Special New Faculty Welcome Issue


August 2016


Special New Faculty Welcome Issue

Welcome to these faculty members who have joined us in recent months:


Uris BaldosUris Lantz C. Baldos, Research Assistant Professor, Agricultural Economics. Uris earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of the Philippines at Los Baños. After a short stint in the private sector, he pursued his master’s and doctorate in agricultural economics, both from Purdue University. He spent a year and a half as a postdoctoral research fellow at the Center for Global Trade Analysis. He co-developed the Simplified International Model of agricultural Prices, Land use and the Environment (SIMPLE), a computational economic model of global agriculture which he extensively use in his research as well as co-authored a textbook on global food sustainability. Uris’ research interests are on the broad issues surrounding the global farm-food-environment nexus, local-global telecoupling and on computational economic modelling.


Dieudonne BaributsaDieudonné Baributsa, Associate Professor, Department of Entomology. Dieudonné came to Purdue in 2009 as the Team Manager of the Purdue Improved Crop Storage (PICS) Project and was appointed a Research Assistant Professor in Entomology in 2012. He leads the Purdue Improved Crop Storage (PICS) Program aimed at reducing postharvest storage losses among smallholder farmers. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the Institut Facultaire des Sciences Agronomiques (IFA) Yangambi/Kisangani in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He obtained his masters and PhD from Michigan State University in cropping systems and crop physiology. He worked at Michigan State University as a Visiting Assistant Professor and the Program Associate for the USAID Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Collaborative Research Support Program (CRSP) in Central Asia.  He conducts research on storage insect behavior and biology as the foundation for understanding and developing appropriate storage technologies and management approaches for insect control.



Birgit CabotBirgit Cabot, Research Assistant Professor, Department of Animal Sciences. Birgit earned her DVM and PhD from the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, Austria. She worked as a postdoctoral scientist at Tufts University, School of Veterinary Medicine and at the University of Missouri-Columbia. After that, she continued her research for a biotech company, Agrobiogen GmbH, in Germany. Her expertise includes reproductive technologies and early embryo development. Before her move to Purdue she focused on somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) in domestic species and factors influencing the outcome thereof, specifically the influence of cell line origin and synchronization of cell lines. At Purdue, she investigates the roles of SWI/SNF chromatin remodeling complexes in porcine oocytes and preimplantation embryos.



Stephen CameronStephen Cameron, Professor and Head, Department of Entomology. Stephen comes to Purdue from the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia, where he was associate professor and discipline leader. He received his doctorate in taxonomy and phylogeny and a bachelor’s degree in parasitology and entomology from the University of Queensland. He did post-doctoral work at the University of Queensland, followed by another post-doc at Brigham Young University, before he served as a senior research scientist at the Australian National Insect Collection.  He went on to become a faculty member and discipline leader in the School of Earth, Environmental and Biological Sciences at Queensland. Research interests are insect evolution and the factors behind why there are so many insect species. 



John CoutureJohn Couture, Assistant Professor, Entomology and Forestry and Natural Resources. John earned his bachelor’s degree in biology and his master’s degree in biological sciences at Western Michigan University, and a doctorate in entomology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He spent two years as a postdoctoral research associate followed by two years as a USDA Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison before being named Assistant Scientist in that department in 2014. John’s research interests include plant and insect chemical ecology, biochemical spectroscopy, landscape and ecosystem ecology, global change ecology, community ecology, gene x environment interactions, trophic-level interactions, remote sensing, and ecosystem monitoring.



Sadegh DabiriSadegh Dabiri, Assistant Professor, Agricultural and Biological Engineering. Sadegh received his Ph.D. in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from University of California, Irvine and was a Postdoctoral Associate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and then a Research Faculty at the University of Notre Dame before joining Purdue University. He is recipient of AIAA Martin Summerfield Graduate Award in 2008 and Dean's Dissertation award in 2009 and a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and American Physical Society. Sadegh’s research focuses on computational fluid dynamics of multiphase flows including turbulent bubbly flow, cavitation and bubble dynamics, sprays and liquid atomization, heat transfer, mixing in supercritical conditions, and solid particles transport in fluids. 



Corey GerberCorey Gerber, Clinical Engagement Associate Professor, Agronomy. Corey received a BS, MS and PhD in entomology from Purdue. Since 2003, he has been director of the Purdue Crop Diagnostic Training and Research Center. He is responsible for coordinating the design, planning, marketing, promotion and execution of the Purdue Crop Diagnostic Training and Research Center. He also serves as a liaison between Indiana’s agricultural sector and university crop production programs and staff to identify, promote and implement appropriate adult continuing education.




Russell HillberryRussell Hillberry, Associate Professor, Agricultural Economics.  Russell earned a bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Minnesota and master’s and doctorate degrees in Economics from Indiana University.  He has been employed as a research economist at the U.S. International Trade Commission, as a faculty member at the University of Melbourne, Australia, and most recently as a member of the research department of the World Bank.  In 2001-2002, Russell was a visiting professor in the Economics department at Purdue.  His research focuses on the geography of trade flows, the welfare consequences of trade costs, the efficacy of trade facilitation measures, and the organization of multi-stage production processes. 



Darrin KarcherDarrin Karcher, Assistant Professor, Animal Sciences. Darrin earned his Ph.D. in animal science from Purdue, his MS in animal science from the University of Wisconsin, and his BS in agricultural education from The Ohio State University. 2007, He came to Purdue from the Michigan State University Department of Animal Science. His interests are extension and applied research, and his work focuses how new housing affects laying hens from a production, well-being, egg quality, and safety perspective. He also assesses ducks and turkeys for gait, skeletal health and well-being. He plans to work on developing youth projects and hobby flocks focusing on management, nutrition and well-being while equipping individuals with the necessary tools for basic troubleshooting. He also plans to provice educational opportunities for small and commercial farms.


Liz KarcherLiz Karcher, Assistant Professor, Coordinator of Undergraduate Programs, Animal Sciences. Liz earned her bachelor’s degree in animal bioscience at the Pennsylvania State University; a master’s in animal sciences from Purdue, and her doctorate in immunobiology/nutritional science at Iowa State University. She teaches in the areas of dairy nutrition, health, and management, and will work with students on undergraduate research projects. She is also interested in intercultural development and the impact of international experiences on student programs. As Undergraduate Programs Coordinator, she will be responsible for advising and curriculum assessment.


Sharon KesslerSharon Kessler, Assistant Professor, Botany and Plant Pathology. Sharon earned a bachelor’s degree in honors biology from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign and a doctorate in plant biology from the University of California-Davis. After a short post-doc at Iowa State University, she received a Human Frontiers in Science fellowship for post-doctoral work at the University of Zurich in Switzerland, where she focused on plant reproductive development.  She then moved to the University of Oklahoma as an Assistant Professor in Microbiology and Plant Biology from 2012-2016. At Purdue, she studies the molecular mechanisms of pollination, with a focus on intercellular communication between male and female cells.  Proper control of these signaling pathways is crucial for seed development and for optimum crop yields.


Michael LangemeierMichael Langemeier, Professor, Department of Agricultural Economics. Michael came to Purdue as a Clinical Engagement Professor in 2012. Before that, he was a member of the faculty in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Kansas State University. Michael’s Extension and research interests at Purdue include cropping systems, benchmarking, strategic management, cost of production, and technical and economic efficiency. He has conducted workshops and given presentations in Australia, China, Ecuador, Ireland, Germany, New Zealand, Russia, South Africa and Tanzania. He is currently involved in agribenchmark, an international benchmarking group centered in Germany. Most of Michael’s research has focused on the efficiency of farms and ranches, and crop and livestock enterprise production costs and efficiency. He has also conducted research related to tillage systems, biomass crops and the tradeoff between crop rotation profitability and water quality. Michael received a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His doctorate is from Purdue University.


Steve LindemannSteve Lindemann, Assistant Professor, Food Science and Nutrition Science. Steve earned a bachelor’s degree in microbiology and molecular biology here at Purdue University in 2004. He then studied host-pathogen interactions, receiving a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa. He went on to explore microbial interactions in environmental microbial communities as a postdoctoral researcher and then staff scientist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. His current research targets the ways that dietary influences shape the gut microbiome and the effects of those shifts on health (such as inflammation and gut colonization by pathogens). Specifically, he uses molecular microbial ecology techniques to understand: how diet influences the composition and stability of the gut microbiome; how gut microbiome metabolism of dietary components influences production and absorption of bioactive microbial metabolites; how metabolic interactions between microbes alter polysaccharide fermentation and nitrogen metabolism in the colon; and how these interactions between beneficial microbes exclude pathogenic organisms and modulate inflammation in the colon. Broadly, advances in these spheres hold potential for identifying dietary solutions to health problems by influencing the gut microbiome.


Dharmendra MishraDharmendra Mishra, Assistant Professor, Food Science. Dharmendra comes to Purdue from the food industry, where he worked for more than seven years. He received a bachelor’s degree in agricultural engineering from Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, India, and MS and PhD degrees from the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering at Michigan State University. He is a Processing Authority for acid/acidified and low-acid foods in both still and continuous flow systems. His expertise includes manufacturing, multiphase particulate modeling and validation, commercializing technologies, retort, aseptic and novel thermal processing, mathematical modeling, inverse problems and statistical analysis. His research at Michigan State University has led to a start-up company “Thermetrics” for commercialization of a device that uses novel methods to measure thermal properties of food at elevated temperatures.        


Krishna NemaliKrishna Nemali, assistant professor, Horticulture and Landscape Architecture. Krishna has responsibility for extension and research activities related to controlled environment agriculture which includes ornamentals and vegetables grown under protected culture.  He also teaches courses related to controlled environment agriculture production and technology.  He has a B.S. in Agriculture from the Andhra Pradesh Agriculture University, India.  He earned the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees at the University of Georgia and served as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Davis. Prior to joining Purdue, he worked at Monsanto, USA as a controlled environment crop physiologist, and his research contributed to the commercialization of the first biotechnology-derived drought tolerant maize. At Purdue, he plans to develop new and affordable technologies that improve sustainability in controlled environment agriculture and make them easily available to growers. He aims to train students with sustainable production practices that are complemented with state-of-the-art technologies in controlled environments to become next generation growers and researchers. He plans to actively engage and contribute to the existing diversity programs at Purdue.


Sujith PuthiyaveetilSujith Puthiyaveetil, Assistant Professor, Biochemistry. Sujith earned his PhD, in botany from the University of London; his MSc, in botany from Kannur University, Kerala, India. and his BSc in botany from Calicut University, Kerala, India. Sujith is a molecular biologist who studies the genetic and molecular control of photosynthetic light utilization in plants. As a graduate student at Queen Mary, University of London, he discovered a bacterial-type, two-component genetic control circuit in chloroplasts, which maximizes light use and photosynthetic efficiency in natural light quality gradients. As a post-doc at Washington State University, he uncovered the molecular basis of the high efficiency of protein repair in chloroplasts, which heals photodamage, the botanical equivalent of sunburn. At Purdue, he plans to further his research on these discoveries using cutting-edge tools in genomics, proteomics, phenomics and genome-editing.


Cori RunningCordelia (Cori) Running, Assistant Professor, Nutrition Science and Food Science. Cori earned a B.A. in chemistry from Indiana University and her M.S. and Ph. D. in food science from Purdue, She did postdoctoral training in Sensory Science Penn State University. Discovery. The basis of her research is that many foods that are purportedly “healthy” are also often unpleasant to eat. Thus, the sensory properties of a food and how those sensations are perceived are paramount to maintaining a healthy diet. Cori’s research aims to use sensations such as taste, smell, and chemesthesis (chemical touch/temperature) to improve the efficacy of foods for health.  Specifically, she uses spiciness and taste to study oral behavior as a potential tool to modulate salivary secretion and swallowing function; uncovering the potential role of oleogustus (fatty acid taste) in food flavor and healthy lipid levels; using flavor as a tool to understand bioactive properties of flavor active phytochemicals such as polyphenols; and investigating the oral physiology of salivary hormone and enzyme secretion. She is teaching NUTR 45300: Food Chemistry.


Will SecorWilliam Secor, Clinical Assistant Professor, Agricultural Economics and Center for Food and Agricultural Business. Will earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in agricultural and applied economics from Virginia Tech and his doctorate in applied economics from the University of Minnesota. He spent the spring of last year as a visiting instructor at Virginia Tech teaching in the agricultural and applied economics department. His previous research has spanned the food and fiber system from investment evaluation in biofuel production to analysis of mergers in food retailing. His research interests focus on the interconnections between companies and consumers at many different points in the food economy. His role in the Center for Food and Agricultural Business will be to provide thought leadership in the area of marketing and help lead the MS/MBA program as the associate director.


Chris StaigerChristopher Staiger, Professor and Head, Department of Botany and Plant Pathology. Chris comes to Agriculture from the Purdue Department of Biological Sciences, where he is Distinguished Professor of Biological Sciences. He received his bachelor's degree in biology from Carleton College and his PhD in botany from the University of California, Berkeley. He served as a senior research associate at the John Innes Centre for Plant Science Research in England before joining the faculty in the Department of Biological Sciences at Purdue. He is Adjunct Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the IU School of Medicine, and an elected Fellow of the American Society of Plant Biologists.  His research focuses on understanding how plants respond to biotic stress and pathogens; in particular, they seek to understand how the cytoskeleton perceives and transmits signals during the plant immune response.


Ariana TorresAriana Torres, Assistant Professor, Horticulture and Landscape Architecture and Agricultural Economics. Ariana’s background combines field experience in agriculture with theoretical and applied research on agricultural economics. After earning her B.Sc. in Agricultural Engineering at Zamorano University, she came to Purdue to pursue her graduate studies. She completed her M.Sc. in Horticulture and her Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics, both at Purdue. She has worked on projects such as the impact of market channel choices on the certification and decertification process of organic farmers; the economic implications of social capital on entrepreneurship; and the resilience of small businesses after disasters. Her research focuses on the intersection between the horticulture industry and marketing decisions. Her goal is to conduct innovative outreach and applied research in Specialty Crops Marketing, with the end of promoting economic sustainability for the Horticulture Industry. Specifically, she is interested on supporting business development of new products, production strategies, and market options.


Robert WagnerRobert Wagner, professor and head, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources. Bob comes to Purdue from the University of Maine, where he was Henry W. Saunders Distinguished Professor in Forestry and Director of the Center for Research on Sustainable Forests and Cooperative Forestry Research. He received his bachelor's degree in forest management from Utah State University, his master’s in forest ecology/silviculture from the University of Washington, and his PhD in silviculture/vegetation management from Oregon State University. He served as a program leader and senior scientist at the Ontario Forest Research Institute in Ontario Canada before joining the faculty in the School of Forest Resources at the University of Maine. At Maine he served as Director of the Cooperative Forestry Research Unit, Associate Director of the Forest Bioproducts Research Institute, and Director of the School of Forest Resources prior to his appointment as Distinguished Professor and Director of the Centers.


Yun ZhouYun Zhou, Assistant Professor, Botany and Plant Pathology. Yun earned his bachelor’s degree in biology from Lanzhou University in China and his doctorate degree in plant biology from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. He performed postdoctoral research in the Division of Biology and Biological Engineering at the California Institute of Technology, where he studied transcriptional regulation and signaling circuits in plant stem cell niches. Yun’s research focuses on understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms controlling stem-cell behavior and function during plant development, through a combination of both experimental and computational approaches. He aims to boost biomass production and grain/fruit yield, through optimizing and programing plant stem cell number and activities.