8 March 2019

Niels Bovenschen and Marij Swinkels win Teacher Awards

Niels Bovenschen, teacher in Biomedical Sciences and head of the Pathology Research Laboratory, has won the 2019 Lecturer Award. Marij Swinkels, teacher in Public Governance and Management receives this year’s Teacher Talent Award. The jury selected both winners for their involvement with students and how they inspire students to reach beyond their assumed possibilities. The winners of Utrecht University’s teaching awards were announced on 7 March, during the Education Fair, a day intended to inspire and promote innovation in education and teacher development at Utrecht University. The lecturers were nominated by their own students via the study associations and selected by a jury of experienced teachers and students.

Teacher of the year Niels Bovenschen

Niels Bovenschen studied Medical Biology at the Free University and is since 2012 associate professor in Biomedical Sciences at the Faculty of Medicine of the Utrecht University. Niels has a big heart for his students, he takes them extremely seriously and motivates them by differentiating his education.

He completed his PhD at Sanquin before carrying out research at TNO and the UMCU. As an Associate Professor he divides his time between education and research: Niels heads a research laboratory, runs a programme on the integration of education and research and has set up bachelor research hubs. Besides research his heart is devoted to education. He obtained his Basic and Senior Teaching Qualification an he followed the Educational Leadership Programme. Since 207 is also attached to the Centre for Academic Teaching as a Senior Fellow. After successful completion he can become a professor with emphasis on education. His fellow project focusses on research based education.

Role model for academic students

One of Niels' focal points is the interconnection between education and research. His students praise his enthusiasm for research-based learning and his lab is open to everyone: students feel they are accepted in the team. Niels does not only do this to inspire others. His aim is to train students – at all levels – to become scientists. He advances and utilize their academic skills by  by giving them a taste of research. Thanks to his experience in academic research and the natural way he leads them round, make him a role model for his students. The jury calls Niels: ‘a passionate teacher with a convincing and clear educational philosophy, which he manages to apply throughout his impressive range of activities.’

Teacher talent Marij Swinkels

Marij Swinkels studied at the Utrecht University School of Governance where she started here PhD in 2016 on the role of politicians in the eurozone crisis. Before this she was teacher and researcher in the Netherlands (The School of Public Administration) and in Sweden (Swedish National Defence College). 'Involved, inspirational and open' is how her students describe her. Marij makes a great impression on her students. She is also active outside her degree programme, for example as a co-initiator of InclUUsion: a programme that gives refugees access to the education of the Utrecht University. In 2016 she won the Social Impact Award of her faculty.

Innovative education with impact on students

Marij has a clear philosophy regarding her role in academic education, she sees herself as a facilitator of both personal and professional development of her students. She applies the knowledge she acquires through her research by means of various empowering and creative teaching techniques. She explains concepts using 30 Seconds, stimulates critical academic discussions and ensures that research methods such as cognitive mapping also find their way into tutorials. The jury was impressed by the picture painted by Marij's students. ‘They showed that she has a natural empathy which she uses to become closer to her students, without the need to emphasize a form of hierarchy.’

Lecturer Award and Young Lecturer Award

Utrecht University has been awarding the Outstanding Teacher Award and the Teacher Talent Award since the 1990s. The awards are intended for outstanding lecturers who engage, challenge and motivate their students. Each year, members of Utrecht University’s study associations are given the opportunity to nominate a lecturer for both 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.

More information.