Innovation & Entrepreneurship Ambassadors

Christian  Butzke

Christian Butzke Ph.D.

Food Science
Professor of Food Science & Enology
765.494.6500

Professor Butzke is an expert in the commercial production of fermented beverages and foods. He is co-founder and chief enologist of the Purdue-based start-up VinSense LLC, a software company that provides perennial crop management decision-support through real-time, high-resolution functional soil maps, modeling of soil and climate effects on fruit composition and quality, and powerful data analytics and visualization tools.  He has been Purdue's first Innovation & Entrepreneurship Fellow.

John Couture

John Couture Ph.D.

Forestry and Natural Resources & Entomology
Associate Professor
765.494.8680

Professor Couture combines research in plant chemical and physiological ecology with vegetation spectroscopy to explore the influence of variation in plant chemistry and physiology on trophic-level interactions across multiple spatial scales. A goal of his research group is to understand the factors driving ecosystem functioning and to produce solutions to better manage natural and agricultural resources.

Scott Downey

Scott Downey Ph.D.

Agricultural Economics
Professor
765.494.4247

Professor Downey is the director of the Center for Food and Agricultural Business, and is a frequent speaker and consultant for agribusiness industry sales teams on professional development topics like precision selling, sales management and competitive sales strategies.

Klein Ileleji

Klein Ileleji Ph.D.

Agricultural and Biological Engineering
Professor, Affiliate of Environmental Ecological Engineering
765.494.1198

Professor Ileleji is the co-founder, CEO and CTO of JUA Technologies International LLC, a startup company that develops solar dehydration technologies and mobile off-grid power generators for everyday use on small and mid-size farms. The company has launched one product to the market, a portable solar food dehydrator that has been sold in 28 states and shipped to more than 10 countries. He serves as I&E Ambassador for both the College of Agriculture and the College of Engineering.

Jian Jin

Jian Jin Ph.D.

Agricultural and Biological Engineering
Associate Professor
765.494.1182

Professor Jin is the creator of LeafSpec, the world’s first handheld hyperspectral leaf imager and the 2021 David Prize winner. This device scans a leaf within seconds for unprecedented quality of plant nutrients and stresses measurements on the spot. Dr. Jin's LeafSpec LLC is commercializing this technology with a license from Purdue.

Gurmukh  Johal

Gurmukh Johal Ph.D.

Botany and Plant Pathology
Professor
765.494.4448

Professor Johal’s expertise is corn genetics, with research focus to generate new traits and strategies that control plant height and disease resistance. He is the founder of giGenes that leverages advanced mutagenesis techniques to generate novel genetic variation needed to enhance crop yields sustainably and with resilience to environmental stresses.

Maria Marshall

Maria Marshall Ph.D.

Agricultural Economics
Professor and Jim and Lois Ackerman Endowed Chair in Agricultural Economics
765.494.4268

Professor Marshall is the director and founder of the Purdue Institute for Family Business, and the director of the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development.  Her outreach and teaching programs seek to increase economic development through entrepreneurship and firm growth.

Dharmendra  Mishra

Dharmendra Mishra Ph.D.

Food Science
Associate Professor of Food Science, Extension Food Technologist
765.494.2594

Professor Mishra is a Processing Authority for manufacturing of shelf-stable food products. He works with commercial food manufacturers and provides them operational guidance and training for the workforce. He is a co-founder of Thermetrics Inc., engaged in developing a thermal property measurement device.

Krishna Nemali

Krishna Nemali Ph.D.

Horticulture and Landscape Architecture
Associate Professor and Extension Specialist in Controlled Environment Agriculture
765.494.8179

Professor Nemali develops affordable and reliable smart (IoT) sensors with AI power for automated plant monitoring and optimizing plant growth and nitrogen availability to crops grown in greenhouses and vertical farms.

Bryan Pijanowski

Bryan Pijanowski Ph.D.

Forestry and Natural Resources
Professor of Landscape and Soundscape Ecology
765.496.2215

Professor Pijanowski is the director of Purdue’s Center for Global Soundscapes where his team uses acoustic sensors, AI (artificial intelligence) tools, and big data mining techniques, to understand how humans impact biodiversity around the world. In 2019, he completed the NSF iCorps program that led to the creation of a Foundry-supported startup company, Digital Nature Enterprises, LLC., which focusses on incorporating sounds into informal learning exhibits in museums and science centers.

Katy Rainey

Katy Rainey Ph.D.

Agronomy
Associate Professor
765.494.1212

Professor Rainey, director of the Purdue Soybean Center, is a plant breeder specializing in UAS phenotyping, nutritional quality, and quantitative genetics. She is the co-founder of Progeny Drone, Inc. She develops new tools for crop research professionals and is broadly interested in ‘decommoditization’ of soy.

Torbert Rocheford

Torbert Rocheford Ph.D.

Agronomy
Professor and Patterson Endowed Chair for Translational Genomics in Crop Improvement
765.494.9243

Professor Rocheford’s research focuses on the nutritional composition of maize grain.  His work pioneering more nutrient-dense Orange Corn pairs old-fashioned, hands-on plant-breeding with modern science for a more well-fed world.

Kara Stewart

Kara Stewart Ph.D.

Animal Sciences
Associate Professor
765.496.6199

Kara received her bachelor’s degree from Purdue in 2001 and her Master’s and Ph.D. from NC State in 2004 and 2008, respectively.  Kara taught in the Animal Science department at NC State for 2 years before returning to Indiana to work for Cook Inc., a human medical device company.  In July of 2013, Kara happily accepted a faculty position in reproductive physiology in the Animal Science department at Purdue.  She carries a majority extension appointment working across several species, predominantly swine, and teaches a reproductive management and a reproductive physiology course for undergraduates.  One of her recent research endeavors into biomarkers of fertility in gilts has led to a startup company.