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Thomas Kenkmann

Thomas Kenkmann

Thomas Kenkmann received the State Teaching Award for his work in the area of Geology.
„Screening Earth – A Student (Re)Search Project“

The geologist Prof. Dr. Thomas Kenkmann has been chosen to receive the 2012 State Teaching Award. This makes him the fifth employee of the University of Freiburg to receive this distinction for outstanding instruction and teaching methodology, which has been awarded by the Ministry of Science, Research, and the Arts of Baden-Württemberg since 2007. Kenkmann is receiving the 50,000-euro award for the course “Screening Earth – A Student (Re)Search Project,” which he taught for the first time in winter semester 2011/2012 at the University of Freiburg. For his methodologically sound and creative teaching programs, which combine theory and practice, Kenkmann has already received the University Teaching Award and the Instructional Development Award of the University of Freiburg.

“We at the University of Freiburg have set ourselves the goal of continually improving the quality of instruction – for instance through our Instructional Development Award for new project ideas, an instructional quality weblog, and the interdisciplinary approaches at the University College Freiburg,” says Prof. Dr. Heiner Schanz, Vice Rector for Academic Affairs. “I am delighted that the State Teaching Award has now already gone to the University of Freiburg five times in the six years since the state’s universities began competing for this coveted award. This achievement demonstrates us that we are on the right track with our efforts in this area.”

“Screening Earth – A Student (Re)Search Project,” taught within the context of the international master’s program in Geology, provides an illustrative and practical introduction to current research approaches and methods. The project focuses on the area of so-called impact geology: The students use freely accessible high-resolution images from Google Earth to search for previously undiscovered meteorite craters on the earth’s surface, of which there are assumed to be hundreds around the world. The students interpret the structures, including geological and environmental factors. If the data speak in favor of a newly discovered crater, the team plans an expedition in order to create maps on location, collect samples, and test the meteorite crater hypothesis. In addition to employing classical means of theoretical knowledge acquisition through modern technologies, Kenkmann’s project encourages the students to discover new ways to extend and apply their knowledge.

Thomas Kenkmann studied geology and paleontology at the University of Cologne. He wrote his dissertation on “Deformation Localization in Gabbro Rocks” at the Free University of Berlin, where he also went on to complete his habilitation in 2003 with a project on “Processes of Shock Metamorphism and Impact Crater Collapse.” Kenkmann has served as professor for geology, structural geology, and impact geology at the University of Freiburg since 2010 and is currently academic dean of the Department of Earth Sciences.