College of Science

Karolina Mukhtar appointed chair of Department of Biological Sciences


After a competitive national search, Karolina Mukhtar, Ph.D., has been appointed chair of the Clemson University Department of Biological Sciences, effective July 1.

Mukhtar joins Clemson from the University of Alabama at Birmingham where she is currently a professor and chair of the Department of Biology.

Karolina brings extensive experience and a passion for the modern student-centric public R1 university. I look forward to her leadership of Biological Sciences as we accelerate science and elevate Clemson.


Mukhtar is a broadly trained molecular plant biologist with over 20 years of experience studying various aspects of plant genetics and stress biology using genetic and biochemical approaches.

She was awarded the 2019 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) for her study to uncover how plants recognize an important signature of infection — toxic unfolded proteins — and mount appropriate responses with potential in crop improvement. The award also recognized her deep involvement in outreach, notably a citizen-science based community garden.

Mukhtar directs an active research program focused on endoplasmic reticulum signaling under environmental stress utilizing artificial intelligence and machine learning that has received federal funding from the National Science Foundation, including an NSF CAREER award.

Additionally, she has significant experience in mentoring students at the K-12, undergraduate and graduate levels. Mukhtar is also passionate about science outreach and especially attuned to the needs of first-generation biology majors, providing them access to early educational opportunities, increasing retention and graduation rates.

In 2019, she was recognized with both the UAB President’s and the College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching. In 2022, Mukhtar was honored with the UAB’s Graduate Dean’s Award for Excellence in Mentorship for her efforts in teaching and mentoring graduate students and postdocs.

Clemson is a special place with people eager to contribute and excel in meaningful ways through student mentoring, top-notch scholarship and collaborations that strengthen Clemson’s land grant mission and strategic plan. I look forward to building on our academic, research and outreach excellence to foster a welcoming and inclusive environment for developing the next generation of STEM leaders. I am honored and greatly humbled to have been asked to join the Clemson Family.

Woman (Karolina Mukhtar) with shoulder length hair, parted in the center, wearing a blazer, blouse with a mock neck, and a Tiger Paw pendent on her blazer lapel.

Prior to her tenure at UAB, Dr. Mukhtar served as a postdoctoral fellow in Duke University’s Department of Biology and at the Max-Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in the Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics in Cologne, Germany.

Mukhtar earned her Ph.D. in plant genetics from the Max-Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research at the University of Cologne Institute for Genetics. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology and environmental science from the University of Stettin in Poland.

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