0 Karen Torraca

Karen Torraca

Karen Toracca wearing read shirt and green blazer standing in front of purple backdrop.

Karen Torraca

Professor of Chemistry, Alan & Florence Johnson Distinguished Chair in Health Sciences

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.

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.


  • NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship | MIT
  • Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry | University of Florida
  • B.S. in Chemistry | Houghton College

Although I have loved many aspects of math and science since middle-school, I really connected with chemistry while taking organic chemistry during my sophomore year in college. It was one of the first classes that really challenged me, and also energized me. I was drawn in to the problem-solving approach and the process felt so rewarding. It was clear to me that God had wired me this way to do His work. Working as a process chemist at Eli Lilly and Company also allowed me to see how chemistry can be used to help people through the development of new drugs. Learning chemistry over the years has helped me to see how much chemistry is present in all of what we do on a daily basis. I teach chemistry to help open student’s eyes to this as well.

I am glad to have the opportunity to be back at Houghton as a professor since Houghton made such a large impact on my life as both a scientist and a Christian. I’m glad that I am able to share my experiences after Houghton with current students and help them to see the wide range of opportunities open to students with degrees in chemistry and biochemistry.

Courses Taught

  • CHEM 151 General Chemistry I
  • CHEM 241 Organic Chemistry I
  • CHEM 242 Organic Chemistry II
  • CHEM 278 Chemical Instrumentation in Research
  • CHEM 286 Chemistry Special Topics: Medicinal Chemistry
  • CHEM 343 Advanced Organic Chemistry
  • CHEM 142 Science and Society:  Nutrition and Health
  • CHEM 482/ BIOCHEM 480 Chemistry/Biochemistry Capstone Seminar
  • CHEM 392 Research in Chemistry
  • Summer Research Institute

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
This entry was posted in . Bookmark the permalink.