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Katharine Knowlton

The Colonel Horace E. Alphin Professor of Dairy Science
Professional photo of Katharine Knowlton.
School of Animal Sciences
2440 Litton-Reaves Hall
175 West Campus Drive
Blacksburg, VA 24061

Dr. Katharine Knowlton grew up on a dairy farm in Connecticut and earned her B. S. in Animal Science at Cornell University, her M.S. at Michigan State and her Ph.D. at the University of Maryland. She is a professor in the Department of Dairy Science at Virginia Tech with  research and teaching programs focused on environmental issues affecting the dairy industry. Dr. Knowton is serves as coach of the Virginia Tech dairy judging team (national champions in 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2013!!), judges dairy shows across the US, and owns a small herd of Jersey cows. She is Principal Investigator or co-PI on $11.2 million in externally funded grants, and has authored 67 peer-reviewed papers.

  • Courses taught: Animal Agriculture and the Environment (DASC/APSC 3134); Dairy Cattle Evaluation (DASC 2484); Dairy Handling 101; Dairy Science First Year Experience
  • Lead undergraduate advisor and Curriculum Coordinator
  • Coach of the Virginia Tech Dairy Judging Team
    (National champions 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2013)
  • Excretion and environmental fate of antibiotics and antibiotic resistant genes by livestock
  • Phosphorus intake and excretion in lactating cows
  • Knowlton, K. F. and P. P. Ray. 2014. Water-related issues in sustainability: Nitrogen and phosphorus management. In E. Kebraib (Ed.) Sustainable Animal Agriculture. CAB International.
  • Ray, P. P., Z. Zhao and K. F. Knowlton. 2014. Emerging contaminants in livestock manure: Hormones, antibiotics, and antibiotic resistance genes. In E. Kebraib (Ed.) Sustainable Animal Agriculture. CAB International.
  • Knowlton, K. F., D. K. Beede and E. Kebreab. 2010. Phosphorus and Calcium Requirements of Ruminants. pp 112-132 In D. Vitti and E. Kebraib (Ed.) Phosphorus and Calcium Utilization and Requirements in Farm Animals. CAB International.
  • Z. Zhao, K. F. Knowlton and N. G. Love. 2008. Hormones in Waste from Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations. pp 292-329 In D. Aga (Ed.), Fate of Pharmaceuticals in the Environment and in Water Treatment Systems. CRC Press, Taylor and Francis Books.

Refereed Book Reviews

  • Knowlton, K. F. 2004. Review of "Minerals in Animal and Human Nutrition, 2nd edition". Poultry Sci. 83: 132.

Dr. Knowlton is Principal or Co-Principal Investigator on $11.2 million in externally funded grants for research on environmental issues pertaining to animal agriculture. Funding agencies include USDA, NSF, industry groups, and conservation organizations.

Ongoing Projects

  • Increase understanding of the interaction of animal agriculture and the environment
  • Effect of nutrition on nutrient excretion by dairy cows, and potential impact on water quality
  • 2021 Favorite Faculty Award
  • 2020 ADSA Hoard's Dairyman Youth Development Award
  • 2014 named The Colonel Horace E. Alphin Professorship of Dairy Science
  • 2014 International Visiting Research Scholar, Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies, 
    University of British Columbia

  • 2011 Dedicatee, the Milky Way (annual publication of the Dairy Club at Virginia Tech)

  • 2008 American Dairy Science Association (ADSA) , Cargill Young Scientist Award

  • 2008 Certificate of Teaching Excellence, Virginia Tech, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

  • 2005 ADSA Foundation Scholar Lecture Award in Dairy Production

  • 2001  Epsilon Sigma Phi National Honorary Extension Fraternity,  State Team Award

  • 1997 ADSA Graduate Student Paper Competition winner

  • 1995-96 Purina Mills Graduate Research Fellowship

  • 1996 University of MD College of Agriculture, Richard F. Davis Memorial Scholarship

  • 1992-95 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship

  • 1994 American Feed Industry Association Graduate Scholarship

  • 1994 American Jersey Cattle Association/Bansen Scholarship

  • 1992 Purina Mills Graduate Research Fellowship (declined for NSF fellowship)
  • 2014 - present, The Colonel Horace E. Alphine Professor in Dairy Science
  • 2010-2014 - Professor,  Department of Dairy Science, Virginia Tech

  • 2005-2010 -  Associate Professor,  Department of Dairy Science, Virginia Tech
  • 2000-2005 - Assistant Professor,  Department of Dairy Science, Virginia Tech
  • 1997-1999 - Research Scientist. Department of Dairy Science, Virginia Tech

  • 1993-1997 - Graduate Research Assistant, Department of Animal and Avian Sciences, 
    University of Maryland

  • 1991-1993 - Graduate Research Assistant, Department of Animal Science, Michigan State University

  • 1990-1991 - Undergraduate Research Assistant, Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Cornell University

  • 1984-1987 - Farm Manager,  Mixed livestock and dairy farm, Portland, Connecticutt
Ph.D 1997 University of Maryland & USDA-ARS Beltsville: Dairy Nutrition
M.S. 1993 Michigan State University: Dairy Nutrition
B.S. 1991Cornell University: Animal Science

Areas of Expertise

Excretion and environmental fate of antibiotics and antibiotic resistant genes by livestock

Environmental issues associated with animal agriculture, including nutrient pollution of ground and surface water

Impact of nutrition and herd management on nutrient losses from dairy farms


Related Articles

  • Article Item
    5 separate faculty members' portraits are put together in a photo illustration. Katharine Knowlton smiles in the lower left corner of the photo. She has short blonde hair, glasses and is wearing a blue blouse. Chevon Thorpe has long black hair and a dark top. She is smiling at the camera. Molly Wilkens-Reed smiles holding her Viola, she has brown hair to her shoulders. David Bluey smiles at the camera, he is wearing glasses and a dark shirt. Hamdy Mahmoud smiles, he has black hair and is wearing a black jacket over a white button-down shirt. The photo illustration has a rainbow paint effect over the images. The lower middle image says, "Favorite Faculty Awards."
    Students choose Favorite Faculty Award recipients , article

    “We celebrate these extraordinary faculty members because of their hard work, inspiration, and deep care, which play an enormous role in the lives of students. These teachers literally change the course of history with their hard work and dedication,” Vice President for Student Affairs Frank Shushok said.

  • Redirect Item
    Going the Distance, Judging for Speed
    Going the Distance, Judging for Speed , redirect

    "Dairy judging teaches important professional skills," said Knowlton. "The cows are just the bait to attract students to learn these skills."