By Helen Plotkin
Thomas E. Goodwin will add another national award to his long list of honors this
summer. In June, Dr. Goodwin will receive the CUR Fellows Award, which recognizes
excellence in undergraduate research. The Award will be presented at the 2010 Biennial
Conference of the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) at Weber State University
in Ogden, Utah.
Dr. Goodwin is the Elbert L. Fausett Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and
Julia Mobley Odyssey Professor at Hendrix, where he has been a member of the faculty
The CUR Fellows Awards are presented to CUR members who have developed nationally
respected research programs involving undergraduate students. Two CUR Fellows were
selected this year. Dr. Gilles Einstein, Professor of Psychology at Furman University,
is the other honoree.
Dr. Goodwin said he is most pleased that, as a CUR Fellow, he will receive a
CUR Student Research Fellowship to support continued involvement in undergraduate
research for a deserving Hendrix student.
Nancy Hensel, Executive Officer of CUR, said, "CUR Fellows is an award that recognizes
significant contributions to student development and learning as well as the quest
for new knowledge through research. CUR is pleased to honor Dr. Einstein and Dr.
Goodwin with our highest award. They are both examples of the commitment and dedication
of CUR members to excellent teaching and scholarship."
Dr. Goodwin received a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from Ouachita
Baptist University in 1969 and a Ph.D. from the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville
in 1974. After postdoctoral appointments at Rice and Texas A&M, and a short stint
in chemical industry, he came to Hendrix with a strong belief in the value of involving
undergraduate students in meaningful research projects.
Dr. Goodwin sums up his philosophy this way: "Science is taught by doing science;
the scientific method is inculcated by practicing it in the laboratory and the field."
His hands-on approach to teaching science has brought recognition to Dr. Goodwin
and Hendrix, but most importantly, has created a climate where students learn and
excel. A former undergraduate student wrote: "To put it succinctly, excluding my
parents, Dr. Goodwin has been the most important influence in my career."
Dr. Goodwin’s area of expertise is synthetic organic chemistry, and for many
years that was his primary research focus at Hendrix. In 1993, he was the Chair
of the Gordon Research Conference on Heterocyclic Compounds.
He later developed a specific research interest in chemical communication among
elephants which led to a National Science Foundation-funded collaboration with a
behavioral biologist and a biochemist. This research has expanded to include collaborations
with biologists to study chemical communication by other mammals, including maned
wolves and several lemur species.
Undergraduate students have benefited enormously from these collaborations. Because
his research on chemical communication in endangered species occurs at the interface
between chemistry and biology, Dr. Goodwin’s students learn to think about chemistry
as part of their natural world in a truly interdisciplinary manner.
In addition to a continuing interest in mammalian chemical signaling and synthetic
organic chemistry, Dr. Goodwin and his students have been involved for several years
in the development of environmentally benign ("green") experiments for the introductory
organic chemistry laboratory
Dr. Goodwin has mentored the research work of approximately 120 undergraduate
students over the course of 32 years. During his career, he has been recognized
for his exceptional teaching practices, including being named the Carnegie/CASE
U.S. Professor of the Year for Baccalaureate Colleges in 2003, the only national
award recognizing excellence in teaching at the college level.
"Dr. Goodwin is one of Hendrix’s most distinguished faculty members," said Hendrix
Provost Robert L. Entzminger. "Not only is his teaching and mentoring legendary
among Hendrix students, he was a national pioneer in demonstrating the value of
undergraduate research programs, and his leadership and example were crucial in
developing Hendrix’s Odyssey Program, which emphasizes hands-on learning experiences
as a central component of undergraduate education."