Karen has been an advocate for inclusion and diversity for over 10 years and as of June 2020 serves as the Dean of Diversity and Inclusion for the College of Science and Engineering. A molecular geneticist, she draws on her expertise in deciphering biological complexity to understand the local and societal influences on cultural norms.
At the University of Edinburgh she has chaired the School of Biological Sciences and the College of Science and Engineering Equality and Diversity committees, she has longstanding involvement university policy change and in student and staff mentoring.
She has delivered lectures in the UK and internationally, worked with schools, Research Councils and the Scottish Parliament. She was awarded a Beltane Public Engagement Fellowship for her externally-facing inclusion work and won a Wellcome Trust award to direct Potential Difference, an exhibition launched at the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Potential Difference was a collaboration between Edinburgh artists and students that aimed to challenge social stereotypes of female scientists.