Dr. Karen James

Karen James is a staff scientist in Environmental Science and Marine Conservation at the MDI BioLab where she works at the intersection of research, education, and outreach to adapt DNA-assisted species identification for use in citizen science projects. She’s passionate about helping people understand and manage the environmental changes caused by humans. She is co-founder and director of the HMS Beagle Trust, a nonprofit that aims to build a replica of the 90-foot wooden ship on which Charles Darwin conducted research that led to the theory of evolution; once built – the ship will become a floating laboratory! She has a Ph.D. in Genetics from the University of Washington and was once in the running to become an astronaut. 

LLLogoIRW creates worksheets to supplement the books or themes we bring to life in the classroom, and provide these worksheets to teachers and students to use in preparation for their school visit. Here are some worksheet links for topics near-and-dear to Dr. James’s heart:

Exploration – Charles Darwin, adventures in space, discovery
The Tremendous Tree worksheet

 Past programs:

Darwin and the Voyage of the HMS Beagle at Whiting Village School  (May 26, 2015)

It’s all about careful observation! Read the blog.

Jonesport, Milbridge (September & October 2013): K-2 STEM Learning Program.
Dr. James used The Tremendous Tree Book as a portal to inspire and nurture the imaginative spirit, and enhance critical thinking and problem solving skills. This program consisted of two visits (each) to Milbridge and Jonesport Elementary Schools where budding scientists read about trees, collected leaves, identified trees in their neighborhoods, and put together an herbarium. The Tremendous Tree Book is an informative book that features cut-paper collage and a pair of cheerful woodland animals sharing information about trees. “The book is a beauty and it can increase the reader’s awareness of how important trees are to all life,” said Publishers’ Weekly.


Lubec, Machias, and Machiasport, ME (October 22 – 25, 2012).
Dr. Karen James talked with kids about science and facilitated a hands-on science project focusing on trees. Each program involved carefully selected books and included a series of book-related activities for students to participate in prior to the visit. Dr. James talked about what it’s like to be a scientist and worked with the students to create herbarium samples like those used in museums around the world.  The children were very excited to meet and work with a “real” scientist and participate in a real-life scientific project. The connections made were exciting and full of discovery and insight, whether it was using field guides to identify their samples, asking Dr. James questions about her work as a scientist, or reveling in their new gift The Tremendous Tree Book by Barbara Brenner and May Garelick.