Home Indiana Agriculture News Purdue Ag Dean Plaut Presented AgriVision Award

Purdue Ag Dean Plaut Presented AgriVision Award

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Purdue Agriculture Dean Karen Plaut was awarded Thursday with Indiana’s highest agricultural honor, the AgriVision Award. She told Hoosier Ag Today that she was humbled and honored to be presented the award.

Lt Governor Crouch, Dean Karen Plaut, ISDA Director Bruce Kettler

“I was really surprised because I’m doing my job. It is wonderful that other people feel that I’m doing a job that’s worthy of this recognition, so it just means everything to me.”

Plaut was officially named the Glenn W. Sample Dean of the College of Agriculture at Purdue in May of 2018 after serving as the Interim Dean since July of ’17. In her five years of leadership, Purdue’s College of Ag has soared to new heights as they were recently recognized as a top 5 agriculture school in the country and top 10 in the world.

Plaut is excited about the future.

“Our student numbers are strong, our research has gone up tremendously, about a 30 percent increase in research awards, and it’s just moving really steadily along. Extension is still in all 92 counties making a difference in all those counties.”

Plaut had many people to thank including her boss Jay Akridge who nominated her for the award, the staff of the Purdue College of Ag, and especially her husband David for all his support. And she gives credit to one very important group of people.

“We do have the best students on campus no matter what anybody says. They really are the hallmark of what we do and really are the future of Indiana agriculture. Nationally, they make a big difference and even around the world.”

Dr. Plaut came to Purdue in 2010 as Associate Dean and Director of Agricultural Research Programs and was promoted to Senior Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Affairs in 2013.

In 2013, Dr. Plaut took the lead in writing the proposal that led to more than $20 million in funding for the Purdue Moves Plant Sciences Initiative. Some of the many accomplishments of this initiative include establishing the Center for Plant Biology and the hiring ten new faculty members, creating Ag‐Celerator™, a $2 million plant sciences innovation fund within the Purdue Foundry that provides critical startup support that helps Purdue/Indiana as well as developing new industrial and stakeholder partnerships that resulted in major funding to build and equip the Indiana Corn and Soybean Innovation Center, the first field phenotyping facility in North America.

In 2021, she worked to secure more than $20 million in funding for Purdue Next Moves Plant Sciences 2.0 – the only Purdue Moves initiative to receive additional funding from the Board of Trustees. This second round of funding will leverage and expand Purdue Agriculture’s expertise in digital agriculture, phenotyping and agricultural economics to add value to plants and forest products by optimizing productivity, nutrition and sustainability traits and coupling these to consumer preferences. Recognizing that Purdue had the expertise in both forestry and data science, Dr. Plaut added a digital forestry component to this round of funding to better support Indiana’s hardwood industry whose annual economic impact is $10 billion and set up Purdue – and our state – to be a leader in developing digital platforms to revolutionize forestry and support critical efforts to monitor and mitigate devastating forest fires and pest/disease outbreaks.

Under Dr. Plaut’s leadership, Purdue’s College of Agriculture is a strong partner in growing economic opportunities and innovation in Indiana agriculture. The college supports entrepreneurship opportunities among its faculty and students and this focus has resulted in 24 new startups from within the College over the last five years. One specific area of success is within the plant sciences, which now accounts for 20 percent of the new startups at Purdue University. Dr. Plaut sits on the Board of Directors of AgriNovus Indiana, the state’s initiative to advance the agbiosciences sector. She works closely with the AgriNovus team to engage companies looking to locate or expand in Indiana to showcase how Purdue can collaborate with them in research, as well as provide a highly‐trained workforce. Since 2018, these efforts have resulted in 2,175 new jobs and $848 million in new capital investment in the state from companies like Inari Agriculture, Inc., Elanco, and Solinftec.