Professor of the Year

Testimonials about Karen McFarlane Holman

Students | Alumni | Faculty

Students

Josh Wong '13, biochemistry major

"What makes Professor Holman such a good professor and advisor is that she is very approachable. Any student can walk into her office and comfortably talk to her about anything, whether it's regarding a homework assignment, future plans or just the events of the day.

"Professor Holman helped me grow not only as a student, but as an individual as well. After having her as a professor for one semester, she recommended me for a chemistry teaching assistant position. I would never have thought I could hold that position without her encouraging me to do it. This gave me confidence that I never had, and helped me take a step outside my comfort zone."


Janie Bube '13, environmental science major

"I didn't really enjoy my high school chemistry class, but I decided to give it another shot, and I took Professor Holman's course. I think I learned much more in the first two months in her class than in an entire year of high school chemistry.

"If I ever decide to take another chemistry class, it will be because of Professor Holman. She's so enthusiastic about her subject, and she really wants people to understand it the way she does. She helps you understand how chemistry applies to every aspect of your life."


Estella Yee '12, chemistry major

"I worked with Professor Holman on a program to help middle and high school girls get more excited about math and science. She is really patient and good at explaining things to the kids. I hadn't really considered going into education as a career before working with her, but watching how well she works with the younger students has influenced me.

"She also has this other side to her where she plays music in a rock band. I like that not everything she does is purely about chemistry. She's a great role model to me."


Dani Miles '11, chemistry major

"During my sophomore year, before I had even declared chemistry as a major, Karen asked me if I wanted to travel with her and another student to Stanford's linear accelerator center to work on research. I realized how much fun science can be, and now I'm excited to continue doing research.

"I really appreciate the fact that Karen is brilliant, but she's also very good at communicating and teaching students. She challenges us, and helps us build a toolbox with both what we know and the established understanding of a subject. From there, she shows us how to use that information and apply it in many situations."


Alumni

Pete Crisalli '08, Willamette chemistry graduate
Chemistry PhD candidate, Stanford University

"One of the hardest things to do as a chemist is convey knowledge of the material to somebody who lacks a background in the field, as it is so complex. However, Dr. Holman has an excellent skill in doing such as she teaches courses ranging from introductory chemistry, where almost no students have a background of significance in the field, to advanced bioinorganic chemistry, where complex knowledge of chemical processes is a prerequisite.

"Dr. Holman made chemistry appear not only much more interesting to me, but also much more real. After taking her introductory course, I realized that chemistry was something that governed much of the world around me, and was the foundation of many of the things that I used and saw every day."


Lea Witkowsky '06, Willamette chemistry graduate
Chemical biology PhD candidate, University of California, Berkeley

"Like a superhero, Professor Holman has an alter ego: chemist and professor during the day, and punk rocker at night. When I watched Professor Holman play a show with her band, I could see the same excitement that she always had when she talked about chemistry, only this time it was when she felt the music that she had created resonate through the room.

"Outstanding teachers can often be measured by the impact they have on their students, and I hope that some day I can have the same impact on my students that she continues to have on hers. Her excitement for chemistry and teaching are only matched by the enthusiasm she instills in her students and the goals she helps them achieve."


Natalie Muren '06, Willamette chemistry and Spanish graduate
Chemistry PhD candidate, California Institute of Technology

"Professor Holman's curiosity and enthusiasm are hard to resist. Her students find themselves engaged in her lectures because they want to discover for themselves just what new concept has made her so excited.

"Professor Holman's formula combines hard work and personal challenges with creativity, pure enthusiasm and a bit of punk rock. By teaching and living in a way that combines a passion for chemistry with so many other diverse interests, she is a strong role model."


Jeff Weber '10, Willamette chemistry and mathematics graduate
Hertz Foundation Fellow, chemistry PhD candidate at Stanford University

"Professor Holman is kind, fair and accommodating to every student enrolled in her classes. Rather than focusing only on the top few percent of her students, she is dedicated to seeing the entirety of her classes succeed.

"She is also a terrific research advisor. Dr. Holman gave me both autonomy and support in all of my research endeavors: she always respected my ideas but assisted me when my projects went awry.

"My benefit from her guidance reached its pinnacle in the spring of 2010 when I earned a national Hertz Foundation Fellowship. I feel greatly indebted to Dr. Holman for all her help and support. As I joined Stanford's PhD program this fall, I felt as well-prepared for graduate school as I possibly could be."


Faculty

J. Charles Williamson
Willamette associate professor of chemistry

"Karen prepares well-organized, highly interactive presentations where the construct of ‘lecture' is often transformed into that of ‘conversation.' She welcomes one-on-one discussions with students outside of class time, because she views professor-student interaction as the most important facet of her job.

"Karen uses the Advanced Light Source (ALS) at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to study the structure of ruthenium compounds via x-ray spectroscopy. Researchers worldwide apply for time on this instrument; Karen has secured beam time and given Willamette undergraduates the opportunity to work with her for intense weeks of research at the ALS. I truly admire the hard work Karen has put into extending her research program outside of the Willamette bubble, and how she draws our chemistry majors along with her."


David Douglass
Willamette's dean of Campus Life, former professor

"I would say that by any standard, Karen Holman rocks. And I don't just mean figuratively, I mean literally. She plays the guitar and is a punk rocker. But that's just one facet of what she does so remarkably well. She connects with students in ways that transcend the classroom, and she transforms their lives.

"Karen has a unique gift in translating the complexities and the density of chemistry's theories and methodologies into the kind of communication that anyone can understand and appreciate. She's able to do research at the very highest levels of her discipline, and at the same time communicate with an undergraduate student who may have just taken his first chemistry class."