Two faculty members receive Exceptional Faculty Award
Two Centralia College faculty members, Dr. Lisa Carlson and Jacob Lund, will receive the prestigious "Exceptional Faculty Award" this spring. The award recognizes instructors who bring an extraordinary level of commitment, excellence and innovation to the college and the community.
Dr. Lisa Carlson
Dr. Carlson, associate professor of biology, radiates when she steps out of the new science center. Her love for the outdoors is obvious when she talks to students and faculty about dendrology, the science of trees and shrubs.
“My favorite part of my job is taking students outdoors,” Dr. Carlson said. She enjoys discussing carbon cycles and plant identification; and emphasizes inquiry-based learning, a style to train students to think like scientists.
Originally from Minnesota, Dr. Carlson earned a B.A. in biology and environmental studies at Macalester College, an M.S. in environmental sciences at the University of Virginia and a Ph.D. in forest ecology at the University of Washington.
She has taught a variety of classes including environmental science and natural resource technology at Centralia College. She has changed the biology curriculum and class choices three times since she began in 1999. She’s a leader, an advisor and uses her expertise to improve more than CC’s science department.
She spent at least five years assisting planners and designers during the construction of the new science center. Dr. Carlson sorted, labeled, packed and unpacked “a few thousand” specimens of the college’s biology collection. Though she’s thrilled with the new indoor space, being active outdoors is her passion.
Carlson is looking forward to getting her hands dirty in the upcoming Kiser Natural Outdoor Learning Lab (KNOLL). She worked with civil engineers and landscape architects to design an outdoor teaching lab for the college and community. KNOLL will include different ecosystems which are representative of areas within Washington. She encouraged planners to include aquatic life of China Creek and rocks and geology features of Washington (construction will begin this spring).
“Lisa excels as a teacher, advisor, and colleague. She was one of the first faculty members I met here and she has helped me in my teaching career from day one,” associate professor of earth sciences Pat Pringle said.
Dr. Carlson is the chair of the Sustainability Committee and is helping the college become a leader in that field.
Within her sustainability role, Carlson led a team of 50volunteers who planted 250 trees in fields owned by the Port of Chehalis. The planting will enhance wetland habitat, offer residential buffers and will begin to offset greenhouse gas emissions.
She helps students understand their roles of being citizens of the planet and encourages them to volunteer to clean creeks, forests and the city.
Dr. Carlson enjoys hiking, biking and kayaking; and has rediscovered a talent which brings the best of her outdoor adventures into her classroom: photography.
Aside from her outdoor talents, Carlson has found time to learn about Zimbabwean music and has been playing marimba and mbira since 1993. She’ll perform at Olympia’s Farmers’ Market June 25 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Jacob LundTucked in the most western office on campus, award winner Jacob Lund, associate professor of Civil Engineering Technology, can be found teaching mathematical formulas and soil testing methods to 23 second-year CET students. He teaches 11 classes each year in one of the longest running programs on campus.
His favorite classes are those which mimic outside work – designing and planning highways, roads and storm water systems. Lund began teaching in 2007 and has been designing and creating courses along the way. One that he is proud of includes storm water management.
“It’s important to include storm water management because of the amount of rain that falls in Washington,” he said. “Storm water facility design is a component of almost every land development project.”
Students discover the characteristics of soils such as strength and permeability. The lab includes barrels full of sediment which represent different regions within Washington. From the rocky soils of Rochester to the dense clay soils of the Twin Cities.
In the afternoon when all students are gone, not a spec of misplaced dirt can be found.
An engineer by heart, Lund has held positions in all facets of the industry including work as a laborer and pipe layer in Olympia, construction surveyor for Washington State Department of Transportation anddesign technician for multiple commercial development projects in Las Vegas, NV, including Nevada’s public schools and the Palms Hotel and Casino.
He’s owned and operated his own engineering business. Now however, he prefers working at the college and accepting short-lived projects through RB Engineering in Chehalis, Wash.
“Through various opportunities, I have designed, inspected and served as project engineer on a number of commercial and residential land development projects in western Washington,” Lund said.
Lund works with an advisory board of up to seven local engineers who review curriculum and classes, and offer advice.
“My teaching approach is simple: Make classroom activities closely resemble real life engineering situations as possible,” he said. Instead of using classic textbooks, Lund uses the same design manuals and state resources that are used by engineers in the field.
“In addition to revisions of the technical portion of the curriculum, I am perhaps one of the few engineering instructors who put major emphasis on English and writing skills. Being successful isn’t just about crunching numbers,” he added, “I frequently assign essays and writing assignments in my engineering classes.”
When asked what kind of equipment the department needed,Lund replied that most of the equipment and testing methods they use have been around for years. Computers and up-to-date software fill the most requests, which are paid for by student fees.
Students travel from Grays Harbor, Thurston and Lewis counties to take CC’s CET program. This year’s class of 23 is likely to be the largest class graduating from CC’s Civil Engineering Technology Program.
Students who leave CC after one year can be a survey tech in the office or field.
“After their second year, they can be a design tech for a civil engineer or do material testing as a DOT inspector,” he added.
Lund, 34 from Rochester, received his Civil Engineering degree from Washington State University. When he’s not teaching during the summer, he travels and hopes to visit Yosemite National Park this year. Of course, he’ll be planning, modeling and inspecting sites for RB Engineering. The company is working on the Ritchie Brother’s site, south of Napavine.