Teresa Karjala (Plumley)

Teresa Karjala
  • BS Chemical Engineering 1987

Teresa Karjala (Plumley) graduated from Michigan Tech in 1987 with a BS in Chemical Engineering and from the University of Delaware in 1992 with a PhD, also in chemical engineering.

Teresa felt at home when she visited Michigan Tech for the first time, with an immediate connection to the scenic beauty of the UP and Keweenaw Peninsula. The full tuition scholarship that MTU offered sealed the decision where she would attend college and set the successful trajectory for her career. Teresa was the first in her family to attend college and graduate school. At Michigan Tech, Teresa was a member of Phi Eta Sigma, Phi Lambda Upsilon National Chemical Honor Society, and the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society. She was also the recipient of numerous scholarships and awards. 

“I am extremely grateful for my years at Michigan Tech,” Teresa said. “MTU prepared me well both academically but also in the practical aspects of engineering and taught me to persevere even when a problem or challenge seemed unsolvable.”

Currently, Teresa is an R&D fellow at Dow in the Packaging and Specialty Plastics business and is based in Lake Jackson, Texas, leading product development of advanced grades of polyethylene. In addition to her day to day work, Teresa coaches individuals and teams, and is a member of multiple Dow cross-functional teams. She is the recipient of several awards, including being made a Fellow of the Society of Plastics Engineers, the R&D 100 Award and the ACS Award for Team Innovation, as well as Dow awards for technology improvements and the Dow Gulf Coast Scientists Excellence in Science Award.  She is an inventor on over 100 U.S. patents and over 80 European patents and has published over 90 external presentations, conference papers, and journal articles.

Teresa is active in several professional organizations including the Society of Plastics Engineers, the American Chemical Society, the Society of Rheology, and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. She has served as a member of the Michigan Tech Chemical Engineering External Advisory Board for the past two years and is a continuing supporter of the Department of Chemical Engineering, along with her husband, Thomas, also of the MTU class of 1987.

“I feel it is important to stay engaged with Michigan Tech to give back to the University that has helped me so much, as well as to share wisdom that I have gathered along the way through my internships, graduate school, and industrial career with the chemical engineering department and with the current students,” she explained.

Teresa will be inducted into the Michigan Tech Presidential Council of Alumnae in September 2023.

Updated August 2023