Dr Karen Stroobants is a researcher, policy adviser and consultant on research policy and strategy, with a focus on research culture. She manages a portfolio of activities, combining roles as (part-time) lead policy advisor on research landscape & economy for the Royal Society of Chemistry (the professional body for chemical scientists in the UK) and as freelance consultant, focusing most recently on: contributing to the drafting of a European agreement on research assessment reform with DG-RTD, Science Europe and EUA; and providing expert advice on the European project towards Standard Operating Procedures for Research Integrity (SOPs4RI).
Previously, she was a Research Leader at RAND Europe, where she took the lead on a range of projects in the ‘research on research’ space, including development of a research strategy for a government authority and evaluation of policy measures. Before joining RAND, she worked in several policy advisory roles, for the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Royal Society (the UK’s National Academy of Science), leading work in the areas of open science, sustainability and research culture. During her time at the Royal Society, she developed the Resumé for Researchers, a version of which has since been introduced by UKRI and the adoption of which was included in the UK Government’s R&D People and Culture Strategy.
Karen moved to the UK initially to conduct research on the molecular basis of Alzheimer’s disease in the Dobson group at the University of Cambridge for which she received a Marie Sklodowska-Curie fellowship and a Raymond & Beverly Sackler By-Fellowship from Churchill College in Cambridge. She received praise for this work from Nobel Laureate Sir John Walker during her participation at the Lindau Nobel Laureates meeting in 2017. Karen obtained her PhD in chemistry, for which she received a fellowship from the Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO), at the Laboratory of Bioinorganic Chemistry, KU Leuven in Belgium in 2015.
Throughout her career, Karen has been an advocate for improving research culture with the aim to increase the impact of research and enable better communication of research findings to inform policy decisions. She co-founded, together with Frances Downey, the research culture platform MetisTalk, a space for discussion of new ideas to improve research practice. Since 2020, she is a Board Member of the Marie Curie Alumni Association and advises on the association’s policy work and strategic direction.
She is passionate about the importance of inclusive work cultures. In this context, she was invited to join a conversation among leaders on gender equality at Shaping Horizons 2019 and as a participant of the 2018 Women and Global Leadership Forum at Trinity College, University of Cambridge after being featured earlier in 2018 as one of the Cambridge women campaigning for gender equality.