April 12, 2021

Dr. Karen Wooley from Texas A&M University Named SEC Professor of the Year

Professor Karen Wooley (seated at center) with a group of research students from the Texas A&M Department of Chemistry. [Photo: Texas A&M University]
Professor Karen Wooley (seated at center) with a group of research students from the Texas A&M Department of Chemistry. [Photo: Texas A&M University]

By: SEC Staff
SECU (Twitter: @TheSECU)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (April 12, 2021) – Dr. Karen L. Wooley, University Distinguished Professor of Chemistry in the College of Science at Texas A&M University, has been named the 2021 SEC Professor of the Year, SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey announced Monday. Dr. Wooley is the second recipient from Texas A&M.

“The SEC Professor of the Year award provides a unique opportunity to recognize one of the many faculty members who guide our students through meaningful learning experiences at each of our 14 member universities,” Sankey said. “As the 2021 SEC Professor of the Year, Dr. Wooley exemplifies all that we hope and expect a faculty member to be in the Southeastern Conference, and we are pleased to bestow upon her our highest faculty honor.”

Dr. Wooley is a member of the National Academy of Sciences who holds the W.T. Doherty-Welch Chair in Chemistry and serves as Director of the Laboratory for Synthetic-Biologic Interactions. She came to Texas A&M in 2009 and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Inventors.

Her research interests are in the synthesis and characterization of degradable polymers derived from natural products, and her findings impact sustainability, resulting in new bioplastics that have reduced reliance on petrochemicals and break down naturally to produce biologically beneficial and environmentally benign degradation products. She is co-founder and President of Sugar Plastics, LLC and Chief Technology Officer of Teysha Technologies, LTD. In addition, she has consulted for several companies, from Fortune 500 enterprises to start-ups and law firms. Her list of recognitions is extensive, and recent honors include the American Chemical Society Award in Polymer Chemistry and the Royal Society of Chemistry Centenary Prize.

“Dr. Wooley has been called the most accomplished and most promising polymer chemist of her era,” said Dr. John Junkins, Interim President at Texas A&M University. “Her research has broad implications in a variety of fields, ranging from sustainability to nanoscience to the treatment and diagnosis of disease. In addition to being an internationally renowned researcher, she is also a sought-after mentor to female students and junior faculty, who admire her for her ability to identify their interests, build on their strengths and help them create personalized development plans.”

The SEC Professor of the Year Award is given annually to one SEC faculty member whose record of teaching and research places him or her among the elite in higher education. Winners are selected by the SEC Provosts from among the 14 SEC Faculty Achievement Award recipients. In recognition of the honor, the SEC will provide Dr. Wooley with a $20,000 honorarium.

The SEC Faculty Achievement and SEC Professor of the Year Awards are foundational programs designed by the SEC to support and promote the academic endeavors and achievements of its students, faculty and administrators.

HERE is a list of past SEC Professor of the Year Award winners.