December 2015

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From the Dean

Jay AkridgeI hope your year is beginning to wind down a bit as we head to the holidays (and the first-ever holiday recess on campus). That said, I know this is a hectic time with final exams, grading, graduate student thesis defenses, graduation, year-end Extension programs, getting proposals and requests done before the holiday, and much more.

My message this month is a simple thank you to each of you – students, staff, faculty, and administration – for another extraordinary year. I won’t recap all of the highlights here; Dinah McClure reports them every month in InFocus, and there have been a lot of highlights this year! Groundbreaking for the new Animal Sciences buildings, construction of the automated phenotyping facility, launching our 2015-2020 strategic plan, graduating our largest class in several decades, hosting the BIFAD meeting, welcoming terrific new faculty members, an outstanding Extension Professional Development Conference…the list truly does go on and on.

Certainly, one of the highlights of the year was being named the number 5 agriculture and forestry college in the world. (Yes, Bernie Engel, I know the Agricultural and Biological Engineering department is number 1, but we're working on it!) While the headline-grabbing things that happen in the College play a role in supporting that lofty ranking, every single person in this College owns a piece of that ranking. Truly great organizations (colleges included) are more than a few spectacular successes. Organizations become and stay great when every person in the organization delivers his or her very best every day - and when that same group keeps looking for ways to do things better tomorrow than they did today.  And, I see and hear about that mindset over and over and over across the people of this College.

I just want to say a sincere thanks to all of you for what you bring to the College each and every day. It is essential to our success as a College and very much appreciated. I hope before you head out for the holiday, you can reflect a bit on what you have personally accomplished this year and know that you played an important role in helping us make a difference for our students and our stakeholders, here and around the world; that you pushed back the limits of what we know in your area of science; and/or you made our college a better place to work or someone’s role easier or helped them be more effective. In the end, this is not about rankings – it is about making a difference in our respective roles.  When we do that to the very best of our collective abilities, accolades such as high rankings will come.

It is a real privilege to work with so many talented, passionate, and committed people. I do hope you find some restful time over the holidays, and I wish you all the very best of this season and a healthy and happy 2016.

All the best,



Purdue Agriculture People


Ag Research Spotlight: Christian Krupke

Christian KrupkeThe 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. Our spotlight for November is on Christian Krupke, Entomology, whose work underscores the theme, “Facilitating informed decision making to improve economic and social well-being.”

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Graduate Research Spotlight: Wai Kit Ma

Wai Kit MaThe Graduate Research Spotlight highlights graduate students and their work. This month’s spotlight is on Wai Kit Ma, Biochemistry; advisor Beth Tran.

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Events set to commemorate 2016 Diversity Awareness Week in CoA

Martin Luther KingThe Diversity Action Team in Agriculture (DATA) has organized four days of activities to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Diversity Awareness Week, January 19-22, sponsored by the Colleges of Agriculture, Health and Human Sciences, and Science. Following the observance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday on Monday, January 18, faculty and staff are invited to participate in activities each day to educate and raise diversity awareness.

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Suzanne Nielsen to serve as Interim Head for Policy Research Institute

Suzanne NielsenPurdue’s Global Policy Research Institute has joined Discovery Park and been renamed the Purdue Policy Research Institute. The Institute focuses on public policy linked to interdisciplinary technologies and applications related to Purdue’s core strengths, said Dan Hirleman, Purdue’s chief corporate and global partnerships officer. “Policy is critical to the success of Discovery Park’s mission to address society’s grand challenges in the 21st century,” said Tomás Díaz de la Rubia, chief scientist and executive director of Discovery Park. “Research discoveries addressing challenges in global health, food, water, energy and the environment will need the support of public policy to be viable. This move will not only directly connect policy to these research areas, it will directly connect the faculty across the necessary disciplines.” Suzanne Nielsen, professor in Food Science and a faculty fellow of the Office of Corporate and Global Partnerships, will serve as interim director of the institute, which will be housed in Mann Hall.

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New Agricultural Communication Department Head named

Maureen ManierMaureen Manier has been named head of the Department of Agricultural Communication, replacing Beth Forbes, who will take a new appointment in the Department of Youth Development and Agricultural Education. Maureen will join us on February 1, 2016. She brings a broad perspective on communications to the role, shaped by her experiences in the academic and development world, and a very strong leadership record. She has served as vice president for communications and marketing for the Riley Children’s Foundation and director of marketing communications at Butler University. She has also worked as a strategic marketing communications consultant, providing communication and marketing expertise to private and public schools, universities, museums, foundations and community organizations. Said Dean Jay Akridge, “I am very confident Maureen’s leadership will help us build on our current momentum in Agricultural Communication, taking the Ag Comm team to even higher levels of excellence.”


Purdue Agriculture Strategic Plan on the web

Strategic PlanThe recently completed College of Agriculture 2015-2020 Strategic Plan is now online. Click here to access the plan, as well as links to other related material and information. You can also download the complete plan as a PDF from this site.




College names Distinguished Agriculture Alumni for 2016

Eleven individuals from agriculture, industry and academia have been chosen to receive 2016 Distinguished Agriculture Alumni Awards. The Distinguished Agriculture Alumni Award was created in 1992 to recognize mid-career alumni of the College of Agriculture. Honorees must have a demonstrated record of outstanding accomplishments, have made significant contributions to his/her profession or society in general, and exhibit high potential for future professional growth. Recipients will be recognized in a convocation on Friday, March 4, 2016.

The 2016 Distinguished Agriculture Alumni:
Tahirou Abdoulaye, Outcome and Impact Economist, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (AGEC)
Mary Beth Adams, Research Soil Scientist, USDA Forest Service (FNR)
Martin Berry, Sr., Principal Research Engineer, Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc. (FS)
Jay Hood, Principal, Director of Landscape Architecture, Littlejohn (HLA)
Thomas McKinney, President & General Manager, McKinney & McKinney, Inc. (AGEC)
Jack Odle, William Neal Reynolds Professor, North Carolina State University (ANSC)
Sergio Pascholati, Professor, Luiz de Queiroz College of Agriculture (Esalq) (BTNY)
Jeff Troike, CEO/President, Ceres Solutions, LLP (ANSC)
Dexter Wakefield, Assistant Professor, Agricultural Education & Mechanics, Texas State University (YDAE)
Karl Weiss, Vice President, Earthmoving Division, Caterpillar, Inc. (ABE)
Kristin Whittington, Founder and President, Landmark Enterprises, LLC (ANSC)


Digital Measures input due February 8

For faculty and staff using Digital Measures for reporting: The Digital Measures website is up . From this site you can login, download training dates, download training documents, and send email for “help” with Digital Measures.

Digital Measures Training:

  • Any person with Hatch, McIntire-Stennis, Smith Lever, Animal Health funds must use Digital Measures instead of FAIR to report on their Impacts.
  • Training continues with just a few sessions left.  Don’t wait until the last minute!
  • Bring your REEport document to a face-to-face training and you’ll complete your report in the training!

CVs – we are caught up on uploading faculty CVs into Digital Measures (except for publications). Send your CV to if you want us to upload it for you. Send the full document or a five-year dossier.

Publications—Two-step process:

  • We are using Web of Science to update your publications on the web if you had no pubs in FAIR. If you had pubs in FAIR, those are the ones you will see in Digital Measures.
  • When we get your new CV, we will compare the Web of Science/FAIR upload to your CV and fill in anything that’s missing.
  • OR, you can go to the Intellectual Contributions portion of Digital Measures and upload your own pubs using Google Scholar. Please let us know you have done this so we will not erase your work. 

For help with Digital Measures:  Contact and you will hear back from Dawn Parks.


College participates in Bravo Awards Program

Bravo AwardPurdue Agriculture will participate in the Bravo Award program again this year. The Bravo Award is intended to highlight the excellence found across all areas and job functions at Purdue by recognizing and rewarding extraordinary achievements on every scale. The Bravo Award is a one-time cash award to employees at all levels in recognition of substantial accomplishments that extend well beyond regular work responsibilities. Acknowledging employee accomplishments that help Purdue make a difference with our students and in our state and help us move the world forward is vital to the University's mission and the morale of our faculty and staff. Click here for more information and FAQs about the Bravo Award. You can find the Bravo Award nomination form here. Please use this form—not any older versions. If you have questions, please contact your business manager.


Call for Nominations: College of Agriculture PK-12 Council Outreach & Engagement Awards

The purpose of the newly created Outreach and Engagement Awards is to recognize faculty and staff involved in successful outreach and engagement activities and to encourage the improvement and expansion of those activities.  Three awards will be presented with one in each of the following categories: staff, faculty emerging impact, and faculty sustaining impact.  Awards will be $5,000 each, and funds may be used for equipment, supplies, services, travel, and undergraduate or graduate student effort. Any College of Agriculture faculty or staff member whose outreach and engagement efforts with K-12 audiences address the College’s goal to expand the pool of students interested in and prepared for careers in food, agricultural, life, and natural resource sciences is eligible to receive this award.  Outreach and engagement efforts can be school-based, classroom projects, or may also be defined as Informal Science Education. Nominations may be submitted by any Purdue Agriculture faculty or staff member. Teams are eligible to apply. Nominations are due February 10, 2016.  To access nomination forms and additional information about the awards, visit




A reminder about tracking civil rights and diversity training

Civil Rights logoThe College of Agriculture is committed to making ongoing improvements to policies and practices to assure that race, ethnicity and gender are not barriers to success. During our USDA Federal Civil Rights Compliance Audit in 2012, it was brought to our attention that we did not have a formal tracking system in place to verify that all faculty, staff and graduate students received appropriate training. In order to comply with this, individuals are required to receive training in civil rights (the regulations), diversity awareness or sexual harassment each year. Therefore, we created a system utilizing the Qualtrics survey tool to have individuals self-report completion of their training. Rather than mandate a specific training, we are asking you to comply by recording training you have been to already or attend any training that fits your needs and interests and enhances your knowledge/understanding of diversity, civil rights or sexual harassment. Please note that all of the activities detailed above for Diversity Awareness Week are great opportunities to meet your yearly training requirement for Purdue Agriculture. 

Report training at:

Training modules available for faculty and staff

Risk Management, in collaboration with the Office of the Vice President for Ethics and Compliance and the Office of the Vice President for Human Resources, announces the availability of the Risk Management Employment Claims Initiative education program. The program helps employees and supervisors understand employment-related issues such as discrimination, harassment, disability awareness and accommodations, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), overtime rates, and other university leave policies. Participants will complete four training modules and corresponding certification quizzes: 1) Equal Opportunity; 2) Americans with Disabilities Act; 3) Wage and Hour Issues for Employees and Supervisors; and 4) Family and Medical Leave Act and University Leave Policies.

The training modules and instructions for accessing the certification quizzes are located on the Purdue Employee Portal. Each training module is approximately 20 to 25 minutes long. Training on the Americans with Disabilities Act and Equal Opportunity will also fulfill College of Agriculture requirements for civil rights training as required by the USDA. All faculty and staff are strongly encouraged to complete these training modules. Faculty and staff participation in these training modules impacts the College's share of insurance costs.

Awards and Recognitions


Jeffrey DukesJeffrey Dukes, Forestry and Natural Resources and Biological Sciences, has been selected as a 2016-2017 Public Engagement Fellow by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Fellows were chosen for demonstrating leadership and excellence in their research careers and interest in promoting dialogue between science and society. Dukes, director of the Purdue Climate Change Research Center, joins 14 other climate change researchers as the first cohort of the Alan I. Leshner Leadership Institute for Public Engagement with Science. The fellows will receive public engagement and communication training and professional development throughout their fellowship year.


Van Scoyoc and GraveelA Soil Science course taught by George Van Scoyoc and John Graveel, Agronomy, has been selected by Purdue University to highlight exciting examples of "Making" curricula on campus as part of the "Making" initiative launched by President Barack Obama and the Office of Science and Technology Policy to highlight the importance of creating opportunities for hands-on STEM learning, facilitating entrepreneurship, and expanding advanced manufacturing in the United States.



Pam MowPam Mow, Botany and Plant Pathology, was recognized as a “Difference Maker” by Duke Energy during the Purdue men's basketball game on December 5. Pam, pictured along with Dana Vann (left), formed the Lafayette Chapter of Gold Star Mothers in 2008 and the two have dedicated their time, talent, and energy to serving other Gold Star families and veterans as a tribute to their fallen sons. Since 2011, they have coordinated 12 Honor Flights, which take groups of veterans to Washington, DC to experience the nation’s tribute to their service. They are also active in the Reach Across America effort to place wreaths on veteran tombstones, and locally this year, for the first time every tombstone at the Indiana Veteran’s Home in West Lafayette, approximately 3000, will have a wreath placed on it.


Kara SalazarKara Salazar, Sustainable Communities Extension Specialist in Forestry and Natural Resources, has been appointed by Gov. Mike Pence to the Indiana Land Resources Council (ILRC). She will serve a four-year term through November 15, 2019. The ILRC is composed of representatives from county and municipal governments, home building and land development, business, environmental interests, soil and water conservation districts, and forestry, as well as a land use expert and a farmer. The ILRC’s mission is to evaluate all types of land use, not just agricultural land use.


Purdue Agriculture in the News


Agriculture projects receive funding to enhance diversity

Fernandez and DonkinAfter two rounds of presentations to faculty panelists, two College of Agriculture projects are among nine initiatives selected by Purdue's Diversity Leadership Team to receive the Diversity Transformation Award (DTA). "This program is one step in a portfolio of initiatives that you will see coming out of the Office of the Provost to create a more welcoming and inclusive campus climate," said Provost Deba Dutta. The DTA awards were created to enhance recruitment, enrollment, and retention of underrepresented minority (URM) students, faculty and staff, and to study factors affecting inclusiveness and success of URM students and faculty. Sixty-six faculty teams responded and $1 million in funding will support the DTA initiatives. The College of Agriculture proposals that received funding are: Purdue Agriculture Family Programs: A College Experience for Parents (Assoc. Dean Marcos Fernandez); and Building Partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities: Graduate Faculty Diversity Ambassador Program (Asst. Dean Shawn Donkin).

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PICS bags aided farmers in Ebola-stricken Sierra Leone

PICS projectThe triple-bag technology created at Purdue University to help African smallholder farmers store their crops after harvest also enabled farmers in Sierra Leone to protect their seeds when the Ebola outbreak disrupted agricultural markets. Purdue Improved Crop Storage, known as PICS, was designed specifically for farmers in West and Central Africa to store cowpea - known in the United States as black-eyed pea - in hermetic triple layers of plastic bags for long periods after harvest so they could sell them when market prices increase months later. Without the bags, the farmers had to use often-ineffective insecticides or sell their crops immediately after harvest when crop prices are lower. Two Purdue faculty members, Dieudonné Baributsa, Entomology, and Corinne Alexander, Agricultural Economics, were part of an effort this year that extended use of the PICS bags to storing seeds during a time when neither seeds nor grain could be easily stored or sold because of the Ebola outbreak.  

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Indiana corn, soybean farmers support new plant phenotyping facility at Purdue

phenotyping facilityTwo groups representing Indiana corn and soybean farmers are making a $4 million investment in automated plant phenotyping research and education to further Purdue University's innovative work in plant sciences. The Indiana Soybean Alliance will provide $1 million in soybean checkoff funds to buy equipment for the new automated plant phenotyping facility at the Purdue Agronomy Center for Research and Education, and the Indiana Corn Marketing Council will provide the same amount in corn checkoff funds to support the facility’s construction. An additional $1 million from each organization will be placed into two endowments to fund in perpetuity corn and soybean research related to plant phenotyping and technology innovation.The facility, now under construction, is scheduled to open next spring.

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Website offers resources to help operators manage farm risk

Farm Risk ResourcesA new website from Purdue’s Center for Commercial Agriculture and the Indiana Soybean Alliance is available to help farm operators manage risk. Farm Risk Resources ( is designed to help farmers understand, identify, evaluate and manage risk, which is an inherent part of agriculture.“Managing risk is pivotal to a farm’s success,” said Jim Mintert, director of the Center for Commercial Agriculture. “As production agriculture has become more complex, so, too, have the risks. They expand beyond price and require an integrated management approach.” The site includes a 15-question assessment for farmers to identify which types of risks apply to their specific operations. Once identified, the site provides links to more information about managing the type of risk specific to each farm. Also available are case studies, as well as a list of risk management workshops, tools and videos. Information is provided for a variety of operation types and sources of risk, including specialty crops, new market expansion, food safety, labor, input suppliers, production issues, farmland values and crop outlooks.

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Application process opens for 2016 Summer Institute on Global Food Security at Purdue

Feed the FutureThe fifth Borlaug Summer Institute on Global Food Security is June 5-18 at Purdue University for 40 graduate students from across the country taking on the challenge of finding solutions to world hunger. The application deadline is Feb. 1 for students who have completed at least one semester of graduate study and are enrolled in a U.S. institution at the time of application. U.S. citizenship is not required. The two-week learning program is an opportunity for graduate students who are interested in developing a holistic understanding of the conceptual challenges around global food security. Participants also gain a working knowledge of these issues with a focus on cross-disciplinary problem solving of real-world development challenges. The institute is part of the U.S. Borlaug Fellows in Global Food Security program, funded by USAID under the Feed the Future initiative.

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Viscous nanopores collapse according to universal law

Carlos CorvalanViscous nanopores, tiny holes punctured in fluid membranes, collapse according to a universal law, a study led by Carlos Corvalan, associate professor of food science, and his team shows. The finding could improve the design of nanopores for fast, inexpensive DNA analysis and sheds light on the biology of pores in cell membranes. Typically just big enough to allow a single strand of DNA to pass through, viscous nanopores are powerful sensors of molecules and have applications in many areas of technology. Small pores often contract to minimize surface energy, a behavior that plays a key role in nature and technology. But visualizing how nanopores shrink and collapse is difficult after their radius contracts smaller than 10 nanometers, thousands of times smaller than a red blood cell.

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Tyner: Decision on RFS is statement on greenhouse gas emissions

Wally TynerThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's final rules on the volume of biofuels that must be produced from 2014 to 2016 continues the current policy thrust that biofuels reduce greenhouse gas emissions compared with fossil fuels, energy economist Wally Tyner says. "While the final numbers are not as high as the ethanol industry wanted, they move much closer to the levels in the original legislation for corn ethanol and actually exceed the mandated levels for biodiesel," Tyner said. The EPA's final numbers on the Renewable Fuel Standards, released Nov. 30, were somewhat higher than the original May 2015 levels, especially for ethanol. While there is no explicit mandate for corn ethanol, the implied conventional biofuel level, which includes corn ethanol, went from 13.4 billion gallons to 14.05 billion for 2015, an increase of 650 million gallons, or 4.9 percent. Similarly, the 2016 level for conventional biofuel went up 500 million gallons to 14.5 billion, or 3.6 percent, compared with the May preliminary numbers. Total biofuel levels went from 17.4 billion gallons to 18.11 billion, an increase of 4.1 percent.

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Purdue creates $2 million fund to launch plant sciences startups

plant sciencesPurdue College of Agriculture and Purdue Research Foundation officials announced Dec. 10 a $2 million fund to help launch startups based on Purdue plant sciences innovations focused on advancing crop traits and generating higher yields. The plant sciences innovation fund, supported through the Purdue Moves initiative, is called the "Ag-celerator." The fund is designed to provide critical startup support for Purdue innovators who wish to commercialize patented intellectual property or Purdue "know-how" technologies in plant sciences, including areas of research in crop optimization, hybrid and seed development, and precision agriculture. The fund is a joint project of the Purdue College of Agriculture, the Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization and the Purdue Foundry, a startup hub in the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship.

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Including plant acclimation to temperature change improves climate models

Jeffrey DukesIncluding plants' acclimation to changes in temperature could significantly improve the accuracy of climate models, a Purdue University study shows. Plants are the largest drivers of carbon fluxes between land and the atmosphere, taking up and releasing carbon dioxide through the processes of photosynthesis and respiration. The rates at which these processes occur are sensitive to temperature and gradually adjust over time in response to long-term temperature shifts, a phenomenon known as acclimation.  Jeffrey Dukes, professor of forestry and natural resources and biological sciences, and a team of researchers found that adding formulas for acclimation into climate change models more closely aligns their simulations of carbon exchange with those observed in nature. The accuracy of model projections of carbon flux in tropical forests improved by 36 percent when acclimation was included.

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Purdue Extension offers marketing workshops for vegetable farmers

vegetablesThe Purdue Extension Local Food Program and county Extension offices will host four workshops for vegetable farmers who want to learn about wholesale markets. During the workshops in January and February, attendees will learn about getting into local and regional wholesale markets. Some of the topics include wholesale vegetable production, food safety practices, strategies for production, and customer relationships and management. Participants will receive a comprehensive Wholesale Success Manual and have the opportunity to network with other growers and wholesale buyers. “These workshops are quite valuable for any size vegetable grower seeking new wholesale accounts in the local and regional food systems,” said Jodee Ellett, Purdue Extension local foods coordinator.

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Nominations now accepted for 2016 Purdue Entrepreneurship Academy

entrepreneurship academyHigh school educators, administrators and community leaders in Indiana can nominate current high school sophomores and juniors through Feb. 26 to attend a weeklong entrepreneurship event jointly offered by Purdue Extension and Purdue Foundry. Nomination forms for the 10th annual Purdue Entrepreneurship Academy can be downloaded by contacting Ryan Wynkoop, special projects coordinator for Indiana 4-H Youth Development, There is no fee to nominate a student, nor is there a limit to the number of students who can be nominated from a school. Questions about nominations can be addressed to Wynkoop or Juliana Casavan, entrepreneurial programs manager at Purdue Foundry, The nationally recognized summer academy will be June 19-24 at Purdue University's West Lafayette campus. Students will compete in teams for the opportunity to win up to $1,000 in college tuition vouchers to attend Purdue.

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Dates and Deadlines

December 20: College of Agriculture Commencement

December 24-January 1: University Holidays and Winter Recess

January 19-22: College of Agriculture Diversity Awareness Week Activities

February 6: Purdue Ag Alumni Fish Fry, Indiana State Fairgrounds

March 4: Distinguished Agriculture Alumni Awards


For more dates and deadlines, check the Purdue Agriculture calendar.


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