LMU: LMU gives out prizes for innovative teaching and outstanding student research

Their research has explored subjects as diverse as refugees, artificial intelligence, and bowel cancer. On Good Teaching Day at LMU Munich, 10 research prizes, each worth 1,000 euros, were presented to excellent students. In addition, 5 teachers who have distinguished themselves in their passion for teaching were awarded LMU teaching innovation prizes, each worth 10,000 euros.

Good Teaching Day is designed to promote university-wide discussion about innovative teaching and to bring together teachers from different disciplines. Professor Oliver Jahraus, Vice President for Teaching and Studies at LMU, and the University Teaching Committee organize the initiative. The Munich University Society (Münchener Universitätsgesellschaft) sponsors five of the research prizes and one of the teaching innovation prizes. “A look at the winning initiatives and papers reveals the strong bedrock of innovation behind many teaching and research projects at LMU,” says Vice President Oliver Jahraus. “Good Teaching Day celebrates the commitment of our teaching staff and the endeavor of our students. I hope that the initiative will also inspire new ideas and projects.”

LMU teaching innovation prizes
5 teachers who have distinguished themselves in their passion for teaching were awarded LMU teaching innovation prizes.

Oncological curriculum
Faculty of Medicine
Dr. Daniel F. Fleischmann, Prof. Dr. Claus Belka, Prof. Dr. Martin Dreyling, Johannes Mücke, Marcel Büttner, Marie Forster, Matthias Oettle

Developed by Dr. Daniel Fleischmann and his team, the oncological curriculum is an interdisciplinary approach that seeks to embed oncological teaching in the Medical Curriculum Munich (MeCuM) so that medical students acquire knowledge in this field from day one all the way through to graduation. At the start of the clinical part of their studies, it enables students to obtain an interdisciplinary overview of tumor formation, diagnostics, therapy options, and the main types of tumor. It combines pre-clinical with clinical knowledge in a practical manner. Virtual tumor boards were set up to facilitate interdisciplinary oncological decision-making. In this way, students can collaborate on the consensus process of the teaching examples. In the spirit of blended learning, case studies were also integrated, providing the opportunity for self-regulated learning as preparation for classroom-based learning. The project is characterized by interdisciplinarity and the variety of teaching methods employed.

Common places, common times: an interactive map of German-Jewish history
Faculty of History and the Arts
Julia Treindl, M.A.

With the seminar “Common places, common times: an interactive map of German-Jewish history,” Julia Treindl has developed an innovative format that brings everyday German-Jewish history closer to students – and as some of these students will be the high school teachers of the future, to school students also. As part of the seminar, students work on a digital interactive map, which is completed by means of fresh entries on medieval, modern, and contemporary Jewish history. The interactive digital map is freely available online (https://commontimes.de/).

German master’s seminar: Uncanny novels in contemporary literature
Faculty of Languages and Literatures
Dr. Kay Wolfinger

The seminar concept by Dr. Kay Wolfinger combines the advantages of classroom-based teaching with the strengths of digital teaching. For example, writers and representatives of the publishing industry are invited to the seminar by video links, and students take virtual tours of various sites of literary production. In the summer semester last year, for instance, seminar participants got the opportunity to work with Berlin-based contemporary author Roman Ehrlich. They were able to take part in his writing processes by video meeting and discuss his literary work with him. Such events are reinforced by theoretical reflections on contemporary literature. In future, Kay Wolfinger’s German master’s seminar will be a fixed part of the curriculum of the Modern German Literature course at LMU.

Introduction to programming
Faculty of Mathematics, Informatics and Statistics
Prof. Sven Strickroth

“Introduction to programming” is the first lecture in the various bachelor’s degree courses at the Institute of Informatics at LMU. Designed by Professor Sven Strickroth with an innovative blend of theory and practice, it is generally attended by around 950 students. In the lecture, students are given a strong sense of the practical implementation of the introduced concepts and methods, do practical exercises themselves, and receive practice-oriented feedback on their skills. The format also motivates and connects students through a peer review concept, thus promoting the social dimension of learning. Sven Strickroth has developed software that facilitates the student peer review process and real programming during exercises and tests. This software system permits the automatic pre-correction of exercises and tests, making the process faster and less susceptible to errors.

Main seminar on climate change and ethics
Faculty of Geosciences and Faculty of Philosophy, Philosophy of Science and Religious Studies
Prof. Julia Pongratz and Dr. Korbinian Rüger

Climate change is one of the most pressing problems facing humanity. Obstacles to tackling the issue often spring from the problem of having to take into account so many different fields of knowledge at the same time. The subject thus lends itself to interdisciplinary approaches like scarcely any other. In this spirit, Professor Julia Pongratz and Dr. Korbinian Rüger set up interdisciplinary pairings of students from the two faculties to develop integrated answers to questions surrounding climate research and ethics. In this way, they are pioneering new ways of teaching and forging new approaches to this highly important topic. In these seminars, students from the two faculties not only grapple with the subject-matter, but also the perspectives of the other discipline.

LMU research prizes for excellent students:
10 research prizes were presented to excellent students.

Bachelor’s degree / foundation studies:

Mentoring refugees: requirements and repercussions
Faculty of Economics
Miriam Müller

“Start with a friend” is a non-governmental organization that pairs refugees with volunteers in several German cities. The idea is to help refugees find their feet in Germany and assist them with integration. As part of a randomized controlled experiment, data was collected about this program, which LMU student Miriam Müller was able to access for her bachelor’s dissertation. In her thesis, she investigated how having a mentor during their early days in Germany affected the attitude of the refugees and in particular their integration efforts and success. A key finding of the study was that mentoring has a significant and positive effect on the educational aspirations and efforts of refugees.

In the service of science? Critical investigations into Rudolf Virchow’s activities as an anthropologist against the background of reappraising colonial history
Faculty of History and the Arts
Leonie Thea Daumer

In her bachelor’s thesis, Leonie Thea Daumer studied the doctor, anthropologist, and anatomist Rudolf Virchow, with an emphasis on a dark side of the professor who is celebrated as the founder of modern social medicine: his role in racially-motivated colonial crimes. More specifically, this concerns his role in organizing and holding ethnological expositions (so-called “human zoos”) and building a collection of human remains from indigenous peoples. Leonie Thea Daumer was able to detail how Virchow worked closely with prominent showmen and leveraged colonial power structures and networks to illegally ship members of specific peoples overseas to Europe, where they were exposed to violent assaults and fell ill or died as they worked as live exhibits. Daumer’s dissertation not only addresses German colonial history, forced migration, the restitution of stolen cultural artifacts, and the location of human remains, but also analyzes the public handling of Virchow’s legacy and his role in German colonialism.

Suffering as a criterion of psychiatric disorders
Faculty of Philosophy, Philosophy of Science and Religious Studies
Kevin Fink

In his bachelor’s dissertation, Kevin Fink analyzed the role of suffering for psychiatric diagnostics. To this end, he worked with two models – the medical model and the two-stage picture model. He made a clear distinction between objective diagnostic criteria and the subjective feeling of suffering. A standout feature of Fink’s thesis is its interdisciplinarity – he carefully analyzed and interpreted both philosophical and psychiatric-medical literature. With the aid of this broad perspective, he developed proposals for harmonizing the DSM-5 diagnostic catalog currently in use with the scientific “medical model” with the objective of producing better therapy recommendations for patients.

Automated facial rig registration for motion capture
Faculty of Mathematics, Informatics and Statistics
Julius Girbig

The bachelor’s dissertation of Julius Girbig investigated how the facial movements of an actor can be transplanted on to a three-dimensional animated figure in movies or video games by means of artificial intelligence (AI). To do this, he made use of a “deepfake” technique which synthesizes a moving image that mimics the facial movements of a real person. In his thesis, Julius Girbig proposed a fully automatic solution and developed an algorithm based on so-called unsupervised machine learning, which fully transplants the facial expression of an individual image from a video on to a 3D image. The use of a deepfake algorithm makes the method independent of characteristics such as lighting or the video background.

Analytical properties of the Bose-Hubbard wheel from a ladder ofspinless fermions
Faculty of Physics
Reja H. Wilke

In her bachelor’s thesis, Reja Wilke tackled a subject from the domain of quantum science and technology. She illuminated groups of specific particles – the so-called Bose-Einstein condensates (BECs) – and introduced a new model system that would allow her to theoretically investigate them. Using a creative, geometrical approach, she found a solution for a model that was actually thought to be unsolvable. Among other things, Wilke showed that – and how ¬– the stability of the BEC can be controlled by experimental “geometry” – a remarkable property which considerably simplifies experimental implementation and control. Furthermore, Reja Wilke’s creative approach permits the analytical solution of a whole class of models.

Master’s degree / main studies:

Psychiatric advance directives and the Ulysses problem
Faculty of Law
Lukas Brechtken

While sailing past the island of the Sirens, Ulysses asks his crew to tie him to the mast of his ship and orders them not to release him no matter how much he pleads. This image is used to describe advance directives whereby a person consents to psychiatric treatment and explicitly declares that any future requests they make to the contrary should be ignored. The difficult question as to the extent to which such “Ulysses pacts” can be legal was explored by law student Lukas Brechtken in his advanced seminar paper. He developed a detailed and convincing proposal for regulating the particularly thorny Ulysses pact for the eventuality that the patient should become capable of providing consent at a later stage of the illness.

Underestimation of the relationship of overweight and obesity with colorectal cancer: evidence from an umbrella review and a large population-based study
Faculty of Medicine
Marko Mandic

Marko Mandic showed in his dissertation that overweight and obesity play a much greater role as risk factors for the development of bowel cancer than previously assumed. Applying various research approaches, he carried out comprehensive analyses in a large case-control study conducted in collaboration with the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ). The subject is highly relevant from clinical and epidemiological standpoints – particularly with regard to devising more effective prevention of overweight and obesity.

MFCC plotter
Faculty of Languages and Literatures
Frederick Kukla and Vanessa Reichel

This joint undertaking by Vanessa Reichel and Frederick Kukla is not a dissertation, but a software project developed on their own initiative. Used in language technology for automatic speech recognition, mel-frequency cepstral coefficients (MFCCs) represent a set of numerical values that are not intuitively comprehensible for humans. The main goal of the project was to render the abstract MFCCs easier to comprehend by means of a visual display. To this end, Vanessa Reichel and Frederick Kukla developed a software program that offers various visualization options and facilitates comparison between different recordings. They designed and programmed an original software tool that is easy to operate and can be useful for students and teachers in the humanities, but also for developers of language technology.


Are you bound or just projected? The behavior of substructures from expansion to galaxy clusters
Faculty of Physics
Lucas Kimmig

Two of the major questions of modern physics concern the nature and properties of the dark components of our universe: dark energy and dark matter. This research paper by Lucas Kimmig addressed both puzzles in two independent studies, which contribute to the understanding of the properties of the dark components of the universe. In previous research into dark matter, there was an unexplained discrepancy with regard to substructure mass between the measurements from observations of the universe and the results of numerical simulations based on current cosmological models. Lucas Kimmig was able to show that the type of measurement did not correspond with all basic assumptions of the simulations. Furthermore, he demonstrated that the discrepancy in substructure mass between observations and simulations was not caused by an error in the standard model of cosmology, for example, but was due to the different methodologies.

Killifish palaeodiversity in a middle Miocene Lake in the Bugojno Basin, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Faculty of Geosciences
Andrea Herbert Mainero

In her master’s dissertation, Andrea Herbert Mainero investigated newly discovered fossils from the killifish family. These fossils are exceptionally well preserved, making it possible to conduct detailed analysis and systematic classification. In addition to the laboratory work in preparing the fossils, she utilized state-of-the-art imaging methods such as scanning electron microscopy, along with statistics. On top of this, she prepared osteological drawings, which will form the basis for a future scientific paper. Based upon a careful study of the literature and comparative analysis, she was able not only to clearly assign the specimens to known families, but also to define new species. With her thesis, Andrea Herbert Mainero has contributed to a better understanding of the evolution of killifish. A project funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) will now further investigate this subject using her data.


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