March 2017

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From the Dean

Jay AkridgeThe 2017 QS Global Rankings of Colleges of Agriculture and Forestry were released yesterday. Again, our College of Agriculture comes in near the top of the list – number 8 in the world, number 6 in the US (behind Davis, Cornell, Berkeley, Wisconsin, and Michigan State). QS rates 300 colleges of agriculture and forestry globally, and we have been in the top 10 in these rankings since they were started in 2010 – ranging from 5 to 8 globally over that time. While I have said many times that we do not chase rankings, I sure hope each and every one of you can take personal pride in your role in making this one of the 10 best colleges of agriculture and forestry in the world.

In the end, the reputation we enjoy is because of our people – past and present.  Faculty, staff, students, our College leadership – all have a fundamental role in delivering the excellence for which our College is known globally. We celebrate our faculty and students in a variety of ways, and again these groups are absolutely fundamental to our success. But, I want to take this opportunity to express my thanks to the extraordinary staff who make this College an extraordinary place. While many times they are in the background and not always the names and faces familiar to our students and stakeholders, the work our staff do is the foundation for our accomplishments in every area.

It is simply impossible to overstate the importance of our staff to our success as a College. From recruiting and advising students, to supporting student clubs and organizations, to taking Purdue to every corner of the state through Purdue Extension, to managing and running state regulatory and diagnostic agencies, to supporting our ever-changing IT needs, to telling our story globally, to managing labs and supporting our science, to providing general administrative support to our faculty and leaders, to managing and running our research farms, to supporting the business of the College, to raising funds in support of the College...I could keep going and going.

It is much more than what our staff do, though—it is how they do it. I work with staff a lot, and I observe their work a lot more. I follow the communications of a leadership consultant named Joe Tye, CEO of Values Coach. He talks about the difference between a culture of accountability and a culture of ownership. You can guess which one he argues is the path to long-term success in an organization. An organization based on accountability is one where people do their jobs, and only their jobs, where someone else makes sure the rules are followed and the boxes checked. In a culture of ownership, however, employees truly own their roles, treat the job as if the organization was their own, and go above and beyond because it is the right thing to do – in our case for the students, stakeholders, and publics we serve.

What makes our staff special is the way they own their jobs, the pride they have in this place and in what we do. Our staff go above and beyond on a regular basis. I see them on Saturday mornings welcoming students to an event; I get e-mails from them late at night when they are answering questions from a prospective student; I see how they treat guests to our College and the impression they make on those guests. I see their ownership and commitment in the long hours at the County Fair and the time they take with a family new to 4-H. I see it in the ‘all hands’ response when we have exciting news to communicate immediately. I see it in the way staff work doubly hard to keep things moving when one of their colleagues moves to another job. I see our staff being professional even when someone has not been professional to them. Again, I could go on...and I know you could think of many more examples, too.

For our faculty, I would like to ask you to take a moment and express your thanks to the staff with whom you work. If you are a staff member supervising other staff members, I would ask that you do the same. This is one of the world’s great Colleges of Agriculture because we have great faculty, great students, and truly great staff.

All the best,



Purdue Agriculture People


Profiles in Teaching: Scott Radcliffe

scottProfiles in Teaching focuses each month on an individual whose work reflects our commitment to learning at Purdue. This month’s spotlight is on Scott Radcliffe, Animal Sciences.

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February Diversity Champion Spotlight: Barbara Golden

barbThe Diversity Champion Spotlight recognizes an individual or group whose efforts help us build a diverse and inclusive community and/or improve the climate in the College of Agriculture. The February spotlight is on Barbara Golden, Biochemistry.

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March Diversity Champion Spotlight: Obed Hernandez-Gomez

The March Diversity Champion Spotlight is on Obed Hernández-Gómez, Forestry and Natural Resources.


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College mourns the loss of Raymond Florax

raymondRaymond Florax, Professor of Agricultural Economics, passed away on March 1. Dr. Florax joined Purdue and the Agricultural Economics department in 2005. He was also associated with the Department of Spatial Economics at the VU University in Amsterdam, where he had coordinated the department’s MASTER-point research group engaged in research on meta-analysis in spatial, transport, and environmental economics. At Purdue, he was engaged in researching and teaching topics at the interface of economics, space, health and the environment, and he had an interest in developing and applying new statistical techniques for spatial data. Dr. Florax was a member of the Regional Science Association International and served for 10 years as editor-in-chief of their flagship journal “Papers in Regional Science.” He was a fellow of the Tinbergen Institute, the Spatial Econometrics Association, the Wageningen School of Social Sciences and formerly the Netherlands Network of Economics. Dr. Florax was awarded the European Investment Bank - European Prize in Regional Science, the highest research award of the European Regional Science Association for life-long contributions to regional science and related spatial studies. He had extensive experience in teaching undergraduate and graduate classes and had been the advisor of numerous Master and Ph.D. students. Dr. Florax is survived by his wife, Brigitte Waldorf, also a member of the Agricultural Economics faculty.  A memorial service will be held for Dr. Florax at 12:30 pm, Friday, March 10 at Hippensteel Funeral Home in Lafayette.


Kelly Delp takes new role in Agriculture

Kelly Delp has taken on a new role for the College of Agriculture and is now serving as a Director of Development, effective March 6. Kelly had been the Stewardship Coordinator for the College for the past 4-1/2 years and made her mark on signature donor engagement events like the Deans Club Dinner and the annual Scholarship Dinner. She previously served as a com-munications specialist in the Department of Agronomy. Kelly earned a bachelor’s degree from Purdue in agricultural communication and a master’s degree in public relations from Indiana University. She is currently involved in the Indiana Agricultural Leadership Program, and she is also the state coordinator for World Food Prize Youth Institute at Purdue.


gmosLearn about the science of GMOs

What are GMOs? Why do we use them? How do they affect insects, weeds and health? As a society, we want to know what we’re eating and how our food impacts the environment. This knowledge equips us to make the best decisions for ourselves and generations to come. Purdue scientists have banded together to answer questions about GMOs, a major issue concerning citizens, yet one about which many of us know relatively little.

Learn more about The Science of GMOs


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.


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. 

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

Dean Jay Akridge was honored by the Indiana Crop Improvement Association with the Indiana Crop Improvement Association and Seed Industry Meritorious Service Award. The award, given at the Corn Belt Seed Conference in February, is in recognition and appreciation of Jay's service and support of the seed industry.






monikaMonika Ivantysynova, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT) in Finland. She will be recognized, along with 13 other recipients, at the university’s doctoral conferment ceremony in June.







josephJozef Kokini, Food Science, has been selected to receive the Nicolas Appert Award for preeminence in and contributions to the field of food technology from the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT). The IFT consists of members from many disciplines related to food science and technology. Its mission is to facilitate the exchange of ideas among its members and stimulate scientific investigations into technical problems dealing with the manufacture and distribution of food.





Suzanne Nielsen, Food Science, has received the 2017 Carl R. Fellers Award from the institute of Food Technologists. The Fellers award "honors an IFT member and Phi Tau Sigma member for their distinguished career in the food science and technology profession and who has displayed exemplary leadership, service and communication skills."






haleyHaley Oliver, Food Science, was among 15 researchers selected by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) to be a 2017-18 Public Engagement Fellow of the Alan I. Leshner Leadership Institute for Public Engagement with Science. The Leshner Fellowship program identified researchers who are specializing in infectious disease research. The fellowship is designed to enhance their skills in public engagement leadership as a way of promoting meaningful dialogue between scientists and society.

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Maria Sepúlveda, Forestry and Natural Resources, has been selected as the inaugural Susan Bulkeley Butler Distinguished Lecturer for 2017 by the Susan Bulkeley Butler Center for Leadership Excellence. The Distinguished Lecturer designation recognizes faculty who have made significant contributions to their respective academic communities. This award is the only distinguished research award that spans the entire Purdue campus and is awarded to one scholar per year.  




brittniBrittini Brown, who earned her doctorate in Youth Development and Agricultural Education in 2016, is the third place winner of the American Association for Blacks in Higher Education (AABHE) Dissertation Award. She will be recognized at the 2017 AABHE National Conference. AABHE is one of the premier organizations that drives leadership development, access and vital issues concerning Blacks in higher education. Brittini is currently Director of Assessment, Research, and Strategic Priorities at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.



ANSCAnimal Sciences students Tanner Wise, Clint Peacock, Sydney Hancock and Lexi Weldon won first place in the department’s annual Academic Quadrathlon competition held in February. The competition includes a Quiz Bowl, Oral Presentation, Written Exam and Practicum. They will go on to represent Purdue at the Midwest Regional Contest in mid-March.  Second place team: Ashley Curry, Eric Anderson, Andrew Bolinger, Amelia Laub; Third place team: Kendra Arnhot, Emily HEss, Julia Markovitz, and Katie Moreland.




Purdue Agriculture in the News

Breakthrough discovery may make blood test feasible for detecting cancer

Doctors may soon be able to detect and monitor a patient’s cancer with a simple blood test, reducing or eliminating the need for more invasive procedures, according to research conducted by W. Andy Tao, professor of biochemistry and member of the Purdue University Center for Cancer Research. He and his colleagues identified a series of proteins in blood plasma that, when elevated, signify that the patient has cancer. Their findings were published in the early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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josephOptogenetics used to kick start gene that plays role in neural defects 

Joseph Irudayaraj, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, and Feng Zhou of the Indiana University School of Medicine, have been able to force an epigenetic reaction that turns on and off a gene known to determine the fate of the neural stem cells, a finding that could lead to new therapeutics in the fight against select cancers and neural diseases. They have developed an optogenetic toolbox that brings together proteins and enzymes that methylate or demethylate a gene called Ascl1. “If we can alter the epigenetic state at a specific location of a gene, then we can turn that gene on or off for personalized medicine,” Irudayaraj said.

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Agriculture faculty among Discovery Park Big Idea Challenge winners


A panel of judges and Discovery Park administration have reviewed the proposals and determined the winners of the Big Idea Challenge, a program that will provide resources to interdisciplinary teams of Purdue faculty and students pursuing bold proposals that address global challenges. Agriculture faculty members: Projects led by Catherine Hill, Entomology and Tom Hertel, Agricultural Economics, are among the winners, and Christian Butzke, Food Science, is part of another winning project team.

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Purdue to host first hydroponic growing workshop

Faculty members and Extension experts will host a hydroponic lettuce production workshop on March 29 from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. to provide lettuce producers with the tools they need to increase the productivity of their operations. The workshop is free and open to the public. It will be held in room 222 of the Purdue Horticulture Building, 625 Ag Mall Drive, West Lafayette. Attendees will learn about the latest in hydroponic lettuce production research while discussing best practices with fellow growers. After the workshop, there will be a tour of the Purdue horticulture greenhouses.

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Fewer grain dust explosions reported nationwide in 2016

kinsleyThe number of grain dust explosions in the United States fell to a 10-year low in 2016, but two of the incidents resulted in the first reported fatalities since 2013, according to an annual report released by the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering. There were five grain dust explosions in 2016, compared to eight in 2015. Grain dust was confirmed as the main source of fuel in three of the incidents, but could not be confirmed in two of the others. Fine particles or powder from the grain can also contribute to fires and explosions, said Kingsly Ambrose, Agricultural and Biological Engineering.

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U2U program wrapping up, brought useful climate tools to farmers

Researchers at nine universities and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are celebrating the completion of the Useful to Usable (U2U) project--a six-year, $5 million program that reinvented the way climate scientists connect with farmers. Led by Dr. Linda Prokopy and Melissa Widhalm, Forestry and Natural Resources, the project sought to mold existing climate data into relevant products for the agricultural community. After learning about the type of climate data that farmers employ when making growing decisions on their farms and how they employ that data, the team used those insights to develop products that would help farmers determine what, when and where to plant, as well as how to manage crops to maximize yields with eyes on limiting negative effects on the environment.

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AgrAbility to host national training workshop on disabilities in agriculture

agrabilityThe 2017 AgrAbility National Training Workshop will take place March 20-23 in Knoxville, Tennessee. “The AgrAbility NTW is the foremost educational event addressing issues related to disability in agriculture,” says Paul Jones, manager of the National AgrAbility Project based at Purdue. “The conference provides professionals and consumers from across the country the opportunity to gain valuable technical knowledge, make important networking contacts and learn about new technologies from vendors.” The four-day event will include workshops, tours, networking opportunities and special events.

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Warmer temps not a threat to fruit crops, specialists say


fruit vropsAfter two months of unusually warm conditions throughout Indiana, state climatologists based at Purdue believe temperatures will slowly return to seasonal norms in March, which is good news for fruit growers and home gardeners concerned that their plants might be emerging too quickly. “There is a lot more weather to come before we know what the fruit crop outlook will be, but as of right now things are in good shape,” said Bruce Bordelon, Purdue Extension viticulture and small fruit specialist. Bordelon advised growers to be patient, giving trees, bushes and vines more time to get their winter rest.

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Agricultural producer sentiment falls from January peak

Agricultural producer sentiment fell in February after three straight months of gains, according to the latest reading of the Purdue/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer. The barometer dropped to 134 in February, a 19-point decrease from January’s record high of 153. Even with the drop, the February reading is still the second-highest since data collection began in October 2015.

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Newly released journal provides rare open access to innovations in applied general equilibrium modeling

Thomas Hertel, Agricultural Economics, recently announced the publication of the Journal of Global Economic Analysis, Vol. 1, No. 2, a free resource that gives economic researchers, government officials and students invaluable insights based on a shared global database. According to Hertel, the journal provides insights and innovative tools that can help economic researchers more accurately measure the impact of policy decisions. 

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Faculty Retirements

Gary Krutz, Agricultural and Biological Engineering

Staff Retirements

Gail Biberstine, Agricultural and Biological Engineering
Gnanasiri Premachandra, Agronomy
Susan Schechter, CERIS
Cynthia Hartman, Purdue Extension
Michael Hornbach, Purdue Extension
Kathy Murray, Purdue Extension
Hugh Tonagel, Purdue Extension


Dates and Deadlines

March 29: Dean's Advisory Council Spring Meeting

March 30: Production Ag Roundtable

April 3-7: Ag Week

April 8-9: Spring Fest

April 11: Undergraduate Research and Poster Symposium

April 18: Learning from Leaders with Mark Poeschl, CEO, National FFA Organization

April 26: College of Agriculture Annual Spring Awards Banquet

May 1-6: Final Exams Week

May 12: Graduate School Commencement

May 13: College of Agriculture Undergraduate Commencement


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


University News

Be prepared when severe weather strikes

As Boilermakers we all share the responsibility to help spread campus awareness about when and how to protect ourselves when severe weather happens here at Purdue.On Tuesday, March 21 at approximately 10:15 AM & 7:35 PM the state will conduct its annual Tornado Drill as part of Indiana’s Severe Weather Preparedness Week.  In conjunction with the state’s drill, Purdue will conduct a voluntary campus wide tornado warning drill to help the Purdue family prepare for this type of emergency.  More information on the Purdue Voluntary Tornado Drill can be found on the Emergency Preparedness website.  The purpose of the drill is for all of us to think about and implement best practices so that if and when something happens we are better prepared to take the necessary action to protect ourselves.

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Purdue partners with FutureLearn to provide faculty, students with new international online learning opportunities

Purdue has entered a partnership that will take its content onto the global stage and will provide international learning opportunities for professors and students. FutureLearn, based in the United Kingdom, is Europe’s largest massive open online course (MOOC) provider. Through this partnership, Purdue instructors will be able to reach a global audience with online learning content that further strengthens Purdue’s action plan for digital education.

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Eric Barker named Purdue College of Pharmacy dean

Eric L. Barker will become dean of Purdue University’s College of Pharmacy, effective July 1, 2017. Barker is a professor of medicinal chemistry and molecular pharmacology and has served as associate dean for research in Purdue’s College of Pharmacy since 2010. Barker joined Purdue in 1998 after earning his Ph.D. in pharmacology from Vanderbilt University and completing postdoctoral research at Vanderbilt and Emory universities.

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APSAC Excellence Award nominations invited

Nominations for the APSAC Excellence Award will open on March 1. Persons around Purdue are encouraged to think about a colleague who deserves consideration. The link to nominate will be on the APSAC webpage from March 1 to March 31, the deadline for nominations. This award, given by APSAC, the Administrative and Professional Staff Advisory Committee, recognizes a full-time administrative or professional staff member (operational/technical staff are included) from the West Lafayette campus who demonstrates excellence by:

*Showing inititive
* Leading by example
*Showing exemplary customer service
*Acting as a University ambassador
*Being a high preformer

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Purdue announces temporary home for its Indy STEM-focused high school

Purdue Polytechnic High School Indianapolis on Thursday (Feb. 16) announced the building that formerly housed Manual and Wood high schools, at 525 S. Meridian St., will serve as the temporary location to welcome its first incoming class of students for the 2017-18 school year. Now called Union 525, the building houses tech companies, making it a fitting launch pad for the STEM-focused charter high school. Dedicated in 1895 as the Industrial Training School, the facility was renamed the Manual Training School and then the Wood Vocational Training School. In 1984 the school was converted into an office building by Brougher Insurance Group and then was owned and occupied by Eli Lilly from 2000-2015.

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Carolyn Woo joins Purdue to serve in global development capacity

Carolyn Yauyan Woo has been named Distinguished President’s Fellow for Global Development at Purdue University, effective immediately. She recently retired from serving as president and CEO of the Catholic Relief Services, the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. Woo served with the organization from 2011-2016. Woo’s ties to Purdue University began as a student in 1972, then as a faculty member and administrator until 1997 when she became the dean of the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business from 1997-2011.

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Report Hate and Bias

report hatePurdue 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.