Karen Head

Dr. Head is Missouri S&T's Director of the Center for Creativity & Innovation, Professor of English and Technical Communication, Editor of the Atlanta Review, Poet Laureate of Fulton County, Georgia, and Visiting Scholar and Artist at Technische-Universität-Dortmund. She has an A.A. from DeKalb College, a B.A. from Oglethorpe University, an M.A. from the University of Tennessee, and a Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska.

Overview and Research Interests

Head’s background in and advocation of the liberal arts and humanities is the foundation for her work, something she has balanced successfully with being part of institutions most known for their STEM profiles. Her scholarly output spans several disciplinary lines, often as interdisciplinary work, to include work in the fine arts, education, social science, and broad-based humanities. She joined S&T in 2021 after seventeen years on the faculty at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Her work connects three main areas of scholarship, all within the general areas of creativity, writing, and rhetoric. She was part of a team awarded a Gates Foundation grant to develop a MOOC on college writing, and has presented and published widely about the experience. Her scholarship about higher education rhetoric, especially in the area of technology-based pedagogical practices, has been internationally recognized, and she has been invited to speak at a variety of national and international events.

Head is also a writing/communication center scholar, and has been an active member in the International Writing Center Association and the Southeastern Writing Center Association. As the founding director of the Naugle Communication Center at the Georgia Tech, a state-of-the-art research and student support center, she has been frequently consulted about writing/communication center design, redesign, theory, and practice, again focusing on the area of technology-based pedagogy. From 2015-2018, Head was the editor of Southern Discourse in the Center: A Journal of Multiliteracy and Innovation.

As a creative writer and editor, Head's primary focus is poetry, but her work extends beyond traditional boundaries to include digital poetry projects that explore the intersections of traditional text-based poetry and digitally-enhanced poetry, with attention to questions about how to introduce a broad audience to a rich, new field of hybrid art that is textual, visual, oral, and digital (and in some cases, even kinesthetic). She also publishes creative non-fiction. Like her work in higher education rhetoric, her creative work has had a global impact—through the content and through its reception. Her most recent collection, Lost on Purpose, has been translated into Mandarin and was published in 2021 by Showwe Books in Taiwan. This translation collaboration is an extension of her selection to participate as a featured poet at the 2019 Formosa Poetry Festival. Lost on Purpose was a finalist for the 2020 Georgia Author of the Year Award, and one of the poems in the collection, “Proximity,” was chosen by former U.S. Poet Laureate, Ted Kooser, for inclusion in his American Life in Poetry column, which has a readership of 4.6 million. In 2020, she co-edited an anthology of work about the Virgin Mary in popular culture, Mother Mary Comes to Me. All the proceeds from this collection will be donated to the fund to restore Black churches in the American South destroyed by arson. Forthcoming in 2022 is Perspective: New and Selected Poems, which will be a trilingual edition (German, French, and English). 

Since 2016, she has served at the Editor of the award-winning, international poetry journal, Atlanta Review.

Overall, Head’s work integrates writing, communication, and rhetoric with a commitment to interdisciplinarity, diversity, and a global focus—the results of which have had international impact through my publications, presentations, teaching, and service.

Head is extremely active in community service—serving as the Chair of the Oglethorpe University Museum Board, as a member of the Georgia State University Perimeter College Advisory Board, and as the Secretary of the Poetry Atlanta Board. She also serves as the Waffle House Poet Laureate, a title that reflects her outreach program to use the arts to encourage students in rural high schools to consider paths toward college, a distinction that has received extensive media coverage, including in The Chronicle of Higher Education and the Poetry Foundation. In 2019, she was honored with the Georgia Tech Outstanding Service Award, the highest award in service granted by the institute. In 2020, she was named the inaugural Fulton County (Georgia) Poet Laureate, representing the 1.1 million residents of the county and the City of Atlanta. 

Media about Dr. Head’s Work

Select Publications

  • Disrupt This!: MOOCs and the Promises of Technology. UP of New England, 2017.
  • Perspective: New and Selected Poems, in English, German, and French (forthcoming in 2022)
  • Lost on Purpose. Iris Press, 2019.
  • Lost on Purpose (translation into Mandarin by Lee Kuei-shien). Showwe Books, 2021.
  • Mother Mary Comes to Me: A Pop Culture Poetry Anthology. Eds. Karen Head and Collin Kelley. Madville Press, 2020.
  • Teaching as a Human Experience: An Anthology of Poetry. Eds. Karen Head and Patrick Blessinger. Cambridge Scholars Press, 2015.
  • On Occasion: Four Poets, One Year, with Blake Leland, JC Reilly, and Robert E. Wood. Poetry Atlanta Press, 2014.
  • Sassing. WordTech Editions, 2009.
  • My Paris Year. Winner of the 2008 Editor’s Choice Award for Excellence in Poetry. All Nations Press, 2009.
  • Shadow Boxes: Poems and Prose Poems. All Nations Press, 2003.

Center Members

All faculty, staff, students and alumni, as well as industry and government partners who work at the intersection of technology and creativity (in arts-related fields such as design and performance) are welcome to affiliate with the Center for Creativity and Innovation. Current members and their projects are featured below. If you’re interested in affiliating with the center, please contact the director.

Michael Behle

Michael Behle, an artist, curator, educator and community arts worker, is associate chair of art and design and interim director of Gallery 210@FAB at the University of Missouri-St. Louis (UMSL). Behle’s work has been widely exhibited both across the U.S. and internationally. He is a fellow of Vermont Studio Center and the Community Arts Training Program, offered through the Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis. In 2012, Behle founded Paul Artspace, a residency program, and in 2014 he co-founded Museum Blue, a project space. Both organizations are in St. Louis. To learn more about Behle, visit his website.

Amy Belfi

Dr. Amy Belfi is assistant professor of psychological science at Missouri S&T. Her work covers a broad range of areas in the fields of music and autobiographical memory, musical imagery, aesthetic judgments of music, and musical anhedonia, which refers to the reduced ability to experience pleasure. Her work in the Music Cognition and Aesthetics Lab examines how music influences our thoughts, feelings and behaviors. To investigate the topics she is researching, Belfi uses a combination of behavioral studies, neuroimaging and psychophysiology. To learn more about Belfi, visit her website.

Jessica Frame

Jessica Frame is a Missouri S&T junior in biology, minoring in chemistry and psychology with an emphasis in cognitive neuroscience, the subject in which she plans to pursue a Ph.D. In the summer of 2022 she completed an internship at the Boys Town National Institute for Human Neuroscience, where she analyzed and presented data on motor oscillatory differences among children with varying degrees of hearing abilities. She works as a research assistant for Dr. Amy Belfi, assistant professor of psychological science, in the Music Cognition and Aesthetics Lab, and for Dr. Jessica Cundiff, associate professor of psychological science, in the Subtle Bias Lab.

Elizabeth Roberson

Elizabeth Roberson is assistant teaching professor of English and technical communications at Missouri S&T. She helps undergraduate students improve their written and visual communication skills; she also helps them develop software skills through the use of technologies including Adobe InDesign, Google Docs and Camtasia. In addition to writing and co-writing several articles for referenced publications and presenting at academic conferences, Roberson received the 2021 teaching award from the College of Arts, Science and Business (CASB), now the College of Arts, Sciences, and Education (CASE), at Missouri S&T.

Robin Verble

Dr. Robin Verble is associate professor of biological sciences at Missouri S&T, where she is also director of the Ozark Research Field Station and environmental science degree program. Her research examines the intersection of humans and their environments; her interests include wildland fires, wildland firefighter safety and mentorship at field stations. She also serves as director of S&T’s art of science summer camp, which engages students in scientific concepts via artistic pursuits conducted through a variety of media. To learn more about Verble, visit her website.

Kyle Wernke

Dr. Kyle Wernke is assistant professor of music, director of orchestras and composer-in-residence at Missouri S&T. Wernke is a composer and conductor whose work was described by composer Douglas Knehans as “ … exemplifying all that is right with quality new music.” His 2017 work, “Burst,” won the American Prize in Composition in 2022. His 2021 cantata, “Da Vinci at the River,” was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in music. In 2022, the College of Arts, Sciences, and Education (CASE) at Missouri S&T honored him with an award for innovative teaching.