Hendrix Magazine

Dr. Tom Goodwin

GoodwinBy Helen Plotkin

Dr. 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 since 1978.

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."