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DAA: L. Curtis Hannah

Curtis Hannah

L. Curtis Hannah


Gainesville, FL


When Curt Hannah wants to feed his passion, it’s a figurative shift from one side of the desk to the other and a 900-mile trip to get there. A University of Florida maize researcher, his pleasure comes in harvesting corn on the family farm near Monrovia in Monroe County, Indiana. He visits every chance he gets, and spends a couple of weeks every October. There, he says, he loves running an eight-row John Deere combine and picking corn on the farm purchased and worked by his parents and now run by Hannah’s nephew. “At the end of the day you can look back and see what you accomplished in very physical ways. It’s very tangible. You’re accomplishing something, and you go to bed tired with a few sore muscles,” he says. “But more importantly, it’s a return to my roots. I’m going home.” His nephew’s family lives in Hannah’s childhood home now, “But it’s my house, too, at the same time,” he says of his feelings about being there. He’s proud of his nephew’s expansions to the corn and soybean operations and growth of hog production to about 10,000 a year, farrow to finish. Returning to the farm his father left in a family trust reminds him of his beginnings, Hannah says. It keeps him grounded. He recalls a comment his father once made after viewing a field of mutants Hannah was growing in his research. “The plants were short and wimpy, and my father said, ‘Well, that wouldn’t feed very many hogs,’ but he was fairly proud of my work.” Hannah also maintains ties to home by following Purdue sports. He especially felt that link this football season, with the success of John Standeford, a Boilermaker wide receiver who also hails from Monrovia. “At Purdue, I learned a sense of curiosity and a respect for the discipline of biological sciences. My professors were clearly role models, teaching me how to go about doing science. I also learned to throw myself into my work.”