Karen Torraca joined the faculty at Houghton in the fall of 2007 after working as a senior research scientist at Eli Lilly and Company in Indianapolis for five and a half years. She holds a BS in chemistry from Houghton College and the PhD in Organic Chemistry from the University of Florida. She also has held a NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship at MIT with Prof. Stephen Buchwald, researching palladium-catalyzed carbon-oxygen bond formation. As a result of her diverse experiences in academia and the pharmaceutical industry, she has developed an interest in researching environmentally-friendly synthetic organic methodologies which can be applied to the synthesis of active pharmaceutical compounds at large scale.
In addition, Dr. Torraca is interested in elucidating mechanisms and understanding side-product formation in developed synthetic methodologies. She is glad to have the opportunity to be back at Houghton as a professor. She says, “Houghton made such a large impact on my life as both a scientist and a Christian, I’m glad God gave me the opportunity to pass some of that along to future students.”
Dr. Torraca enjoys cooking, hiking, and rock collecting but spends most of her free time enjoying her twins, Warren and Nicole. Dr. Torraca is also extremely thankful for her husband, Peter, who currently stays home with the children.
Currently Dr. Torraca teaches courses in General Chemistry I (lecture), Organic Chemistry I and II (lecture and lab), Chemical Instrumentation in Research (lecture and lab), and Advanced Organic Chemistry.
Current research interests are in the area of the development of green synthetic methodologies. The ultimate goal is to develop methods that not only reduce environmental impact, but are also robust enough to be implemented at large scale where the greatest impact can be achieved.