and have been a STEM ambassador since 2005.  I run annual workshops for primary schools and sixth-form pupils as part of Cardiff University schemes; I have also advised on interactive science exhibitions for the general public and am currently on the editorial board for Advances in Physiology Education.

Engagement and outreach activities

Events and workshops

Sixth-form workshop: ‘Matters of the Heart’: I devised and deliver an annual AS/A-level workshop on ‘Matters of the Heart’, which provides opportunities for pupils to come into the University to make their own ECG recordings and learn about cardiac physiology.

Learn About Life event: ‘Learn about Lungs’: I devised and deliver an annual interactive workshop in the School of Biosciences where primary school pupils make simple lung function measurements and compare population data; they are also enthusiastic about looking at sheep lungs and enjoy an innovative ‘Body Treasure Hunt’ I designed.

‘In the Zone’ project:
I was a core member of the Scientific Advisory Panel for ‘In the Zone’ and panel representative on the External Project Steering Committee.  ‘In the Zone’ was a Wellcome Trust initiative to produce an interactive travelling exhibition on the physiology of sport, tying in with the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics.  The exhibition toured all regions of the UK at diverse venues including agricultural shows, air shows, music festivals and the Blue Peter Roadshow, and engaged over 91,000 visitors between March-September 2012.  Visitors were able to download their own data from the exhibition (including video clips, ECG traces, etc) via the ‘In the Zone’ exhibition website.  The exhibition is now on permanent display at At-Bristol ( This legacy is enhanced by the project website, which also contains additional information and links. The project won Event Magazine’s prestigious award for ‘Creative Event of the Year 2014’.

‘All About Us’ exhibition, At-Bristol Science Centre. I acted as scientific consultant for ‘All About Us’, a major permanent exhibition about the physiology of the body.  The exhibition has over 50 interactive exhibits and the centre receives over 210,000 visitors each year.

Undergraduate engagement: I provide opportunities for undergraduates to participate in scientific engagement activities.  My final year research project students have delivered and evaluated interactive sessions in primary schools and high schools in the South Wales area (Cardiff, Newport, Caerphilly and Llantwit Major), as well as the At-Bristol science centre.  Many other undergraduate students have gained valuable engagement experience by demonstrating with me at internal and external schools workshops and extracurricular science days; in addition, these students act as ambassadors for our degree schemes.

Outreach activities relating to Final Year Scientific Engagement projects include design, development and delivery of the following:

  • Interactive teaching and learning session about exercise training and performance-enhancing technologies, specifically targeted to support A-level curricula.  This was successfully delivered at high schools in Cardiff.
  • Interactive teaching and learning session about Diabetes, specifically targeted to support A-level curricula.  This was successfully delivered at high schools in Merthyr Tydfil.
    Interactive workshop aimed at enhancing understanding of high-intensity interval training (‘HIIT’).  This was successfully delivered at a gym in Cardiff.
  • Interactive workshop aimed at enhancing general awareness of lung structure and function in health and disease.  This was successfully piloted at a local primary school and delivered several times at ‘At-Bristol’ as part of the ‘Meet the Expert’ programme.
  • Interactive session aimed at increasing the general public’s understanding of the role of the kidney.  This was successfully piloted at a local primary school and delivered in the ‘At-Bristol’ LiveLab.
  • Interactive teaching session about stem cells and Parkinson’s disease, specifically targeted to support A-level curricula.  This was successfully delivered at high schools in Newport and Llantwit Major.
  • Interactive educational tools for use by midwives.  This was successfully piloted at the Cardiff School of Midwifery and copies of the resource pack have been requested by midwife groups.  These tools were also used as the basis of an interactive session mapped onto the GSCE curriculum in biology, as well as PSE development, and this session was successfully piloted in a secondary school in Caerphilly.

Outreach publications

'Understanding Life’ booklet:
I compiled and edited the latest edition of this outreach publication explaining the science of physiology and highlighting aspects of current physiological research.  It is aimed at GCSE and A-level pupils, and the general public.  Hard copies are sent directly to schools and universities throughout the UK and also distributed at national science festivals (e.g. Big Bang Festival, Cheltenham Festival, National Science Week), careers fairs and international scientific meetings (e.g. Biophysical Society, FASEB, EB, IUPS).  The booklet is also available online via the Society’s ‘Understanding Life’ website:

‘The Science of Life’ booklet:
I compiled and edited this careers booklet highlighting the specialist and transferable employability skills that can be gained with a physiology degree and the career options available to physiology graduates
The booklet is also available online via the Society’s ‘Understanding Life’ website:

Editorial Board for ‘Physiology News’ (2006-2015):  My roles included commissioning, writing and reviewing articles appropriate for a mixed audience of scientists, science advocates and policy makers, students and the general public.  This magazine is published quarterly and has a hard copy circulation of 3,000; it is also available free online at:

Cover design competition:
I liaised with academic colleagues at Central St Martins School of Art and Design to develop a competition for undergraduate Graphic Design students to design original artwork for the cover of two outreach publications.  This project provided opportunities for cross-disciplinary collaboration between ‘art’ and ‘science’.


Senior Lecturer (2014-present)
School of Biosciences, Cardiff University

Duties include:

  • Designing and delivering teaching activities in physiology and related disciplines to undergraduate students on BSc, MB and BDS degree schemes
  • Director of the Professional Training (sandwich) Year scheme for Biomedical Sciences degrees
  • Module leader (BI2302 Physiology of Exercise; BI2303 Human Pathophysiology; BI2001 Research Techniques); final year research project supervisor; personal tutor
  • Curriculum development (Biomedical Sciences degree schemes and C21 project)

External duties:

  • Editorial Board of ‘Advances in Physiology Education’ (2014 to present)
  • External Examiner for MBBS1 and 2 at Kings College School of Medicine, London (2010 to 2015)
  • Physiological Society Education and Outreach Committee (2006 to 2015)
  • Editorial Board of ‘Physiology News’ magazine (2005 to 2015)

Lecturer in Physiology (1996-2014)
School of Biosciences, Cardiff University

Fogarty Visiting Research Fellow (1993-1996)
Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology, National Institutes of Health (N.I.E.H.S.), Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, U.S.A.
Investigating the modulation of ion channel behaviour and cell excitability by hormone-mediated reversible protein phosphorylation cascades using patch-clamp recording techniques in cultured cell lines

American Heart Association Post-Doctoral Research Associate (1991-1993)
Department of Cell Biology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, N.C., U.S.A.
Investigating cellular mechanisms of cardiac cell volume regulation using electrophysiological recording and cell imaging techniques.

British Heart Foundation Research Assistant (1990-1991)
The Sherrington School of Physiology, U.M.D.S. (St. Thomas'), University of London, U.K.
Characterising the actions of extracellular chloride ion substitution on the contractility of isolated ventricular myocardium.

Ph.D. student (Ciba-Geigy studentship) (1986-1990)
The Sherrington School of Physiology, U.M.D.S. (St. Thomas'), University of London, U.K.
Identifying the mechanism of action of Mg2+ ions on the electrical and mechanical behaviour of the heart using ion-sensitive electrodes, fluorescence signalling techniques and electrophysiological recording.

Senior Research Technician (1985-1986)
Department of Pharmacology, The Wellcome Research Laboratories, Beckenham, Kent
Designing and investigating novel compounds to alter O2 carriage in blood.

BSc (Hons) in Pharmacology (1985)
University College, London