Rules to live (and research) by…

In case  you missed it, you don’t want to start your summer research without the wisdom of Dr. Tom Goodwin – a luminary in the field of undergraduate research. His philosophy and advice have guided the PUI research community for decades. The TEN commandments of Undergraduate Research…and a fun poster to hang up in your lab.


Special forward by Dr. George Shields on behalf of CUR Chemistry:

Tom Goodwin received his B.S from Ouachita Baptist University and his Ph.D. from the University of Arkansas. He was a Robert A. Welch Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at Rice University, and has had a very distinguished career at Hendrix College. Currently he is the Elbert L. Fausett Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, soon to be emeritus!

Tom is a synthetic organic chemist, who, as he likes to say, masquerades as a chemical ecologist. As a synthetic organic chemist, he has been at the forefront of developing green chemistry experiments for the introductory organic chemistry lab, the enantioselective preparation of metabolites of the anti-coagulation drug warfarin, and development of potential antibacterial peptidomimetics. He is a master at finding problems in chemical ecology where his lab can bring their analytical analysis skills to understanding chemical communication, enabling his undergraduate research team to investigate interesting problems that no one else has yet discovered. His work in chemical ecology has spanned across a wide range of interesting animals, including elephants, binturongs, manned wolves, kakapos, and orangutans. This involves using green solventless extraction techniques to prospect for pheromones.

Tom has worked with more than 140 undergraduate collaborators over the course of his career, and he is a master of teaching science by doing science. The author of over 50 research publications, with many undergraduate co-authors, Tom’ s work as a teacher-scholar is legendary. Tom was the President of the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) during the 1992-93 academic year. He was the founding co-editor of the CUR Quarterly, serving as editor from 1993-1996.  He was selected as a Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation Scholar in 1989, and was awarded the David W. Mellor Medal for Chemical Education by the University of New South Wales in 1998. Perhaps his most prestigious awards were these three: He was the 2003 Carnegie Foundation U. S. Professor of the year for Baccalaureate Colleges, the 2010 CUR Fellow recipient for undergraduate research leadership, and the 2016 American Chemical Society Awardee for Research at an Undergraduate Institution. We believe he is the only chemist to win all three of these awards.

Tom is a master teacher who has made the chemical community, and Hendrix College, a better place. Hendrix’s President Tsutsui states that Tom “truly is an inspiring teacher, mentor, and scientist” and is completely impressed by Tom’s passion for teaching and research.

Tom, from everyone at CUR Chemistry and all of CUR, thank you.

Ten Commandments for Initiating and Sustaining an Undergraduate Research Program

10A while back for a talk I was giving at a symposium at a CUR National Meeting at North Carolina Central University, I prepared a list of “Ten Commandments” related to starting an undergraduate research program.  I have included the list below, as I believe that it sheds some light on some of the attitudes about, and approaches to, research that I try to exemplify to my undergraduate research collaborators.

The 10 commandments of research_v.1

And here is a PDF to print: The 10 commandments of research_v.1

I think like I’m up in a helicopter and I’m flying over my students, who are wading through a swamp. I have a bullhorn and I’m saying, Don’t go that way, there’s an alligator over there! Watch out! ~Dr. Tom Goodwin

I’ll wrap up by recalling when a reporter for the Chronicle of Higher Education asked about my philosophy of teaching.  I replied: “I think like I’m up in a helicopter and I’m flying over my students, who are wading through a swamp. I have a bullhorn and I’m saying, Don’t go that way, there’s an alligator over there! Watch out!”  That’s sort of the way I see my research mentorship as well; helping my students to avoid pitfalls and to see the forest and not just the trees.


19d9f87e-922b-4783-a06a-dc4d71a34b871~ Dr. Tom Goodwin is the Elbert L. Fausett Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas. Dr. Goodwin is the 2003 Carnegie/Case U.S. Professor of the Year (for baccalaureate colleges), 2010 CUR Fellows awardee, and a former CUR president. He will retire this May 2017 after a 39 year career at Hendrix.

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