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I’m a lecturer in the School of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure and Society. I joined Heriot-Watt in December 2005, when I started as a new lecturer after working in industry for a number of years.

I was very fortunate to have a good academic mentor when I joined Heriot-Watt, who helped identify what I needed to do to progress my career

My role has since developed: I still teach about five courses at undergraduate and postgraduate level, but I’m now also programme leader for an MSc programme, an undergraduate admissions tutor and first year student co-ordinator, in addition to being research active. So, I’m certainly busy!

Academic mentor

I was very fortunate to have a good academic mentor when I joined Heriot-Watt, who helped identify what I needed to do to progress my career.

Creativity in research

My research interests are primarily focused upon sustainable, low energy materials, the impact of climate change on traditionally built structures, and building conservation philosophy..

I enjoy the creative process of conducting research; having an innovative idea, writing it up as a journal paper and then getting it published, or using it to attain grant funding. The thought process, creating knowledge, publishing papers, bringing in funding, running projects and supervising PhD students: these are all exciting elements and definitely parts of my role I enjoy.

I've attained EPSRC grant funding and awards totalling £150,000 and published 17 academic peer-reviewed journal and conference papers, one of which was awarded the Outstanding Journal Paper Award in 2009.

Heriot-Watt is a good place to work with great colleagues, in an environment that is research-orientated, in a culture that helps you achieve your goals..

My teaching role

I enjoy spending time and speaking with students and this is reflected in being awarded the graduates teaching prize for 2010. I see my role as ensuring that at the end any year, I've given my students the tools to go on with the rest of their studies, or to enter confidently into the work place.

Last semester some of my undergraduate students established a Facebook group called "Dr Alan M Forster Appreciation Group". This site has rapidly grown to over 160 members and includes many wonderful comments on the Facebook wall.