Wilkes University


Wilkes University Honors Jennifer Thomas with Carpenter Award for Teaching

Jennifer Thomas, associate professor of psychology, received the Carpenter Award for Teaching. The award, considered Wilkes' highest honor for teaching, recognizes an outstanding member of the faculty and includes a $1,000 award and framed certificate. The awardee is nominated by his or her full-time colleagues and must have been a full-time employee for at least three years.

Dr. Thomas

In nomination letters submitted by three colleagues, Thomas was recognized for stellar classroom instruction, and her commitment to ongoing research and mentoring students through the process. In his letter, Kyle Kreider, professor of political science, writes, "Dr. Thomas is dedicated to her students, has mastered the art of teaching and has consistently demonstrated her commitment to her profession and practice by mentoring numerous psychology students."

Ellen Newell, associate professor of psychology and research collaborator, writes, "...every bit of Dr. Thomas's research program significantly involves undergraduates. Dr. Thomas runs her laboratory much like a graduate lab – students participate in professional, publishable research projects. They do not merely collect data, but rather they contribute to studies from conception all the way through dissemination of the research in professional contexts."

About her mentoring, Maria Grandinetti, associate professor of nursing adds, "Mentoring is important to her professional role, as she has and continues to mentor peer faculty and undergraduate students. She has mentored a total of 14 Women's and Gender Studies Interns, and 30 undergraduate students on independent research projects. There have been 26 undergraduate students have served as co-authors on presentations at professional conferences. These numbers are exceptional, and deserving to be recognized."

Thomas's teaching approach emphasizes research-based techniques to foster engagement and critical thinking, while instilling a sense of social responsibility in her students. Among her research interests are college students' interest and engagement in gender-equality activism. In partnership with Newell, Thomas works with students to examine women's physiological reactions to stress to better understand their resilience versus vulnerability to sexism. Thomas also researches factors associated with how students learn and their achievement in the classroom.

"Integrating undergraduates into research provides students with transformative experiences that allow them to see psychology in action, develop skills to think critically and creatively, foster curiosity and create a sense of belonging," said Thomas. "Furthermore, working with students on research has provided me with some of the most rewarding experiences of my career. I am incredibly grateful to do what I love and to be recognized by my peers."

Thomas is the coordinator for the psychology department and directs the Women's and Gender Studies minor. She also coordinates the Women's and Gender Studies conference in partnership with King's College. The annual conference gives Women's and Gender Studies students the opportunity to present their capstone projects that investigate a range of relevant topics. The conference also hosts a keynote speaker. Each year, approx. 300 students attend.

Thomas advises Psi Chi, the international psychology honor's society, and the Wilkes Feminist Alliance. She earned her bachelor's degree from Bucknell University, her master's degree in psychology from Wake Forest University and her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from Purdue University.