Karen has been at Bath since 2000, first as a Dorothy Hodgkin Royal Society Research Fellow, then as a Senior Lecturer and Reader, since 2014 she has been the Professor of Soft Matter. She has undergraduate degrees from Syndey University, the first a BSc(Hons) in Physical Chemistry, and then a Law degree. Having spent most of her free time while studying law working as a researcher on emulsion polymerisation, surfactants or as a lab demonstrator in the School of Chemistry, she went on do to a PhD in Chemistry.
She moved to the Australian National University, to work with Prof. John White studying the synthesis and characterisation of the surfactant templated silicate MCM-41, using neutron and X-ray scattering, graduating in 1998. From mid-1997 she was a postdoc at Cornell University in the US, at the Laboratory of Atomic and Solid State Physics in the Biophysics group of Prof. Sol Gruner, before moving to the UK in 1999. She worked briefly on a joint project with Dr Steve Roser and Prof. Stephen Mann (Bristol) as a postdoc before being awarded the DH research fellowship. In 2012 she was appointed as a Visiting Professor in the Physical Chemistry Division at Lund University in Sweden.