Who's Who at GSU? Dr. Karen D'Arcy
Phoenix Newspaper, Governors State University, University Park, IL
Dr. Karen D’Arcy earned a bachelor in chemistry from the University of Northern Colorado, where her aspirations to save the environment led her to work in a lab conducting water quality analysis. She strongly encourages students to “get involved [with internships, faculty projects, etc] because it will open your eyes to other opportunities.” As an undergrad helping in the chemistry department she realized both her love of working with college students and that there was funding available for her to get a PhD. She continued on to Portland State University where she earned a degree in Environmental Science. As an Environmental Electrochemist she was a perfect fit into GSU’s evolving Environmental Studies Program.
When she is not working to help faculty and staff or save the environment, you will find D’Arcy jogging with her two Springer Spaniels or prowling antique markets. She is even part of the GSU Road Scholars, participants in the River to River Relay. After traveling to Europe and frequenting the
Western US coast, her one travel recommendation is that no one should miss visiting the isle of New Zealand.
D’Arcy’s one piece of advice for students is to “do your homework.” Simple advice but it carries a much larger meaning. “It is important, especially in science and math, to practice and improve your critical thinking skills. Try it yourself, if you get stuck teachers and tutors can assist you. As a professional you will be expected to work independently, so you need to build these skills.”
Two exciting partnerships include the restoration of wetlands in Park Forest and the prairie restoration across the street from GSU. Park Forest converted all their peat bogs to baseball fields after World War II. Recently, with federal funds and help from the Kiwanis and Audubon Society, these areas have been converted back to peat bogs and consequently there has been a large increase in the plant and avian diversity. Concurrently, the Will County Forest Preserve, under the direction of John Mendelson, is completing a prairie restoration. Hopefully, these efforts and the Partnership will lead to opportunities to improve GSU’s natural areas, including eradication of the woody shrubs in the prairie. Anyone interested in helping with these efforts from volunteering to plant native species to building a website for the Partnership can contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Though her primary duties as Division Chair of Science require her to hire faculty and schedule classes, she has continued to create opportunities for students at GSU. D’Arcy works with Argon Laboratory where teams of GSU faculty and students conduct research with Argon scientists. The program is designed to recruit underrepresented groups to pursue laboratory research and PhD programs in the sciences. More information on this program can be found at http://www.scied.science.doe.gov/scied/fast/about.html. D’Arcy also continues her environmental stewardship by working with the Thorn Creek Ecosystem Partnership, which acts as a conduit between local organizations and the state, to fund environmental projects in the Thorn Creek Watershed.