12 June 2018

Teacher of the year at SCIENCE: A formula for causality and coincidence


34-year old Jonas Peters, associate professor of statistics, from Department of Mathematical Sciences is a great inspiration to his students, and therefore, and in spite of the fact that the young talented researcher has been employed at UCPH for less than two years, he has been chosen among 19 nominees as the winner of this year’s Teacher of the Year at SCIENCE award.

Jonas Peters has been chosen among 19 nominees as the winner of this year’s Teacher of the Year at SCIENCE award.

Countries with a higher chocolate consumption have more Nobel prize winners. Does this mean that we should distribute more chocolate among students? Women in poor countries tend to get more children. But why is this the case?

Answering such questions sounds impossible and a bit fortune teller-like but this is, nevertheless, what associate professor of statistics, Jonas Peters, is trying to do in his research and courses. One of the implications of this is that we can construct more accurate climate change models and thereby be better equipped for an uncertain future.

Jonas Peters’ students in the Causality course were so pleased with his research and lectures in this special subject that they nominated him for the 2018 Teacher of the Year at SCIENCE award. He was chosen as the winner among 18 other colleagues and teachers the Faculty of Science.

Students are judges

The SCIENCE Students’ Association, SCIENCErådet, which represents all student organisations at SCIENCE selects the winner. In their reasons for choosing Jonas Peters, they mention that the students are inspired by his various new teaching methods which activate and engage them during the lectures. Jonas Peters is also able to address “the theoretical basis of real-life problems” in his field. “His teaching helps inspire colleagues by putting the students in the centre and opening their eyes to a broader societal perspective”

Good teachers are a prerequisite

The purpose of the Teacher of the Year at SCIENCE award is also to strengthen and inspire other teachers and teaching teams so that teaching and learning do not stand still but develop according to the times and the challenges faced by society and the research world.
John Renner Hansen, Dean at SCIENCE, says: “It is our obligation to supply talented graduates who meet the needs of society. Good teaching is a prerequisite for this. In this way, good teachers and interesting lectures may also help reduce the drop-out rate among students, which is very important and relevant”.

'Jonas – active in teaching and research'

Even though Jonas Peters has been employed at Department of Mathematical Sciences for less than two years, his work has been noticed. In January, Jonas Peters received DKK 8.2 million from the “Young Investigator Programme” of the VILLUM Foundation for his work and to develop a research group. He has previously received awards abroad and has worked in Germany, his native country, in Switzerland, the US and in England. Before coming to UCPH, Jonas was employed as head of the “Causality” research group at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Tübingen, Germany.

The award is accompanied by DKK 75,000, of which DKK 25,000 go to Jonas Peters personally and the remaining DKK 50,000 to his work group and his research.

The Teacher of the Year at SCIENCE award is distributed for the fifth time. The award has previously been given to teachers at Department of Chemistry and the Niels Bohr Institute, among others. This year, the winning teacher comes from Department of Mathematical Sciences, for the second year in a row. Last year, Professor Susanne Ditlevsen from Department of Mathematical Sciences won the award for her inspiring and different teaching.