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)

I have been the Education Director at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) for nearly four years, and the Outreach Coordinator for eight and a half years. This has involved working with K-12 school students, teachers, and the general public while coordinating with SERC researchers and representing SERC research. Before this I worked with the Smithsonian Science Education Center (SSEC) developing international curriculum, a video series, and education apps. Previously I also worked at the Head Park Naturalist at Cape Henlopen State Park, Trap Pond State Park, and Killens Pond State Park in Delaware. I has also worked with The Delaware Center for Inland Bays, Hawk Watch International, The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, and US Forest Service as well as developing curriculum for the Discovery Channel. I am a Certified Interpretive Guide, Red Cross Canoe Guide, and Wilderness First Aid certified. Her MS is in Biology from the University of Central Arkansas and a BS in Environmental Science and Philosophy from Ferrum College, in Virginia. She has a special interest in Chesapeake Bay river otters and is a member of the IUCN Otter Specialist Group, as well as an avid birder, kayaker, and hunter.


  • 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.