December 2012

Facebook Twitter More...

From the Dean

jay akridgeAs the semester and the year wind down, it seems appropriate to reflect on what we have accomplished as a College. I think one way to characterize the past six months is ‘laying the foundation for 2013 and beyond’ – there was a lot of work this semester and this year that will be finalized or at least moved forward in 2013 and have important implications for our future.

Many involved in our undergraduate program have had a busy fall working through our College’s response to the 120 credit cap on our undergraduate degrees, the new Honors College, and other University-led initiatives. (A big thanks to our Curriculum and Student Relations Committee and chair Barb Golden for their leadership here.) Associate Dean Marcos Fernandez, OAP staff and a group from Agricultural Communications have developed a new undergraduate recruiting campaign around the word ‘Experience’. It replaces our dated ‘Go in Ag’ campaign, and I believe will play an important role in recruiting great students to the College. Our Advancement team, with exceptional support from department heads, faculty and staff, booked 63 new undergraduate scholarship endowments.The combined total of funds raised through the Indiana Challenge Match is nearly $4 million and will lead to $179,757 in new scholarships annually for our undergraduate students.

The search for the next Associate Dean and Director of Purdue Extension is well underway, thanks to an exceptional search committee. Telephone interviews will happen just after the first of the year and we are on track to have a new Director named in the first half of 2013. Extension also has a new brand campaign built around the idea of ‘Local Faces, Countless Connections’ that will play an important role in raising the visibility of Extension across our state.

In the area of Ag Research, Shawn Donkin, who is leading our graduate programs, and Office of Multicultural Programs Director Pam Morris have initiated a new approach for building relationships with the 1890 Land Grant institutions in order to help us do a better job of recruiting minority graduate students in the future. Associate Dean Karen Plaut has led a number of initiatives, including taking groups of faculty to meet with agencies in Washington and bringing program officers to campus, with the goal of helping us build deeper relationships with federal grant agencies and to help enhance our faculty’s success in obtaining federal research funding. In the same spirit, NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy will visit campus January 24-25. In addition, we have in place new post-award management support for faculty with large grant/multiple grants. Our faculty currently have more than 500 proposals outstanding—requesting $191 million—that are awaiting agency decisions. Over the course of the fall semester, Karen and I have also been working with our plant sciences faculty, exploring ways to better position our faculty and staff in this critical area for future success.

International Programs in Agriculture has been winding down our work in Afghanistan while exploring new areas of activity for the Gates-funded Purdue Improved Crop Storage (PICS) project, as well as supporting faculty who are working on major proposals for USAID.  Associate Dean Jess Lowenberg-Deboer has some great ideas to be rolled out in 2013 that will help IPIA be even more strategic and supportive of College international activities.

Much work was done this past year and especially this past semester around our College budget. The news of the looming federal “fiscal cliff” and the threat of sequestration if the President and Congress don’t reach a budget agreement before the end of the year is everywhere. While it is impossible at this point to know exactly what will happen, full implementation of sequestration as currently proposed would mean an 8.2% cut on our federal capacity funds – about $1.3 million in recurring funds. Sequestration would also affect our college in other ways, most directly through reduced competitive federal funding. While we obviously hope an agreement is reached, we have developed a plan to manage the short term impacts of sequestration. We have been and continue to be conservative in our fiscal management of the College and can get through sequestration without drastic short-run cuts. However, such cuts would certainly have an important effect on what we can accomplish as a College over the longer term.

We have also invested much time this year preparing for the 2013 state legislative session. Flat funding of our line items over many years has undermined our ability to serve the state. Given this situation, we will be seeking an additional investment in our agricultural research and Extension programs during the coming legislative session. In addition to 5% increases in our County Extension Educator and ADDL line items, we are also asking for an additional $3m recurring investment in our agricultural research and Extension line. We have been working with key agriculture leaders across the state to make them aware of the request and why it’s important, as well as with our Purdue Council for Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching (PCARET) group to build local support across the state.

I could continue with so many more things you have worked on this year that will play an important role in our future: the COACHE survey of our faculty; the USDA Civil Rights compliance review; many, many conversations with prospective donors; our Food Science Head search; the 4-H strategic plan…  Perhaps nothing is more important than the arrival of Purdue’s 12th President, Governor Mitch Daniels, in January. Our College has been involved in helping prepare the Governor for his new role, and we look forward to working with him as we begin a new era at Purdue.

As we wrap up 2012, I want to express my deepest thanks to each and every one of you for another extraordinary year. This College remains a special place because of what you bring to your respective roles every day. Given all the groundwork we have laid this year, I could not be more excited about what 2013 will bring. Have a wonderful holiday!    

All the best,


Purdue Agriculture People

Ag Research Spotlight: Yiwei Jiang

Yiwei JiangThe Ag Research Spotlight shines each month on an individual whose work reflects our commitment to the six strategic themes that guide Agricultural Research at Purdue. This month's spotlight is on Yiwei Jiang, Agronomy, whose work underscores the theme “Strengthening ecological and environmental integrity in agricultural landscapes.”​​

Full story:


Professor Gary Krutz: Health monitor for hydraulic hoses

LifeSense hoseThe LifeSense Hydraulic Hose Condition Monitoring System, developed by Eaton Corp., Maumee, Ohio, and Purdue, intelligently monitors the health of hydraulic hose assemblies in real time. The system detects internal and external fatigue that has been shown to cause failure and notifies users when an assembly approaches the end of its useful life. The system earned an R&D 100 award from R&D Magazine.

Full story:

Luanna Demay, Katricia Sanchez, Ben Allen and John Lai, all in Agricultural Economics, received a "Thumbs Up" from Michael Gunderson, who wrote: "Thanks go to Luanna and Katricia for organizing and executing two excellent, week-long residency sessions back-to-back for our agricultural economics MS-MBA program. Thanks also go to Ben Allan and John Lai for serving as outstanding teaching assistants during the semester and, in particular, while the MS-MBA year one students were on campus."


Bob MitchellBob Mitchell, who worked as IT manager in Botany and Plant Pathology for 35 years, passed away on November 24. Bob graduated from Berea High School in Berea, Ohio, and received a bachelor's degree in computer science from Purdue. He is survived by his sister, two stepdaughters, six grandchildren and two nephews. He was preceded in death by his wife, Brenda Mitchell. Memorial contributions in Bob's memory can be made to the American Cancer Society or the Missions Department of Christ Memorial Temple.

Awards and Recognitions

Two Agriculture professors are among nine Purdue faculty members 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 their notable work to advance science or its applications, and fellows are elected by peer members. The association will present 702 new fellows with the award on Feb. 16 during the association's annual meeting in Boston. The Agriculture Fellows are:

nick carpitaNick Carpita, professor of plant pathology, for distinguished contributions to plant biology, particularly structure and biosynthesis of cell walls, gene discovery, and improvement of grasses as lignocellulosic bioenergy crops.




avtar handaAvtar Handa, professor of horticulture, for distinguished contributions to the field of postharvest biology, particularly for discovering fundamental knowledge to develop fruit crops with enhanced shelf-life, phytonutrients and yield.




suzanne nielsenSuzanne Nielsen, Food Science, was recognized as a Fellow of the Food Systems Leadership Institute at the Board on Agriculture Assembly National Awards Program during the APLU Annual Meeting in November. The Food Systems Leadership Institute offers leadership development to upper-level leaders in higher education, government, and industry to prepare them to meet the leadership challenges and opportunities of the future.



Fred WhitfordFred Whitford, coordinator of Purdue Pesticide Programs, is the 2012 recipient of the Frederick L. Hovde Award of Excellence in Educational Service to the Rural People of Indiana. He received the award December 7 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:



Kiersten WiseKiersten Wise, Botany and Plant Pathology, is part of a team of scientists from agricultural experiment stations at land-grant universities that received the 2012 Experiment Station Section Award of Excellence in Multistate Research presented by NIFA and APLU. The team was selected for its work in identifying management strategies for soybean rust, a fungal disease that poses a serious threat to U.S. soybean production. The team was honored at the Annual APLU Awards Program in Denver on Nov. 11. The group also was recognized for innovative research on disease-resistant soybean varieties, which will provide more environmentally and economically sustainable long-term disease management.


pam mowPam Mow, administrative assistant in Botany and Plant Pathology, received Purdue's 2012 Eudoxia Girard Martin Memorial Staff Recognition Award. The award was established in 2001 through an endowment funded by Mrs. Martin's sons, Dr. Leslie L. Martin and Colonel Carlton J. Martin. Mrs. Martin was a valued member of the Engineering Administration staff. Selection is based on the degree to which the recipient, in service to the University community, "demonstrates those qualities of heart, mind, and spirit that evince a love for and helpfulness to students, faculty, and staff."



Landon YoungLandon Young, doctoral student in Ecological Sciences and Engineering, has been selected as a 2013 U.S.Kauffman Global Scholar, a program led by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. He will participate in the Kansas City, Mo.-based program, which runs from January through mid-June. Young has already been involved in startup companies from the ground floor. He is CEO of World Help Solutions Inc., a company seeking to provide efficient and effective solutions to elevate the quality of life in Third World countries through asset-based design and the implementation of systems, technologies and social programs. In addition, he is working with a wind turbine startup, Dualpower Turbines LLC.


stephen backusStephen Backus of Fort Wayne, Ind., a senior studying wildlife, was featured as one of "5 Students Who Are Funmakers", highlighting students who are pursuing hobbies and activities that relate to sports, dancing, music and comedy. Stephen is head facilitator for the Boiler Challenge Program that offers challenge courses for groups of eight to 100, and his activities include rock climbing, competitive fencing and dog training.

Meet all 5 students:


Purdue Agriculture in the News

Purdue technology can 'fry' food with minimal oil

Kevin KeenerTechnology developed by Kevin Keener, Food Science, could cook food that retains its "fried" flavor and consistency and has up to 50 percent less fat and fewer calories than food cooked using conventional methods. The radiant fryer uses energy similar to sunlight to cook pre-formed food items like chicken patties, hamburgers and hash browns. Keener said many foods sold at fast-food restaurants are partially cooked at a factory and quickly frozen. Restaurant workers typically use an oil immersion fryer to finish the process. "The radiant fryer does not require additional oil to finish the process, which means the food that it cooks could have 30 to 50 percent less oil than food cooked with the traditional frying," he said.

Full story:


Research assessing obesity in rural preschoolers

childhood obesityA five-year, multistate study involving Purdue Extension is aiming to find causes and preventions for childhood obesity in low-income preschoolers in rural communities, including two Indiana counties. The study, "Communities Preventing Childhood Obesity," helps community health coalitions to identify and correct problems that could be contributing to childhood obesity, such as lack of easily accessible playgrounds or grocery stores. The project, led by Kansas State University and funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, involves two counties each from Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin. The project began in March 2011 and will end in March 2016.

Full story:

State council begins work for better control of invasive plants

garlic mustardA council created by the state Legislature has begun an effort to help agencies and the public better understand the need to prevent invasive plant species from getting established and spreading in Indiana. Invasive plants are a major threat to Indiana and the nation and, when left uncontrolled, spread quickly, said John Jachetta, chairman of the Indiana Invasive Species Council, which has secretarial offices at Purdue University. The council has prepared a set of best management practices to help landowners and managers reduce economic and environmental damage from invasive plants, available at

Full story:

Grilled, seared foods may add to waistlines, disease risk

Kee-Hong KimA steak slapped onto a hot barbecue will leave the meat with black grill lines that add flavor and aroma, but the chemicals contained in charred, seared and fried foods may over time kick-start the body's ability to add new fat cells and increase the risk of age-related diseases, a study led by Kee-Hong Kim, Food Science, shows. Grilling, searing and frying create glycated proteins, which result from proteins chemically bonding with sugar. "When you put proteins and sugars together at high temperatures, there is a chemical reaction, and that creates flavor and texture, which we think of as good things," said Kim. "Research suggests that these glycated proteins are involved in age-related diseases like cardiovascular disease."

Full story:,-seared-foods-may-add-to-waistlines,-disease-risk.html


Disruption of gene used to transport proteins leads to ALS

james clemensJames Clemens, Biochemistry, has determined the function of a gene that when mutated leads to a genetic variation of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease. Clemens found that a gene called VAPB is responsible for transporting certain proteins to their proper places along neurons. When the gene is mutated or deleted, these proteins are unable to make it to locations in neurons where their function is critically required. ALS causes neurons to die, slowly eliminating voluntary muscle control and eventually causing death in about five out of 100,000 people worldwide, according to the National Institutes of Health. Clemens studied the VAPB gene, which, when mutated, causes a portion of the disease's genetic versions. His findings were published in The Journal of Neuroscience.

Full story:


Beef management seminar to feature talk by Temple Grandin

temple grandinA Purdue Extension beef management seminar will give cattle producers the chance to learn about animal handling facilities and on-farm management practices from some of the nation's top experts, including author and livestock industry consultant Temple Grandin. The Cattle Handling Practices and Facilities seminar will be Jan. 19 in Bedford and will include discussions about beef cattle psychology, handling facilities and temperament scoring. Speakers also will cover livestock issues in the media. "Animal wellbeing has been a hot topic in the media, so it's important for beef producers to know what roles they can play in helping to explain livestock production," said David Redman, Purdue Extension educator in Lawrence County. Grandin, a livestock behavior researcher at Colorado State University, is best known for her work in livestock welfare and autism advocacy. In addition to her research, she is an award-winning author and internationally renowned animal welfare lecturer. Additional expert speakers are Ron Lemenager, Purdue Extension beef specialist; Bret Marsh, Indiana state veterinarian with the Indiana Board of Animal Health; Brad Shelton, superintendent of the Feldun-Purdue Agricultural Center; and Redman.

Full story:


Hurt: Drought potential sparks extreme uncertainty in 2013 corn yields, prices

corn harvestA return to more normal U.S. corn yields in 2013 could send new-crop prices spiraling downward, but persistent drought in some of the nation's top corn-producing states could have the opposite effect, says Purdue Extension agricultural economist Chris Hurt. The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts the midpoint of U.S. farm prices on 2012 corn will be $7.60 per bushel. If yields are more normal in 2013, Hurt said prices could fall by $2.10 to $5.50 per bushel - the largest ever year-to-year drop. According to Hurt, late next summer a 2013 corn crop larger than 14 billion bushels would meet a usage base that has dropped to just 11.2 billion bushels. The market must then shift from rationing corn use from the current short crop to strongly increasing use. If corn usage were to drop that low, it would take sharply falling prices to encourage end-users to return to normal usage.

Full story:,-prices.html

Dry November, warm December no reason to panic about more drought

climate officeA very dry Indiana November and abnormally warm start to December have sparked some nervous chatter in the agriculture community on the heels of the worst drought in decades, but the Indiana State Climate Office says it isn't time for farmers to panic. A cold November brought only 28 percent of normal rainfall to the state, but a northward shift of the jet stream and storm track brought warm, wet weather back to Indiana in early December. With no definitive pattern in effect this year, such as El Niño or La Niña, that weather variability is likely to continue throughout the winter months, said Ken Scheeringa, Indiana associate state climatologist, based at Purdue.

Full story:,-warm-december-no-reason-to-panic-about-more-drought.html


Spirit of the Land Grant Mission Award winner announced

connie weaverDr. Connie Weaver, distinguished professor and head of the Department of Nutrition Science, will receive the 2012 Purdue University Spirit of the Land Grant Mission Award. The award reflects the exceptional impact of Dr. Weaver's integrated engagement, discovery, and learning program. Dr. Weaver is an expert in mineral bioavailability, calcium metabolism and bone health, and she is a member of the Institute of Medicine, which is the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences. She has published more than 260 research articles and trained more than 37 doctorate and 18 master's degree students. She received the 2012 Herbert Newby McCoy Award, the most prestigious research honor given by Purdue. Dr. Weaver will present a seminar in the Spring 2013 semester.

Purdue workshop to tackle issues faced by family farms

farming next generationOn February 12-13, the Center for Commercial Agriculture will offer "Farming into the Next Generation", a workshop to help farmers who are part of a family business explore crucial management and relationship issues that families need to address for future successes. Brent Gloy, the center's director, said the two-day workshop is intended for farmers who are working together with other family members and for those who want to add more family members to the business. "Running a family farming business together can be a challenging process for both the younger and older generations," Gloy said. "This workshop will help families build stronger management teams and family relationships, and help them identify techniques and planning processes that can resolve conflict and position the farm business for success for another generation." Program instructors are Bernie Erven, professor emeritus of agricultural economics at Ohio State University, and Bob Milligan, senior consultant at Dairy Strategies LLC and professor emeritus at Cornell University.

Full story:


U.S. unlikely to dominate future corn exports, economist says

philip abbottThe United States remains the world's corn export king, although its empire is shrinking, says agricultural economist Philip Abbott. Foreign nations that previously relied on the U.S. for corn are growing more of their own or buying from other producing countries, he said. He predicted the trend will continue even if market conditions improve and U.S. corn production increases. "The U.S. has historically been a very important part of the international corn market," Abbott said. "Prior to the 2007-08 food crisis and spike in commodity prices, the U.S. exported well over half the amount of corn that entered international markets. Since then, the high prices have caused the rest of the world to expand their production and become more self-sufficient. Even if we get bigger corn crops in the future, it's likely that the demand in foreign markets will not soon recover to the level that it once reached."

Full story:,-economist-says.html


Conference focuses on small farm production, management

small farm graphicSmall farms are a big deal, and a Purdue Extension conference will provide the tools to successfully operate them. The Indiana Small Farm Conference will take place March 1-2 at the Hendricks County 4-H Fairgrounds in Danville. Sessions will focus on issues related to management, production, processing and marketing. Three keynote speakers are scheduled: David Swenson, Iowa State University community economics researcher; Michael Hamm, professor of sustainable agriculture at Michigan State University; and Ed Bell, a Hagerstown strawberry farmer who has overcome physical disabilities. A trade show is planned both days. To register, visit the Purdue Small Farms and Sustainable Agriculture Extension Team website at

Full story:,-management.html

Purdue publication answers questions about 'raw' milk

raw milkAs consumer demand for locally grown and organic foods increases, so, too, does the interest in unpasteurized - or "raw" - milk. But is milk that comes straight from a cow safe to drink? A new Purdue Extension publication helps separate fact from fiction. Raw Milk FAQs, Extension publication AS-612-W, is available for free download from Purdue Extension's The Education Store at The seven-page publication was written by Mike Schutz, Purdue Extension dairy specialist, and Mike Ferree, a Purdue Extension educator from Bartholomew County. The publication is intended to add to the public dialogue as lawmakers across the country consider whether to regulate raw milk, what a regulatory system should look like, and how best to protect both consumer choice and public health, Schutz said.

Full story:


Plans for food hub to be detailed at public meeting

roy ballardPurdue Extension held a public forum with farmers regarding a proposed virtual food network that will better connect farmers and consumers. Called the Central Indiana Food Hub, the project is expected to create marketing opportunities for produce and other products from Indiana farmers. The project began in summer 2011 and has been supported by two grants from the USDA. Researchers out of Purdue Extension’s Hancock County office hope the virtual hub, which will match consumers with desired farm products, will be operational by spring with further growth opportunities to come in the near future.

Full story:

University News

University outlines adverse winter weather procedures

Should adverse weather conditions necessitate that a Wind Chill Emergency or a Snow or Ice Emergency be declared for the West Lafayette Campus, special procedures pertaining to operations, parking, pay, and/or attendance will become effective. The definitions and procedures are in accordance with Purdue University Adverse Weather Conditions policy I.2.5, dated November 1, 2011.

Full story:

Discovery Park center, Duke Energy partner for STEM-driven Energy Academy program

Purdue University's Energy Center will collaborate with electric utilityDuke Energy Corp. to expand the Energy Academy at Purdue next summer, making it available to more students and teachers throughout Indiana. Registration is now open for middle school and high school teachers and students to participate in the June 16-22 academy, building on a successful inaugural event that drew 20 students and 16 teachers last summer. Application deadline for the 2013 event is Jan. 15.

Full story:,-duke-energy-partner-for-stem-driven-energy-academy-program.html

New '4-D' transistor is preview of future computers

A new type of transistor shaped like a Christmas tree has arrived just in time for the holidays, but the prototype won't be nestled under the tree along with the other gifts. "It's a preview of things to come in the semiconductor industry," said Peide "Peter" Ye, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Purdue University. Researchers from Purdue and Harvard universities created the transistor, which is made from a material that could replace silicon within a decade.

Full story:

Depew appointed interim director of GPRI

Dennis Depew, dean emeritus and professor in the College of Technology, has been named interim director of the Global Policy Research Institute. Depew is a member of GPRI's Faculty Leadership Committee and co-instructor of the Global Policy Issues course taught each spring semester. He succeeds Arden Bement, who is retiring after serving as inaugural director of GPRI since 2010.

Full story:

Call for Nominations for Dreamer Award

Nominations are being accepted for the 2013 Dreamer Award. The award is presented to an individual or organization within the Purdue community whose contributions embody Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s vision of service to others and further the University's commitment to diversity. Nominations of alumni and retirees will also be considered.

Full story:

Report Hate and Bias

report hate cardPurdue University is a community where diversity is valued and incidents of hate and bias are not tolerated. Students, faculty, staff, and campus visitors who feel that they have been the victim of a bias related incident (or who have witnessed a bias related incident) are encouraged to report it online at or to contact the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities at 765-494-1250. Your report can remain anonymous if you wish. Remember, if it is an emergency situation that requires immediate medical or emergency services attention, please call the Purdue University Police Department at 911 or 765-494-8221.