Carpenter uses a variety of teaching methods in order to engage each student in active learning. She uses helpful analogies such as comparing magnetic anisotropy to preparing for winter in Minnesota, chemical bonding to shopping with a friend, and the mechanisms of nucleophilic substitution to dealing with a less-than-perfect roommate. The fundamental principle that underlies her teaching is her stubborn insistence on trying "to help students learn to think. I want them to take with them the process of problem solving."
Carpenter's advising is an extension of her teaching style. It is much more than course selection and checking graduation requirements. Many students have attributed, in a major way, their success of getting into graduate school or obtaining their first job to her valuable guidance.
Carpenter is an educational leader. She saw semester conversion, the lack of a program in biochemistry, and the need for more undergraduate research opportunities not as problems but rather, as a plan waiting to be assembled. She brought the issues together through curriculum proposals, attending committee meetings and writing grants. The result has been a stronger chemistry curriculum and a biochemistry option for students.
A faculty member since 1989, Carpenter earned a master of science and doctorate in chemistry at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.
(From the 2002 news story)