Dr Justin Chalker has been named the STEM Educator of the Year – Tertiary Teaching at the the 2018 South Australian Science Excellence Awards, presented on Friday August 10. This follows from Justin’s earlier awards for his research, being named South Australia’s 2016 Young Tall Poppy Scientist of the Year, and a finalist in the 2017 Dream Chemistry award.
“It is an extraordinary honour to receive this award. I am especially grateful to the many curious and motivated students I’ve worked with that make such an accolade possible. I am in their debt. It is also an encouraging validation of our effort to coordinate our teaching and research missions. Undergraduate research and curiosity-driven teaching labs are unique and powerful ways to learn science, and I’m thrilled that our commitment on these fronts was recognised.” says Justin.
Part of Justin’s passion for teaching and research is derived from the ability for chemistry to create change in the world around us, and to create new and useful materials.
“These are the materials of the future and in this way students can see not only how chemistry is a central science and important to the future of humanity, but also how we can use that to drive the economy and create new industries that are yet to exist”
But it’s not just about the scientific know-how, it’s clear that Justin recognises the importance of the broader skills which his students attain.
“For the future prospects of students who study STEM, it’s not necessarily to train them to be a scientist, or an engineer, or a mathematician, it’s also to empower them to be freelance problem solvers. So we’re interested not in students learning a list of facts, but rather learning how to think, and how to use this skill to solve problems in the most general sense, no matter what their career prospects are. ”
We congratulate Justin on his well-deserved award, along with all the other winners from the 2018 South Australian Science Excellence Awards.