Karen McDonald
UC Davis ADVANCE Co-Principal Investigator and Faculty Director, Professor of Chemical Engineering

Dr. Karen McDonald leads the UC Davis ADVANCE Program as Co-Principal Investigator and Faculty Director and provides daily project leadership and management. In collaboration with Chancellor Katehi, Vice Provost Stanton, and Associate Director Shauman, Dr. McDonald is the main point of contact with the External Advisory Board, the Internal Advisory Committee, all initiative committees, Internal and External Evaluators and the NSF ADVANCE Program Officers.

She is also Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and served as Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies in the College of Engineering at UC Davis for 13 years prior to joining the UC Davis ADVANCE program. In addition, Dr. McDonald is the Principal Investigator of an NSF Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) training program entitled “Collaborative Research and Education in Agricultural Technologies and Engineering (CREATE)”, Co-Director of the NIH Training Program in Biomolecular Technology and Co-Director of NSF RESOURCE Graduate STEM Fellows in K-12 Education Program at UC Davis. Her research is focused on the development and optimization of plant-based expression systems and bioprocesses for production of recombinant proteins with applications to biofuel and biopharmaceutical production.

Dr. McDonald joined UC Davis in 1985 after completing her PhD in Chemical Engineering at the University of Maryland, College Park, MD, an M.S. in Chemical Engineering at the University of California at Berkeley and a B.S. in Chemical Engineering at Stanford University. She was the first female faculty member in the Department of Chemical Engineering and one of the first few in the College of Engineering at UC Davis. As the PI of an initial NSF grant in 1991 and as Co-PI of an NSF grant in 1994, she helped establish the Women in Engineering Center at UC Davis (now part of WISE), developed novel hands-on courses on “How Things Work” to enhance retention of women engineering undergraduate students, and implemented faculty workshops on Exploring the Academic Environment for Women in Engineering.