With the start of the new semester, we're devoting this special issue of In Focus to welcome the new faculty and Extension specialists who have joined Purdue Agriculture since April. We recruited an outstanding group, and I'm excited about the energy they bring and the contributions they'll make to Agriculture at Purdue. Please join me in welcoming them to our College.
We have a lot of exciting news to share with you, so watch for the "regular" issue of In Focus coming soon.
All the best,
Dr. Shaun Casteel, Assistant Professor of Agronomy. Shaun came to Purdue from North Carolina State University where he earned his doctorate in soil science, specializing in nutrient management. He earned his bachelor’s degree in crop sciences at the University of Illinois and a master’s degree in crop science focusing on cotton physiology and management. He held internships with several companies, including American Cyanamid, Zeneca and Novartis Seeds. He also worked for the North Carolina Department of Agriculture for two years, where he gave nutritional recommendations for crops such as Fraser fir trees and trellis tomatoes in the mountains; and grain crops, cotton, tobacco and truck crops in the Piedmont and the Coastal Plains. In his Extension role, Shaun will provide statewide leadership in soybean management and work very closely with the agricultural industry. He has considerable expertise not only in Extension programming, but also in soybean management and production.
Dr. Levon Esters, Assistant Professor, Youth Development and Agricultural Education. Levon received a bachelor’s degree in agricultural business from Florida A&M, a master’s in agricultural education from North Carolina A&T State University, and his doctorate in agricultural and extension education from Penn State. Between his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, Levon taught high school agricultural science and business and served as the coordinator for the Ag-Business Career Pathway at CHSAS (Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences). His first faculty position was with the Department of Agricultural Education and Studies at Iowa State University. Levon will be working primarily with the YDAE department’s agricultural education program. His duties will include teaching undergraduate and graduate level courses in the agricultural and extension education program and conducting research focused in career development.
Dr. Ian Kaplan, Assistant Professor, Entomology. Ian comes to Purdue from Cornell University, where he was a postdoctoral associate. He received his bachelor’s degree in biology from Davidson College, his master’s in entomology from Auburn University, and the Ph.D in entomology from the University of Maryland. Ian’s work is in specialty crops entomology. His research is at the interface of ecology and agriculture with the goal of applying theoretical principles from population and community ecology to insects on crop plants.
Dr. Andrea Liceaga, Assistant Professor, Food Science. Andrea earned her bachelor’s degree in biochemical engineering and food processing management from the Instituto Tecnológico de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM), Mexico, and her master’s in food microbiology and doctorate in food chemistry from the University of British Columbia. Andrea’s research interests include structure-function relationships and interactions of food proteins and peptides; cryopreservation and shelf-life extension of fresh and frozen fish and fish products; fish processing and formulation of value-added products from under-utilized fish; protein interactions using Raman spectroscopy; and formulation of functional food products using omega-e fatty acids. She is teaching Science of Food, Food Sensory Science, and Dairy Products courses in the department.
Dr. Jim Mintert, Assistant Director for Agriculture & Natural Resource programs for Purdue Extension. Jim is a native of Missouri where he grew up on a corn/soybean farm near St. Louis. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Agricultural Economics at Purdue followed by a Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics at the University of Missouri. He joined the faculty at Kansas State University in 1986 and served as Professor, Extension State Leader and Extension Livestock Marketing Economist. Since arriving at Purdue in early June, Jim has met spent his time getting to know Extension staff around the state and learning more about Indiana agriculture and the issues facing Extension offices and their clientele.
Lindsey Purcell, Urban Forestry Specialist, Forestry and Natural Resources. Lindsey brings a wealth of experience to FNR, including eight years with the city of Indianapolis as forestry supervisor and city forester, director of operations for The Nature Conservancy of Indiana, working several years for a landscape contracting firm, and adjunct instructor of horticulture technology at Vincennes University. Lindsey is a certified arborist with a B.S. from Purdue and M.Ed. from Indiana State. He will work in close cooperation with the Indiana Arborists Association in developing a vibrant extension program that anticipates the needs of the urban forestry community. Lindsey also will work closely with students at Purdue, including instruction in Arboriculture Practices.
Dr. Shubin Saha, Regional Horticulture Specialist - Vegetable Specialist, Southwest Purdue Ag Center. Shubin received his bachelor's degree in plant and soil sciences at the University of Kentucky, where he gained experience with both the fruit and vegetable crops industries of our region. He graduated in 2005 from the Doctor of Plant Medicine Program at the University of Florida – Gainesville, and earned his PhD in 2009. He will lead a research-based extension/outreach program focused on the needs of the commercial horticulture industry of Indiana, with particular emphasis on melon and vegetable crop production. In these roles, Shubin will develop extensive interactions with the commercial growers and marketers of southern Indiana, and he will be a key member of our emerging cluster of expertise in the area of specialty crops research in the College of Agriculture. Shubin will also teach AGRI 103 (Fundamentals of Horticulture) at Vincennes University each fall semester.
Dr. Jon Schoonmaker, Assistant Professor, Animal Sciences. Jon was raised in southern Wisconsin. He received his B.S. in Meat and Animal Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and his M.S. and Ph.D. from The Ohio State University in the area of ruminant nutrition/beef cattle nutrition. Following a short stint in the animal feed industry, he completed post-doctoral studies at Iowa State University investigating the genetic regulation of fatty acid metabolism and deposition in beef and dairy cattle. Jon's research interests are lifetime nutritional factors affecting intramuscular fat deposition, muscle growth, health status, and production efficiency in beef cattle. He will develop research and teaching programs in the beef cattle nutrition area in Animal Sciences.
Dr. Elizabeth Tran, Assistant Professor, Biochemistry. Elizabeth comes to Purdue from Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, where she did a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, and earned the 2009 Outstanding Postdoctoral Fellow of the Year award. She earned her bachelor’s degree in genetics from Texas A&M and her PhD in biochemistry from North Carolina State University. Elizabeth’s research is focused on defining the precise biochemical steps that guide a message from the site of transcription in the nucleus to the cytoplasm as well as the cellular mechanism(s) for regulating this pathway. Her laboratory will use a combination of genetics, biochemistry and microscopy to study mRNA export in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae model system.