Ars legendi Faculty Award goes to Dagmar Hann and Daniela Meilinger

22 Mar 2022

Two LMU biologists receive Ars legendi Faculty Award for excellent university teaching in biology category

Dr. Dagmar Hann and Dr. Daniela Meilinger from the Faculty of Biology have developed an interdisciplinary and multimedia program designed to ease the transition for international students starting master’s degree courses in molecular biology. During the winter semester 2020/21, they created “Methods in Molecular Biology” on Moodle. Comprising twelve units, the e-learning platform teaches students fundamental modern techniques in molecular biology and – much like a lecture in the laboratory – explains the molecular mechanism in a way that is easy to grasp. The program lays particular emphasis on the autonomy of students and the interactivity of the individual modules.

In two compulsory modules – Computational Biology and Lab Methods – the first semester students are brought up to a common base level of knowledge and introduced to the most widely used methods and bioinformatic programs of molecular biology such that they can appreciate the contextual relationships. The two courses are taught with the participation of teaching staff from a wide variety of biological disciplines.

Another important aspect of the concept devised by the two biologists is helping the students settle at the Faculty of Biology, which includes things like facilitating initial social contacts and assisting with general orientation. To this end, Meilinger and Hann launched a Master’s Welcome Event, where teaching assistants make themselves available to the new students in a peer-to-peer format to support them with questions relating to studies, research internships, leisure, and social life. This helps the new arrivals find their feet much sooner at LMU and the faculty.

An outstanding feature of the program, according to the jury in its citation, was its focus on teaching the methodological foundations so that the heterogeneous prior education of international students is placed upon a common ground. In addition, the program actively promotes social networking between students. Praising the project as an exemplary teaching concept, the jury noted that it could also be adapted for use in other departments.

Dr. Daniela Meilinger (front) and Dr. Dagmar Hann (2nd from left) at a lab methods course for master’s students.

© Carolin Bleese

For Dagmar Hann and Daniela Meilinger, the award is a big honor: “Over the past few years, we’ve poured a lot of passion and enthusiasm into developing and constantly improving the project. This recognition of our efforts validates our work and motivates us to continue,” say Hann and Meilinger. “We also really enjoyed collaborating on the project with various colleagues from different areas of the faculty.”

Moreover, observe the biologists, the prize underscores the crucial nature of research-oriented and multimedia teaching. “We’re of the opinion that using the full range of media at our disposal will be an indispensible part of good teaching in the future and should continue to form an integral part of university teaching,” they say. In addition, the award recognizes the importance of social aspects such as team building and collegial networking between students and with teaching staff.

Vice President for Teaching and Studies at LMU, Professor Oliver Jahraus, expressed his appreciation: “On behalf of the whole university, I would like to heartily congratulate our prize winners. This important award demonstrates once again the high quality level of teaching at an excellent research university such as LMU.”

The Ars legend Faculty Award has been given out annually since 2014 by the Stifterverband association, the German Association of Life Sciences (VBIO), the German Chemical Society (GDCh), the German Mathematical Association (DMV) and the German Physical Society (DPG). It recognizes excellent university teaching in mathematics and the natural sciences.

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