Karla Heidelberg

Professor of the Practice of Biological Sciences and Environmental Studies
Karla Heidelberg

Center, Institute & Lab Affiliations

  • Department of Biology, University of Maryland, College Park, (2001-2004) Adjunct Research Scientist
  • Hood College, Frederick, MD, (2002-2003) Adjunct Teaching Faculty
  • J. Craig Venter Institute, (2006-2010) Adjunct Research Scientist
  • Wrigley Institute of Marine Studies, (2006- present) Resident Faculty


Karla Heidelberg is a Professor of the Practice in the Department of Biology and the Program in Environmental Studies. She currently serves as the Director of USC Sea Grant Program and as a Director for Development of Dornsife College RTPC Faculty in the Natural and Social Sciences Divisions. Her research focuses on the distribution and function of marine microbes and zooplankton. She splits her time between University Park campus and the USC Wrigley Marine Science Center on Catalina Island.  

In the past she has been a Program Director for the National Science Foundation Office of Polar Programs, the Global Program Coordinator for the J. Craig Venter Institute, and a Science and Policy AAAS Fellow at the US Department of State in the Office of Oceans Affairs.  


  • Ph.D. Marine-Estuarine Environmental Science (Conc: Biological Oceanography), University of Maryland, College Park, 1999
  • B.A. (Honors) Individualized Major, Maryville College, TN, 1988
    • Department of Biology Post-Doctoral Fellow, University of Maryland, College Park, 06/1999-08/2001
    • National Science Foundation (NSF) Director’s Award for Superior Accomplishment, Fall 2022
    • Maryville College Alumni Citation Award, Fall 2021
    • USC Center for Excellence in Teaching, Faculty Fellow, 2017-2018
    • USC Associates Award For Excellence In Teaching, 2017
    • US National Academies Education Fellow in the Life Sciences , 2016-2017
    • USC or School/Dept Award for Teaching, Steven B. Sample Teaching and Mentoring Award, 2012-2013
    • Superior Honor Award, US Department of State, 2004
    • Meritorious Honor Award, US Department of State, 2003
    • Maryville College Kin Takahashi Award for Young Alumni, 2001
  • Editorships and Editorial Boards

    • Editorial Board, Microbiome, 2012 – 2019
    • Associate Editor, Frontiers in Aquatic Microbiology, 2010 – 2019
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