Karen Plaut joined Purdue University as Director of Ag Research Programs and Associate Dean of the College of Agriculture on June 1, 2010. She was Chair of the Department of Animal Science at Michigan State University (MSU) from January 2005 – June 2010. She came from the University of Vermont (UVM), where she was chair and professor in the Department of Animal Science. She holds a B.S. in animal science from UVM, an M.S. in animal nutrition from Pennsylvania State University and a Ph.D. in animal science from Cornell University and completed her postdoctoral studies at the National Cancer Institute at the NIH. Dr. Plaut joined the faculty at UVM as an Assistant Professor in 1990 where she was engaged in research and teaching. Her research focused on the endocrine regulation of mammary development and she taught classes in reproductive biology, endocrinology, and lactation. During this time, she also got involved in a research project with NASA. In 1998, she took a two-year leave of absence from UVM to be the lead scientist for NASA’s Biological Research Project for the International Space Station where she was in charge of testing and design of life science habitats. In 2000, she went back to UVM as the Chair of the Department of Animal Science where she was instrumental in developing a research focus for the department in lactation and mammary gland biology.
As Chair of the Department of Animal Science at MSU, Dr. Plaut hired 10 new tenure stream faculty of which 60% are diverse. New faculty have brought in $5.5 M in research funding since 2007. In addition, she helped develop a new multi-million dollar pasture based robotic milking research center to stimulate rural revitalization with funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. She has an active research program in mammary gland biology. She has published over 50 scientific articles in refereed journals, 70 abstracts and has 2 patents. She has been on 21 thesis committees and has obtained approximately $4 M in funding from USDA, NSF, NASA-NIH and others. Dr. Plaut received the 1997 Joseph E. Carrigan Teaching Award, Candis Perrault Research Award, 2000 Agway Inc ADSA Young Scientist Award, 2002 Hub Vogelman Scholarship Award, 2004 Finley Memorial Award and at MSU she was awarded the 2007 Outstanding Supervisor Award. She has served on peer review panels for NIH, NIEHS, USDA, DOD and is on the editorial board for the Journal of Mammary Gland Biology and Neoplasia and serves on the Board of Directors for the American Dairy Science Association.