Karen L. Buchmueller Faculty and Staff Chemistry Furman University

Karen Buchmueller graduated from The College of Wooster with a B.A. in chemistry and a minor in biology. She then pursued her Ph.D. in chemistry, with a specialization in biochemistry at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She worked in the lab of Dr. Kevin M. Weeks to characterize the folding of functional RNA. She also had her first experience teaching biochemistry as a GAANN fellow at UNC and realized her passion for teaching. After completing her doctorate, she was a Dreyfus Postdoctoral Fellowship at Furman University working with Dr. Moses Lee and Dr. W. David Wilson (Georgia State University) on the biophysical characterization of novel polyamides that selectively bind DNA.

After completing her postdoc, Dr. Buchmueller was hired as an Assistant Professor at Wake Forest University in the Chemistry Department. Later, she returned to Furman in 2007 as the department's biochemist. In 2014, she was named the Henry Keith and Ellen Hard Townes Associate Professor. She is also the co-director of the NSF-REU program in the Chemistry Department at Furman University.

Name Title Description


Seminar in Chemistry

Seminars presented based on current literature. Presentations include articles detailing the application of chemical principles and techniques to the natural environment. Surveys of assigned journals are presented individually; more detailed presentations are made by small groups working as teams. Topics include: coverage of recent important developments, global awareness of the application of chemistry to the natural world, experience in making scientific presentations, and encouragement of good literature reading habits.


Foundations of Chemistry

Introduction to the principles of chemistry. Topics include: atomic and molecular structure and chemical bonding, stoichiometry, properties of the states of matter, and energetics of chemical reactions with emphasis on problem solving, conceptual understanding, and analytical reasoning. Laboratory focuses on quantitative measurements and interpretation of data.


Biological Chemistry

Analysis of biochemical systems from a rigorously-chemical viewpoint. Topics include: the chemical properties of biological macromolecules, enzyme kinetics and thermodynamics, reaction mechanisms in metabolic pathways, and structural and functional aspects of gene expression. Laboratories involve contemporary methods in biochemistry including high-resolution gel electrophoresis and enzyme kinetic assays.


Advanced Biological Chemistry

Advanced topics in bio-organic chemistry, mostly related to enzymes, kinetics and coenzymes, as well as detailed discussion of nucleic acid chemistry/bio-chemistry, molecular aspects of genetics, and gene control. Laboratory includes isolation and purification of enzymes, determination of DNA structures, DNA sequencing, and individual mini-projects.


Undergraduate Research

Laboratory research of an original nature is conducted under the direct supervision of chemistry faculty. Oral presentation and formal paper required.


Graduate Seminar in Chemistry

Students present seminars based on current literature. Surveys of assigned journals are presented individually; more detailed presentations are made by small groups.



Original laboratory research



Master's thesis


Metabolic Biochemistry

Exploration of the chemical principles that underlie basic physiological processes, with a focus on the action and regulation of enzymes that function in major metabolic pathways and maintain homeostasis. These principles will be applied to understand and solve problems in human health.

The Buchmueller research group is investigating how proteins interact with DNA. We are particularly interested in the HMGA family of proteins, which are linked to cancer metastasis. These proteins are intrinsically disordered and have been difficult to characterize, but there are a variety of biophysical techniques that have provided insight into the molecular nature of how these proteins interact with DNA. It has been long known that HMGA proteins bind the minor groove of AT rich DNA using AT hook motifs. Much of our research utilizes peptides that mimic AT hook motifs, so we can use biophysical techniques to understand the interactions between these AT hooks and DNA. Specifically, we have used isothermal titration microcalorimetry (ITC) to characterize the effects of salt, temperature and DNA sequence on AT hook interactions with DNA.

Buchmuller research, figure 1

For a variety of reasons, including the disordered structure of these proteins, it is difficult to develop therapeutic targets against HMGA proteins. We seek to better characterize the interactions with DNA so that a therapeutic model can be developed. For example, we are looking at the competition between small molecules and the peptide mimics at the molecular level to gain insight.

Buchmueller research, figure 2

Students in the Buchmueller lab will use a variety of biophysical, bioanalytical and molecular biology techniques to understand how small molecules and/or proteins interact with DNA.

Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
B.A., College of Wooster

Connect with Admission

Furman is one of the nation's premier liberal arts and sciences universities. We offer our students The Furman Advantage—an over-arching approach to education that promises every student a four-year personalized pathway, a team of advisors and mentors, and the opportunity for an engaged learning experience that is tracked and integrated with the students' academic and professional goals.

Want more information about the admission process at Furman?

Contact us

Once you see our campus, making the right college decision will be so much easier.

Plan a visit

Undergraduate Evening Studies provides adults the opportunity to receive an education from one of the premier liberal arts universities in the nation.

Whether you are starting or continuing your education, or have been away from the classroom for a few months or several years, our program provides many services to assist you with accomplishing your educational and professional goals.

Apply now

Our graduate studies program is designed for the professional educator.

We know the challenges teachers and administrators face every day, and we are committed to helping you become a leader within your school system or district.

Apply now
  • Furman University