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2014 Teaching Award of Freie Universität Berlin: Students Develop Ideas for Research Projects and Startups

Teaching Award Goes to Course on Applied Research in Natural Sciences

№ 430/2014 from Dec 12, 2014

This year’s Teaching Award of Freie Universität Berlin is going to a teaching project that aims to put master’s and doctoral students in the natural sciences in a position to independently develop and implement research ideas in cooperation with non-academic partner institutions of the university. The course "Trans Pro Idea" ("Translation of Project Ideas in Research and Start-up Projects") was designed by Prof. Dr. Rainer Haag, a professor of chemistry at Freie Universität, and Leonhard Urner, a graduate student in Haag’s group, for the 2015 summer semester. The course includes a lecture series, a seminar, and a research-oriented internship. The prize money of 10,000 euros is to be used for practical testing of the three best project ideas. In addition, as part of the course, the students will be able to become familiar with how to found a company as an innovative career. The award ceremony will take place on January 27, 2015, in the Harnack House, as part of the event "Universities and Non-university Research Institutions Using the Example of the Research Campus in Berlin-Dahlem."

"In the so-called STEM subjects, i.e., science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, the courses are often very technical and narrow in subject matter," says Rainer Haag and continues, "We want to introduce students to interdisciplinary and inter-institutional research and encourage them to develop their own ideas for research projects, as well as for spin-offs." Haag is particularly pleased that experienced researchers from other research institutions as well as founders of start-ups have agreed to give talks within the lecture series. One of the lecturers is Prof. Dr. Ulrich Panne, the president of the German Federal Institute for Materials Testing (BAM), who will speak on "The Analytical Capabilities of BAM and the Graduate School SALSA." Another talk will be given by Prof. Dr. Peter Seeberger, a professor at Freie Universität Berlin and the director of the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in Potsdam. Seeberger will speak about “translation” – that is, the translation of research projects to start-ups – at the Max Planck Society.

In contrast to the personal teaching awards that various departments at Freie Universität Berlin present to individuals, the Teaching Award of Freie Universität commends innovative teaching concepts and formats. It is being awarded for the second time now, and each year there is a different focus. This year the call for proposals was for courses that are research-oriented and regional, that is, exceptional teaching concepts and projects that would transfer the results of joint research projects to courses at the university and give students an opportunity to participate in regional collaboration in research.

In 2013 the Teaching Award was presented to a project headed by Martin Lücke, a professor of history education at Freie Universität Berlin. Under the motto "research oriented and international," the proposal was for a German-Israeli exchange project for history education students. The Teaching Award and the concept of "research-oriented teaching" are central components of the development strategy of Freie Universität, “Veritas – Justitia – Libertas. International Network University,” which was Freie Universität Berlin's winning submission in the German government's Excellence Initiative in 2012.

Further Information

Dr. Nina Diezemann, Office of News and Public Affairs, Freie Universität Berlin, Tel.: +49 30 838-73190, Email:

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