January 2016

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From the Dean

Jay AkridgeWelcome back! I do hope all of you had a good break and enjoyed some time with your families and friends.  It has been a sad start to the year for our College with the losses of Professor Corinne Alexander (Agricultural Economics), and Adjunct Professors Rich Shukle (Entomology) and Charles Michler (Forestry and Natural Resources). We will miss them and their many contributions to the College deeply.

I am one of those people who spends a bit of time reflecting on the past year and starts a new year with many plans and much anticipation. We will be working to build momentum for our strategic plan this year: launching a new science education/communication initiative; moving Purdue AgOnline forward; making strategic investments in innovative Purdue Extension ideas; taking the next steps with the Purdue Moves Plant Sciences initiative; working to build enrollments in targeted undergraduate programs; rolling out new ways to recognize those who make positive contributions to our climate and inclusiveness; and probably many more. Watch this space--we’ll keep you up to date on these and other initiatives through InFocus every month.  

We also plan on bringing many new people into the College this year: department heads for Entomology, Botany and Plant Pathology, Forestry and Natural Resources, International Programs in Agriculture, and Agricultural Communication (where Maureen Manier will join us on February 1), as well as the more than 20 faculty positions across the College we are working to fill. I look forward to seeing how these individuals will make their mark on our College.

This year we will dedicate the new Automated Phenotyping Facility at the Agronomy Center for Research and Education (ACRE) and the Beck’s 7th Floor remodel in Krannert, and we’ll watch the new home for the Animal Sciences department go up. We will announce the next round of AgSEED proposals. We will host 2,300 of our friends on February 6 at the Ag Alumni Fish Fry as basketball legends Bob Knight and Gene Keady share stories with us, and in March we will welcome 11 outstanding individuals back for the Distinguished Agriculture Alumni Program.  

When I look back at the end of every year, I am always amazed at how many things weren’t part of the January 1 ‘plan’ for the year – opportunities emerge, challenges happen, and it all becomes part of our College’s year.

The folks who work in the strategy area talk about ‘realized strategy’ (what you actually do) being composed of two parts: ‘intended strategy' (what you planned to do) and ‘emergent strategy’ (the stuff that pops up along the way). I hope you have big plans and aspirations for this year – to continue to move your area forward, to help us move the College forward, to make an even bigger impact on our state, nation and world.  And, I hope you will remain open to those twists and turns that will inevitably happen during our year and that you will take full advantage of whatever that ‘emergent strategy’ looks like in your role.

In closing, I was struck by something Dr. Ken Foster wrote to his department about Professor Corinne Alexander: “If there is anything this tragedy underscores, it is that we must never take each other for granted...join us in honoring Corinne with renewed dedication by living a joyful life that positively impacts those around you.”  If you knew Corinne, you knew she lived life joyfully and was certainly a positive influence on all those around her. I think this is a most appropriate message for all of us as we start the new year.

All the best,



Purdue Agriculture People


College mourns loss of faculty members

Corinne Alexander Corinne Alexander, Professor of Agricultural Economics, passed away on January 8. Corinne touched this College in every way: she was an exceptional Extension Economist sharing outlook and grain marketing information in every corner of our state; she was a passionate member of the Purdue Improved Crop Storage Team (PICS) and worked tirelessly to make a difference in food insecure developing countries; and she was a gifted educator, helping our students sort out the complexities of marketing and risk management. Most importantly, Corinne was an extraordinary person, bringing energy and enthusiasm to everything she did. Corinne had a ‘three-way appointment’ (research, teaching, Extension) and she was truly the consummate land-grant faculty member. The Agricultural Economics department has created a space to honor Dr. Alexander as well as share thoughts and stories of her life and accomplishments. Click here to visit the page.

Complete obituary here: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/jconline/obituary.aspx?n=corinne-eve-nicole-alexander&pid=177277447&fhid=17364


Charles MichlerCharles Michler, Adjunct Professor Emeritus in Forestry and Natural Resources, passed away on January 20 after an extended illness. Charles earned three degrees from The Ohio State University: a bachelor's degree in landscape horticulture and architecture, a master's in horticulture, physiology and biochemistry, and a doctorate also in horticulture, physiology and biochemistry. He had been a plant physiologist with the USDA Forest Service since 1986 and served as director of the Hardwood Tree Improvement and Regeneration Center (HTIRC) here at Purdue from 1999 to his retirement in 2016. The HTIRC is a partnership in fine hardwood genetic improvement between Purdue and the USDA Forest Service that has a staff of more than 50 U.S. Forest Service and Purdue University employees and an annual budget of over $5.5 million. Charles is survived by his mother, Jane Michler and sisters Janie Wills (Zeke) and Louise Brown. Charles was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Karen, whom he married in July of 1979. The funeral service for Charles will be held on Saturday, January 23 at the Soller-Baker West Lafayette Chapel, 1184 Sagamore Pkwy West. Visitation will begin at Noon, with the funeral service at 1 p.m.


Rich ShukleRichard Shukle, Adjunct Professor of Entomology and USDA-ARS Entomologist, passed away on December 29, 2015. He was born on May 11, 1946 and grew up in Sacramento CA, Rich earned his Ph.D. in entomology from the University of California-Davis in 1980.  He was a postdoctoral associate in the Department of Entomology at Purdue until 1982. Rich joined the Agricultural Research Service in the USDA in 1982, first as a Research Associate and then as a Research Entomologist and also became an adjunct Professor in the Department of Entomology. The main focus of his research dealt with interactions between wheat and its major insect pest, the Hessian fly. Rich will be remembered for the great dedication and scientific rigor with which he approached all his work. He was always generous and thoughtful when approached for help with a research problem, and he took great satisfaction from supporting the wheat breeding community’s efforts to combat insect pests. Rich will be greatly missed by his many friends and colleagues, his wife Gracie, son John, daughter-in-law Catherine and two young grandsons, Jack and Max. To honor his legacy, the Shukle family has established the Richard H. Shukle Memorial Scholarship.  To support this scholarship, a monetary donation can be made to the "Purdue Foundation” noting that is it for the “Richard H. Shukle Memorial Scholarship”. The Department of Entomology address is: 901 W. State St., West Lafayette, IN 47907-2089.


Tamara Benjamin moves to new appointment

Tamara BenjaminPurdue Extension is pleased to announce that Dr. Tamara Benjamin has been named Assistant Program Leader for Diversified Food and Farming Systems. In this new position, Dr. Benjamin will coordinate efforts in this rapidly emerging space and increase outreach on the Purdue campus and across the state. Previously, Dr. Benjamin led the Purdue College of Agriculture's initiatives in Costa Rica by increasing research, education and extension opportunities for faculty, staff and students, recently she has been working with the small farm team in Extension, focusing on creating new experiences for beginning farmers. With the Colombia Purdue Institute, she created a program that brings high caliber Colombian undergraduate students to Purdue to conduct research across campus. For this position, Dr. Benjamin will transition to the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture from her present position in Botany and Plant Pathology.

Full story: http://www.agriculture.purdue.edu/in_focus/2016/January/TamaraBenjamin.html

Finalists set for Forestry and Natural Resources Department Head

Three candidates have been invited to interview for the Forestry and Natural Resources Department Head position. Faculty, staff and students are encouraged to attend the seminar presentations of the candidates, which will be streamed and archived on the FNR department head search site linked to the department home page. The candidate credentials and feedback survey links will also soon be available via this site. Finalists are:

Dr. Bradley Shaffer, University of California at Los Angeles
Interview:  Monday and Tuesday, February 8 & 9
Seminar: Monday, February 8, 9:00 a.m. in Deans Auditorium, Pfendler Hall

Dr. James Garvey, Southern Illinois University
Interview:  Tuesday and Wednesday, February 16 & 17
Seminar: Tuesday, February 16, 9:00 a.m. in Deans Auditorium, Pfendler Hall

Dr. Robert Wagner, University of Maine
Interview:  Monday and Tuesday, February 22 & 23
Seminar: Monday, February 22, 9:00 a.m. in Deans Auditorium, Pfendler Hall


College participates in Bravo Awards Program

Bravo AwardPurdue Agriculture participates in the university's Bravo Award program. 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.



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 this week's Martin Luther King Jr. Diversity Awareness Week activities are great opportunities to meet your yearly training requirement for Purdue Agriculture. 

Report training at:  https://ag.purdue.edu/civil_rights/Pages/report.aspx

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


Levon EstersLevon Esters, Youth Development and Agricultural Education has been appointed a Senior Research Associate at the Center for Minority Serving Institution (CMSI). The CMSI serves as a repository for research, data, best practices, emerging innovations and ideas on and within Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs). Dr. Esters will focus his efforts on a number of research projects that impact MSIs, with a particular focus on issues affecting Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). He will lead and contribute to the development of research briefs, reports, journal articles, grant proposals, and national convenings organized by the Center.


Jess Lowenberg-DeBoerJames "Jess" Lowenberg-DeBoer has been named the College of Agriculture Professor of Excellence in International Entrepreneurship. The appointment reflects Dr. Lowenberg-DeBoer's long history of accomplishment and leadership in the College of Agriculture's international research and engagement efforts, both as a faculty member and as Associate Dean and Director of International Programs in Agriculture. He stepped down from that position at the end of 2015 to return to his faculty position in Agricultural Economics.



Marshall MartinMarshall Martin, Senior Associate Director of Agricultural Research, Assistant Dean and Professor Agricultural Economics, was honored at this year's annual Pork Board meeting in Indianapolis with the Meritorious Service to Indiana's Pork Industry Award. One of Dr. Martin's duties in Agricultural Research is working with the Indiana commodity groups on behalf of the College of Agriculture.


Purdue Agriculture in the News



Purdue researcher at forefront of new field of macrosystems ecology

Songlin FeiA Purdue University researcher is co-editor of a special issue of the journal Landscape Ecology that focuses on macrosystems ecology, a relatively new field that looks to solve ecological issues by expanding the view of the problems. Songlin Fei, associate professor of quantitative ecology in the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, said macrosystems ecology takes a wider look at ecosystems at different temporal and spatial scales. Much like piecing together a puzzle, scientists in the field take an abundance of patterns from the smallest scales to the largest and develop theories on how those patterns affect the fundamental relationships between life and the nonliving environment on the planet. Scientists working in macrosystems ecology cover a variety of issues including climate change, hydrology, invasive species and urban ecology.

Full story: http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/releases/2016/Q1/purdue-researcher-at-forefront-of-new-field-of-macrosystems-ecology.html



Conference to bring women in ag together for education, networking

WIA logoWomen in all sectors of agriculture will be offered educational and networking opportunities at the 15th Annual Midwest Women in Agriculture Conference. The Feb. 17-18 conference will return to the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center, 2480 Jonathan Moore Pike, in Columbus, Indiana. A preconference program, "Leasing Land on a Tight Margin," will be 1-4 p.m. Feb. 16, also at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center. The preconference seminar will cover calculating cash lease amounts and valuation of property, long-term cash rent decisions, flex leases as an alternative to cash renting, communication for landowner and tenant relationships and the legal aspects of leasing. Some of the 20 session topics of the conference are on improving farm financial management skills, educating people on modern agriculture, protecting profit margins in an unstable market, addressing meat controversies and retirement programs and farmstead planning.

Full story: http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/releases/2015/Q4/conference-to-bring-women-in-ag-together-for-education,-networking.html


Hurt: Mixed outlook for 2016 grain prices

Chris HurtCorn prices could head higher in 2016 but the outlook for soybeans is less certain, according to a new analysis by Purdue agricultural economist Chris Hurt. Writing in the latest issue of the Purdue Agricultural Economics Report, Hurt forecasts a stronger market for corn after early-season flooding in 2015 damaged some Indiana crops. According to Hurt's projections, cash prices for corn could reach the low-$4 range per bushel in coming months at processing plants and perhaps go as high as $4.40 per bushel in summer. But soybean prices are likely to remain flat or even decline slightly if, as expected, there is a strong harvest in South America and farmers in the U.S. devote more acreage to soybeans next year. Hurt expects cash prices for soybeans to reach as high as $9.40 this winter at processing plants before falling back in spring and summer.

Full story: http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/releases/2015/Q4/hurt-mixed-outlook-for-2016-grain-prices.html


Purdue-based agriculture software startup receives $225,000 grant from NSF

VinSenseA startup that licenses Purdue University-developed software that could help grape growers and winemakers optimize quality and yields in their vineyards has received a federal grant. VinSense LLC has received a one-year, highly competitive STTR Phase I grant worth $224,949 from the National Science Foundation. CEO Larry Ebert said the grant will fund expansion of the company's technology and commercialization efforts. Christian Butzke, VinSense chief enologist and professor in Food Science, said the company is reaching out to wine grape growers in areas where water availability and quality have become an essential problem. Currently there are test sites at vineyards of two Napa Valley wine makers, Robert Biale Vineyards and Tres Sabores Winery. With the NSF funding, VinSense will expand its test sites to additional vineyards in California, as well as Huber's Orchard, Winery & Vineyards in Indiana.

Full story: http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/releases/2016/Q1/purdue-based-agriculture-software-startup-receives-225,000-grant-from-nsf.html


3 grants awarded to Purdue to bolster STEM education

Allen TalbertPurdue University has received three state grants totaling more than $1.1 million to support programs designed to boost the recruitment and retention of teachers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. Dr. Allen Talbert, Youth Development and Agricultural Education, received one of the grants for his project, "Growing the Pipeline for Agricultural Education Teachers in Indiana." The grants, announced Jan. 6 by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, were awarded through the STEM Teacher Recruitment Fund, which was created in 2013 by the state General Assembly.

Full story: http://bit.ly/1RxG5Fb


Value of Indiana farmland likely to drop in 2016

Craig DobbinsHigher interest rates and low crop prices will likely drive down the value of Indiana farmland in 2016, but any losses should be moderate, Purdue University agricultural economist Craig Dobbins says. "Land values would be expected to fall more quickly in an economic environment of low returns in combination with rising interest rates," Dobbins writes in the latest issue of The Purdue Agricultural Economics Report. "This appears to be the economic environment that agriculture will face in 2016." But since there is a limited supply of farmland on the market, Dobbins expects values to fall slowly, continuing a trend that began last year after a decadelong rally. He forecasts farmland values dropping 5-12 percent throughout the state next year after nearly tripling in value from 2003 to 2014.

Full story: http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/releases/2015/Q4/value-of-indiana-farmland-likely-to-drop-in-2016.html


Purdue Center for Global Food Security to provide new round of grants for U.S. graduate students researching food security issues

Gebisa EjetaU.S. students enrolled in an accredited U.S. graduate program institution can apply for international research grants from the Purdue University U.S. Borlaug Fellows Program in Global Food Security. The funds for these grants, ranging from $15,000 to $40,000, are provided by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), as part of its global Feed the Future initiative. Grants are available for U.S. graduate students conducting research on topics related to USAID's global hunger and food security initiative, Feed the Future. All topics related to food security and linked to research strategies of Feed the Future are eligible. "Awards are made on a competitive basis to students who show past education with a strong scientific foundation and possess leadership potential," said Gebisa Ejeta, distinguished professor of agronomy and director of Purdue's Center for Global Food Security. "The students also must submit a well thought-out research proposal with defined problems clearly articulating concepts and objectives that would lead to innovative and feasible interventions, and demonstrating their own commitment to international development."

Full story: http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/releases/2016/Q1/purdue-center-for-global-food-security-to-provide-new-round-of-grants-for-u.s.-graduate-students-researching-food-security-issues.html


Publication recaps academic research on neonicotinoids

Neonic illustrationNeonicotinoid insecticides applied as a coating to soybean seeds provide a maximum of three weeks of protection after planting and are ineffective against later-emerging threats such as soybean aphids, according to a new publication by researchers from Purdue and 12 other Midwest universities. The Purdue Extension publication, The Effectiveness of Neonicotinoid Seed Treatments in Soybean, summarizes current research on both the crop protection benefits of neonicotinoids and some of the unintended consequences that have been documented since their widespread introduction as corn and soybean seed treatments about 12 years ago. Christian Krupke, professor of entomology at Purdue and one of the authors, said the publication is intended as an information resource for farmers.

Full story: http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/releases/2016/Q1/publication-recaps-academic-research-on-neonicotinoids.html


Tyner: Natural gas prices expected to stay low, too

Wally TynerIt is likely that prices of natural gas - now at their lowest in two decades - will be even lower during the home heating season next winter, Purdue University energy economist Wally Tyner says. In another good sign for low energy costs for consumers, Tyner also expects gasoline prices to stay in the range of $2 to $2.50 a gallon for much of 2016. Consumers already are seeing lower heating bills this winter even before the recent price drop. Tyner said that while the price of natural gas in December was the lowest it has been since 1994, consumers won’t see the full benefit of that in their gas bills this winter. That is because most of the natural gas that will be delivered this winter has already been contracted.

Full story: http://bit.ly/1Kc1hZJ

Dates and Deadlines

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

March 14-18: Spring Break


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


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