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Professor seeks to cultivate next generation of scientists

With over 30 years spent at Purdue University, Thomas Hertel, distinguished professor of agricultural economics, has many professional milestones that timestamp his career. The most recent one is the announcement that he will be awarded the Humboldt Research Award by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in honor of his extensive career dedicated to researching the global impacts of trade, climate and environmental policies. With the award, Hertel will spend six months in Potsdam, Germany on sabbatical, working to further his research. 

But Hertel isn’t thinking about what this honor means for him– he is thinking about what it means for Purdue. 

“Networking is the spirit of the Humboldt Award,” Hertel said. “So, to be able to bring back connections I’ll make during my time overseas fits nicely with our overall mission of the international Global to Local Analysis of Systems Sustainability Network (GLASSNET) based at Purdue.” 

Nominated by Hermann Lotze-Campen, a professor at the Humboldt University and Division Director at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Research (PIK) in Potsdam, Germany, the Humboldt Research Award is presented in recognition of the award winner’s entire academic record to date.  

Portrait of Tom Hertel Thomas Hertel, distinguished professor of agricultural economics (Photo by Tom Campbell)

“Tom Hertel is an international leader in his field and has made extraordinary contributions internationally that merit this recognition,” said Karen Plaut, the Glenn W. Sample Dean of Purdue Agriculture. “But always at the heart of his work has been his commitment to students and to his colleagues.” 

Hertel’s academic record includes the creation of the Global Trade Analysis Project, a network founded in 1992 that has grown to over 24,000 members around the world through all major universities working to conduct quantitative analysis of international policy issues. 

Hertel also leads GLASSNET, a five-year National Science Foundation (NSF) funded project that evolved from GLASS, a university-wide, interdisciplinary project aimed at understanding global drivers of local sustainability challenges. GLASSNET works to extend GLASS to include a network of networks beyond the university, creating the opportunity to provide members with data needed to assess actions that will affect the environment, the economy and local communities. 

“I need to spend time abroad to get to know and identify promising people and opportunities, so this sabbatical will facilitate that while also allowing me to give lectures and work with collaborators at other institutions across Germany,” Hertel said. “GLASSNET places a special emphasis on early career researchers, so we can better cultivate the next generation of scientists to think across disciplines and national borders.” 

Hertel said the Humboldt Award will aid in streamlining research and networking opportunities between Purdue and scientists across Germany, identifying early career scholars who would benefit from participating in GLASSNET.  

Hertel will arrive in Germany in June for his six-month stay. Through the award, he will also be meeting German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in July. 

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