‘I am very honoured to win this prize,’ Jörg Meyer says. ‘Theoretical chemistry is still a bit of a niche. Since it builds heavily on maths, physics and computer science, it can be quite challenging for students and is usually not the most popular subject. My MSc course Density Functional Theory in Practice, which I developed from scratch, changed from an elective into a core course in the Chemistry programme. I’m delighted to contribute to making this niche a bit more accessible and hopefully also more popular.’
‘I’m delighted to contribute to making this subject a bit more accessible and hopefully also more popular’
For Meyer, teaching is one of his priorities. ‘In my opinion, a good lecturer needs to approach teaching as a rewarding experience, make it a priority and accept that it can take up a lot of time. Unfortunately, this is still not recognised as an important part of an academic career.’ Meyer likes to explain complex theoretical material by breaking it down into more easily digestible pieces. ‘And ideally, that also gives students a glimpse of how passionate you can get about doing science!’
The biggest challenge for lecturers in 2020 was making education corona-proof. How did Meyer solve this problem? ‘First of all, I tried to keep things as similar as possible to pre-corona times. I have tried to stick to interactive lectures according to a routine schedule that allows both students and me to ask questions and engage in discussions.
‘On the one hand, dealing with the technicalities has raised numerous issues for both students and teachers, while on the other hand lecture recordings are generally requested by the students and are felt to be an advantage in this “brave new teaching world”. I have also converted computer practicals into assignments they can do at home, which has come with a number of additional technical challenges but has been greatly appreciated by the students.’