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College of Agriculture welcomes new faculty members

THAISA CANTU-JUNGLES, RESEARCH ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, FOOD SCIENCE 

thaisacantu-jungles-cropped.jpgThaisa Cantu-Jungles has been appointed to the position of research assistant professor after working as a postdoctoral researcher in the Whistler Center for Carbohydrate Research at Purdue. Her research is positioned at the intersection of biochemistry, food science and human health with translational applications in prebiotic development for gut and whole-body health. Born and raised in Brazil, Cantu-Jungles earned a bachelor's degree in nutrition from Pontifical Catholic University in Brazil and a master's and Ph.D. in biochemistry at the Federal University of Parana in Brazil. In her spare time, Cantu-Jungles enjoys the outdoors and traveling to warmer areas of the country with friends and family.

DA CHEN, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF TRANSLATIONAL FOOD CHEMISTRY, FOOD SCIENCE 

dachen-1.jpgDa Chen joins the food science department from the University of Idaho, where he was an assistant professor. He previously worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Purdue. Chen’s research focuses on enhancing the functionality and sustainability of plant and dairy proteins by modifying their structure for expanded food applications, especially high protein foods and plant-based meat. Outside of research, Chen is also passionate about outdoor activities like fishing and hiking. 

 

BERNHARD DALHEIMER, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF MACROECONOMICS AND TRADE, AGRICULTURAL ECONOMICS
bernarddalheimer.jpgBernhard Dalheimer joins the agricultural economics department from the University of Minnesota, where he was a visiting research fellow. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Goettingen in Germany and was professor ad-interim at Kiel University, also in Germany. Dalheimer’s research focuses on international trade and global agri-food value chains under uncertainty. He also analyzes the causes and consequences of food commodity market shocks in high and low-income economies. He has consulted as an econometrician and data scientist with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Rome and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). He enjoys traveling, soccer, surfing and playing the trumpet and is increasingly becoming aquatinted with American sports.
CHAD FIECHTER, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF AGRIBUSINESS FINANCE, AGRICULTURAL ECONOMICS 

chadfiechter.jpgChad Fiechter joins the agricultural economics department after spending nearly a decade farming in Northeastern Indiana. Fiechter earned his master's degree in agricultural finance from Cornell University and his Ph.D. in agricultural finance from Purdue. Fiechter’s farming experience has motivated and informed his research on the financing of agricultural production, farm and agribusiness management and agricultural policy. He is specifically interested in how information affects farm-level decision making, like the financing, producing and marketing decisions of agricultural commodities. Fiechter enjoys running, playing ice hockey and water skiing.

UPINDER KAUR, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF PRECISION FOOD PRODUCTION SYSTEMS, AGRICULTURAL AND BIOLOGICAL ENGINEERING 

upinderkaur.jpgUpinder Kaur joins the agricultural and biological engineering department after earning her Ph.D. from Purdue's Polytechnic Institute. Kaur's research works to redefine cyber-physical systems by integrating robots as reactive embodied nodes, creating a more profound reaction between the physical and cyber realms. By engineering solutions for real-world challenges, her applications span diverse domains including animal welfare, global supply chains, precision food production and surgical robots. In her spare time, Kaur is a published poet and painter. 

 

 

LAURA MONTENOVO, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF STATE AND LOCAL PUBLIC FINANCE, AGRICULTURAL ECONOMICS 

lauramontenovo.jpgLaura Montenovo joins the agricultural economics department from Indiana University, where she earned her Ph.D. in public affairs. Born and raised in Italy, Montenovo earned her master’s degree in economic and social sciences from Bocconi University in Milan and her bachelor’s degree in economics from Ca' Foscari University in Venice. Her research focuses on labor economics, studying how large reforms and regulations affect workers and firms. She also looks at public finance and social inequality questions, and how public policies impact the overall well-being of various socio-demographic groups and organizations. Montenovo has grown fond of the Midwest and enjoys hiking and spending time outdoors with her dog. 

SIDDHARTHO PAUL, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF GEOSPATIAL DATA AND SOIL HEALTH INFORMATICS, AGRONOMY  

siddharthopaul.jpgSiddhartho Paul joins the agronomy department after serving as a research scientist in Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), a department of the Government of Canada responsible for the federal regulation of agriculture. Paul led AAFC's Living Lab research program in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador to enhance climate change mitigation and adaptation in agriculture. His research focuses on developing geospatial data-driven innovative approaches to understand the spatiotemporal interactions between land management practices, climate change and soil ecosystems at the field to landscape scales. Born and raised in a tropical country, Paul has enjoyed living and working in the far North, above 64-degree latitude and the arctic circle. 

ERIN PERCEVAULT, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF PRACTICE, HORTICULTURE AND LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE 

erinpercevault.jpgErin Percevault joins the horticulture and landscape architecture department after earning her license as a landscape architect in New York City and writing for the Landscape Architect Registration Examination. Percevault earned her bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture from Louisiana State University and her master’s degree in environmental management and science from Carnegie Mellon University. Her past projects, including on-structure landscapes, historic properties, farms, urban waterfronts and cultural institutions, have been featured in Architectural Record, Landscape Architecture Magazine, Landezine International and the Cultural Landscape Foundation. Her work has also been recognized by the Landscape Architecture Foundation, the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation and the American Society of Landscape Architects. Percevault is nearly halfway to completing her personal goal of reading at least one author from every country. 

HINAYAH ROJAS DE OLIVEIRA, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF BREEDING AND GENOMICS, ANIMAL SCIENCES 

hinayahrojasdeoliveira.jpgHinayah Rojas de Oliveira returns to the animal sciences department after working for Lactanet in Canada, a leading provider of services, knowledge and progressive herd management solutions for Canadian dairy farmers and industry partners. Rojas previously worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Purdue. Her main research area includes genetic and genomic analysis of complex traits, such as traits derived from large-scale high throughput phenotypes to better understand the varying relationship between phenotypes and genotypes. When she is not at work, Rojas enjoys time with her son on the nearest playground.

KARTHIK SANKARANARAYANAN, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF BIOLOGICAL AND FOOD PROCESS ENGINEERING, AGRICULTURAL AND BIOLOGICAL ENGINEERING 

karthiksankar-1.jpgKarthik Sankaranarayanan joins the agricultural and biological engineering department from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he worked as a postdoctoral associate. His research focuses on the gap between enzymology and applied data science. As a postdoc, he developed a computer aided synthesis planning tool to facilitate route scouting for the biocatalytic manufacture of small molecules to be utilized in pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals.  Sankaranarayanan enjoys spending time with family, cycling, rock climbing, swimming and going to comedy clubs.  

 

GUY TCHUENTE, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF QUANTITATIVE METHODS IN SPATIAL ANALYSIS, AGRICULTURAL ECONOMICS 

guytchuente.jpgGuy Tchuente joins the agricultural economics department from the University of Kent, where he was an assistant professor in the School of Economics. Tchuente earned his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Montreal. His research specializes in econometrics, health economics and labor economics, looking at the causal effect in high dimensional models and spatial network models. In his spare time, Tchuente enjoys playing soccer. 

 

 

WEICANG WANG, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF FOODS FOR LIFE, FOOD SCIENCE 

weicangwang-cropped.jpgWeicang Wang joins the food science department from the University of California, Davis, where he worked as a postdoctoral scholar. Weicang works on nutraceuticals and disease prevention. Applying multiple cell and animal models as well as lipidomics approaches, his research explores the roles of dietary fatty acids and their bioactive metabolites on gut microbiota and gut health. Weicang is a table tennis player and loves to ride bicycles. 

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