Office of Research

Karen Burg

About the Vice President for Research

University of Georgia Vice President for Research Karen Burg

Karen J. L. Burg
Vice President for Research
150 Paul D. Coverdell Center,
500 D.W. Brooks Drive,
Athens, Georgia 30602

Research faculty bio

Karen J. L. Burg was named Vice President for Research in 2021. She holds the Harbor Lights Chair in Biomedical Research in the College of Veterinary Medicine and previously served as Vice President for Research at Kansas State University.

Burg was recruited to UGA in 2016 as the Harbor Lights Chair in Biomedical Research as part of the University’s Presidential Extraordinary Research Faculty Hiring Initiative, which brought several internationally recognized scholars to campus. At UGA, she leveraged her experiences as a member of the National Science Foundation Innovation Corps for Learning national teaching team to provide input toward UGA’s successful I-Corps site application. She has served as a member of the university’s Innovation District Task Force, the Innovation District Faculty Advisory Council, the 2025 Strategic Planning Committee and the Aspire Alliance IChange Team, which is working to enhance faculty diversity.

As Vice President for Research at Kansas State, a position she held from 2014 to 2016, Burg oversaw research policy and strategy for three campuses and research connections to five major extension sites. Under her leadership, Kansas State saw a 6% increase in research expenditures and laid the foundation for its designation as an Innovation and Economic Prosperity University by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. (UGA was one of 16 universities to receive the initial designation in 2013.) She also led a university-community partnership that was cited by the University Economic Development Association and other organizations as a model for how universities can help faculty more effectively engage with industry.

Burg served in a number of leadership roles at Clemson University, 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.

Burg’s research focuses on tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, with implications for diagnosing and treating diseases such as cancer. Her research has been supported by more than $20 million in grants from agencies such as the National Science Foundation and the Department of Defense, as well as organizations such as the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. 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.

Burg’s work also has focused on enhancing science and engineering education, with emphases on mentoring, introducing underrepresented minority students to bioengineering research, and expanding participation in STEM innovation and entrepreneurship. She has served as the primary research advisor to more than 50 students at the master’s and doctoral level and has extended research opportunities in her labs to scores of undergraduate students. In 2022, Burg received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring from President Joe Biden.

Her national and international engagement includes serving on the editorial boards of several journals, serving on the board of directors of the National Academy of Inventors and serving as a steering committee member of the International College of Fellows of Biomaterials Science and Engineering.

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.

Burg earned her bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from North Carolina State University and her master’s degree and Ph.D. in bioengineering from Clemson University.

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