GETCO2 International Women’s Day Series: Prof Karen Wilson

Our International Women’s Day 2024 Series celebrates GETCO2’s trailblazer women in Science. Meet these talented and hard-working women and be inspired by their advice for others hoping to excel in their careers.

Karen Wilson

Karen Wilson

Professor Karen Wilson is a Chief Investigator and Theme Leader at GETCO2, and is Professor of Catalysis and Director of the Centre for Catalysis and Clean Energy at Griffith University. She has previously held a prestigious Royal Society Industry Fellowship in collaboration with Johnson Matthey and is Associate Editor of Sustainable Energy & Fuels (Royal Society of Chemistry), and Energy & Environmental Materials (Wiley) and Editorial Board member for Energy & Environmental Science (Royal Society of Chemistry). Karen co-directs the Surfaces, Materials & Catalysis Group, where her research focuses on the rational design of heterogeneous catalysts for sustainable chemistry and utilisation of renewable feedstocks in the production of fuels and chemicals.

What are you most proud of in your career?

As the first member of my family to go to university, obtaining my BA and PhD from Cambridge University was a proud moment in my career. However, a particular highlight was being awarded a Royal Society Industry Fellowship in 2011 which was in collaboration with Johnson Matthey, and allowed me to establish important links with industry and understand the real-world challenges of my research.

What do you love most about your research? 

I enjoy doing work that matters to society and has impact. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing your research contribute to development of an industrial process, being able to explain the significance of your work to the public. However, one of the most satisfying aspects of my role comes from being able to assist one of your students or mentees transition to having a successful career.

What is your advice for other women to excel in their careers?

Be patient and stay positive, establish a good network of mentors and don’t be afraid to ask for help. There may be some bumps in the road, but you will get through to the other side if you have the right people by your side. We all need a cheerleader, and finding one at an early stage of your career who will support you and think of you when opportunities arise will be a huge boost to your career.

The campaign theme for International Women’s Day 2024 is ‘Count Her In: Invest in Women. Accelerate Progress’. How do we invest in Women in research and science?

We need to recognise that everyone is different, and their careers will develop at different rates. There needs to be more women visible in positions of leadership, and an emphasis on trying to discourage nepotism in the scientific community to increase diversity in research teams. A move away from relying on journal-based metrics as a benchmark for excellence by funding agencies as recommended by the Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) would be another step in the right direction.

Back to GETCO2’s IWD profiles.

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