Astronomer Jacqueline Hodge has a genuine passion for her field. In the past few years, she has taught the Galaxies and Cosmology course for bachelor’s students. ‘I love teaching this course because it covers everything from the Big Bang and the birth of galaxies to the supermassive black holes that lurk in their centres. These are some of the most fascinating subjects for students, as they are often the very topics that inspired them to study astronomy in the first place. How could I not be excited to teach that?!’
Role models dramatically affect students’ continued interest and future career choices. Therefore, it’s so important that the students see themselves reflected in their teachers.
An additional teaching motivation for Hodge is the importance of being a role model. ‘In the STEM fields, there is still a dearth of women and minorities. Research has shown that role models can have a dramatic effect on continued interest and future career choices. It’s so important that the students see themselves reflected in the teaching faculty.’ Another example of Hodge caring for the well-being of her students is how she would spend the award money: diversity and inclusiveness training for all of the staff in her department. ‘As a discipline that attracts students from various backgrounds all over the world, it’s important that we understand how these various backgrounds may present extra challenges and affect students’ experience at Leiden.’
Hodge doesn’t merely teach examination material but offers the students a broad view of astronomy. ‘With recent articles, she shows the current state of the field and the problems that still need to be solved,’ her students say.