November 2012

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From the Dean

jay akridgeWe have had many groups visiting campus over the past few weeks (Dean's Advisory Council, Congressional Agriculture staff, PCARET members, Indiana Farm Bureau....), and I have been on the road with many other groups (National FFA, Ag Futures of America, U.S. Meat Export Federation, 4-H Congress....). People always want to know what is happening in the College and many like to hear the numbers/metrics. So, here is a list of numbers/metrics that capture just a bit of what our College is about:

1: US News and World Report rank of Agricultural and Biological Engineering undergraduate and graduate programs

2: World Food Prize Laureates from Purdue Agriculture: Drs. Phil Nelson and Gebisa Ejeta

3: Design Intelligence magazine ranking of our Landscape Architecture program

4-H: In Indiana, 72,000 members, 130,000 youth involved total, 17,000 volunteers state-wide

8: Strategic Initiatives focusing the work of Purdue Extension in Indiana

21: The number of faculty positions we are currently working to fill

28: The percentage of our Purdue Agriculture graduating seniors in 2012 who had studied abroad

48: New undergraduate scholarship endowments in the last fiscal year, a total of $2,754,492 generating $137,724 in scholarships annually

124: The number of companies at our Fall Career Fair

150: Years since Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Act into law, laying the foundation for land-grant universities such as Purdue and the first step in establishing our tripartite mission of learning, discovery, and engagement

275: County Extension Educators serving the state of Indiana through 92 county Purdue Extension offices

350: Research projects conducted in 2012 with 40 different crops on our 8 Purdue Ag Centers strategically located throughout the state

631: Purdue Agriculture graduate students this fall semester--59% domestic and 41% international

2,658: Purdue Agriculture undergraduates on campus this fall semester--78% Indiana residents; 21% out of state; 6% international

1,820,000: Purdue Improved Crop Storage (PICS) bags distributed in West Africa since the launch of the PICS project

$23,565,158: College sponsored program awards (371 funded proposals) in the first 4 months of this fiscal year (through October)

33,986,698: Purdue Agriculture web page views so far in 2012

9 billion: Forecast of the earth's population in 2050, and the number of individuals for whom Purdue Agriculture is working to provide food, feed, fuel and fiber.

Lots of other numbers are out there--if you have a favorite number that is not on this list, let me know. As always, I appreciate the work each of you do every day that generates so many terrific numbers to share.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

All the best,


Purdue Agriculture People

Ag Research Spotlight: Mario Ferruzzi

mario ferruzziThe 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 Mario Ferruzzi, Food Science, whose work underscores the theme “People enhancing food and health.”​

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Two from Agriculture receive Burkina Faso's highest honor for PICS

lowenberg deboer and murdockPurdue College of Agriculture faculty members Larry Murdock and Jess Lowenberg-DeBoer received the highest honor given by the West African nation of Burkina Faso for their work in improving storage of the staple cowpea crops. The Chevalier de l'Ordre National du Burkina Faso, the equivalent to the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom and rarely given to foreigners, was awarded to Murdock and Lowenberg-DeBoer on Oct. 13 during the pair's visit to the country. The word "Chevalier" translates to "Knight." "The high-level honor we received is a direct consequence of the priority that the Burkinabés put on food security," Murdock said. "Jess and I are overwhelmed by the honor. To be thought of in such high regard by the Burkinabé people is truly humbling."

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NPR Morning Edition host to speak at Fish Fry

steve innskeepNational Public Radio Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep will be the keynote speaker for the 2013 Purdue Agriculture Alumni Association Fish Fry, scheduled for Feb. 2, 2013. A native of Carmel, Ind., Inskeep has been part of the NPR team since 1996 and joined Morning Edition in 2004. He is known for his probing questions to presidents, warlords, authors and musicians, but his passion is the untold stories of the less famous. Inskeep is the author of the 2011 book Instant City: Life and Death in Karachi, a story of ordinary — often heroic — people and their struggles to build one of the world's great megacities. The Fish Fry will be in the Marsh Blue Ribbon Pavilion at the Indiana State Fairgrounds starting at 11:30 a.m. Tickets are $25 per person and are sold only in advance.

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Global trade program celebrates 20-year anniversary

GTAP logoA Purdue-based program that helps researchers and policymakers analyze international trade has turned 20 years old. The Global Trade Analysis Project maintains data on more than 948,000 bilateral trade flows linking 130 economies around the world. GTAP is housed in the Department of Agricultural Economics. An anniversary celebration took place on Oct. 22. The event includes a panel discussion and reception. "Because of the way funding and policies change, it is very rare for a project like GTAP to last more than a half dozen years," said Thomas Hertel, GTAP's executive director and founder. "This is bigger than one person."

Full story:

Dean’s Advisory Council comes to campus for fall meeting

dean's advisory councilThe Purdue Agriculture Dean’s Advisory Council met on campus on November 9 to get updates on current and planned activities in the College of Agriculture and give us their thoughts and ideas around issues facing the College now. The Council is comprised of individuals who represent the breadth of the food, life sciences, agriculture and natural resource system. Council members come from across the state (and beyond) and have a wide range of occupations and professional/personal backgrounds.

The 2012-2013 Dean’s Advisory Council:


iGEM Team wins at regional competition

igem teamCongratulations to Purdue's Gold Medal winning iGEM (internationally Genetically Engineered Machine) Team at the iGEM 2012 Americas East Regional Jamboree held in Pittsburgh, on October 12-14. Purdue's iGEM Team, composed of undergraduate students enrolled in the Colleges of Agriculture & Engineering, next traveled to MIT in Cambridge, MA, for the iGEM 2012 World Championship Jamboree. Team members are Chris Thompson, ABE; Amanda Pearl Shanley, ABE and Biochemistry; Sean Kearney, ABE; August Clevenger, Biology; James Nolan, ABE; Mrudula Vemuri, ABE; Rachel Feltner, Biomedical Engineering; Laan Yeung, WL High School; Gordon Showalter, ABE; Perter Mercado, Biochemistry; Namita Balachander; Arthi Anand; Christopher Soverns, Physics; and Haefa Mansour, Chemical Engineering. Dr. Jenna Rickus, ABE, serves as an advisor to the team.  

Awards and Recognitions

fred whitfordFred Whitford, Botany and Plant Pathology, received the North Central Region Award for Excellence in Extension at the APLU (Association of Public and Land Grant Universities) 125th Annual Conference in Denver on November 11-13. Fred, who coordinates the Purdue Pesticide Program, was cited for his work that transformed a regulatory-based pesticide program into a dynamic extension education program that helps farmers and commercial applicators understand the wide variety of risks they face and how they can mitigate those risks to successfully manage their business.


abigail maurerAbigail Maurer of Bargersville, Ind., a senior studying agricultural communication, was featured by Purdue as one of “5 Students Who are Making News”-- focusing on different aspects of mass communication, including meteorology, photography and journalism.

Meet all 5 students:



peter mercado reyesPeter Mercado-Reyes, a sophomore biochemistry major from Indianapolis, was one of three Purdue students to be the first recipients of the Roger Blalock Emerging Leader Award at the 2nd Annual Empowering and Cultivating Emerging Leaders Conference sponsored by the Office of the Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion on September 8.



linda pitstickLinda Pitstick, Facilities and Events Manager at the Beck Agricultural Center, received a "Thumbs Up" from AgIT for her professionalism and positive attitude while supporting AgIT's staff retreat at the Beck Agricultural Center. Said Eric Adams, "Linda was very accommodating of our needs and went out of her way to make our retreat run smoothly. We couldn't have done it without her!"



Purdue Extension presents special awards at conference

Purdue Extension educators and specialists were recognized on Nov. 8 for the exceptional service they provide in their profession. Special awards presented during Extension's annual Professional Development Conference luncheon and the honorees are listed here:

Extension educators honored with awards

The Indiana Extension Educators Association presented awards on Nov. 8 to county educators during a luncheon at Purdue Extension's annual Professional Development Conference. Awards and recipients are listed here:

Warrick County 4-H leader chosen as Friend of Extension

friend of extension williams4-H leader Jim Williams of Warrick County has been honored as the 2012 Friend of Extension for his work spanning more than three decades in helping to shape the lives of young people.  The award by the Indiana Extension Educators Association was given on Nov. 8 during a luncheon at Extension's annual conference. Williams of Newburgh, Ind., is a Warrick County 4-H alumnus and has served as president of the Warrick County 4-H Council, 4-H Center board and the Extension Board. He also has been the Wagner 4-H club leader and a 4-H camp volunteer for 35 years.

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Teen parenting program earns Extension's Hancook Award

The Purdue Cooperative Extension Specialists Association has given its top award to a new program that helps pregnant and parenting adolescents by strengthening teen families. The Hancook Award, recognizing Extension educators and specialists who jointly develop programs focusing on families, was presented on Nov. 8 during a luncheon at the annual Purdue Extension Professional Development Conference. The Purdue Pregnancy and Parenting Education of Adolescents Through Extension (PPEATE) program was funded by a grant from the Indiana State Department of Health to respond to a high rate of teen pregnancy in Indiana. Long-term goals are to reduce repeat pregnancies, reduce high school dropout rates and improve birth outcomes.

Other awards presented by the Extension Specialists Association are listed here:

Purdue Agriculture in the News

Purdue gets $6 million to develop robotic pruning for grapes, apples

peter hirstPurdue University researchers received $6 million in grants to automate one of the most laborious and costly jobs in vineyards and apple orchards. Each year, fruit growers spend about 20 percent of their labor costs on pruning vines and trees. Peter Hirst, an associate professor of horticulture, is leading a program to develop and improve machines that use cameras and robotic arms to do the work. Hirst received a $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Specialty Crops Research Initiative, with another $3 million in matching funds from industry partners and institutional funds.  "Purdue's land-grant mission puts our scientists in a position to use their knowledge for the public's benefit," said Purdue acting President Timothy Sands. "This is a prime example of how research is translating into benefits for business owners and consumers." The apple and grape industries have an economic impact of about $5.5 billion annually, according to USDA statistics.

Full story:,-apples.html


Purdue gets 4-year National AgrAbility Project grant from USDA

agrabilityPurdue’s  Breaking New Ground Resource Center has been awarded a four-year, $1.9 million National AgrAbility Project grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to continue its work in helping farmers with disabling injuries or illnesses continue to live productive lives in agriculture. AgrAbility, founded in 1991, is funded by the USDA's National Institute for Food and Agriculture and provides education and support to farmers, ranchers, seasonal farm workers and their families who have been affected by an injury, illness or lifelong disability. "AgrAbility has been a key to increasing employment opportunities for rural Americans with disabilities involved in agriculture," said Paul Jones, manager of the National AgrAbility Project. "The people we serve have been able to make positive contributions to their families and communities through relatively small investments in technology and other accommodations. We look forward to another four years of increasing awareness of disability issues and helping reduce barriers to people with disabilities in rural areas."

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Purdue part of national group bent on saving the hellbender


hellbenderRod Williams, Forestry and Natural Resources, is leading a group of Purdue scientists as part of a nationwide effort to save a declining species of an amphibian called the hellbender, with hopes of rallying people to do the same.  The group is trying to save North America's largest salamander, also known as a "devil dog" and "old lasagna sides." These giant salamanders are typically 11-24 inches long with flat green or brown bodies that have noticeable wrinkles on the sides. They are long-lived and spend up to 30 years under flat rocks in rivers and streams across Appalachia, parts of the Midwest and the northern tips of several southern states.  But the eastern hellbender is endangered in five states and protected or of special concern in many others.  "Their populations are declining in many of their geographic locations," said Williams. "This species has hardly changed in 160 million years of existence, so we think it's worth the effort to do our part to save this living fossil."

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Ag economist: Seed prices going up, but so will revenues

alan millerFarmers will pay significantly more for the seed they'll plant in 2013 but make up for it with higher returns on their investment, predicts agricultural economist Alan Miller, a farm business management specialist. Prices for corn seed are expected to rise 5-7 percent, 7-10 percent for soybean seed and more than 10 percent for wheat seed. That would mean a bag of corn seed would sell for between just under $200 to more than $300, depending on whether it is a conventional or biotech variety. Soybean seed would go for about $50 a bag, with wheat seed priced in the low $20s per bag. He urged farmers to place their orders with seed dealers in the next few weeks.

Full story:,-but-so-will-revenues.html


Purdue Research Park-based life sciences firm receives $300,000 NIH grant

tymora logoA life sciences company whose technology could help researchers develop drug candidates to battle cancer, diabetes, and immune system and neurological disorders has received a $300,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health. Tymora Analytical Operations LLC, a Purdue Research Park-based company, received the SBIR Phase I grant to optimize and strengthen its PolyMAC product. The technology promotes the discovery of new disease targets in laboratory settings. It is based on research by W. Andy Tao, associate professor in Purdue's Department of Biochemistry. The company licensed the technology through the Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization. Anton Iliuk, postdoctoral research associate in the Biochemistry department, is president and chief technology officer of the company.

Full story:,000-nih-grant.html


Ag economist: Thanksgiving dinner prices continue to rise

turkeyConsumers preparing turkey dinners should expect to pay a little more for Thanksgiving staples this holiday season, says Corinne Alexander, agricultural economist. Alexander said holiday shoppers face moderate increases in food prices, but those increases are building on sharp rises from previous years. "It's not a one-year story," she said. "Grocery store food price increases of 0.8 percent in September 2012 are building on the 6.3 percent increase in September 2011. Alexander expects food prices to continue to increase in 2013. "Commodity grain prices are at record levels because of the 2012 drought in the Midwest," she said. "Livestock and dairy producers continue to reduce their herds and, as a result, consumers will see higher prices for meat and dairy products in 2013."

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Area beef meetings feature drought recovery, regulatory updates

angus cattleCattle producers can learn about new manure regulations and how to repair their pastures after the summer drought at the Indiana Beef Cattle Association's annual area beef meetings. Purdue University and the IBCA will host the meetings at 10 sites December through January.  "This is going to be the most up-to-date information that we can provide to farmers relating to the drought and upcoming rules and regulations that are going to impact operations," said Ron Lemenager, Purdue Extension beef specialist.  Lemenager said farmers need to know about manure management changes that will take effect in February. He said most beef producers would be affected if they have any hay waste around a feed area that will be land applied. They will need to have a plan in place for disposal under the new rules.

Full story:,-regulatory-updates.html

Postharvest workshop to focus on grain, pest management

corn binPurdue Extension experts will focus on grain and pest management at a Nov. 28 workshop at the Beck Agricultural Center at Purdue's Agronomy Center for Research and Education, 4540 Highway 52 W. The Post-Harvest Update and Recertification Workshop is geared toward farmers, commercial grain storage handlers, pest management professionals and food processing quality-control managers. Sessions will cover insect biology and identification, management of molds and mycotoxins in the 2012 crop, fundamentals of grain management, hidden pitfalls of measuring pesticides, the economic value of integrated pest management in grain storage, factors affecting grain storage for the 2012 crop, and fumigation and pesticide updates. The workshop goal is to help attendees effectively manage postharvest systems to reduce pests, choose appropriate pest-control strategies and adopt integrated pest management systems.

Full story:,-pest-management.html


Scientists tracking down genes that help bees defend against mites

hunt beemitesPurdue University researchers are zeroing in on genes that help honeybees defend against varroa mites, one of the largest factors in bee population declines. Varroa mites are parasites that attack honeybees and infect them with viruses that cause death. The mites can infest and kill entire bee colonies. But certain honeybees have developed defensive behaviors that allow them to kill the varroa mites or disrupt mite reproduction. Greg Hunt, a professor of behavioral genetics, and Jennifer Tsuruda, a Purdue postdoctoral researcher, are searching for the genes that provide those defenses and believe they've narrowed the options considerably. "Bees are fighting back. They're getting rid of the mites themselves," said Hunt, whose findings were published in two papers in PLOS ONE. "We can select for these traits now, but it's tedious. If we can identify the genes that influence these traits, we could develop better methods to screen for these genes and speed the process."

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Warmer climates don't necessarily mean more fertile soils, study says

jeff dukesWarmer climates won't necessarily speed the return of nitrogen to soils as scientists once thought, according to a Purdue University study led by Jeff Dukes, associate professor of forestry and natural resources. Increased temperatures from climate change have been expected to speed decomposition of plant materials and the return of nitrogen to soils, making the soil more fertile for plants. But Dukes found that the microbes responsible for returning nitrogen to soils react differently to a range of climate scenarios. "More nitrogen being available is not something we can count on in all ecosystems," said Dukes, whose findings were published in the journal Global Change Biology.

Full story:,-study-says.html


Organic status will make Purdue research more competitive

kevin gibsonMeigs Farm, part of the Throckmorton Purdue Agricultural Center in Tippecanoe County,  now has about 10 acres of certified oganic land, putting researchers in a stronger position to help develop more effective organic farming practices. The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association certified the land in October. Kevin Gibson, a weed scientist in Botany and Plant Pathology, said the land would help researchers do the type of holistic science needed to help farmers grow their crops organically.  "In order to evaluate management practices like crop rotations, pest management, the use of cover crops or how a particular variety will perform under organic conditions, we need to work within the same set of rules as organic growers," he said. Purdue's effort took about one and a half years, but Gibson said that's quicker than normal. Certification typically requires a three-year period during which a field is transitioned from conventional to organic production.

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Study: Farm fatalities dropped in 2011; no child deaths

bill fieldThere were fewer reports of Indiana farm-related deaths in 2011 than the previous year, including none involving children for the first time in 13 years, according to a new Purdue University report. The Indiana Farm Fatality Summary reports that 16 people died in farm-related incidents in 2011, down from 23 in 2010. The number of farm-related fatalities represents about 13 percent of the 122 fatal work injuries documented in Indiana last year. While less than 1 percent of Indiana's workforce is employed in production agriculture, the industry has traditionally been responsible for the highest number of work-related fatalities in the state. The report also says that for the first time since 1998, there were no reports of anyone under the age of 18 being killed in Indiana during farming activities. Bill Field, Purdue Extension safety specialist, said while it's good that there's a declining number of farm fatalities, farmers should still practice preventative safety.

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University News

Purdue's international student population ranks 2nd for public schools

Purdue University continues to have the second-largest international student population among U.S. public universities and is fourth overall, according to a report released Nov. 12 by the Institute of International Education. "Purdue is well-known internationally as a premiere education destination, and this global aspect of our university continues to attract American students, too," said Purdue acting President Timothy Sands. "This diversity offers Purdue students real-world experience right on our campus through classes and student activities that prepare them for the global workforce." The 2012 Open Doors report is based on the 2011-12 academic year, and it reports Purdue had 8,563 international students. This number is larger than Purdue's reported 7,934 for Fall 2011 because the institute includes recent graduates who are still affiliated with their universities.

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Nominations being accepted for Hansen Award

Tim Sands, Acting President, announces that nominations are now being accepted for the 2013 Arthur G. Hansen Recognition Aware. This annual award offers a prize of $2,500 to the Purdue unit that excels in fostering a strong relationship with Purdue retirees. Any Purdue retiree can submit a nomination of a college/school, department, division or section that they feel recognizes and promotes the involvement of retirees. Nomination forms are available on-line at or from Human Resources, FREH. Nominations are due to Human Resources, FREH, by February 1.

New R tool with access to thousands of processors available to Purdue researchers

A new Web-based tool for running the R open source statistical computing software, now available to Purdue faculty and their students through an accessible graphical interface and Purdue¹s DiaGrid distributed computing system, will be demonstrated from 2-3 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 28, in Stewart Center, Room 204. To register:
Questions email:

ITaP offers tips on keeping smartphones, mobile devices secure

To keep data on a smartphone or mobile device protected, consider treating it like a purse or wallet — always close by and within physical reach. Implementing a password-protected screen lock can prevent problems in the event a device is lost or stolen, especially for users who have sensitive information stored, like credit card or bank account numbers, says David Shaw, Purdue’s chief information security officer. Also, it’s a good idea to back up data onto a PC or server in case a mobile device cannot be recovered.

More tips to help protect against mobile device threats:


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.