Faculty Profile for Dr. Karen Lewis

profile photo for Dr. Karen Lewis
Dr. Karen Lewis
Associate Professor — Chemistry and Biochemistry
phone: (512) 245-6391

Biography Section

Biography and Education

Dr. Karen A. Lewis is an Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Texas State University in San Marcos, TX.

Teaching Interests

In addition to formal courses, Dr. Lewis directs two undergraduate training programs, the NIH-funded Texas State U-RISE Program and NSF-supported CheMIE REU. Both programs prepare students from marginalized populations for graduate school and careers in the chemical and biomedical sciences through integrated laboratory research experiences and professional development.

Research Interests

Dr. Lewis' research interests focus on the specificity of interactions between biological macromolecules, in particular the protein-protein and protein-RNA assemblies that regulate translation. One of the Lewis Lab’s major projects is to characterize the structure and functions of the RNA-binding protein LaRP6 using a comparative phylogenetic-biochemical approach. A related project is an integrated biophysical analysis of the role of phase separation in regulating the function of nucleic acid-binding proteins, using both computational and experimental methods.

Selected Scholarly/Creative Work

  • Dock-Bregeon, A.-C., Lewis, K. A., & Conte, M. R. (2019). Structural Advances in La and La Related Proteins. RNA Biology. https://doi.org/10.1080/15476286.2019.1695712
  • Wilson, C., Lewis, K. A., Fitzkee, N. C., Hough, L. E., & Whitten, S. T. (2023). ParSe 2.0: A web tool to identify drivers of protein phase separation at the proteome level. Protein Science, 32(9). https://doi.org/doi: 10.1002/pro.4756
  • Ibrahim, A. Y., Khaodeuanepheng, N. P., Amarasekara, D. L., Correia, J. J., Lewis, K. A., Fitzkee, N. C., … Whitten, S. T. (2023). Intrinsically disordered regions that drive phase separation form a robustly distinct protein class. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 299(1), 102801. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbc.2022.102801
  • Paiz, E. A., Lewis, K. A., & Whitten, S. T. (2021). Structural and energetic characterization of the denatured state from the perspectives of peptides, the coil library, and intrinsically disordered proteins. Molecules, 26(3). https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules26030634
  • Lewis, K. A., & Luxford, C. J. (2020). Integrating Manipulatives and Animations to Visualize Holliday Junctions. CourseSource, 7. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.24918/cs.2020.37

Selected Awards

  • Award / Honor Recipient: College Achievement Award for Excellence in Service, Texas State University. September 1, 2022
  • Award / Honor Recipient: Foundations of Excellence, Texas State University Student Foundation. 2020
  • Award / Honor Recipient: Alpha Chi Favorite Professor, Alpha Chi Student Honor Society. 2018
  • Award / Honor Recipient: ABRCMS Judge Travel Award, ABRCMS/American Society for Microbiology. November 14, 2018 - November 18, 2018
  • Award / Honor Recipient: College Achievement Award for Excellence in Teaching, Texas State University. September 1, 2018

Selected Grants

  • Lewis, Karen A, Whitten, Steven T (Co-Principal), Hough, Loren (Co-Principal), Hodby, Eleanor (Co-Principal), Theodoropoulou, Nikoleta (Supporting), Close, Eleanor W (Supporting), Rangelov, Blagoy (Supporting), Islam, Tanzima Z (Supporting), Betancourt, Tania (Supporting), Berry, Joe (Supporting), Finklestein, Noah (Supporting), MacGregor, Meredith (Supporting), Brown, Jed (Supporting), Eaves, Joel (Supporting). Creating Equitable Pathways to STEM Graduate Education, Sloan Foundation, Private / Foundation / Corporate, $249299. (Submitted: September 2, 2022, Funded: January 2023 - Present). Grant.
  • Lewis, Karen A (Principal), Kerwin, Sean Michael (Co-Principal), Whitten, Steven T (Co-Principal), Kornienko, Alexander Vladimir (Supporting), Peterson, Ryan Loren (Supporting), Xue, Xiaoyu (Supporting). MRI: Acquisition of Automated Isothermal Titration Calorimeter for Biophysical Research at Texas State University, National Science Foundation, Federal, $262280. (Submitted: January 19, 2022, Funded: September 1, 2022 - August 31, 2025). Grant.
  • Lewis, Karen A (Principal), Luxford, Cynthia J (Co-Principal), Wheeler, Brittany Marie (Co-Principal), Webre, Whitney Ann (Co-Principal), Holland, Cory Lee (Co-Principal), Betancourt, Tania (Supporting), Brittain, William J (Supporting), Hudnall, Todd W (Supporting), Irvin, Jennifer A (Supporting), Kerwin, Sean Michael (Supporting), Kornienko, Alexander Vladimir (Supporting), Peterson, Ryan Loren (Supporting), Rhodes, Christopher Peter (Supporting). REU Site: A Chemistry REU on Molecular Innovation and Exploration (CheMIE), National Science Foundation, Federal, $378188. (Submitted: August 25, 2021, Funded: April 15, 2022 - Present). Grant.
  • Lewis, Karen A (Principal), Kerwin, Sean Michael (Co-Principal), McLean, Robert J C (Co-Principal), Chang, Carolyn T (Supporting), David, Wendi M (Supporting). U-RISE at Texas State, National Institutes of Health - National Institute of General Medical Sciences, Federal, $2238578. (Funded: April 1, 2021 - March 31, 2026). Grant.
  • Lewis, Karen A (Principal). Molecular Mechanisms of RNA Binding by the Posttranscriptional Regulator LARP6, National Institutes of Health - National Institute of General Medical Studies, Federal, $460000. (Submitted: February 26, 2018, Funded: September 1, 2019 - August 31, 2022). Grant.

Selected Service Activities

Department Chair Search Committee
December 2023-Present
Gibbs Society for Biological Thermodynamics
January 1, 2023-Present
Political Affairs Advisory Committee, American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
July 2022-Present
Texas State U-RISE Program
April 1, 2021-Present
Scholarship Committee
September 2020-Present