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Meet Karen Wheeler

Meet Karen Wheeler, physician and long distance runner!

Hi, I'm Karen Wheeler!

What do you work on?

I am an obstetrician-gynecologist. I do a multitude of tasks on a daily basis including seeing patients in the office, managing inpatients, performing surgeries, and delivering babies. I am most interesting in diagnosing and treating patients with infertility which involves thinking through all of the steps of conceiving a baby and where the process could have gone wrong. I don’t necessarily use complex chemistry on a daily basis, but the problem-solving skills I learned while studying chemistry are invaluable.

How did you become interested in chemistry, and what did you study?

I became interested in chemistry in high school because of an amazing high school teacher. I also loved reading the blurbs in the textbooks about how chemistry, and specifically biochemistry, was being used to improve medical care. I studied chemistry in college and became involved in research. I eventually figured out that I wanted to be involved in the process of bringing new discoveries to patients as a physician.

What do you do for fun in your spare time?

I am a long distance runner and compete in marathons and half marathons. I also love to explore the outdoors whether it’s by biking, hiking, or kayaking! Of course after all of that exercise you have to top it off with a great meal!
Exploring Napa Valley by bike

What's your one piece of advice for people interested in chemistry?

Follow your interests. You may not know where life will lead you, but if you follow your passion you will find a way to make a difference in the world.
Hiking on Mount Lemmon in Tucson, Arizona

Want to join the conversation?

  • blobby green style avatar for user Lynette
    I don't understand how you went from Chemistry research to OB/GYN. Did you go to medical school after your BS in Chemistry? If so, how long did it take?
    (1 vote)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user ladennis937
    Hey, Karen. It has always been a dream of mine to become an obstetrician. I love the thought of working on/with people who are bringing life into the world. I was wondering how long it took you? What courses did you go through? What did you major in before med school? I would love any feedback you have to offer.
    (0 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user tazhanelunn
    Do you ever have to break chemical compounds down in your field? How often would I use chemistry in my field?
    (0 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user srbrown869
    Hi Karen, I am a student at Mayo High School and taking Chemistry II. Your field of work is very interesting and may be something I am interested going in to. But first I have a few questions: How long were you in school? What are the type or kind of chemical bounds mainly used in the disinfectants that are used when cleaning the patients and tools? What are the most important chemicals used in the drugs used to attack an infection in a patient? Any feed back would be great, thank you!!
    (0 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user nortonkaleigh
    Hi Karen! I am a senior in high school and I am going to go into the medical field when I graduate from college. I am going to be a nurse, and I was wondering how, and if you, use chemistry in your daily routine, and would you know if I would use the same chemistry in my daily routine as a nurse?
    (0 votes)
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