Karen Nordell Pearson honored with Outstanding Alumni Award from Iowa State University’s Department of Chemistry

September 30, 2021

Karen Nordell PearsonKaren Nordell Pearson, an award-winning educator, researcher and educational-outreach expert, will receive the Outstanding Alumni Award from the Department of Chemistry at a ceremony on Thursday, October 21, 2021 in Ames, Iowa. The award recognizes outstanding alumni from the Department of Chemistry in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Iowa State.

Pearson taught at several colleges, including Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, and Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin. An outstanding leader, she earned many awards for her teaching, student-faculty collaborative research and innovative programming, which engaged young women in math and science.

After joining Hope College in Holland, Michigan, as an associate professor of chemistry, Pearson later served as the college’s associate dean of teaching and learning, as well as interim provost. Pearson was named program director for Research Experiences Across Cultures at Hope (REACH), which provides summer research opportunities for underserved high school students. She also served as director of the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Midwest Consortium for Math and Science.

Pearson is currently the president of Kids Hope USA. This nationally recognized, faith-based program partners elementary schools with churches and trains volunteers who are paired with children who need caring, reliable mentors. 

Pearson earned her Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry from Iowa State and her bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.

About the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Iowa State University is a world-class learning and research community. As Iowa State’s most academically diverse college, LAS educates students to become global citizens, providing rigorous academic programs in the sciences, humanities and social sciences within a supportive personalized learning environment. For more information, visit LAS.iastate.edu.


College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Iowa State University
Contact: Amy Juhnke, LAS communications director
Phone: 515.294.0461
Email: ajuhnke@iastate.edu