Lecturer of the year
After his time as a postdoctoral researcher in the United States, Anton Scheurink returned to the RUG in 1991. Twenty years later, he became professor of neuroendocrinology. During his lectures, he talks about the theory’s practical applications, as well as developments in the fields of diabetes, anorexia nervosa, and obesity. Sometimes he invites real patients to speak during a lecture.
‘Currently, I have 440 students’, says Scheurink. They have to be spread out over several lectures because they don’t all fit inside the lecture hall. How does the lecturer manage to capture and keep the attention of all those students? ‘Obviously, it’s all about generating enthusiasm, the way an old-fashioned lecture should be.’
He says he was inspired by Stephen Woods, who was also named lecturer of the year at his institution, the University of Washington. ‘The way he interacts with his students is so great. The joy of translating your research into something for the lecture hall is amazing. I learned that from him when I started working for him. We’re still good friends and look each other up from time to time.’
Scheurink says it is important to teach students the material in an insightful yet clear manner: ‘I think it’s important to show enthusiasm for the beauty of the field and to explain the subjects in a structured way’, says the professor. ‘I always get pumped up, and I make sure that I make contact with the students in the room.’
A year ago, it turned out that brevity can also help. In preparation for the previous election, the nominated lecturers had to pitch themselves on camera. These pitches were recorded in the elevator of the Harmony building. ‘I told them I never take the elevator, so we came up with something else’, Scheurink remembers.
‘The camera entered the elevator and I ran up the stairs. The text I’d come up with became shorter and shorter. When I arrived, panting, at the top, the text had turned into: ‘I never take the elevator and I’ll be telling you why a drunk student in Groningen never falls off his bike on January 28.’ That was the whole text!’ That one sentence got him the jury, audience, and web award.
This year’s winner will be decided on Thursday, 28 January. That is when nine lecturers from nine faculties will battle for the title of Lecturer of the Year 2015. Curious to see who you can vote for? You can check out the nine nominees here.