Nelly Litvak Teacher of the year 2022

| Stan Waning

Nelly Litvak is the winner of the Educational award and can therefore call herself UT Teacher of the year 2022. Thursday afternoon, in the finals in Waaier 3, she beat her colleague lecturers Farid Vahdatikhaki, Ipek Seyran Topan and Wallace Corbo Ugulino.

Farid Vahdatikhaki, Ipek Seyran Topan, Nelly Litvak en Wallace Corbo Ugulino.

Each of the four of them gave a guest lecture in the half-filled lecture hall Waaier 3. Litvak, professor of algorithmic complex networks, got those present to think about the term ‘distance’. In her lecture, named From A to B and Beyond, she sought interaction with the public through a short quiz. She showed, with the assistance of a picture of Manhattan – a borough of New York – how to calculate distance in a certain way: the Manhattan metric.


Ipek Seyran Topan started things off two rounds earlier. The former winner (2019) provided insight into queues, for example, in the supermarkets, shops or airports. Using the so-called Queueing theory, Topan showed how you can calculate an average of waiting times and how you can act on this as, for example, a shop owner. ‘Relatable and relevant’, according to the jury.

Farid Vahdatikhaki introduced his wife as the main character in his comical lecture, named Flip before trip and set in a shopping centre in Roermond. The 2018 winner showed, with graphs, how he could calculate – before he would go shopping with his wife - how much money they should take with them. ‘And I deliberately do not say how much money I should take with me, but we. Otherwise, it would be sexist’, the lecturer in civil engineering said with a wink. ‘A great storyteller’, the jury commented.


Wallace Corbo Ugulino was last to give a lecture. The cybersecurity lecturer did this in an entirely different fashion from the first three. He tried to take the attendees along in algorithms and programming: Recursion and Iteration. A complicated subject, which he attempted to make understandable on three levels. ‘If you are a beginner, I hope you can explain what it is after this lecture; if you are average, I hope you can compare it, and if you are an expert, I invite you to the lab’, said Corbo Ugulino, who according to the jury is ‘approachable to everyone’.

The patience of the lecturers and the crowd was put to quite the test after the lectures. It took the jury more than an hour to determine a winner. After that succeeded, Litvak was presented with a flower bouquet from jury chairwoman Anne Leferink, last year’s winner. The jury described Litvak as ‘patient and respectful’. She will also receive a cash prize of 2,500 euros and a certificate.

Stay tuned

Sign up for our weekly newsletter.