Faculty of Biological Sciences

Prof Andrew Booth

BSc, PhD (Leeds), NTF, FHEA, FSB
Emeritus professor
School of Molecular and Cellular Biology

Contact:  Garstang 10.115, email address for  

My main interest is in the use of technologies to support student learning.  In the 1990's, together with Jon Maber, I originated the Bodington virtual learning environment (VLE) and developed its tools based on my teaching experience and that of my colleagues.  In 2002 we were able to release the code of the Bodington system as open source and the system was adopted as the institutional VLE at Oxford and the University of the Highlands and Islands Millennium Institute.  In 2006, the institutions now developing Bodington agreed to merge their efforts with those of the Sakai project which includes Cambridge, Twente, UCLA, Stanford, MIT and Yale.

We are currently exploring how virtual learning environments at different institutions can be linked to provide secure cross-institutional systems.  Our work, funded primarily by JISC, has led to the concept of the WAFFLE - Wide Area Freely Federated Learning Environment.  We are also working on the development of learning environments that are much more flexible than the current monolithic VLE.  We are exploring how 'pluggable' learning environments can be built from interchangeable components based on a service-oriented architecture and we have produced software called SOCKET that allows learning tools to be plugged into existing learning environments.

I am also interested in the development of challenging learning materials which rather than simply presenting information to students, challenge them to apply their knowledge and encourage them to develop skills related to problem solving and experimental design. In particular, I am interested in the development of simulations of modern techniques in the molecular biosciences. This is a long-standing interest -my simulations were awarded the IBM Prize in 1989 and I was awarded a prestigious European Academic Software Award in 2002. I was awarded a University Teaching Fellowship in 2006 and a National Teaching Fellowship in 2007

My interests are not confined to the biosciences and I have recently been working with The School of English, the Institute for Medieval Studies and the University Library (Special Collections) on learning material in palaeography.

Since my retirement in 2010, I have become interested in the application to genealogy of next generation DNA sequencing (NGS) of the Y chromosome. In late 2013, the cost of NGS fell to the point where it became affordable for private individuals. By bringing together groups numbering hundreds or thousands of interested individuals we are using NGS to identify the single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in a 10 Mbase section of the Y chromosome. I am the co-administrator of two such groups. By comparing the SNPs in large numbers of individuals we are currently massively expanding the haplotree of the Y chromosome. We have now identified Y chromosome SNPs that unequivocally identify individual families, their lines of descent and their relationships to other families. This allows us to confirm or refute putative genealogies (or connections to established ones) with a simple inexpensive test for a single SNP - saving time, expense and irritation. This is a powerful new approach to classical genealogy covering time scales inaccessible via the written records. If you are interested in this example of 'citizen science', please contact me.


Booth, A.G. and Clark, B.P.
(2008) A Service-Oriented Virtual Learning Environment.

Somkiat Phornphisutthimas, Bhinyo Panijpan, Edward J. Wood, and Andrew G. Booth (2007) Improving Thai Students' Understanding of Concepts in Protein Purification by Using Thai and English Versions of a Simulation Program. BIOCHEMISTRY AND MOLECULAR BIOLOGY EDUCATION Vol. 35, No. 5, pp. 316–321, 2007

Clark, B.P. and Booth, A.G. (2006), SOAs and SOLAs.

Booth, A.G. (2006) The Bodington System - Patently Previous http://issues.sakaiproject.org/confluence/download/attachments/34231/The+Bodington+System+2.ppt

Clark, B.P. and Booth, A.G. (2006), SOCKET and the WAFFLE Bus for Beginners.

Booth, A.G. and Clark, B.P. (2006) The WAFFLE Bus: a model for a service-oriented learning architecture, in Whitelock, D. & Wheeler, S. (Eds). The next generation. pp 172-181 Research proceedings of the 13th Association for Learning Technology Conference

Booth, A.G. (2006)  QMShibb - Shibboleth enabling Questionmark Perception

Clark, B.P. and Booth, A.G. (2006) SOCKET: Service-Oriented Consumer Kit for ELF Tools http://www.socketelf.org:8080/eldg/socket
see also http://elrond.cetis.ac.uk/projects/detail.php/socket

Booth, A.G, Clark, B.P., Suleman, S., Garbutt, R.J., Young, A., and Kleeman, J.
(2006) SOCKET

Mehan, S., Young A. and Booth, A.G. (2005), Guanxi:Shibboleth in e-Learning

Booth A.G.; Pickering O.S.; Lindley, D.  Learning Secretary Hand: an Interactive Tutorial Teaching, Technology, Textuality: Approaches to New Media pp.162-175, (2006)

Booth, A.G.  Visualizing protein conformational changes on a personal computer - alpha carbon pseudo bonding as a constraint for interpolation in internal coordinate space Journal of Molecular Graphics and Modelling 19, pp.481-486, (2001)


Studentship information

Undergraduate project topics:

  • An investigation of the artifactual movements produced during computer modelling of protein conformational changes by interpolation in internal co-ordinate space
    Keywords: Computer animation, protein modelling. No programming experience needed.
  • A detailed specification for a computer program simulating modern methods of protein sequencing
    Keywords: Protein sequencing, program design
    (Literature - Presented as an application for funding the development of the program)

See also:

Booth AG, Clark BP A service-oriented virtual learning environment On the Horizon 17 232-244, 2009

Phornphisutthimas S, Panijipan B, Wood EJ, Booth AG Improving Thai students' understanding of concepts in protein purification by using Thai and English versions of a simulation program BIOCHEM MOL BIOL EDU 35 316-321, 2007

Booth AG, Pickering OS, Lindley D Learning Secretary Hand: an Interactive Tutorial In Teaching, Technology, Textuality: Approaches to New Media , 2006
View abstract

Booth AG, Clark BP The WAFFLE Bus: a model for a service-orientated learning architecture None -, 2006

Booth AG QMShibb - Shibboleth enabling Questionmark Perception, 2006

Clark BP, Booth AG SOCKET: Service-Oriented Consumer Kit for ELF Tools, 2006

Clark BP, Booth AG SOCKET and the WAFFLE Bus for Beginners, 2006

Booth AG, Clark BP, Suleman S, Garbutt RJ, Young A, Kleeman J SOCKET, 2006

Mehan S, Young A, Booth AG Guanxi: Shibboleth in e-Learning, 2005

Booth AG Visualizing protein conformational changes on a personal computer - alpha carbon pseudo bonding as a constraint for interpolation in internal coordinate space Journal of Molecular Graphics and Modelling 19 481-486, 2001