When Dr. Fiona Goodchild came to Santa Barbara in 1988, she had not been involved with science since her high school years. Now, she has been honored with a presidential award for her efforts in science education mentoring.

Goodchild, director of education for the Materials Research Lab (MRL), was one of 10 individuals to be presented with a Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring at a White House ceremony in March.

The award recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding and sustained guidance to students at all levels of education, and especially recognizes the attainment of greater participation rates for minorities, women and disabled students in the sciences. The award includes a $10,000 grant to be used in furthering the recipient’s mentoring work.

Chancellor Henry T. Yang has matched the grant, and the sum will fund the Fiona Goodchild Award, intended for graduate students who have distinguished themselves by mentoring undergraduate researchers.

“If you look at people creating interesting opportunities in mentorship, Fiona really stands out,” Dean of Engineering Matthew Tirrell said. “[She] is really a campus resource when it comes to connecting undergraduates with research experience through the university.”

Since becoming the MRL director of education in 1993, Goodchild has been responsible for the development of a number of outreach programs that connect university researchers with students and teachers in the greater Santa Barbara area. One such program provides Santa Barbara City College students with summer internship opportunities in various areas of science and engineering.

Other programs bring K-12 teachers into research labs in order to develop new curricula for their classrooms. A new project called “Let’s Explore Applied Physical Science,” provides university students with the opportunity to do teaching assistantships at local schools.

“The main objective of the programs is to create opportunities for nontraditional students in science,” Goodchild said.

Goodchild hopes that the recognition will provide the opportunity and encouragement for other staff members to start outreach and mentoring programs.

Nominations for the Fiona Goodchild Award for Excellence as a Graduate Student Mentor of Undergraduate Research are being accepted today through May 2 in the Letters and Science Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities office.

“UCSB’s research effort in materials is regarded as world-class,” MRL Director Anthony Cheetham said. “Fiona’s success demonstrates that our excellence goes beyond the lab and into the classroom and community.”