Karen Engates

Honors College Senior Lecturer, Honors College

Karen Engates


Languages: English, some Spanish

I was born in Thailand and grew up moving multiple times as part of a military family, so home has been wherever I want to make it. I spent much time outdoors and have wonderful memories of camping growing up. After graduating from Winston Churchill High School (San Antonio), I attended Texas Christian University and earned a BS and MS in Environmental Science with a specialization in GIS and forestry applications. I was a work-study student for the TCU Biology Department, a science educator for the Fort Worth Museum of Science, did a summer internship for NASA-Goddard Space Flight Center researching phytoplankton blooms using satellite imagery, and was a tour guide, educator, and camp counselor at SeaWorld. Always wanting to know more about the outdoors, these experiences prompted me to attend UTSA to get my composite science teaching certificate for grades 6-12 while also working as an HEB Science Treehouse Intern at the Witte Museum and waitressing to pay off undergraduate student loans. I then taught at Colleyville Heritage HS (FTW), Ronald Reagan HS, and Kitty Hawk Middle School (both SA) and taught summer school science camps at San Antonio Military Academy because my enjoyment of opening others’ eyes to the wonder of our environment was definitely taking hold. Ten years, two cats, a husband, and two children later, I went back to UTSA to earn a Ph.D. in Environmental Science & Engineering researching metal oxide nanoparticles for drinking water treatment as related to e-waste. Upon graduation, I stuck around UTSA to teach environmental coursework for 8 years, then took a 3-yr hiatus as Visiting Assistant Professor of Environmental Science at the University of Incarnate Word. During my hiatus, I was asked to come aboard the Honors College as an adjunct and I have never looked back! I have enjoyed being a UTSA Honors College adjunct faculty member for several years in tutorials (Sustainability, Environment), student mentoring, ELF judge, study abroad (Costa Rica), and creating the study away Trailblazing the National Parks course. I have ‘returned to the nest’ to begin teaching Academic Inquiry & Scholarship (AIS) for UTSA beginning in Fall 2021 and am proud to be a Roadrunner. Join me on a hike sometime – getting away from technology and into the outdoors will do us all a world of good!

My favorite thing about teaching Honors College students is their zest for life and learning! I enjoy the time preparing for my interactions because the learning is reciprocated. I gain new appreciation for topics I am familiar with after hearing their fresh perspectives and it makes me want to do more to continue the conversation.

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