Undergraduate Mentoring

Undergraduate Mentoring

With undergraduate mentoring in the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, students have the opportunity to build relationships with their peers, instructors, and mentors to capitalize on their overall experiences and community at Purdue. To achieve this, every HORT, TURF, or SFS undergraduate student must have an annual mentoring appointment by the starting semester of the student's sophomore/second year in HLA. It is strongly recommended the student identify a mentor who works in the student's area of interest/s. Students often look to faculty and specialists for guidance on career exploration and ways to maximize their time at Purdue. Mentoring can best serve our students and department by faculty and specialist sharing their expertise the many different in HLA fields. The mentoring appointment can be with any HLA faculty or specialist-affiliated mentor. The mentoring meeting can occur at the potential mentor and student’s availability during the academic year.


  • Email the mentor of interest on the UG Mentor Affiliated list.
  • Be courteous and professional when contacting, check out this article on Email Etiquette.
  • Once you have confirmed your mentor send them a copy of your most recent resume (copy HLA Academic Advisor.
  • Complete the following online form at least 48 hours before the meeting.

List of undergraduate mentors.


  • Receive the students' survey responses after you all have agreed on a meeting time.
  • Meet with the student mentee to support and guide professional development in their major of interest.
  • After meeting with the student, complete this online form (the advisor will be notified once the form is completed, noting the annual requirement as completed)

Undergraduate Mentors


David Barbarash

Email: dbarbara@purdue.edu

  • Landscape architecture
  • Urban design
  • Post-occupancy evaluation
  • Digital graphics and modeling
  • Co-operative internships and employment

Cale Bigelow

Dr. Cale Bigelow

Email: cbigelo1@purdue.edu

Area of Specialization: Turf Science, Ecology, Nutrition and Management
  • Plant Sciences
  • Urban soils
  • Turf science
  • Golf courses and athletic fields
  • Lawns
  • Urban sustainability


Moriah Bilenky

Email: mbilenky@purdue.edu

  • Sustainable Horticulture
  • Sustainable vegetable production
  • Organic agriculture
  • Cover crops
  • Crop rotation

Ray Bressan

Ray Bressan

Email: bressan@purdue.edu

Area of Specialization:Stress Physiology

  • Cannabis/cannabinoids
  • Endocannabinoid system
  • Cannabis genetics/haploid induction/CRISPR
  • Neurobiology/receptors/pharmacology biased ligand receptors/GPCR heterodimers/opioid replacement/
  •  Systems biology/signal processing
  • Webs and networks


Kyle Daniel

Email: daniel38@purdue.edu

  • Landscaping
  • Trees/Shrubs
  • Nursery Production
  • Weed Control
  • Sustainable Landscapes
  • Ornamental Plants
  • Sustainable Production of Landscape Plants
  • Landscape Maintenance
  • Extension
  • Green Industry Education
  • Tree Roots
  • Green Industry
  • Response of Landscape Plants to Climate Change
  • Urban Plants
  • Native Plants
  • Invasive Plants

As a Departmental Ombudsperson, I am happy to engage with undergraduate students about anything, but especially about issues or events, personal or academic, that have adversely affected studies or ability to focus on academics. All interactions are confidential. Suggestions intended to be helpful may be made, but are not required, and are non-binding. Sometimes just having someone to talk to who will listen and who is supportive is enough!

Celina Gomez

Email: cgomezva@purdue.edu

  • Vertical farming
  • Hydroponics,
  • Vegetable gardening
  • Indoor propagation

Dr. Wenjing Guan


Email:  guan40@purdue.edu


  • Commercial fruit and vegetable production
  • High tunnel
  • Pest management
  • Local food
  • Urban farming
  • Small farm

Steve G. Hallett

Dr. Steve G. Hallett

Email: halletts@purdue.edu

Area of Specialization:Small Farm Sustainability, Weed Science

  • Undergraduate teaching: SFS program
  • Sustainable agriculture
  • Diversity & Food Justice
  • Purdue Student Farm
  • Environmental writing

Avtar Handa

Dr. Avtar Handa

Email: ahanda@purdue.edu

Area of Specialization:PostHarvest and Molecular Biology

  • Tomato
  • Salt stress
  • RNAseq transcriptome analyses
  • Transgenic genotype comparison

Dr. Peter Hirst


Email: hirst@purdue.edu


Dr Hirst’s research focuses on apple physiology, especially flowering and fruit growth. This usually involves both field and lab studies.

Dr. Lori Hoagland

Dr. Lori Hoagland

Email: lhoaglan@purdue.edu

Area of Specialization:Agroecology, soil nutrient and heavy metal cycling, pathogen biocontrol, food quality and safety

  • Urban agriculture
  • Soil health
  • Organic vegetable production
  • Microbiomes
Yiwei Huang
Yiwei Huang

Email: huan1655@purdue.edu

Area of Specialization:Therapeutic and Edible Gardens for Urban Underrepresented Communities and Public Perception of Sustainable Outdoor Design

  • Age factors (children and senior) and environment needs
  • Green infrastructure and stormwater management
  • Therapeutic landscape

Petrus Langenhoven


Email: plangenh@purdue.edu


  • Vegetable production
  • Open field production
  • High tunnel production
  • Hydroponics
  • Small farms

Ying Li

Ying li

Email: li2627@purdue.edu

Area of Specialization:Histone modification; Environmental responses; Systems Biology; Plant Genetics

  • Plant genetics/molecular genomics

Liz Maynard


Email:  emaynard@purdue.edu


  • Vegetable farming – field and high tunnel production, research
  • Vegetable farming – Extension, outreach
  • NW Indiana
Stephen Meyers
Stephen Meyers

Email: slmeyers@purdue.edu

Area of Specialization:Weed management in specialty crops

  • Hort crops weeds
  • Weed-crop interactions
  • Weed ecology
  • Production horticulture
  • Integrated pest management (IPM)
Michael Mickelbart

Email: mickelbart@purdue.edu

  • Drought tolerance
  • Plant physiology
  • Water-use efficiency
  • Plant development

Cary Mitchell

Dr. Cary Mitchell

Email: cmitchel@purdue.edu

Area of Specialization : Plant Physiology & Controlled Environment Agriculture,

As a Departmental Ombudsperson, I am happy to engage with undergraduate students about anything, but especially about issues or events, personal or academic, that have adversely affected studies or ability to focus on academics. All interactions are confidential. Suggestions intended to be helpful may be made, but are not required, and are non-binding. Sometimes just having someone to talk to who will listen and who is supportive is enough!

Krishna Nemali

Krishna nemali

 Email: knemali@purdue.edu

Area of Specialization:Develop new and affordable technologies that improve sustainability (i.e., reduce input waste, minimize environmental impact, and increase profits) in controlled environment agriculture.

  • Controlled Environment Agriculture
  • Hydroponics
  • Indoor/Vertical Farming
  • Home Hydroponics
  • Nutritional Quality
  • Food Safety
  • Outreach and Engagement
  • Greenhouse Production
  • Protected Horticulture
  • Automation and Sensors
  • Digital Phenotyping
  • Smart Sensors

Dr. Kathryn Orvis

Dr. Kathryn Orvis

Email: orvis@purdue.edu

Area of Specialization:Horticulture/Youth Education

  • Using plants for teaching
  • STEM education
  • Youth gardening
  • Extension education
  • Plant science education
  • Urban agriculture


 Dr. Aaron Patton

Dr. Aaron Patton

Email: ajpatton@purdue.edu

Area of Specialization:Turfgrass

Dr. Aaron Patton’s turfgrass research program is seeking an undergraduate student to help with turfgrass research in spring, summer, or fall semesters. Dr. Patton’s program researches low-input turfgrasses and turf weed ecology and management. Depending on the interest of the applicant, there is potential to conduct an independent study research project and earn one credit hour. If interested and would like to discuss more, please contact Dr. Patton (ajpatton@purdue.edu).

Miranda Purcell

Email: mrpurcel@purdue.edu

  • Wine grapes
  • Table grapes
  • Vineyards

K.G. Raghothama

K.G. Raghothama

Email: kraghoth@purdue.edu

Area of Specialization:Molecular Biology of Plant Nutrition

  • Tropical horticulture
  • International horticulture
  • Plant nutrition


Paul Siciliano


  • Landscape Architecture
  • Planting Design (eco-connected landscapes)
  • Landscape Plant Materials
  • Public Gardens

Aaron W. Thompson

Aaron W. Thompson

Email: awthomps@purdue.edu

Area of Specialization:Land Use Planning and Natural Resource Management

  • Environmental design
  • Landscape planning
  • Public-sector jobs (i.e. National Park Service)
  • Community engagement
Ariana P. Torres
Ariana P. Torres

Email:  torres2@purdue.edu

Area of Specialization:Specialty Crops Marketing, with the end of promoting economic sustainability for the Horticulture Industry.

  • Consumer preferences for foods/plants
  • Economic feasibility of horticultural technologies
  • Marketing and market access
  • Social media marketing

Kranthi Varala

Kranthi Varala

Email: kvarala@purdue.edu

Area of Specialization:Molecular basis and regulation of plant abiotic stress tolerance

I am interested in mentoring undergraduate students. I have had over a dozen of them, from various departments work in my lab over the years. The work in my lab focusses on understanding plant resilience to changes in temperature as well as the molecular mechanisms controlling plant growth traits.

Josh Widhalm

Josh Widhalm

Email: jwidhalm@purdue.edu

Area of Specialization:Plant natural product metabolism

  • Plant biology
  • Metabolism
  • Functional genomics
  • Biotechnology
  • Synthetic biology