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Purdue Agriculture in Focus Purdue Agriculture in Focus

March 2010

From the Dean




Greetings!  Some sunshine and warmer weather have finally arrived (for now – we do live in Indiana), providing relief from a winter that seemed to drag on and on. At the same time, the past two months have been so packed with activity, announcements, and events that for me they have flown by. This is a challenging time for our College – there is so much momentum around the things we do and the support we enjoy, and at the same time all of us are grappling with what the budget issues mean for us personally and for our programs.

I was recently in Washington with our three CARET (Council for Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching) representatives to advocate for federal funds for our programs. I have said this before: it is a humbling experience to listen to these three individuals talk with our Congressional delegation about why what we do as a College matters to them personally. During last week’s Distinguished Agriculture Alumni event, we heard nine outstanding graduates share stories about how their experience in our College made a difference in their lives. Last Saturday, about 20 of our Dean’s Advisory Council members gave up a part of their weekend to share their insights with us. We recently learned that Dr. David Salt in Horticulture and Landscape Architecture has been named the 2010 McCoy Award recipient – Purdue University’s highest research award.  And, we named a terrific scientist, Dr. Karen Plaut from Michigan State University, as our new Associate Dean and Director of Agricultural Research Programs. There is much more, but the bottom line is that there is a lot of good news to share about what our faculty, staff, and students are accomplishing, and much continuing support from our alumni and friends.

At the same time, there is no question that the uncertainty around our budget situation is on the minds of everyone in the College. I know our College leadership team appreciates the very real challenge of staying focused on our teaching, research, and Extension activities when you are worried about how a change in the health care plan or the retirement ‘rebalancing’ will affect you personally, or even wondering if your job is safe in these times. Our budget challenges are very real. But as I listened to Mr. Diaz and Mr. Sandel at the College-wide budget information session and the questions that followed, I was reminded that the University is adopting a broad-based strategy for finding the dollars.  They are not going after ‘quick fixes’ like extended furloughs, but rather comprehensive reviews of how we purchase supplies, how we manage energy costs, how we organize IT, etc. Savings in these areas will help reduce any cuts to our College budget. The benefits changes are not yet settled, and are clearly on the minds of everyone. But even the ideas discussed are ‘job preserving’ in the sense that dollars found there mean dollars that won’t come from job reductions. None of this is easy, and no one wants to have to make these cuts, but at this point the University approach seems deliberate and thoughtful. What we aren’t seeing is announcements like the one in Georgia, where the elimination of 4-H is proposed, or in Nevada, where the College of Agriculture will be dissolved.

On behalf of all our College leadership team, thank you for staying focused on our students and our stakeholders during this uncertain time. Certainly they need us more than ever.  And, it takes a special professional to stay focused on the task at hand when there is much personal uncertainty running around.  But I’m not surprised, because that is kind of professionals who work for our College. Thanks for continuing to share your opinions and insights on the budget as we move forward. And thanks for all you do for the College and those we serve.


All the best,


News Around Purdue Agriculture

Purdue Agriculture appoints new Associate Dean and Director of ARP

PlautDean Jay Akridge is delighted to announce that Dr. Karen Plaut will become the next Associate Dean and Director of Agricultural Research Programs, effective June 1. Karen comes to us from Michigan State University, where she has been chair of the Department of Animal Science since 2005.  Prior to joining Michigan State she was head of Animal Sciences at the University of Vermont.  She received a bachelor’s degree in animal science from the University of Vermont, a master’s degree in animal nutrition from Penn State, and her doctorate in animal science from Cornell.  She is an accomplished scientist as well as a respected academic leader, and we are very excited about the leadership she will provide to our Agricultural Research Programs. 

"My deepest thanks go to Interim Associate Dean and Director Mark Hermodson for his exceptional leadership of ARP over the last few months," said Dean Akridge. "I also am grateful to the search committee--Arun Bhunia, Sylvie Brouder, Natalia Doudareva, Beth Forbes, Ken Foster, Doran French, Al Heber, Chuck Hibberd, Cate Hill, Harm Hogenesch, Guri Johal, Ann Kirchmaier, Neil Knobloch, Jess Lowenberg-DeBoer, Pam Morris, Bill Muir, Gene Rhodes, Becky Rice and Dale Whittaker--and many others who worked so hard to help bring Dr. Karen Plaut to Purdue Agriculture."


Finalists named for Animal Sciences Department Head

Three candidates have been invited to interview for the animal sciences department head position. Each candidate will present a public seminar. They are scheduled as follows:

James Reecy, Iowa State University
Interview: Monday & Tuesday, April 5 & 6
Seminar: Monday, April 5, 9:00 a.m. in Deans Auditorium, Pfendler Hall

Shawn Donkin, Purdue University
Interview: Thursday & Friday, April 8 & 9
Seminar: Thursday, April 8, 9:00 a.m. in Deans Auditorium, Pfendler Hall

James Murray, University of California at Davis
Interview: Thursday & Friday, April 22 & 23
Seminar: Thursday, April 22, 9:00 a.m. in Deans Auditorium, Pfendler Hall

The seminars will be streamed & made available for viewing by Purdue faculty and staff via the department head search link on the animal sciences home page (http://www.ag.purdue.edu/ansc/) . The candidate CVs and evaluation forms are also available via this site.

A big thanks to the search committee: Layi Adeola, Todd Applegate, John Baugh, Chris Bidwell, Ryan Cabot, Barry Delks, Paul Ebner, Joe Garner, Mickey Latour, Don Lay, Donna Lofgren, Bill Muir, Tamilee Nennich, Darryl Ragland, Mark Russell, and Craig Williams for an outstanding job in securing excellent candidates for the department head position. Also, a big thank you to Suzanne Nielsen who has done a great job chairing this committee and Becky Rice for her always amazing support.


College honors nine Distinguished Agriculture Alumni

Nine individuals were recognized as Distinguished Agriculture Alumni during a campus ceremony on March 5. The award honors mid-career Purdue Agriculture graduates who have made significant contributions to their profession, or society in general. The 2010 honorees represent a broad range of career fields, said Dean Jay Akridge. "These nine people represent who we are and what we do so well," Akridge said. "They are businesspeople, educators, farmer/ranchers, entrepreneurs and researchers - and they are all leaders. We take great pride in our alumni, and these are nine of our best."

Full story: http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/general/2010/100304AkridgeDistinguishe.html


Ag Economist: U.S. economy is in a period of recovery

sunshineAfter what's been called the worst recession since the 1980s, agricultural economist Larry DeBoer said the economy is now in a period of recovery. "When Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, or any economist says the recession is over, we mean the economy is not declining any more," DeBoer said. "Think of it in terms of digging yourself into a hole. When you stop digging deeper it's a significant change."  Another significant change is to climb back out of the hole. DeBoer said the economy likely will stay in the hole for a little while, however.

Full story: http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/outreach/2010/100304DeBoerRecovery.html


Podcasts enhance students' garden experiences

i-podsThe Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture is using a popular electronic tool to aid learning in a study abroad course. Associate Professor Paul Siciliano has created podcast tours for students who will visit England as part of a course on history, horticulture and landscape architecture.  Dr. Siciliano and two other professors will accompany the students on the trip. The audio tours provide students the information they need as they walk through the gardens at their own pace. Dr. Siciliano created the podcasts with the assistance of Purdue Agricultural Communication.

Full story: http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/academics/2010/100210SicilianoTours.html


Vitamins stored in bathrooms, kitchens may become less effective

Mauer vitaminsHigh humidity present in bathrooms and kitchens could be degrading the vitamins and health supplements stored in those rooms, even if the lids are on tight, a Purdue University study shows. Dr. Lisa Mauer, Food Science, said that crystalline substances - including vitamin C, some vitamin B forms and other dietary supplements - are prone to a process called deliquescence, in which humidity causes a water-soluble solid to dissolve. Keeping those supplements away from warm, humid environments can help ensure their effectiveness.

Full story: http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/research/2010/100302MauerDeliquescence.html


Projection shows water woes likely based on warmer temperatures

CherkauerSeveral Midwestern states could be facing increased winter and spring flooding, as well as difficult growing conditions on farms, if average temperatures rise, according to a Purdue University researcher. Dr. Keith Cherkauer, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, ran simulation models that show Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan could see as much as 28 percent more precipitation by the year 2070, with much of that coming in the winter and spring. His projections also show drier summer and fall seasons.

Full story: http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/research/2010/100216CherkauerWarming.html


Hoosiers acquire a taste for local foods through Indiana Flavor

Indiana flavorA new Purdue program is helping Hoosier communities launch and sustain local and regional food networks. The Indiana Flavor program provides presentation materials, sample survey questions, examples of community-based food network projects, and more. Resources are available on the program's Web site at http://pcrd.typepad.com/ecd/indiana-flavor/. Purdue Cooperative Extension Service and the Purdue Center for Regional Development developed Indiana Flavor.

Full story: http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/outreach/2010/100302HutchesonProgram.html


Popular nanoparticle causes toxicity in fish, study shows

fishA nanoparticle growing in popularity as a bactericidal agent has been shown to be toxic to fish, according to a Purdue study. Tested on fathead minnows – an organism often used to test the effects of toxicity on aquatic life -- nanosilver suspended in solution proved toxic and even lethal to the minnows. When the nanosilver was allowed to settle, the solution became several times less toxic but still caused malformations in the minnows. "Silver nitrate is a lot more toxic than nanosilver, but when nanosilver was sonicated, or suspended, its toxicity increased tenfold," said Maria Sepúlveda, Assistant Professor of Forestry and Natural Resources whose findings were published in the journal Ecotoxicology. "There is reason to be concerned."

Full story: http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/research/2010/100301SepulvedaNanosilver.html


Country ants make it big in the city

antsIt's a tale of bright lights, big colonies: Rural ants go wild in the city. The first systematic lifestyle survey of odorous house ants confirms how much a modest country dweller can change habits in the big city, according to urban entomologist Grzegorz Buczkowski, Research Assistant Professor in Entomology. In the forests of Tippecanoe County, Ind., he found odorous house ants, Tapinoma sessile, in colonies with just one queen each. With no more than a hundred ants, each colony could live in a single acorn.

Full story: http://www.ag.purdue.edu/entm/Lists/News/DispFormNoSummary.aspx?List=8a0d6fbd%2D206c%2D4231%2D9f9a%2D83f1da3610f6&ID=74


Awards and Recognitions


SaltDr. David Salt, Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, is the winner of the 2010 Herbert Newby McCoy Award, the most prestigious research award given by Purdue. The award is in recognition of his pioneering and innovative efforts in the use of genome-scale biological approaches and information technologies to define and drive the field of ionomics. He is an international leader in the field of plant nutrition and has made significant impacts on environmental sustainability, agriculture and human health. The McCoy Award is presented annually to a Purdue student or faculty member for outstanding contributions to science. The award was established in 1964 by Ethel Terry McCoy in memory of her husband, a Purdue alumnus. The winner is nominated by colleagues and selected by faculty representatives and the University president. Dr. Salt will address the Purdue community at the McCoy Distinguished Lecture later this year. A date will be announced.

MauerDr. Lisa Mauer, Food Science, is the 2010 winner of the Agricultural Research Award.  Lisa’s award is based on an exceptionally productive program focused on approaches for rapid, non-destructive monitoring of quality and safety of food products, improved delivery of bioactive food ingredients, and developing novel techniques in food treatments and packaging to control quality and shelf life for foods (the last focused on space flights). 

Dr. Mauer has published prolifically, presented her work frequently at national and international meetings, and collaborated widely with other researchers at Purdue and elsewhere. She has mentored dozens of graduate students as either major professor or committee member and has opened her lab to many undergrads and high school students. Her program is very well-funded from a variety of sources. 

Mark your calendar and plan to join us on May 5th from 2-4 p.m. in the Dean’s Auditorium in Pfendler Hall to hear Dr. Mauer's research seminar and to celebrate her receiving the Agricultural Research Award for 2010.

LintonDr. Rich Linton, Food Science, has been appointed to the Advisory Council of the Global Food Safety Institute (GFSI).  GFSI, the only independent global network for consumer goods retailers and manufacturers worldwide, is a collaboration of leading food safety experts.  The GFSI Advisory Council is composed of 12-16 members and it supports and provides expertise to the GFSI Board in their decision making process.

Dr. Linton was also recognized at a ceremony on March 5, 2010 as the Outstanding Alumnus in the College of Agriculture and Life Science at Virginia Tech for 2009-2010, representing the Department of Food Science and Technology at Virginia Tech.


University News


Nominations sought for Special Boilermaker Award

Nominations are being accepted for the Special Boilermaker Award, given annually by the Purdue Alumni Association. The Special Boilermaker Award was established in 1981 to recognize a member of the Purdue faculty or staff who has contributed significantly to the quality of life and/or the betterment of the educational experience for a substantial number of Purdue students. Nominations should be submitted by June 1. More information about the award is available here.

Strategic sourcing FAQ available online

As the Sustaining New Synergies Task Force evaluates University processes and develops implementation plans, frequently asked questions will be answered to help keep the campus community informed.

Read more: http://www.purdue.edu/sustaining/initiatives/sourcing/FAQ-Sourcing-100302.pdf

Purdue featured at Department of Energy Web site

Purdue is in the spotlight at the U.S. Department of Energy Web site for efforts in supporting and advancing scientific research and discovery. The spotlight includes professors of interest, exceptional students, and science and educational news. See the page at www.osti.gov/EDUconnections.

Mark your calendar


March 15-19: Spring Break

March 23: HLC Accreditation Team visit to College of Agriculture

March 31: 33rd Annual Food Science Club Symposium, 3:00-6:00 p.m., Pfendler Hall Dean’s Auditorium. More information

April 17-18: Spring Fest on campus from 10 am – 4 pm on Saturday and Sunday. College of Agriculture and other units from across campus present this educational event. Spring Fest information on the web: http://www.purdue.edu/springfest/

April 26: Indiana MultiEthnic Conference, 8:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Sheraton Indianapolis Hotel & Suites

May 14: College of Agriculture Commencement


Purdue Agriculture In Focus Archive: http://www.agriculture.purdue.edu/in_focus
Contact Us:dmcclure@purdue.edu