Chen Receives 2021-22 Goodnight Early Career Innovators Award

Original article by Emily Packard at University Communications

NC State announced its 2021-22 Goodnight Early Career Innovators. This program recognizes and rewards promising NC State early-career faculty, like ISE’s Karen Chen, whose scholarship is in STEM or STEM education. The 25 faculty members selected will receive $22,000 ­for each of the next three years to support their scholarship and research endeavors.

“We are incredibly grateful to the Goodnights for their support of our outstanding faculty,” said Chancellor Randy Woodson. “We are committed to recruiting and retaining the top STEM minds in the country, and the Goodnight Early Career Innovators program goes a long way in accomplishing that goal.”

Chen, an assistant professor, and her work using virtual reality to teach the concepts of extreme scales has demonstrated her scholarship substantively contributes to innovations and advancement in STEM or STEM education. “Conceptualizing extreme scales and sizes have been a well-documented challenge in the education literature,” Chen explained. However, the subject is a crucial one to understand in STEM fields. “Given many STEM fields have to deal with entities and ideas at the extremes of scale, it is critical for students to develop accurate conceptions of scales that exist well beyond their everyday experience of the world,” Chen stated. An inaccurate understanding of size and scale can make it hard to apply concepts in the real world, and not understanding subjects can also become a barrier to STEM for students. 

“Being named a Goodnight Early Career Innovator gives our faculty members the flexibility to pursue new and advance existing research in a variety of ways,” said Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Warwick Arden. “The Goodnights’ gift takes our faculty expertise and gives it extra mileage to impact STEM disciplines and the university community in an incredibly positive way.”

See the full list of 2021-22 Goodnight Early Career Innovators