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Couture, Pijanowski Named Entrepreneurship Ambassadors

Drs. Bryan Pijanowski and John Couture are among a group of 10 faculty Innovation and Entrepreneurship Ambassadors selected by the Purdue College of Agriculture.

In this role, the pair will help guide and encourage members of the college who are interested in taking their research and innovations out of the laboratory and into the marketplace.

John Couture.Couture, an associate professor in Forestry and Natural Resources and Entomology, has been at Purdue since 2016 and was promoted to associate professor this spring.

His research focused on understanding plant chemical and physiological responses to stress and how these responses influence plant growth and productivity. He also incorporates different imaging platforms to monitor plant responses to stress at field and forest scales to help management efforts. In combining traditional approaches of quantifying plant responses to stress with novel imaging applications, Dr. Couture’s program has been funded to develop rapid screening platforms to accelerate crop breeding to increase yield, determine plant responses to different environments to aid in crop management and restoration efforts, and to track and predict plant responses to and movement of invasive pests and pathogens.

“I would like to increase awareness of the potential commercial value of research and the fact that Purdue has avenues to promote the commercialization of research and research products,” Couture said of his goals for participation as an ambassador. “I hope the College’s emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation increases student creativity. Knowing that there are avenues and support for developing a project or idea into something more are resource I think would excite students.”

Bryan Pijanowski.Pijanowski, a professor of Landscape and Soundscape Ecology as well as the Director of the Center for Global Soundscapes, came to Purdue in 2003 as an associate professor and was promoted to full professor in 2011. He was named Director of the Center for Global Soundscapes in 2013. Pijanowski was named a University Faculty Scholar in 2013 and earned the College of Agriculture’s PK-12 Education Award for Emerging Faculty in 2016.

Through the use of acoustic sensors, artificial intelligence tools, and big data mining techniques, Pijanowski and the Center for Global Soundscapes seek to understand how humans impact biodiversity so that they can create a better future for all 11 million species, while also improving human well-being.

“I plan to help determine how the impressive entrepreneurial ecosystem at Purdue can be best utilized by creative faculty who wish to venture into the space of commercialization,” Pijanowski said. “Moving into this area is daunting, complex, and requires a different skillset than being a traditional researcher. In the end, discoveries in the labs need to impact society as great as they can, and I hope this group can help Purdue to realize this need. We need to diversify the preparation of career paths for our students. Many of my graduate students are now interested in starting their own businesses. They need some practical knowledge of how this preparation differs from one that is principally academic.”

Couture and Pijanowski delve into the way their own research makes them well-suited to the role of ambassador in this story, which also introduces the other eight Innovation and Entrepreneurship Ambassadors.

The ambassador program is being guided by Christian Butzke, professor of food science and Innovation and Entrepreneurship Fellow.

“The economic success of people and companies using the research and information that comes out of Purdue is really crucial for the sustained relevance of the academic system in our society,” Butzke said of his efforts to cultivate a culture of enterprise.

Writer: Wendy Mayer, Communications Coordinator

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