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Award recognizes Ebner’s success delivering high impact global programs

“Growing up, I was not involved in agriculture at all,” Paul Ebner, professor of Animal Sciences. “I had never heard of 4-H or FFA or animal science until after I graduated from college.”

Throughout his career, Animal Sciences Professor Paul Ebner has demonstrated his commitment to global agriculture and food systems in his research and teaching. His path started at Kalamazoo College where he pursued a degree in political science. He went on to complete graduate degrees in animal sciences from the University of Tennessee, a postdoctoral fellowship at Louisiana State University in molecular biology and joined the Peace Corps. It was during his time in Paraguay, South America that he started working with livestock production. He worked in a small rural village with an original focus on water sanitation and eventually directed his efforts to chickens and pigs, receiving funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Small Projects Assistance Program (SPA) to support small-scale livestock production.

Paul Ebner works with Purdue students to make yogurt, photo by Tom Campbell Paul Ebner works with Purdue students to make yogurt, photo by Tom Campbell

Since that time, Ebner has initiated international collaborations that are strengthening food safety capacity in numerous locations, including in Afghanistan, Cambodia, the Dominican Republic, Egypt, Pakistan and Romania. As part of the USDA-funded and IESC implemented Trade Safe (TraSa) project in the Dominican Republic, Ebner collaborated with veterinarians to develop the tool, BioPorc-RD, for farmers to conduct self-assessments of the risk of African swine fever coming to their farms. [story]

“African swine fever infections can lead to 100% mortality on a pig farm and there is no treatment,” said Ebner

He has worked with universities in Egypt and Afghanistan to improve the employability of students by making their education hands on and applicable.  

“Our research is based on human capital theory, translating education into value in the market.”   

“This is a chance for Purdue to be involved in something that makes a significant impact to Pakistani poultry producers, but the results will be applicable anywhere,” Ebner says.

Paul Ebner and students in Camobia
Paul Ebner works with graduate students in Cambodia, photo provided by FSIL

He is a lead investigator for a Food Safety Innovation Lab (FSIL) funded project assessing pathogen transmission in vegetables sold through informal markets in Cambodia and currently serves as a technical expert for FSIL. In Romania, he developed a service-learning course where students worked directly with smallholder dairy farmers on improving milk quality and safety. Through these projects, Ebner has earned a reputation for delivering high impact, globally engaged programs that reach food producers and processors as well as government officials and consumers.

“Probably the best thing about working internationally is learning about other systems and how those systems evolved in that environment,” said Ebner. “It’s always a privilege to learn how people make decisions and what influences those decisions whether its history, religion, environment or other cultural or social factors. In the end, there is usually more than one right way to do something, and we can all learn a lot from each other.”

In addition, he has created outstanding experiential, engaged learning opportunities to prepare students, both at Purdue and abroad, to face emerging challenges. He has participated in over 40 international workshops and has received numerous awards in recognition of his leadership and contributions to society including Faculty Engagement Scholar Award. (2018) Purdue University; Pfendler Outstanding Counselor Award. (2018) College of Agriculture; and the Outstanding Extension Specialist.

This year Ebner is the recipient of the 2022 Lowell S. Hardin Award for Excellence in International Agriculture. The award honors Hardin’s legacy for his contributions to international agriculture, and his many years of service in support of international activities.

Outstanding Counselor for the College of Agriculture (2018), photo by Tom Campbell. Outstanding Counselor for the College of Agriculture (2018), photo by Tom Campbell.

“Professor Hardin passed away in 2015,” said Gerald Shively, associate dean and director of International Programs in Agriculture (IPIA). “But his legacy of loyal service, generous insight, and shared knowledge to benefit humanity continues to endure across Purdue agriculture. This award both honors that legacy and recognizes the achievements of those who follow in his footsteps.” 

“Ebner's global impact is impressive,” said John Blanton, department head of Animal Sciences. His work to improve the lives of both producers and consumers of animal products worldwide is critically needed, and he passes this passion on to undergraduate and graduate students alike. He is a servant leader, and he epitomizes the legacy left by professor Hardin.” 

“Throughout his career at Purdue, Paul has lived the land-grant mission every day—as a teacher, a researcher and through the extensive outreach he has done in Indiana and around the globe,” said Karen Plaut, the Glenn W. Sample Dean of Purdue Agriculture.

On Wednesday, May 11, 2022, IPIA will host a ceremony and reception in the Dean’s Auditorium, Pfendler Hall Room 241, from 1:00 – 2:30pm ET, to honor Ebner for his contributions to international agriculture. Ebner hopes that agriculture students know they are graduating with skills and knowledge that communities throughout the world need and that they have numerous opportunities to improve livelihoods through improved food security and safety.

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