Andero Kalju

Recipients of University of Tartu annual awards have been announced

On the eve of the anniversary of the Republic of Estonia, Rector of the University of Tartu Toomas Asser announced the university’s contribution to society award, research award and language award and the recipients of the teaching staff of the year award for 2023.

“For the third year already, we recognise actions that can help solve societal problems and alleviate bottlenecks. This year’s award-winning deeds are characteristic of Estonia’s national university – each in its own way related to the survival or promotion of Estonian-language education and science. The recipients of this year’s annual awards are also characterised by interdisciplinarity,” said Tõnis Karki, Academic Secretary of the University of Tartu. 

The contribution to society award 2023 is for “Moepööre”, a project combining Estonian language learning with sustainable fashion and entrepreneurship studies. Fashion designers, tailors and dressmakers, designers and cultural managers from Ida-Viru County took part in the programme, which gave them new knowledge about creative entrepreneurship and an opportunity to learn and practise the Estonian vocabulary of the fashion industry and entrepreneurship. At the end of the programme, the participants created their own collection and presented it on stage in a fashion show, involving the local community. 

The awardees are from Viljandi Culture Academy: Project Manager Lembe Lahtmaa, Junior Lecturer in Materials Studies Diana Tuulik and Juko-Mart Kõlar, Director of Viljandi Culture Academy.

The research award 2023 is for creating a comprehensive approach to the processes that have influenced and continue to influence the cultural, linguistic and genetic development of the Estonian people. To better understand the cultural, linguistic and genetic development of the hunter-gatherers who arrived in the territory of Estonia into the digital people of the 21st century, the university’s archaeologists, historians, geneticists, linguists, folklorists, ethnologists, geologists and geographers have placed information from science, linguistics and archaeology together into historical context. The results are presented on the website

The award goes to Associate Professor of Archaeology Mari Tõrv, Professor of Archaeology Valter Lang, Professor of Archaeogenomics Kristiina Tambets, Professor of History and Dialects of Estonian Language Karl Pajusalu, Junior Research Fellow in Archaeology Silvia-Kristiin Kask, and Project Manager Sandra Sammler. 

The language award 2023 is for the Estonian-language university textbook “Rakubioloogia” (Cell Biology). The textbook provides a systematic and up-to-date overview of modern cell biology, covering also developmental biology, immunology, tumour formation and histology.  By compiling the cell biology textbook in cooperation with a hundred contributors and 31 co-authors, considerable work was done to create and update specialised Estonian terms and promote their use. This will help preserve the sustainability of scientific thinking in the Estonian language.

The award goes to Vivarium Manager Sulev Kuuse and Professor of Cell Biology Toivo Maimets.

The University of Tartu's best teaching staff of the year awards go to Jane Klavan, Associate Professor of English Language at the Institute of Foreign Languages and Cultures, Faculty of Arts and Humanities; Valter Parve, Teacher of Social Work at Pärnu College, Faculty of Social Sciences; Helen Zirnask, Lecturer in Human Anatomy at the Institute of Biomedicine and Translational Medicine, Faculty of Medicine; and Edith Viirlaid, Lecturer in Colloidal and Environmental Chemistry at the Institute of Chemistry, Faculty of Science and Technology. For more information about the recipients of the teaching staff of the year 2023 award, see the University of Tartu website. The research award, the contribution to society award and the teaching staff awards will be presented on 23 February at the ceremony marking the anniversary of the Republic of Estonia. The language award will be presented on Mother Tongue Day, 14 March.

The teaching staff of the year award is given to recognise one teaching staff member in each faculty for their teaching excellence in the previous year. The evaluation proceeds from the Good practice of teaching. Nominees for the teaching staff of the year award can be submitted by all students. The student council of each faculty chooses the five best teaching staff members of their faculty, from among whom the evaluation committee of the University of Tartu Student Union decides the recipients of the award. In 2023, 96 proposals for recognition with the award were submitted, mentioning 68 teaching staff members.


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