Purdue Agriculture - In Focus

December 2011

From the Dean




As we wrap up the semester and approach the holidays, I know time is short and so will respect the predicament we find ourselves in and keep this column (relatively) brief! In just a couple of days, I will have the opportunity to present an overview of the College to our Board of Trustees. This opportunity comes up about every two years and it is something I really look forward to. I don’t need to tell you that we have a great story to share. Dinah McClure has reported in InFocus all year about the accomplishments of our faculty, staff, and students; rankings of our programs; research grants funded and research results that matter; Extension and international programs that are making a significant difference around the state and around the world; state support that helped us avoid a real budget crisis...the list goes on and on and it will be a privilege to share your accomplishments with our Board.

I will also spend some time with the Board talking about where we are going: helping new Centers such as the Center for Global Food Security and the Center for Commercial Agriculture get traction; enhancing our ability to support faculty research and build corporate partnerships; refining the Pathway program with Ivy Tech; sharing some exciting new ideas for making our undergraduate program even better; implementing the Extension strategic initiatives; exploring new opportunities in Brazil and Colombia; making efforts to help enhance a climate of excellence and respect through better mentoring, and so on. All of the excitement about the future is not constrained to new initiatives, and I will make points about how long-time/existing activities such as 4-H, the Indiana Wine Grape Team, the Whistler Center for Carbohydrate Research, and the PICS project, among many others, are all making a difference.   

Of course, despite the great story I will share, I am well aware that anyone who cares about this College can come up with a list of ways we can be better; ways we can be smarter; ways we can make this a better place to work; and ways we can be even more impactive. As we wind down this semester, I would just ask you to hold those thoughts for the New Year. I look forward to working with you to tackle these issues in the coming year as we pursue our goal of becoming the national model of a land grant college of agriculture.

For now, I want to express my thanks for an exceptional year and thank each of you for your role in making it happen. You have certainly earned a break and I hope you are able to get away and enjoy time with your friends and family. It is a privilege to serve as Dean of this College, and I wish each of you the very best of the holidays and a terrific 2012!

All the best,

Jay signature


Purdue Agriculture People

Associate Dean visits Sheik Zayed University in Afghanistan

Lowenberg DeBoerDr. Jess Lowenberg-DeBoer, Associate Dean and Director of International Programs in Agriculture, met with the chancellor of Sheik Zayed University in Khowst province, Afghanistan on October 26 to discuss strengthening the collegial partnership between the two universities. The meeting between Dr. Lowenberg-DeBoer and SZU’s Dr. Gul Hassan Walizai was facilitated by U.S. Air Force Col. Shane Halbrook, an Avon, Ind. native and the commander of the Indiana National Guard’s 4-19th Agribusiness Development Team. Dr. Lowenberg-DeBoer has been visiting universities across Afghanistan to help strengthen Afghan Agricultural faculties. “I’m here to get an idea of how SZU can partner with Purdue or other Universities”, he said. “Afghanistan is Purdue’s largest international commitment and it’s my responsibility to develop programs that can help.”

Full story: http://www.rc-east.com/en/regional-command-east-news-mainmenu-401/5048-purdue-university-professor-visits-sheik-zayed-university.html


Landscape Architecture highly ranked....again

DesignIntelligencePurdue's Landscape Architecture program continues to be ranked 3rd nationally for the second consecutive year in the 13th annual rankings from DesignIntelligence, a bi-monthly journal for design leaders. "America’s Best Architecture & Design Schools" research is conducted annually by DesignIntelligence on behalf of the Design Futures Council. The research highlights the best architecture, interior design, landscape architecture, and industrial design programs in the country. Selected professional practice leaders with direct experience hiring and supervising the performance of recent architecture and design graduates are invited to participate in the research. They answer the question, “In your firm’s hiring experience in the past five years, which schools are best preparing students for success in the profession?”


Fish Fry Tickets available, Volunteers needed

Howard BuffettTickets are now available for the Famous Purdue Ag Alumni Fish Fry to be held at the Indiana State Fairgrounds on Saturday, February 4, 2012. This year's featured speaker is Howard G. Buffett, president of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation (and son of Warren).  Buffet was recently featured on "60 Minutes" for his work to bring new agricultural methods to poor farmers around the world. Watch the segment here.

To purchase Fish Fry tickets or to sign up to volunteer as a server at this annual event, please visit the Purdue Ag Alumni Web site.




Awards and Recognitions


ladischMichael Ladisch, distinguished professor of agricultural and biological engineering, is one of five Purdue professors who have been awarded the distinction of Fellow from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world's largest general scientific society. The distinction recognizes notable work to advance science or its applications, and fellows are elected by their peer members. Prof. Ladisch was recognized for his contributions to the science of bioprocessing of renewable resources in biofuels and of bioseparations for rapid detection of food pathogens. There are now 48 Purdue faculty members who are AAAS fellows.



Marshall PorterfieldMarshall Porterfield, ABE, has been elected to the College of Fellows of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE).The inductees, who were nominated by their peers, were screened by committees of Fellows within their specialty and were elected by the full College as the official Class of 2012. The College of Fellows is comprised of the top two percent of medical and biological engineers in the country. Engineering and medical school chairs, research directors, innovators, and successful entrepreneurs comprise the College of Fellows to fulfill AIMBE’s mission of providing leadership and advocacy in medical and biological engineering for the advancement of society.



BoehljeMike Boehlje, a distinguished professor of agricultural economics who has helped farmers and agribusinesses modernize their management strategies, is the 2011 recipient of the Frederick L. Hovde Award of Excellence in Education Service to the Rural People of Indiana. He received the award on December 9 at the Indiana Farm Bureau convention in Indianapolis. The award honors Purdue staff with a record of outstanding achievement and service to rural communities.

Full story: http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/outreach/2011/111209AkridgeHovde.html






Amy LinAmy Lin, Food Science, received the Young Investigator Award at the 2011 meeting of the International Conference on Food Factors (ICoFF) in Taiwan.  The theme of the conference was “Food for Wellbeing--from Function to Processing.”  Amy’s research talk was entitled “Are the small intestine mucosal alpha-glucosidases the final control point of dietary glucose production from starchy foods?” 




Purdue Extension educators, specialists and teams were recognized for providing exceptional service during Extension's annual Professional Development Conference on November 10.

Friends of Extension Awards: http://www.agriculture.purdue.edu/in_focus/2011/December/FriendsofExtensionAward.htm

Special Extension Awards: http://www.agriculture.purdue.edu/in_focus/2011/December/SpecialExtensionAwards.htm

Hancook Award: http://www.agriculture.purdue.edu/in_focus/2011/December/HancookAward.htm

Other awards:http://www.agriculture.purdue.edu/in_focus/2011/December/ExtensionAwards.htm


Ag Communications staff and publications won awards in the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) District V competition:

  • Best Tabloid Newsletter for External Audiences--Gold Award: “Connections”, Tom Campbell, Keith Robinson, Dan Annarino, Gina Price, Cheri Fredericks and Megan Madia
  • Best Event on a Shoestring--Gold Award: “Science Café”, Brian Wallheimer 
  • Excellence in News Writing--Silver Award: “New Scientific Field Will Study Ecological Importance of Sounds”, Brian Wallheimer

The Council for Advancement and Support of Education is a professional association serving educational institutions and the advancement professionals who work on their behalf in alumni relations, communications, development, marketing and allied areas. CASE helps its members build stronger relationships with their alumni and donors, raise funds for campus projects, produce recruitment materials, market their institutions to prospective students, diversify the profession, and foster public support of education.


Don Biehle and Bill Maschino at the Southeast Purdue Agricultural Center received a "Thumbs Up" from Transportation Services this month. "One of our buses had a mechanical problem while away from campus, and Don and Bill jumped right in to lend assistance and get the bus back on the road," the staff wrote. "[Don and Bill's] efforts were greatly appreciated."


Purdue Agriculture in the News


New biosensor benefits from melding of carbon nanotubes, DNA

Analyst coverPurdue scientists have developed a method for stacking synthetic DNA and carbon nanotubes onto a biosensor electrode, a development that may lead to more accurate measurements for research related to diabetes and other diseases. Carbon nanotubes, cylindrically shaped carbon molecules known to have excellent thermal and electrical properties, have been seen as a possibility for improving sensor performance. The problem is that the materials are not fully compatible with water, which limits their application in biological fluids. Marshall Porterfield, professor of agricultural and biological engineering and biomedical engineering, and Jong Hyun Choi, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, have found a solution. Their findings, reported in the journal The Analyst, describe a sensor that essentially builds itself.

Full story: http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/research/2011/111114PorterfieldDNA.html


Old dog learns new tricks in children's economics DVD

HerschelBusiness is a dog-eat-dog world, especially for a pooch with a poor grasp of economics. In a new children's DVD produced by the Purdue-based Indiana Council for Economic Education, a puppet hound named Herschel learns about the trials and tribulations of starting a doggie treats company. "Herschel Goes into Business" also stars Harlan Day, the ICEE’s recently retired executive director."Herschel Goes into Business" picks up where 2007's "Herschel's World of Economics" left off. In the original, Day taught the misguided canine basic economic concepts such as goods and services, productive resources, scarcity and opportunity cost, during informal - and often comical - talks outside Herschel's doghouse.

Full story: http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/general/2011/story-print-deploy-layout_1_16572_16572.html


Holidays in space may one day come with all the trimmings

sweet potatoesFuture astronauts spending Thanksgiving and other holidays in space may not have to forgo one of the most traditional parts of the day's feast: fresh sweet potatoes. Cary Mitchell, professor of horticulture, and Gioia Massa, a former postdoctoral researcher at Purdue, developed methods for growing sweet potatoes that reduce the required growing space while not decreasing the amount of food that each plant produces. Their findings were published in the journal Advances in Space Research. Sweet potato plants have main vines with many shoots that branch out to the sides. Knowing they needed to contain the plant's horizontal spread, Mitchell and Massa decided to force it to grow vertically. Using cones or cylindrically shaped wire cages, they trained plants' main vines to wrap around the structures while removing the space-consuming side shoots.

Full story: http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/research/2011/111121MitchellPotatoes.html


Economist: 2012 has potential to be good year for hog producers

hogsAfter several years of struggling to earn a profit, pork producers could find themselves back in the black in 2012, says a Purdue Extension agricultural economist Chris Hurt. Profits in 2012 are forecast at about $17 per head, which would be the highest since 2006, he said. In 2006 corn prices were $2.30 per bushel, compared with the $6-$7 per bushel this year, and hogs were bringing a profit of $27 per head. According to Hurt, while a return to profitability is welcome news, it seems there are more broad implications. "The pork industry, like most other animal industries, has made the adjustments necessary to live in a world of high-priced feed," he said. "It also looks like the pork industry has probably 'turned the corner' on high feed prices heading into 2012."

Full story: http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/general/2011/111209HurtHogs.html


Herbicide may affect plants thought to be resistant

rootsHorticulture researchers have discovered a fine-tuning mechanism involved in plant root growth that has them questioning whether a popular herbicide may have unintended consequences, causing some plants to need more water or nutrients. Angus Murphy, a professor of horticulture, and Wendy Peer, an assistant professor of horticulture, study the movement of auxin, a plant hormone essential for plant development. They showed that ABCB4, a protein responsible for moving auxin into cells, also removes the hormone when too much has accumulated.The herbicide 2,4-D, a synthetic form of auxin, could have unintended consequences for the protein, Murphy and Peer said. Their findings appeared in the early online version of The Plant Journal.

Full story: http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/research/2011/111122MurphyTransporter.html


Walnut trees may not be able to withstand climate change

Douglass JacobsWarmer, drier summers and extreme weather events considered possible as the climate changes would be especially troublesome - possibly fatal - for walnut trees, according to research Forestry and Natural Resources. Over five years, Douglass Jacobs, a professor of forestry and natural resources, and Martin-Michel Gauthier, a former doctoral student under Jacobs who is now a research scientist in the Ministry of Natural Resources in Quebec, studied the physiology of walnut trees, which are economically significant in Indiana for their lumber and veneer, and in other areas for their nuts. They found that the trees are especially sensitive to particular climates."We suspect and predict that climate change is going to have a real impact on walnuts," said Jacobs. "We may see some type of decline of the species." The findings were published in the December issue of Annals of Forest Science.

Full story: http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/research/2011/111128JacobsWalnut.html


Indiana wines expected to benefit from good grape harvest

wine glassThe wet spring, hot summer and warm, dry fall were not optimal conditions for most Indiana crops, but they were ideal for grape growers. "The hot summer and extended fall gave Indiana growers plenty of time to let their grapes ripen, which made it a good harvest. And while talking to growers across the state, most of them seem happy with their crop," said Bruce Bordelon, Purdue Extension grape and wine specialist. East Coast growers were hit by heavy rains and a hurricane this year, and West Coast growers experienced rains during harvest time, which is rare there. These rains can often damage or ruin the grape crop. Midwestern states such as Indiana were fortunate with grape growing weather this year, Bordelon said.

Full story: http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/general/2011/111205BordelonGrapes.html


Stronger corn? Take it off steroids, make it all female

maizeA Purdue University researcher has taken corn off steroids and found that the results might lead to improvements in that and other crops. Burkhard Schulz, assistant professor of horticulture and landscape architecture, wanted to understand the relationship between natural brassinosteroids - a natural plant steroid hormone - and plant architecture, specifically plant height. Schulz said corn could benefit by becoming shorter and sturdier, but the mechanisms that control those traits are not completely understood. "It is essential to change the architecture of plants to minimize how much land we need to produce food and fuels," said Schulz, whose findings are published in the early online version of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "If you can find a natural mutation or mechanism that gives you what you need, you are much better off than using transgenic techniques that could be difficult to get approval for."

Full story: http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/research/2011/111130SchulzSteroids.html

University News

Purdue's international student population ranks among highest in United States

Purdue University has the second-largest international student population among U.S. public universities and is fourth overall, according to the 2011 Open Doors report released on November 14 by the Institute of International Education. "One of Purdue's strengths is the global experience that students can enjoy every day, whether it's during class or by participating in campus activities," said Purdue President France A. Córdova. "Purdue's reputation is synonymous with global engagement, and this gives our graduates an edge in today's competitive workplace. On a more personal level, some in-state students have not yet had the opportunity to travel abroad, so this diverse environment helps them grow in global awareness." The Institute of International Education's Open Doors 2011 report is based on the 2010-11 academic year.

Full story: http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/general/2011/11115BrzeznskiInternational.html

Reminder of Christmas and New Year's Day holiday schedule

As the winter holidays approach, Human Resources reminds faculty and staff of the official University holiday schedule for the Christmas and New Year's Day.

The dates are as follows:
* Dec. 23, 26 (Friday and Monday) -- Christmas Holiday
* Dec. 30 (Friday) -- President's Designated Holiday
* Jan. 2 (Monday) -- University Observance of New Year's Day

To view the full holiday schedule for fiscal years 2011-12 and 2012-13, visit the Human Resources website at www.purdue.edu/hr/Benefits/holidays.html or follow the Holidays link that appears in the Resources section at the bottom of each page within the HR site.

New University Policies website

University Policies has a new website with a new layout and numbering system. The website address (URL) for the home page is the same (www.purdue.edu/policies), but all lower-level pages within the site have new URLs. In order to prevent broken links, any attempts to access an old page will be redirected to the new home page. However, department websites that currently contain links to specific University policies may prefer to update their websites so they link directly to the policies in their new location. The new website organizes policies into eight volumes (instead of the previous 10), which are listed in the site's top navigation. Because of this reorganization, the policy numbers have changed and a crossover grid is posted on the new site to show the old and new numbers of each policy. Executive memoranda maintain their existing numbers. Any questions regarding the new website can be directed to the University Policy Office at policies@purdue.edu or 49-46373.

New community cluster supercomputer will be available to faculty in the spring

A new cutting-edge research supercomputing cluster will be available for use by Purdue faculty and their students in the spring of 2012 and should allow campus researchers to tackle larger problems and get more detailed results faster than ever before. ITaP partnered with Intel, HP and Mellanox to build the new cluster, nicknamed "Carter." The supercomputer is ranked 54th on the latest TOP500 list of the world's most powerful supercomputers and is among the half dozen most powerful machines at U.S. academic institutions. It is the most powerful on a U.S. campus where the research computing facilities are not part of a federally funded laboratory.

Full story: http://www.itap.purdue.edu/newsroom/detail.cfm?newsId=2455

Mark Your Calendar


Check the College online calendar for all events, seminars and deadlines here: http://www.ag.purdue.edu/Lists/Agriculture%20Calendar/calendar.aspx


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