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Biology professor to deliver 60th annual Harrington Lecture at USD

VERMILLION, S.D. -- Karen Koster, Ph.D., professor of biology, will present the University of South Dakota’s 60th annual Harrington Lecture, “Connections, Conundrums, and the Meaning of Life,” at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 25 at Farber Hall inside Old Main.

A member of the USD faculty since 2002, Koster teaches courses on plant physiology, cellular physiology, cell biology and biology. Her research interests include understanding mechanisms of cellular dehydration tolerance using seeds and moss to study how water loss affects cell structure. Koster also does research on seed longevity, which is dependent upon processes that occur in the dried tissues, and studies the physical and chemical changes that occur in dehydrated cells that might improve the longevity of seeds and other genetic resources when they are stored. Her work has been featured in several publications and she is currently the vice president of the Alpha Chapter of South Dakota, Phi Beta Kappa. Koster received her B.S. in organismal biology from the University of Kansas, a Ph.D. in botany/plant physiology from Cornell University and conducted post-doctoral research at the University of California-Riverside. A photo of Koster is available for download at

Named in 1966 in honor of Elbert Harrington, professor of speech and dean of the College of Arts & Sciences (1945-1970), the lecture is an annual event featuring a distinguished professor with long-standing service to the College of Arts & Sciences. Each year a faculty committee in Arts & Sciences recommends to the dean the name of a faculty member to deliver the Harrington Lecture. The faculty member must be a teacher and scholar, and the lecture must be non-technical, blending insight into liberal education with the faculty member’s work as a scholar. A reception honoring Koster will be held immediately following her lecture.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 78 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.

This material is available in an alternate format upon request. Please contact University Relations at 605-677-5759. If you are a person with a disability and need a special accommodation to fully participate in any university activity or event, please contact Disability Services at 605-677-6389 as soon as possible, but no later than 48 hours before the event, so that appropriate arrangements may be made.


Hanna DeLange
USD News