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Karen I Plaut

College of Agriculture Administration 

  • Senior Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Affairs

Animal Sciences 

  • Professor of Animal Sciences

Agricultural Research at Purdue 

  • Director of Ag Research

Karen Plaut joined Purdue University as Associate Dean and Director of Ag Research in the College of Agriculture on June 1, 2010. 
She is responsible for leadership of research programs in agriculture, food and natural resources including fiscal management, and a number of regulatory functions assigned by the Indiana State Legislature. Her responsibilities include: research program development and overall direction, budget, planning, allocation of resources, support of faculty in the aggressive pursuit of extramural funds, accountability to supporting clientele, and general advocacy for agriculture, food and natural resources research. She oversees the research budget, grants and contracts, eight regional Purdue Agricultural Centers, research farms, campus-based research facilities, and a number of research centers. She also coordinates agricultural research with the College of Health and Human Sciences and College of Veterinary Medicine, and assures effective linkage with other campus research communities and Cooperative Extension.


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.  In 2005, as Chair of the Department of Animal Science at MSU, Dr. Plaut guided the department through strategic planning to identify health, environment and welfare as signature areas for the department. 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 and complement MSU’s on campus research dairy as well as a partnership with a 3200 private dairy. 

Dr. Plaut also 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 various teaching and research awards as well as an award for  Outstanding Supervisor.  She has served on peer review panels for NIH, NIEHS, USDA, DOD and was on the editorial board for the Journal of Mammary Gland Biology and Neoplasia, served on the Board of Directors for the American Dairy Science Association.

Selected Publications

Casey, T., Patel, O. V., & Plaut, K. I. (2015). Transcriptomes reveal alterations in gravity impact circadian clocks andactivate mechanotransduction pathways with adaptation through epigeneticchange. Physiological Genomics, 47(4), 113-128. doi:10.1152/physiolgenomics.00117.2014

Casey, T., Zakrzewska, E. I., Maple, R. L., Lintault, L., Wade, C. E., Baer, L. A., Ronca, A. E., . . . Plaut, K. I. (2012). Hypergravity disruption of homeorhetic adaptations to lactation in ratdams include changes in circadian clocks. BIOLOGY OPEN, 1(6), 570-581. doi:10.1242/bio.2012687

Plaut, K. I., & Casey, T. (2012). Does the circadian system regulate lactation? ANIMAL, 6(3), 394-402. doi:10.1017/S1751731111002187

Casey, T. M., & Plaut, K. I. (2012). LACTATION BIOLOGY SYMPOSIUM: Circadian clocks as mediators of thehomeorhetic response to lactation. JOURNAL OF ANIMAL SCIENCE, 90(3), 744-754. doi:10.2527/jas.2011-4590

De Vries, L. D., Casey, T., Dover, H., VandeHaar, M. J., & Plaut, K. I. (2011). Effects of transforming growth factor-beta on mammary remodeling duringthe dry period of dairy cows. JOURNAL OF DAIRY SCIENCE, 94(12), 6036-6046. doi:10.3168/jds.2011-4590

Patel, O. V., & Plaut, K. I. (2011). Homeorhetic Adaptation During the Pregnancy to Lactation Transition:Role of Solute-Linked Transporter Genes in Key Metabolic Tissues. BIOLOGY OF REPRODUCTION, 85(SI).

Casey, T., Dover, H., Liesman, J., DeVries, L., Kiupel, M., VandeHaar, M., & Plaut, K. I. (2011). Transcriptome Analysis of Epithelial and Stromal Contributions toMammogenesis in Three Week Prepartum Cows. PLOS ONE, 6(7). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0022541

Patel, O. V., Casey, T., Dover, H., & Plaut, K. I. (2011). Homeorhetic adaptation to lactation: comparative transcriptome analysisof mammary, liver, and adipose tissue during the transition frompregnancy to lactation in rats. FUNCTIONAL & INTEGRATIVE GENOMICS, 11(1), 193-202. doi:10.1007/s10142-010-0193-0