Purdue University’s College of Agriculture has an official dean at the helm again. You can remove the term “interim” from Karen Plaut’s title. Jay Akridge, Purdue provost, made the official announcement. It follows a nationwide search by a committee of 19 Purdue staff and community members, headed by Willie Reed, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine. Three finalists, including Plaut, went through intense interviews on campus.
“Karen brings a tremendous amount of leadership experience to the dean position and will draw from her previous roles as senior associate dean of research and faculty affairs, and director of agricultural research for Purdue,” Akridge says. She played a major role in establishing the Indiana Corn and Soybean Innovation Center at the Agronomy Center for Research and Education near West Lafayette, Ind.
Formerly, Plaut has served as chairwoman of the department of animal sciences at Michigan State University and the University of Vermont. She also has served as lead scientist for the NASA International Space Station biological research project.
Plaut began her education at the University of Vermont, earning a bachelor’s degree in animal science. She received a master’s degree from Penn State University and a doctorate degree from Cornell University. Her resume also includes postdoctoral work at the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health.
Plaut became interim dean of the Purdue College of Agriculture in July 2017 after Akridge was selected as interim provost by Purdue President Mitch Daniels. Akridge was named permanent provost late last year.
Plaut will continue to preside over an active and growing college. Besides innovations in plant research, two new animal science facilities opened for classes in January. The Agricultural and Biological Sciences Building is under renovation, with new facilities to be added as well.
Plaut is also an avid supporter of the Master Farmer program, which recognizes outstanding Indiana farmers each year. The Purdue College of Agriculture co-sponsors the program with Indiana Prairie Farmer.