Karen Goodwin has been named one of two winners of the 2016 Exceptional Faculty Award from the Centralia College Foundation. Goodwin is an associate professor of chemistry, and the founder and facilitator of the student research Capstone Projects. Now in its fourth year, the Capstone Projects are on the cutting edge; they are the first in the state to offer funding for community college student research projects. With the generous financial support of the Foundation board, these aspiring scientists, engineers, and others now have the opportunity to put their ideas into action.
Goodwin explained she originally designed the Capstone Projects as an opportunity to showcase her organic chemistry students’ research projects. However, she quickly began to see Capstone as a wonderful opportunity to showcase student excellence in all areas—not just the sciences—and has encouraged participation from other disciplines throughout the college.
She is the student Science Club advisor and past secretary and chair-elect of the Puget Sound Section of the American Chemical Society, which has allowed her to create close collaborations with chemistry teachers from The Evergreen State College, St. Martins University, University of Washington, and Pacific Lutheran University, as well as with faculty from other community colleges.
Goodwin is the creator of Chemistry Bootcamp, which allows students to brush up on their chemistry skills in a fun, relaxed atmosphere. In addition, Goodwin also encourages her students to explore independent research projects, which are often used to enhance the curriculum in their chemistry labs.
“I’m blown away by the quality of faculty and staff at Centralia College,” Goodwin said. “The support and encouragement to try new things to enhance our students experience is amazing and rare at a community college. Not only does it create an atmosphere of creativity for me as an instructor, but it also provides an exciting and creative outlet for our students to expand their learning experience and better prepare for the work they’ll be doing at the university level.”