On Thursday afternoon, during the 'UvA hour of education', rector Karen Maex announced the winners of the Lecturer of the Year elections. Alex de Koter received the most votes within the Faculty of Science and was voted Faculty Lecturer of the Year by students and staff of our faculty.
One by one, the winners of the various faculties were announced during the 'UvA Hour of Education'. The very last one to be announced was the Lecturer of the Year for the Faculty of Science: Alex de Koter. He responded cheerfully: 'How nice. Super nice. Awesome. I am completely honoured. Thank you,' he said while laughing.
Students praise Alex de Koter for his strong anecdotes and stories, the fact that he knows all students by name, creates an atmosphere of inclusion and involves students in the lectures. In addition, he knows how to combine recent discoveries with humour and thus treats the study material in a clear manner.
His colleagues at the Anton Pannekoek Institute say the following about him: 'Alex is a man with a great, genuine interest in what moves his students. He does always tries to put himself in the other person's shoes, and from there tailors his teaching or advice to students. Students feel seen and heard by him. We think students see him as a warm, almost paternal, and stimulating rolemodel.' They also indicate that he is an example when it comes to his attitude to learning: 'He is curious and persistent and he does not just settle for anything. That is also a very nice lesson for his students.'
During the ceremony, De Koter also gave a tip to other teachers: 'Teaching only makes sense if learning takes place. So you have to constantly try and find out what a student thinks and does. You have to be in continuous dialogue. Ask what they understand and what they don't understand and then adjust your lectures accordingly.'
De Koter was appointed professor of Astrophysics at the beginning of this year and has been working at the Anton Pannekoek Institute for Astronomy since 1997. There he deals with the evolution of massive stars. He also completed his Advanced University Teaching Qualification this year, where he focused on student-centered education to bring out the best in students by helping teachers design their education using the latest scientific insights.
De Koter also previously worked at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. He was one of the first astronomers to use the Hubble Space Telescope after the Space Shuttle mission to make adjustments to properly focus the telescope.
Alex de Koter teaches the course Atmospheres and Radiation Transport. As the information we receive from the universe is encoded in light and radiation, this courses teaches students the basic knowledge they need to understand how this radiation is produced by physics in stars and planets, and traveling through the interstellar medium before reaching our telescopes. De Koter has been teaching this course in the Master's track Astronomy & Astrophysics for years and receives very favourable reviews from students every year.
The Lecturer of the Year election has been held since 2007, and this year was organised jointly by the UvA Teaching & Learning Centre and the Central Student Council. The aim of the election is to highlight the work of lecturers. This year, 65 lecturers at the Faculty of Science were nominated for the faculty title of Lecturer of the Year. Within the entire UvA, 484 lecturers were nominated for the title Lecturer of the Year. The overall winner will be announced on 19 October.
We congratulate Alex de Koter with the honourary title Lecturer of the Year!