I’ve given talks on four different continents at a wide array of locations: At corporations such as Nike, nonprofits such as science and art museums, schools, universities, national laboratories, and as a guest on numerous podcasts. I’ve given three TEDx talks and also led a Breakout Room at a fourth TEDx event. My presentations have been for literally every age group: young children, young adults, professionals, and retirees. I’ve also incorporated hands-on learning into some of my presentations, such as middle school girls building solar cells and small groups of curious and fun-loving adults learning the chemistry of cocktails. I’ve also contributed meaningfully to discussions of girls in science after teaching at an all-girls science camp in Saudi Arabia for two summers. Attendees enjoy hearing about my experiences, insight, and being a part of the discussion during engaging Q&A.

If you are interested in talking with me on your podcast or bringing me to your group as a speaker, please fill out the “Request for Speaking” form and let’s talk more!


Karen, whose specialty is in metals, shares about the discovery of metal-based anti-cancer drugs. She hopes to make the science behind this discovery approachable for audiences of all backgrounds, to learn about the barriers medical science face in becoming accessible to patients, and become energized about scientific discovery and innovation.

We are masters of feeling guilty every time we get distracted by our hobbies when we feel like we should be working.  But what if our hobbies are actually enhancing our careers? Bolstered by a recent scientific study, scientist and punk rocker Karen McFarlane Holman proposes a way for us to quickly dispel guilt and identify our strengths that we may not have recognized before.

Reversing climate change feels like pushing a boulder up a hill, and the obvious solution is to push harder. But could that approach be hindering us from reaching our goals of zero emissions? In this galvanizing talk, chemist Karen McFarlane Holman, Ph.D. challenges the status quo in how consumer products are made and lessons that we can learn from chemistry.

Chemistry Rockstar

Professor K Science

ASMR Chemistry

ASMR Chemistry

Lectures and Interviews

Join Karen McFarlane Holman, Professor of Chemistry at Willamette University, as she delves into the science of the 1930s in this final lecture of this four-part lecture series that is offered in conjunction with the “Forgotten Stories: Northwest Public Art in the 1930s” exhibition at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art.

For today’s conversation, Professor of Chemistry Karen McFarlane Holman ’90 is joined by Dara Wright. Dara is a Willamette University graduate from the Class of 1997 and currently serves as the EVP and President of the Clinical Diagnostics Group at Bio-Rad Laboratories. She is an experienced biotechnology leader with a demonstrated track record of commercial success in both research and clinical sectors.

Request For Speaking Form


SCIENCE: Karen is an expert on a wide variety of topics within the field of chemistry, especially renewable fuels, solar energy, medicinal chemistry, and astrochemistry. She has a gift for explaining complicated concepts to non-scientists.

SOCIETY: What is needed to empower young girls and women in STEM fields? What can we do to increase the percentages of women and other underrepresented groups in science and technology?

PERSONAL GROWTH: Is “work-life” balance possible? Talk to Karen about how she balances being an award-winning professor, scientific researcher, single mom to two children, prolific musician in two bands, podcaster, and YouTuber.

ADHD AND SUCCESS: Karen was diagnosed with ADHD as an adult and has chosen to medicate only lightly. Invite Karen to explain how she used these characteristics to her advantage to be an award-winning Ph.D. educator, researcher, podcaster, and musician.

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