- August 2020
Extension Associate I
MSU Extension Service
Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology, and Plant Pathology
Years in position: 13
Years at MSU: 13
Karen Coats has been working as an Extension Associate for 13 years. She is a lab technician who runs soil samples and extracts nematodes.
“We extract plant parasitic nematodes and read them under the microscope,” she said. “We generate that data to send to farmers, golf courses, nurseries, and researchers.”
Karen’s team lets each sender know his or her soil’s threshold of nematodes and gives recommendations to fix their problem soil if needed.
A favorite aspect of her job is meeting the people who bring in the soil samples. Since COVID-19, she has been deprived of actually seeing them, but she looks forward to meeting new people again.
“A lot of people don’t even know that we exist,” Karen said. “But we run a good and valuable service for the people.”
Karen said the most difficult learning experience for her was identifying all the different nematodes. She recognizes that students interested in this career should be easy on themselves; it takes time.
Married for 19 years, Karen spends most of her free time watching her 3 children play sports and do activities year-round.