Innovation & Entrepreneurship Ambassadors

Christian  Butzke

Christian Butzke Ph.D.

Food Science
Senior University Fellow for Innovation & Entrepreneurship – Office of Research | Innovation & Entrepreneurship Fellow – College of Agriculture | Professor of Food Science & Enology – Department of Food Science

Professor Butzke is an expert in the commercial production of fermented beverages, especially wine. 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 served as the College's first Innovation & Entrepreneurship Fellow since 2021, and was appointed Purdue’s first Senior University Fellow for Innovation & Entrepreneurship in 2023.

Theresa Casey

Theresa Casey Ph.D.

Animal Sciences
Research Associate Professor
802.373.1319 (cell)
Theresa is a mammary gland and lactation biologist. Her research focuses on understanding how maternal environment and nutrition affect milk quality and quantity and the impacts on neonate development. Recent discoveries in her lab investigating the programming effects of the first milk colostrum on pigs led to the revelation of early biomarkers of infertility. In collaboration with two other women scientists, Theresa established a startup company to try to commercialize a product that can be used to select sows for the production herd at less than three weeks of age.
John Couture

John Couture Ph.D.

Forestry and Natural Resources & Entomology
Associate Professor

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 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

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

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.

Neil Knobloch

Neil Knobloch Ph.D.

Agricultural Sciences Education and Communication
Professor Knobloch is an innovator in experiential learning to increase student engagement and career readiness outcomes in agriculture, food and natural resources. He developed a business management simulation for high school students to develop an entrepreneurship mindset. He is a consultant on innovative education and evaluation projects.
Maria Marshall

Maria Marshall Ph.D.

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

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.

Lee Miller

Lee Miller Ph.D.

Botany & Plant Pathology
Assistant Professor & Extension Turfgrass Pathologist

Professor Miller is an extension turfgrass pathologist delivering disease diagnosis and management recommendations to the golf, sports turf, lawn, and sod industries. His research focuses on plant pathogen monitoring and modeling methods to aid managers in applying disease control in a more timely and effective manner.

Dharmendra  Mishra

Dharmendra Mishra Ph.D.

Food Science
Associate Professor of Food Science, Extension Food Technologist

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

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

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.

Evan Rocheford

Evan Rocheford

CEO NutraMaize
Evan Rocheford is the Co-Founder and CEO of NutraMaize, a company transforming the United State’s largest staple crop – corn – into a platform for delivering better nutrition on a population-wide scale. NutraMaize’s innovation is a unique variety of non-GMO Orange Corn. The vibrant orange color comes from significantly higher levels of carotenoids, the same kind of natural antioxidant pigments that give carrots their color and well-known health benefits. Evan is a Forbes 30 Under 30 Alum (Food and Beverage 2019) and has attracted over $2 million in non-dilutive funding for NutraMaize through Phase I and Phase II SBIR/STTR Grants from the NSF and USDA.
Torbert Rocheford

Torbert Rocheford Ph.D.

Professor and Patterson Endowed Chair for Translational Genomics in Crop Improvement

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.

W. Andy Tao

W. Andy Tao Ph.D.

Prof. W. Andy Tao is Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Faculty Director of Purdue Life Sciences Mass Spectrometry Facility. He leads an active research group focusing on new developments in biological mass spectrometry and proteome analysis, especially the characterization of protein modifications and molecular signaling, and their relevance in human diseases. Dr. Tao received his mass spectrometry training through his dissertation work with Prof. R. Graham Cooks in the Department of Chemistry at Purdue University and was a Damon Runyon Postdoctoral Fellow under the supervision of Drs. Ruedi Aebersold and Leroy Hood at the Institute for Systems Biology at Seattle. Dr. Tao has published over 180 papers since he started his own research group in 2005, with many in high impact journals. He received the ASMS Research Award (2006), NSF-CAREER (2007), Purdue Outstanding Faculty Commercialization Award (2017) and Cancer Research Award (2019). Over the years, he has served on a number of committees for professional societies including ASMS, USHUPO, CASMS, and HUPO organizations, and was the President of CASMS from 2017 to 2019.
He co-founded Tymora Analytical Operations with his former student, Dr. Anton Iliuk in the Purdue Research Park in 2010. The company has since introduced several biomedical products and is an international leader in providing diagnostic development and liquid biopsy proteomics services and products for improved disease research.