Established in 2011 and jointly sponsored by the Aggie Women Network and Office of the President, the award honors extraordinary women faculty who serve as role models for all Aggie students through their records of outstanding recognizes extraordinary achievement in research, scholarship and service.
Wooley and her fellow 2021 recipient, Bush School of Government and Public Service Distinguished Professor Dr. Valerie M. Hudson, will be presented with their awards, which include a $4,000 cash gift and a plaque, at the Aggie Women Network Awards Luncheon, set for Friday, October 29, from 12 to 2 p.m. in the Memorial Student Center Bethancourt Ballroom.
Wooley, a member of the National Academy of Sciences and holder of the W.T. Doherty-Welch Chair in Chemistry in the College of Science, is one of the world’s foremost experts in materials and polymer chemistry and in creating new materials at the nanoscale level. She joined the Texas A&M faculty in 2009 as a member of the Department of Chemistry, where she serves as director of the Laboratory for Synthetic-Biologic Interactions and heads up the Wooley Research Group. She was appointed as a distinguished professor in 2011, named one of Texas A&M’s 24 inaugural Presidential Impact Fellows in 2017 and most recently selected by the Southeastern Conference as the 2021 SEC Professor of the Year. In addition to a primary appointment in Texas A&M Chemistry, she holds joint appointments in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Department of Materials Science and Engineering.
Wooley’s research involves the synthesis and characterization of degradable polymers derived from natural products — pioneering work with widespread application and impact spanning multiple disciplines and industries, from the diagnosis and treatment of disease to the development of anti-icing coatings and eco-friendly environmental remediation systems. Her research also influences sustainability, resulting in new bioplastics that have reduced reliance on petrochemicals and break down naturally to produce biologically beneficial and environmentally benign degradation products.
Wooley is a fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (2014), American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2015), National Academy of Inventors (2019), American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (2020) and American Association for the Advancement of Science (2020). Her major career awards to date include the Royal Society of Chemistry’s 2014 Centenary Prize as well as the American Chemical Society’s 2015 Oesper Award and 2002 Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award in Organic Chemistry. No stranger to trailblazing accomplishment, she previously made history in 2014 as the first woman to receive the ACS Award in Polymer Chemistry, a prestigious accolade honoring outstanding fundamental contributions and achievements toward addressing global needs for advanced polymer systems and materials. In 2016, she was recognized with a Texas A&M Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement Award for Research.
Wooley is co-founder and president of Sugar Plastics, LLC and chief technology officer of Teysha Technologies, LTD. In addition, she has served as a technical advisor and consultant for several companies, from Fortune 500 enterprises to start-ups and law firms. She is an executive editor and associate editor for the Journal of the American Chemical Society and has a strong record of service to the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health and the Dutch Biomedical Materials Program. She also works to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and form collaborative relationships across her field by organizing national and international conferences.
Likewise, Wooley has a long-standing commitment to diversity, having served on numerous committees that focus on diversity, equity and inclusion while also promoting diversity practices throughout her research, teaching, and service. She is renowned as an exceptional teacher and mentor who has built a research program that is more than 50 percent female in the traditionally male-dominated field of chemistry. She recently served on the President’s Commission on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Texas A&M and also was recognized as an ADVANCE Diversity Champion in 2020.
A native of Oakridge, Oregon, Wooley earned her bachelor of science in chemistry from Oregon State University in 1988 and her Ph.D. in polymer/organic chemistry from Cornell University in 1993. She began her independent academic career that same year as an assistant professor of chemistry at Washington University in St. Louis. She was promoted to professor with tenure in 1999 and named a James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor in Arts & Sciences in 2006 prior to receiving a joint appointment in the School of Medicine, Department of Radiology in 2007.
Wooley is the third all-time Eminent Scholar Award recipient from the College of Science, joining 2013 honoree and Dr. Terry Thomas University Professor of Biology Dr. Deborah Bell-Pedersen and 2012 inaugural winner, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Davidson Professor of Science Dr. Kim R. Dunbar, among the eight total Texas A&M faculty honored with the award since its inception in 2012.
For more information about the Aggie Women Network or the upcoming Awards Luncheon, visit http://aggiewomen.org.
To learn more about Wooley and her teaching, research and service, go to https://www.chem.tamu.edu/faculty/karen-wooley/.