BScAgr (hons 1) Sydney, PhD Monash
Dr Scott is the Physiology Discipline Group leader as well as the higher degree coordinator for the School. He is a neuroendocrinologist with a particular interest in the brain control of the hormones of reproduction. This involves a range of projects related to either the neuroanatomy of the brain circuits controlling reproduction, and to the hormonal control of reproductive processes, using a wide variety of animal species. His teaching is in human anatomy & physiology, and pathophysiology at foundational and advanced levels, as well as training research students.
Dr Scott joined CSU in 2003. Prior to that, he was a Senior Research Officer in the Department of Physiology at Monash University, Melbourne. He gained an Agricultural Science degree from Sydney University in 1988 and a PhD from Monash University in 1993. Following this he worked as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Illinois in the USA before returning to Melbourne in 1996 as a Peter Doherty Fellow of the NH&MRC. Subsequently he was awarded an NH&MRC project grant, to look at the sites and mechanisms of action of testicular steroids in the brain of the male sheep.
Physiology is really interesting stuff. The way that all the organs and body systems work together is fascinating. Dr Scott loves learning about it and he loves researching about it and also teaching about it. It is his hope that he can instil the same enthusiasm in his students.
Unfortunately, all his teaching is in 'service' subjects. In other words, he teaches physiology to students studying in a health-related vocational course. Thus, a lot of the students are not especially interested in physiology per se, but see the subject as one that they must get through in order to study the more 'relevant' subjects. For many, their main concern is simply, 'what do I need to know to pass?' With an attitude like that, the students end up with a degree of shallow learning that permits the students to pass (or not) but very little knowledge is retained for when needed in later years, let alone for when needed for their jobs.
He believes that if he can convey a real passion for the material and make it come alive and seem relevant, this will help the students to want to learn more about the subject. Thus, they are more likely to be motivated to put in the time to learn the material and develop their own deep learning.
Someone once said that "people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care". These are wise words, and Dr Scott considers that his first priority must be the students and their welfare. If the students thought that he didn't care about them and their learning, then he would just be some eccentric man standing up the front getting excited about hormones! There is no point getting excited about the material that he is teaching if he can't bring the students with him. It is essential that the material is pitched at a level and in a quantity that is manageable. Similarly, he needs to be approachable and genuine so that students can feel able to come to him to discuss issues that that affect their learning. This applies equally to internal and distance education students. It is important for the DE students to feel that there is a real person on campus who is concerned about them.
Current subjects taught (* subject coordinator)
In 2010, Dr Scott received a Citation from the Australian Learning & Teaching Council. The synopsis of this citation is shown below:This application is "For engaging and motivating large classes of professional practise-oriented students in service subjects".
Dr Scott motivates and enthuses on-campus and distance education students studying physiology using a twofold approach; through his own passion and enthusiasm for the subject material, and through his commitment to caring for the students. Feedback indicates that this is effective in helping the students want to learn. Techniques to achieve this include the use of e-technologies to create an active on-line environment so students are engaged in a prompt and regular manner. A range of support and learning structures similarly encourage on-campus students.
Dr Scott's main research interest is in the area of neuroendocrinology; the interaction between the nervous system & the endocrine system. He is particularly interested in the sites and mechanisms of action of sex steroids (oestrogens, progestogens and androgens) in the hypothalamus and brainstem as they exert their feedback actions on gonadotrophin releasing hormone (GnRH) secretion as well as on other functions of the hypothalamus such as a sexual behaviour and regulation of appetite. Historically most research has been conducted using sheep, but in recent years the species used has diversified considerably.
The main focus of the laboratory over the last several years has been on two recently discovered neuropeptides called kisspeptin and gonadotrophin inhibitory hormone (RFRP3).These appear to be fundamental to the control of GnRH secretion and hence brain control of reproduction, through a critical role in integrating a diverse array of information regarding the internal and external environment, relaying such information as sex steroid feedback, nutritional status, body weight, age, season, pheromones and 'stress'. Studies are conducted to determine the neuroanatomical basis for these actions as well as whole animal physiological; studies on the actions of these two peptides.
I have reviewed manuscripts for the following journals:
I was on the Editorial Advisory Committee of the international journal, Reproduction Fertility & Development (2007-2009).