Staff Profile
Photo for Karen McDonald



M.S. in Biology, University of Central Arkansas (Cum Laude)

B.S. Environmental Science and Philosophy, Ferrum College, VA (Cum Laude)


2015-2016 Education Program Coordinator, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC)

  • K-12th grade program coordination and delivery.
  • Development of K-12th curriculum in alignment with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and SERC research; and teacher training workshop materials related to these materials.
  • Management and training of over 60 volunteers, and interns, who implement and run programs.
  • Liaison between SERC researchers/scientists, staff, volunteers, students, teachers, and public
  • Coordination with Public Engagement committee, including Citizen Science, SI Volunteers, and Media Relations.


2014-2015 Unit Coordinator, Smithsonian Science Education Center (SSEC)

  • Developed curriculum assessment system for assessing alignment with NGSS standards, including suggestions for future modification and new curriculum.
  • Writing and development of science curriculum to meet NGSS and Common Core (unit coordination of science content experts, photos and images, editing, and coordinating with publisher).
  • Fact checking science curriculum content for accuracy and integrity.
  • Liaison between SSEC and Explorer at Large film group, with Josh Bernstein. Coordinating pan-institutional filming of science and research across the Smithsonian, ensuring alignment to NGSS for each video, maintaining science integrity during filming, developing curriculum for teachers based on videos.
  • Liaison between SSEC and other Smithsonian Units for potential curriculum and professional development collaboration and materials development.
  • Developer of professional development training materials for teachers in physical and earth sciences.
  • Implementation of professional development training and workshops for teachers.
  • Writing and development of science based web and mobile application.  


2012-2014- Contractor, Discovery Channel STEM Curriculum Development and Design.

  • Contractual curriculum development, 3rd-12th grade, NGSS and 5E teaching model.


2005-2013 Education Outreach Coordinator: Smithsonian Environmental Research  Center, MD.

  • Established and maintained a successful education outreach program for the Smithsonian.
  • Wrote, organized, and conducted programs for the public, schools, home school, and organized groups; pre K-12th as well as adults and college groups.
  • Designed curriculum and delivered professional development for teachers based on Smithsonian science.  
  • Large scale event organizer for event with over 1,700 attendees, 170+ volunteers, and outside organizations.
  • Volunteer coordination for the SERC Education Department (50+ volunteers).
  • Citizen science coordination for bluebirds, Project Noah, birds, butterflies, and Maryland Amphibian and Reptile Atlas (MARA).
  • Organized media contacts, social media, blogs, calendar releases, program bulletins, and marketing materials.


  • Smithsonian Women’s Committee Grant for development and implementation of Mobile Ecology.
  • Four Rivers Heritage Area Award for New Public Programs in Southern Maryland.
  • Excellence in Service: Delaware State Parks Interpretive Staff, awarded every year of service.
  • Departmental Grant, University of Central Arkansas, for excellence in academics.
  • Life Sciences Award for Academic Achievement, Ferrum College Division of Life Sciences.
  • C.P. Minnick Award for Excellence in Religious and Philosophical Studies, Ferrum College Department of Philosophy.

Social Media


Publications and Presentations

McDonald, Karen S. Workshop Presentation, Smithsonian Science: Ecosystem Engineers Curriculum for Teachers. Maryland Association of Outdoor and Environmental Educators. February 2012.

McDonald, Karen S. Workshop Presentation. Plankton in the Classroom. National Science Teachers Association Conference. September 2009.

McDonald, Karen S. Workshop Presentation, Biomimicry Science Fairs for the Home School Audience. Biomimicry Institute  Education Summit and Global Conference. June 2013.

McDonald, Karen S. Spring 2013. Butterflies and Biomimicry. Greenteacher. #99.  

McDonald, Karen S. Winter 2012-2013. Swimming with Sharks: Teaching Biomimicry using Sharks. Greenteacher. #98.   

Ruehle, J., McDonald K.S. et. Al. 2002 Biology for General Education, Biol. 1400 Laboratory Manual. Hayden McNeil, Plymouth, MI.

McDonald, K.S. 2001 A Paeleoecologial Reconstruction of the Imo Formation from the Mississippian Era at the Payton Creek Road Cut in North Central Arkansas. Masters Thesis. University of Central Arkansas, AR.

Poster Presentation, 2001 Geological Society of American, concerning echinoderms of the Mississippian Era from North Central Arkansas.

Poster Presentation, 2000 Arkansas Academy of Sciences, A Paeleoecologial Reconstruction of the Imo Formation from the Mississippian Era at the Payton Creek Road Cut in North Central Arkansas.

In my spare time I also like to row crew...