Dr. Karen Purcell was born and educated in Troy, NY. She attained her Bachelors in Biology Magna cum laude from Pace University. She then spent a year at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute working on a masters in molecular biology, as librarian at WRPI, the campus radio station, and in the box office at RPI Players. She graduated with the Class of 1992 from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell, the only veterinary school in the United States with a theatre troupe.
Dr. Purcell has worked as an associate veterinarian in New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and North Carolina. She was also active in the effort to legalize ferret ownership in the state of Massachusetts. This led to becoming president, newsletter contributor, and advisor to the Massachusetts Ferret Friends, Inc (MaFF) for several years. In 1996, she spent her spare time writing her first book, Essentials of Ferrets: A Guide for Practitioners for AAHA Press. She has also been a columnist for Modern Ferret magazine, the American Ferret Association (AFA) newsletter, and the Ferretwise Shelter newsletter. Currently, she is an independent contractor providing relief services to veterinary practices in North Carolina as well as being part of the Chewy family.
Dr. Purcell currently lives with her husband Denis, two dogs, and two cats. When she is not working with animals, she spends her time reading, gardening, and running science fiction conventions.