Donald Weeks Donald Weeks, PhD – Keynote Speaker

Maxcy Professor of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Department of Biochemistry, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Dr. Weeks received his bachelor of science degree from Purdue University and his doctorate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The Weeks laboratory at UNL was responsible for the development of dicamba herbicide resistance gene technology that major seed companies commercialized for use in soybean and cotton crops. Most recently the laboratory has been involved in pioneering research aimed at developing and applying new methods for gene editing (targeted gene knockout and gene replacement) for use in improving important food crops.

Hye-Ji Kim Hye-Ji Kim, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Purdue University

Dr. Kim earned a BS in horticulture at Korea University, S. Korea, an MS in biological sciences at Shizuoka University, Japan, and a PhD in horticulture at Pennsylvania State University. Since joining Purdue in 2014, Dr. Kim’s research team has been developing sustainable crop production systems in controlled environment agriculture (CEA) through water, nutrient, and energy conservation strategies and technology innovations. Her research aims to improve the resource use efficiency of CEA production systems such as hydroponics, aquaponics and soilless production, and explores the impacts of sustainable strategies on crop yield and quality.

Carl J. Bernacchi Carl J. Bernacchi, PhD

USDA ARS Adjunct Professor, Department of Plant Biology, University of Illinois Urbana Champaign

As a research scientist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Dr. Bernacchi’s research addresses key issues related to ecological and environmental plant physiology, with a specific focus on the environmental impacts of land-use change and responses of vegetation to climate change over a wide range of spatial and temporal scales. His research utilizes a range of techniques, including gas exchange, mechanistic and biophysical modelling, and remote/proximal sensing of carbon, water, and energy dynamics ranging from plant organ to regional scales. His teaching focuses on environmental physiology and photosynthesis. He also serves on the editorial board for three journals and recently led the development of an Ecological and Environmental Plant Physiology section of the American Society of Plant Biologists.

Richard Voyles Richard Voyles, PhD

Head of Collaborative Robotics Lab and Director of Robotics Accelerator, Purdue University

Dr. Voyles knows robots! With expertise in electrical engineering, mechanical engineering and computer science, his research interest include novel robotic mechanisms, sensors, self-adaptive software, real-time control, and gesture-based human/robot interaction. His formal training includes a PhD in robotics from Carnegie Mellon University, MS in manufacturing systems engineering from Stanford University and BS in electrical engineering from Purdue. At Purdue, he studies infrastructure tools for self-adaptation in real-time and embedded systems. He also directs research in miniature robotics for search and rescue, including small crawling ground robots for penetration into rubble, hybrid serpentine robots for moving over rubble, and high-precision UAVs for inspecting rubble and structures from the air.


Scott Massey Scott Massey

Founder, Heliponix, LLC

While pursuing a BS in mechanical engineering technology and certificate of entrepreneurship and innovation at Purdue, Scott Massey worked on a research project in hydroponics under Dr. Cary Mitchell, professor of horticulture. This inspired him to co-found Heliponix™ (formerly Hydro Grow) his senior year. Today he oversees the company’s next-generation products, manufacturing operations, and strategic planning. The company now employs several engineers and is expanding its network of GroPods, which TechPoint named Indiana's Best New Tech Product for 2018 with its Mira Award. Massey continues to advise the U.S. Department of State through the Mandela Washington Fellowship on several aquaponic farms across Africa to fight food insecurity in the developing world.


Erik Runkle Erik Runkle, PhD

Professor and Extension Specialist, Department of Horticulture, Michigan State University

Dr. Runkle obtained a BS in ornamental horticulture from the University of Illinois and an MS and PhD in horticulture at Michigan State University. Since he joined the faculty in 2001, he and his graduate research team have performed numerous practical experiments in controlled environments to determine the effects of light, temperature, and other environmental factors on plant growth and development. Experiments have involved a wide range of herbaceous specialty crops including leafy greens and ornamentals. He recently developed the Controlled-Environment Lighting Laboratory to better understand how the radiation spectrum can be manipulated to produce crops with desired attributes. To date he has co-edited six books and authored 14 book chapters, over 100 papers in scientific journals, and nearly 300 articles in trade magazines./p>


James Janni James Janni

Applied Science and Technology Senior Technology Leader, Corteva Agriscience

Dr. Janni, a Corteva Agriscience Fellow and senior technology leader in R&D, earned his BS in chemistry from Iowa State University and PhD in physical chemistry from MIT. His work in developing a single seed NIR system for characterizing segregating populations of oil modified seeds achieved unparalleled oil characterization precision and accuracy. During his subsequent work in seed spectral imaging, the value of whole plant imaging was realized. He joined a team that combined predictive analytics and metabolomics to predict phenotypes in the greenhouse and field using greenhouse imaging. He recognized the needed sensitivity to stressors in the field, and UAS sensing was born from deploying hyperspectral to the field. His work in NIR grain analysis, greenhouse hyperspectral imaging, and UAS sensor, platform and algorithm development continues in his group today with broad applications and connections to other Corteva functions.

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