Physicist of the University of Bonn receives Fulbright-Cottrell Award for excellent teaching
An innovative idea for training students has earned Prof. Dr. Simon Stellmer, a physicist at the University of Bonn, this year’s Fulbright-Cottrell Award, which is endowed with nearly 70,000 euros. An interdisciplinary lab course experiment is being created at the University of Bonn that can be used in both physics and geodesy.
An innovative idea for training students has earned Prof. Dr. Simon Stellmer, a physicist at the University of Bonn, this year’s Fulbright-Cottrell Award, which is endowed with nearly 70,000 euros. The prize goes to the University of Bonn for the first time. The Fulbright-Cottrell Award recognizes researchers in physics, chemistry, and astronomy who combine excellent research and creative teaching in an outstanding manner. An interdisciplinary lab course experiment is being created at the University of Bonn that can be used in both physics and geodesy. Researchers use the method to measure earth rotations, among other things. The project started on July 1 and will be steadily developed over the coming years.
In the USA, the prize under the name „Cottrell Scholar Award“ already has a decades-long tradition of promoting innovative teaching methods in the natural sciences. For around ten years, this idea has also been implemented in Germany: Here the prize is awarded by the German-American Fulbright Commission, which is where the name „Fulbright-Cottrell Award“ comes from. University faculty in physics, chemistry, and astronomy are invited to apply for funding through a competitive process each year.
„The Fulbright-Cottrell Award is a great success for Prof. Simon Stellmer,“ says Rector Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. Michael Hoch. „The award underpins one of the University of Bonn’s strategic goals of linking excellent research and competence-oriented teaching even more closely. This includes introducing our students to current research questions and interdisciplinary projects at the university as early as possible.“
Award winner Simon Stellmer of the Physics Institute emphasizes: „Quantum research has been developing rapidly for years, so we need well-trained researchers. Our goal is to provide students with lab course experiments at a state-of-the-art technological level.“
In the planned experiment, students will work on a ring-shaped laser. This type of gyroscope can be used to measure rotations. One way researchers use it is to measure changes in the Earth’s rotation, which is important information for understanding the effects of climate change.
Transdisciplinary training: students from physics and geodesy working together
The lab course experiment is expected to benefit students in advanced studies in physics and geodesy. „In this way, we try to impart an interdisciplinary approach already in the training of our students,“ says Simon Stellmer. „The separation between individual subjects is not set in stone. Unlike in later professional life, however, students usually do not yet have any points of contact with other subjects.“ To change this, two students each from physics and geodesy will work together in teams during the two-day practical experiment and thereby gain insight into the other „language“. This training helps them for their future career, whether in academic research or in industry.
The experiment and the associated research are closely linked to the Transdisciplinary Research Area „Building blocks of matter and fundamental interactions“ at the University of Bonn, one of six university-wide research networks in which researchers from different disciplines and faculties come together to work on topics relevant to the future of the University of Excellence.
Also doable from a distance
Another special feature of the experiment: It can be operated entirely online, so participants only need access to a computer. This makes it possible for researchers in other parts of the world to work on the experiment, for example in the Global South. „This allows us to make our privileged equipment available to others,“ stresses Simon Stellmer. In the long term, schools will also be given the opportunity to use the experiment in advanced courses.
Prof. Dr. Simon Stellmer
Physikalisches Institut der Universität Bonn
Tel: +49 228 73 3720