Purdue Agriculture InFocus
March 2018
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From the Dean
Karen Plaut

Making a Difference: Teaching, Advocacy and Support

Over the last several weeks, I have been reminded many times that it is people who make the difference.

While we all know that to be true, once in a while we should take a step back and reflect on what it really means. I first would like to focus on how our faculty and staff have an impact on teaching and mentoring. In honor of Purdue’s upcoming 150th anniversary in 2019, the university created ten 150th Anniversary Professorships to celebrate those faculty members who have made a lasting impact on teaching. I’m proud to say that two of our faculty members – Dr. Suzanne Nielsen of Food Science and Dr. Chris Oseto of Entomology – were named 150th Anniversary Professors. Just recently, we learned that Dr. Haley Oliver, Food Science, was awarded the 2018 Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award in Memory of Charles B. Murphy, Purdue’s highest undergraduate teaching honor. Dr. Michael Mastare, Agronomy, won the 2018 Exceptional Early Career Award, which recognizes outstanding undergraduate teaching among Purdue's early career, tenure-track faculty. Excellence in teaching is a strong value in our college and it is wonderful to see these faculty scholars win these awards. 

The impact that teachers and advisors have was also evident at our Distinguished Agriculture Alumni celebration this month. Nine distinguished alumni, who represent the top 1/2 of one percent of our alumni and have engaged in a broad range of careers, talked about the significant impact that faculty and staff had on their career choices and even their career trajectories. In their remarks at the awards convocation, they spoke of some of the teachers, mentors and advisors who had a major impact on them: Dr. Frank Dooley, Dr. Gebisa Ejeta, Dr. Joan Fulton, Dr. Peter Goldsbrough, Advisor Leeann Williams. The still-fresh memories that our distinguished alumni have of these and other teachers and mentors go to the value that we as a college place on teaching. So, this month, as faculty and staff teaching and advising activities are nearing the end of the semester, I want to thank faculty and staff for all your work with students. You make an impact.

The impact of our faculty and staff goes well beyond the classroom and can be seen around the state. The relationships that our faculty and staff build and the lives they improve create strong advocates for our college. Some of our advocates are part of the National Council on Agricultural Research, Extension and Teaching (CARET) organization whose members advocate for the federal funding that supports capacity and competitive funding for research and Extension. Indiana has three national CARET representatives: Louise Beaman, Rebecca Roach and Ken Huseman. This team, with support from Donya Lester, is a force to be reckoned with as they articulate the importance of the land grant mission and federal funding for agricultural research and Extension to our congressional representatives. We are so proud of the work they do to support Purdue. 

At the state level, the Purdue Council on Agricultural Research, Extension and Teaching (PCARET) also advocates for the land grant mission and funding for agricultural research and Extension at both the state and federal levels. With the support of John Baugh, Donya Lester, Jason Henderson and Shawn Donkin, they put a personal touch on the impact that Purdue Agriculture has on individuals and communities across the state. 

It is not an overstatement to say that PCARET’s work on our behalf played a large role in securing funding from the state for the Hobart and Russell Creighton Hall of Animal Science and the Land O’Lakes Inc. Center for Experiential Learning and Purina Pavilion. What a thrill it was to dedicate the new building last week with 450 friends and partners from the agricultural industry there to show the strong support around the state for our efforts in Animal Science. The message was loud and clear – the agriculture industry, the state, friends, donors and alumni are valuable partners of the Purdue College of Agriculture. Our faculty and staff have made a difference, and their impact enabled us to build a new Animal Science complex of which we can all be proud. 

Whether you are a teacher, advisor, mentor, researcher, Extension educator, alum or friend, we have worked together to build something special and it truly makes a difference. Thank you.

All the best,


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Purdue Ag People
Yuling Gao

Graduate Research Spotlight: Yuling Gao

The Graduate Research Spotlight highlights graduate students and their work. This month’s spotlight is on Yuling Gao, Forestry and Natural Resources.

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US News Logo

US News & World Report again

ranks Purdue ABE #1

The graduate program in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering has been ranked number 1 in the country by U.S. News & World Report. The complete rankings of the best agricultural and biological engineering graduate programs are available on the magazine's website here. The magazine ranked ABE’s undergraduate program #1 last fall for the seventh consecutive year.

Michael Gunderson

Gunderson to lead Center for Food and Agricultural Business

Agricultural Economics professor Michael Gunderson has been named director of Purdue’s Center for Food and Agricultural Business. Gunderson, who has served as associate center director since 2012, takes over for Allan Gray, who will assume the role of executive director. Both appointments begin May 1.

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Finalists for dean of the College of Agriculture to make on-campus presentations


Three finalists for dean of the College of Agriculture will be on campus for two-day interviews in April. As part of the process, each finalist will make a 40- to 45-minute public presentation and then take questions from the audience. Finalists and their presentation times are below, and all presentations will be held in Pfendler Hall, Deans Auditorium (Room 241). The candidates' full curriculum vitae are available at   https://www.purdue.edu/provost/agriculture-search-committee/candidates.html.

  • Karen Plaut, interim dean, College of Agriculture, Purdue — 9 a.m. April 9.
  • Alan R. Sams, executive associate dean, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Texas A&M University — 9 a.m. April 16.
  • Titus O. Awokuse, chair and professor, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics, Michigan State University — 9 a.m. April 23. 
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Awards and Recognitions
Leonor Boavida and Chunhua Zhang
Leonor Boavida and Chunhua Zhang, Botany and Plant Pathology and the Purdue Center for Plant Biology, are new associate features editors for Plant Physiology. They will contribute commen-taries, blog posts, podcasts, and videos that highlight new developments in plant science.
Peter Hirst
Peter Hirst, Horticul-ture and Landscape Architecture, has been named a Jefferson Science Fellow for 2018-2019. He will be placed in the Bureau for Food Security within USAID, where he will focus on helping develop strategies to better involve youth in agricultural develop-ment programs.
Liz Karcher
Liz Karcher, Animal Sciences, has been selected to receive the 2018 Purina Animal Nutrition Teaching Award in Dairy Science. She will receive the award at the Annual ADSA Meeting awards ceremony in June.
Brad Kim
Brad Kim, Animal Sciences, has been selected to receive the 2018 Achievement Award from the American Meat Science Association.
Michael Mashtare
Michael Mashtare, Agronomy, has been named a recipient of the 2018 Exceptional Early Career Award. The award recognizes outstanding under-graduate teaching among Purdue's early career, tenure-track faculty.
Haley Oliver
Haley Oliver, Food Science, has been named a recipient of the 2018 Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award in Memory of Charles B. Murphy. The Murphy Award is Purdue’s highest undergraduate teaching honor. Read more.
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Purdue Agriculture in the News
Creighton Hall dedication

Purdue celebrates dedication of new animal sciences complex

Purdue Agriculture and some 450 of its closest friends formally dedicated the $60 million, 123,000-square-foot Hobart and Russell Creighton Hall of Animal Sciences, the Land O’Lakes Inc. Center for Experiential Learning and Purina Pavilion during a ceremony on March 22. The facility boosts the university’s commitment to Indiana’s vital food animal production industry by establishing a center for interactive student learning, advanced research and enhanced Extension programming.

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Climate Report photo

Climate change impacts report: Indiana will continue to get warmer, wetter

Indiana’s climate has grown wetter and warmer in recent decades and these trends will dramatically accelerate, with dozens of days each year exceeding 95 degrees F by mid-century, according to the initial report of the Indiana Climate Change Impacts Assessment. The report addresses historical patterns and future projections for climate change in the state and is available at http://indianaclimate.org.

Betty Feng

Purdue offers three-day course for food safety professionals

Purdue University is hosting a three-day course for food safety professionals seeking to be certified as a preventive controls qualified individual and learn more about the requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The course, led by food science assistant professor Yaohua "Betty" Feng, will be offered April 30 and May 1, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day; and May 2, from 8-11:30 a.m., at the Beck Agricultural Center.

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Food Waste

Wasting food may be safe, reasonable decision for some, study says

About 21 percent of the American food supply is wasted by consumers at home and in restaurants, but little is known about why. A study by Jayson Lusk, Agricultural Economics, has shown that those tossing food in the trash can are likely making rational decisions based on their time and safety.

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Drone flying

Progeny Drone converts aerial photos into valuable information about crop health

Progeny Drone Inc., a Purdue-affiliated startup, has created software that rapidly converts aerial crop photos into useful information for plant breeding, crop modeling and precision agriculture. Anthony Hearst, co-founder and CEO of Progeny Drone, is a Ph.D. candidate in Agricultural and Biological Engineering.

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Dev Niyogi

Studies show urbanization impacts storms, rainfall despite surroundings

Two studies led by Dev Niyogi, Agronomy and Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, show that urbanization changes storm patterns and rainfall amounts, highlighting the need for urban planning and infrastructure design that considers how the landscape will affect the weather.

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Kinglsy Ambrose

More grain dust explosions reported nationwide in 2017

There were seven reported grain dust explosions at U.S. food and agricultural facilities in 2017, two more than in 2016 but still below the 10-year average of 9.3 explosions per year, according to an annual report led by Kingsly Ambrose, Agricultural and Biological Engineering.

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How to Feed the World

‘How to Feed the World’ offers practical, positive solutions to food insecurity

A new book of essays by a multidisciplinary team of Purdue researchers helps readers understand how decisions made today by farmers, scientists, policymakers, educators and consumers are vital to ensuring global food security in coming decades. The book “How to Feed the World,” is now available from Island Press.

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Dates and Deadlines

March 29: Nominations due for TEAM Award

April 9-13: Purdue Ag Week

April 25: Purdue Day of Giving

May 11: Graduate School Commencement
May 13: College of Agriculture Commencement
For more dates and deadlines, check the Purdue Agriculture calendar.
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University News

Five universities including Purdue launch joint cyber security operations center

Five Big Ten Academic Alliance institutions, including Purdue, announced the launch and activation of the OmniSOC, a collaborative cybersecurity operations center. OmniSOC, based at Indiana University, is a pioneering initiative with a goal to help higher education institutions reduce the time from first awareness of a cybersecurity threat anywhere to mitigation everywhere for its members. The other partners are Northwestern University, Rutgers University and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

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Purdue Global offers benefit for employees and families

Purdue Global is pleased to offer our Purdue colleagues an Education Benefit for you and your family members to attend Purdue Global. The PG Education Benefit allows all eligible Purdue employees to pursue a degree from Purdue Global, tuition free. 

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Purdue business competition awards $115,000 to 12 winning student startups

The Burton D. Morgan Business Model Competition awarded 12 student startups funding totaling $115,000. Purdue University’s Center for Entrepreneurship hosted the final presentations in late February.

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Boiler Up Against Hate and Bias Graphic
Report Hate and Bias
Purdue 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 www.purdue.edu/report-hate 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.
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Purdue Agriculture InFocus
Editor: Dinah L. McClure (dmcclure@purdue.edu)
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