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Dr. Karen Leadbetter Burg is the Recipient of a Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring

Dr. Karen Burg
Dr. Karen Leadbetter Burg

CBE graduate Dr. Karen Leadbetter Burg (B.S. ’90) is the recipient of a Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM) from the National Science Foundation.

The award was established to “recognize those who have made significant contributions to mentoring and thereby support the future productivity of the U.S. science, technology, engineering and mathematics, (STEM) workforce.” The National Science Foundation (NSF) administers the awards program on behalf of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Each Presidential Awardee receives a certificate signed by the President of the United States and a monetary award from the NSF.

The Award announcement describes some of Dr. Burg’s accomplishments in promoting STEM careers:  “From 1999 to 2014, she was a Clemson bioengineering faculty member, where she established several research-focused mentoring programs and institutionalized three significant programs to increase underrepresented minority (URM) participation in research, graduate education, and the professoriate. Of particular note was her NSF-funded Research Experience and Mentoring program which introduced freshmen and sophomores to research and research professional skills; 100% of mentees were retained in STEM, 59% pursued STEM graduate degrees, and 94% continued in STEM relevant post baccalaureate positions.”

Dr. Burg earned her bioengineering M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Clemson University, then completed a tissue engineering postdoctoral fellowship at the Carolinas Medical Center.  She also served in a number of leadership roles at Clemson, including Interim Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School, Interim Vice President for Research and Innovation, and Founding Director of the Institute for Biological Interfaces of Engineering.

She served as a professor of chemical engineering and Vice President for Research at Kansas State University from 2014 to 2016, and was recruited to the University of Georgia (UGA) as the Harbor Lights Chair/Professor of Small Animal Medicine and Surgery in Small Animal Studies as part of the University’s Presidential Extraordinary Research Faculty Hiring Initiative. Burg was named Vice President for Research at UGA in 2021.

Burg’s honors include receipt of a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers and designation as an American Association for the Advancement of Science-Lemelson Invention Ambassador. She is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Biomedical Engineering Society, the International Union of Societies for Biomaterials Science and Engineering, the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, the National Academy of Inventors and the American Council on Education.

She is the author of nearly 120 peer reviewed journal publications and the co-author of four books and nearly 40 book chapters. She holds nine U.S. patents, one of which forms the basis of a company that uses 3D cell culture technology to model and predict how tumors will respond to cancer drugs.

Congratulations to Professor Burg for your outstanding accomplishments and for this honor!