6 March 2018

Margot Koster (Biology) wins 2018 Lecturer Award

Margot Koster, lecturer in Microbiology and programme director for the Biology Bachelor’s programme, has won the 2018 Lecturer Award. Sophie Reinders, lecturer in Early Modern Literature, is to receive this year’s Young Lecturer Award at Utrecht University. They received their award during the Dies Natalis on 26 March, the university's 382nd birthday.

The jury selected both winners for reasons including their techniques to create a safe learning environment. This announcement was made on 6 March during the Education Fair, a day intended to inspire and promote innovation in education at Utrecht University. The lecturers were nominated by their own students via the study associations.

Natural-born leader

Dr Margot Koster studied Biology and completed her PhD at Utrecht University. Students describe her as a multifaceted academic professional with a great love of teaching. Her goal is to train 'the biologists of the future'. Students find Margot to be an open and humorous teacher who stimulates them to be creative in their problem-solving. They praise her for her personal approach as well as her charismatic personality: they think that she is a 'natural-born leader'.

Koster not only holds the Basic Teaching Qualification (BKO) and Senior Teaching Qualification (SKO), she has also completed the Educational Leadership training programme. As a scientific lecturer, Margot has a research-based approach to her own teaching. She additionally pursues educational innovation by flipping the classroom and using knowledge clips, yet she shows other forms of creativity in her classroom as well. Koster includes playful competitive elements in her classes, where students can win prizes – including a handcrafted puppet of an E. coli bacterium . She actively looks for ways to connect with colleagues as well; by organising work meetings on educational matters, for instance, and by mentoring colleagues in training programmes.

Role Model

Dr Sophie Reinders teaches Early Modern Literature. Through her enthusiasm, she has made an excellent impression on her students and colleagues in only a short amount of time. The jury was impressed with the way in which Reinders succeeds in activating students, while continuously making a connection to research and society.

Her goal is to educate and train students to become scholars of culture in the broadest sense. To this end, she treats them as academics from their very first year. For this approach to be successful, it is essential to have a safe learning environment, where there is room for humour, creativity and making mistakes. Because of her approachability, her personal touch and her enthusiasm, she achieves this goal: in her classes, students are not afraid to take part in the discussion and to share their own opinions. In addition, Reinders enjoys taking her students 'outside', to libraries, museums or publishing houses. She shows students how she as a scientist connects to the outer world; for instance, by writing blogs, giving public lectures or using Twitter. Students find this approach to be extremely inspiring and they see Reinders as a role model.

Lecturer Award and Young Lecturer Award

Utrecht University has been awarding the Lecturer Award and the Young Lecturer Award since the 1990s. The awards are intended for outstanding lecturers who engage, challenge and motivate their students. Every year, members of Utrecht University’s study societies are given the opportunity to nominate a lecturer for these awards. The winners are ultimately chosen by a judging panel, consisting of outstanding lecturers and students from Utrecht University, from a shortlist of nominees on the basis of stringent criteria. The criteria include creating interaction with students and contributing to students’ learning experiences. The official award ceremony will take place during the university’s anniversary celebrations on 26 March.