Dr. Karen L. Koster

Karen Koster Dr. Karen L. Koster, Raytown High School, Class of 1980

Dr. Karen L. Koster graduated from Raytown High in 1980. Four years later, she completed her undergraduate degree in Organismal Biology at the University of Kansas, graduating with Highest Distinction and Departmental Honors. 

In 1984, she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious honor society.  She was awarded a National Science Foundation Fellowship to pursue graduate research, and in 1991, Dr. Koster received her Ph.D. from Cornell University in Plant Physiology.

Following a year of post-doctoral research at the University of California, Riverside, Dr. Koster began her career at the University of South Dakota as a Biology professor. The college has recognized her teaching, research, and service by presenting her with the Richard and Sharon Cutler Award for Liberal Arts in Education, and in 2012, she was selected as the 60th Annual Harrington Lecturer in Liberal Arts for the College of Arts and Sciences, University of South Dakota.

Dr. Koster is a respected scientist with highly cited publications in her field. She has worked in labs around the world, serving as a visiting scientist in Australia at RMIT University, in South Africa at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and at two U.S. Department of Agriculture labs in the United States. Through her intellect, pursuit of knowledge, and experiences as a teacher and a researcher, Dr. Koster has made a difference for thousands of students and within the scientific community. She has been elected to several leadership positions in professional societies, including the American Society of Plant Biologists and the International Society for Seed Science. 

Dr. Koster was awarded an Honorary Lifetime Membership to the International Society for Seed Science for her service to the society and the discipline in 2014. Currently, she is the Associate Chair of Biology at the University of South Dakota.