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Dr. Karl Dawson headshot
Dr. Karl Dawson
Vice President for Research and Research Advisor, Alltech

Dr. Karl Dawson is a vice president and the former chief scientific officer at Alltech. He currently serves in an advisory position, overseeing activities at the company’s bioscience centers around the world, including Alltech’s Center for Animal Nutrigenomics and Applied Animal Nutrition in Nicholasville, Kentucky. He provides advisory assistance for scientific programs in Alltech’s research department and in the company’s external contract research, which includes programs for graduate students around the world and Alltech’s more than 20 global research alliances.

Dawson is an adjunct professor of nutritional microbiology at the University of Kentucky and served as director of the nutritional microbiology laboratory in the university's department of animal sciences for 20 years. He has also served as the research coordinator for the department of animal sciences and as the chair of the Agricultural Biotechnology Coordinating Committee at the University of Kentucky.

Dawson received a bachelor’s degree in bacteriology from Utah State University, a master’s degree in microbiology from the University of Wyoming and a doctoral degree in bacteriology from Iowa State University. He worked for two years as a microbiologist at the National Animal Disease Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, and was a professor in the department of animal sciences at the University of Kentucky before joining the research team at Alltech in 1999.

Dawson is the author of more than 250 peer-reviewed publications, popular press articles, book chapters and reviews. His research has focused on strategies for improving animal performance and health by altering microbial activities and digestive processes in the gastrointestinal tract. Studies in his laboratory have examined microbial population changes and digestive activities in ruminants, horses, pigs and poultry. Of particular interest to Dawson are strategies that use antimicrobials, microbial products and substrate availability to beneficially alter microbial growth in the digestive tract. 

In recent years, Dawson has provided leadership for nutrigenomics research initiatives at Alltech, which have led to strategic programs that use epigenetic switches to more effectively control nutrient utilization and improve animal health. These nutritional programming strategies are effective alternatives to the use of growth-promoting antibiotics for enhancing performance and health and are changing the face of nutritional science in agriculture and the impact of agriculture on the environment.