Listen to Pat Carter talk about the School of Biological Sciences for a few minutes and you’re ready to jump online and register for every course the School offers. It’s hard to imagine a time when Carter was overwhelmed and unsure if he could handle the job as the Director of SBS.
“When I first became director it was pretty scary,” said Carter. “I had about a two-week window to learn the job. Our former director Larry Hufford was fantastic at giving me all that I needed to know. One of the reasons I was interested in the job was I see the role as creating an environment where students, faculty and staff can be successful.”
Carter was named the Outstanding Chair/Director for 2019-2020. Matt Jockers, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, says Carter’s dedication to the University and his role as director set him apart.
“Pat is everything a dean hopes for in a school director,” Jockers wrote in his nomination letter. “He is competent, reliable and committed to working together for the greater good of the College and the University. Pat sees the big picture and he is a big thinker. He understands we are all part of one university and that we achieve our objectives when we work together and across silos for the greater good.”
Carter’s research focuses on evolutionary genetics and physiology. He enjoys supporting the research mission of the SBS faculty and graduate students.
“People in SBS are conducting exciting cutting-edge research from cell physiology to dynamic changes in ecosystems, with most questions focused on biological responses to environmental change” he says. “I help out where I can, attempting to improve research infrastructure and supporting faculty who apply for, and frequently receive, large federal grants.”
He’s also helped the undergraduate courses in SBS evolve into a more engaging, hands-on program. Carter, who joined WSU as an assistant professor in 1996, taught large classes at the 100 and 200 level for 21 years. He guided the program’s curriculum committee as chair and then served as associate director for undergraduate programs for seven years before his quick transition to director.
“We’ve encouraged changes to bring more active science into our teaching labs,” Carter said. “We want students to get experience in inquiry-based labs and give them more of that real science experience.”
Serving students has long been a priority for Carter. He tries to keep all three aspects of WSU’s land grant mission – to advance knowledge, to extend knowledge, to apply knowledge – front of mind as he balances his duties as director. He’s also been a champion for WSU’s system.
“Pat works tirelessly to ensure that the School of Biological Sciences in Pullman is one and the same with SBS in Vancouver and one and the same with SBS in Tri-Cities,” Jockers said. “Pat is driven by a desire for the greater good, and he is an honest and thoughtful person. When combined, these elements result in a type of character and integrity that radiates outward, instilling trust and serving as a model for others.”