Every day in this job, I am reminded of the important work our faculty, staff, and students do. Some days, I get a lot of reminders and they come in interesting ways. Last Friday was one of those days…
Associate Dean Karen Plaut and I left early Friday morning to travel to Washington, DC. It was a long-planned "National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Day" for us – we had meetings scheduled with the Deputy Director and a number of Institute Directors, Division Heads, and Program Leaders. (We had also planned to meet with Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy, NIFA Director and former Associate Dean and Director of Ag Research at Purdue, but Sonny was in Kansas City with his family celebrating the birth of his first grandchild! Sonny will be visiting our campus on January 25, 2013 so mark your calendars.)
In the Indianapolis airport terminal, we met Seth Harden, who was waiting for the same flight to DC. Seth is a recent graduate of Forestry and Natural Resources, former Ag Ambassador, and now a soil conservationist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service. He is also a new member of our Ag Alumni Board. Seth was on his way to Washington to work with American Farm Bureau on a new leadership program aimed at young professionals. Seth is another example of how students who are leaders on campus take those same leadership skills to the professional world.
Karen and I had a good day with NIFA. Our interest was relationship building, getting a better feel for funding priorities and timing of programs, and laying the groundwork for the two groups of our faculty that Karen and Jim Mintert will take to Washington in October.
Back at the Reagan National airport in late afternoon, I had just started catching up on e-mail when Indrajeet Chaubey, a professor in ABE, approached me. Indrajeet had been in Washington for a couple of days reviewing proposals for NSF. Indrajeet was showing Karen and me some amazing photographs of a small drone plane that had just been evaluated at ACRE for use by our crop and ecology researchers when Dan Szymanski, professor in Agronomy, arrived at the gate. Dan was in Washington to report to NSF on a project on which he is serving as PI. A few moments later, Betty Bugusu, Mario Ferruzzi, and Bruce Hamaker appeared. Betty is Managing Director of the International Food Technology Center at Purdue and Mario and Bruce are both faculty members in the Food Science department. They had just conducted a dialogue session on the role of food processing in creating markets and reducing losses for smallholder farmers in Africa in partnership with Bread for the World and the Partnership to Cut Hunger and Poverty in Africa. I believe they had also spent the afternoon at the World Bank.
As interesting as all of their individual stories were, the bigger story of Purdue Agriculture engagement was on my mind as we flew home. I could add many other examples over the past couple of weeks – the faculty, staff, and students who recently met with American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman during his visit to campus, and the group of faculty and staff who traveled with me to St. Louis yesterday to meet with Rick Tolman, CEO of National Corn Growers, are just a couple. Getting off campus to engage granting agencies, share ideas in dialogue sessions, and build relationships with decision-makers takes time, but if we are going to deliver on the ideas in our College’s statement of vision such as ‘research with purpose, leading to discovery with impact’ and ‘engagement that transforms lives and livelihoods’, these kinds of interactions are essential. Stakeholders need to know what we are working on; we need to help catalyze conversations about important research themes; we need to understand the most pressing issues our stakeholders face; and the list could go on.
I know my experience last Friday gets repeated every day in our College. My thanks to each of you for the work you do to help us stay productively engaged with those we serve.
All the best,
ABE's tradition of excellence continues
Congratulations to the Agricultural and Biological Engineering department are in order again this year! The US News and World Report rankings of 2013 Undergraduate Engineering programs and undergraduate engineering specialty programs, released September 12, ranks ours the top program in the biological/agricultural specialty area for the second straight year (see http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/rankings/engineering). ABE shares the top spot with the University of Illinois Urbana/Champaign this year. Earlier this year, ABE's graduate program was also ranked number 1 – for the fourth straight year.
Full story on Purdue rankings: http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/releases/2012/Q3/purdue-ranked-among-top-universities-in-nation.html
Jim Mintert to take on Interim Extension role
Dr. Jim Mintert has agreed to serve as Interim Associate Dean and Interim Director of Purdue Extension with the departure of Dr. Chuck Hibberd. Jim has served in his current role as Assistant Director of Agriculture and Natural Resources for Purdue Extension since 2009. Prior to joining Purdue, Jim spent 23 years at Kansas State University as Professor and Extension State Leader for Agricultural Economics. He holds BS and MS degrees from Purdue and a Ph.D. from the University of Missouri. Jim will assume this interim role officially on September 27 and will serve until a permanent Associate Dean and Director is hired.
The following faculty and staff have agreed to serve on the search advisory committee for the new Associate Dean and Director of Extension:
Dean Jay Akridge will chair the search. The search committee welcomes your help in building an outstanding pool of diverse candidates. Please send your recommendations immediately to Becky Rice (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Suzanne Nielsen to step down in Food Science
Dr. Suzanne Nielsen has announced that she will step down as head of the Department of Food Science to return to her teaching and scholarly activities. "I want to express my deepest appreciation to Suzanne for her leadership as department head over the past 9+ years," said Jay Akridge in his announcement to the department. "Food Science is an outstanding department, thanks in no small part to Suzanne’s drive, commitment, and leadership." Suzanne has agreed to remain as Head until her replacement is on campus.
Dr. Alan Mathew, Animal Sciences, will chair the search advisory committee for the next Food Science department head and the following faculty and staff have agreed to serve on the committee:
Scott Downey to deliver Kohls Lecture
W. Scott Downey, assistant professor of agricultural economics and associate director of the Center for Food and Agricultural Business, will deliver the 2012 Richard L. Kohls Outstanding Undergraduate Teacher Lecture on Monday, September 17 at 3:30 p.m. in the Dean's Auditorium, Pfendler Hall. A reception in the Pfendler Gallery will follow the lecture. Downey is the winner of the 2012 Kohls Award, the College of Agriculture's highest award for undergraduate teaching. His lecture is titled "Why Come? Selling Students and Industry on Coming to Class."
New associate vice provost to focus on trimester initiative
Frank Dooley, professor of agricultural economics, has been named associate vice provost of undergraduate academic affairs, effective August 13. The position was created over the summer to further implementation of a balanced trimester system. Frank will retain his academic appointment while acting in his new capacity. "Dr. Dooley has been working on the trimester initiative since the beginning, and we're excited to have him leading it. He's the right person for the job," says Dale Whittaker, vice provost for undergraduate academic affairs. In his new role, Frank will lead campus-wide discussions and inquiries into the wide-ranging effects of switching to trimesters.
Ag Research Spotlight: Tesfaye Mengiste
The office of Agricultural Research at Purdue is launching Ag Research Spotlight, a monthly feature highlighting individuals whose work reflects the College's commitment to the six strategic themes that guide Agricultural Research at Purdue.. This month's spotlight is on Tesfaye Mengiste, Botany and Plant Pathology, whose research underscores the theme utilizing molecular approaches to expand the frontiers of agriculture and life sciences.
Full story: https://ag.purdue.edu/arp/Pages/spotlight.aspx
Biochemistry graduate hopes to grow Tymora startup into 'multimillion-dollar company'
Anton Iliuk never expected to be an entrepreneur. Now, the former Purdue biochemistry student’s doctoral project — to develop new technology that can help pinpoint potential targets for cancer therapy — has transformed into a growing startup in Purdue Research Park. Iliuk’s former adviser, biochemistry associate professor W. Andy Tao, is his business partner. “Most science majors have two paths,” Iliuk said. “One is academia. One is industry. This is the path less traveled. I’m not a business guy.” But the company’s first product, PolyMAC, still managed to generate sales of nearly $50,000 in five months for his company, Tymora Analytical Operations LLC. “I’d like to turn this into a multimillion-dollar company,” Iliuk said. “If you don’t believe, nobody else will.”
Resources for Agriculture faculty online and in print
The answers to nearly every question a new or continuing faculty member in Agriculture may have can be found in two new resource repositories. The College of Agriculture Guide for New Faculty, with information, policies and guidelines for Academic Programs, Ag Research at Purdue, International Programs in Agriculture, and Purdue Extension, as well as Pre- and Post-Award Services, Ag Communication and much more, is available as a PDF here: https://ag.purdue.edu/arp/Documents/facguide2012.pdf. Wendy Madore, assistant to Associate Dean Karen Plaut, developed and produced the guide.
Another resource for Agriculture faculty is the College Resources and Information for Faculty in Agriculture website, containing information on everything from Agriculture faculty meetings to faculty development opportunities, to promotion and tenure policies and guidelines. The site is developed and maintained by Becky Rice, project manager in Agriculture Administration. The faculty information site can be found here: http://www3.ag.purdue.edu/dean/facultyinfo/Pages/default.aspx
Be prepared: Campus web site has all emergency information
The Campus Emergency Preparedness and Planning Office oversees the emergency preparedness and planning activities on Purdue's campus. The office is tasked with the oversight of the University's All Hazards Emergency Operations Plan which will be used in the event a natural disaster or a human-made incident strikes the campus. The Emergency Preparedness website provides emergency planning information and assistance to the Purdue University family. The Emergency Procedures Guide is also contained in the Purdue iPhone and iPad app, which is available free of charge.
Check out the Emergency Preparedness website here: http://www.purdue.edu/emergency_preparedness/
Nominations sought for Spirit of the Land Grant Mission Award
The Spirit of the Land Grant Mission Award recognizes a faculty member for excellence in integrating and promoting Purdue’s core missions of discovery, engagement, and learning. The award celebrates faculty who have successfully developed an integrated, comprehensive program that benefits agriculture, health and human sciences or veterinary medicine nationally and/or internationally. Applications for the award are due to Wendy Madore (email@example.com) by 5:00 pm on Monday, October 8, 2012. We expect to announce the award winner in with a formal celebration in the fall of 2012. The award winner will receive a plaque and $10,000 to support his/her program along with an honorarium of $1500 (less taxes) from the Robert O. and Zelma C. Swaim Memorial Fund.
Farm Bureau officials visit campus
Purdue Agriculture student leaders enjoyed lunch with Indiana Farm Bureau president Don Villwock and American Farm Bureau Federation president Bob Stallman during their visit to campus on August 30. Pictured here are Micah Matlock, Trae White, Molly McKneight, Mariah Huff, Brooklynne Slabaugh, Michael Baird, and Jackson Troxel. Said associate dean Marcos Fernandez: "We are appreciative of President Stallman and President Villwock taking time to meet and visit with our students. These students represented themselves, their educational programs, their communities, and the College of Agriculture at Purdue in a professional and personable manner."
Purdue Today highlights Purdue Master Gardener Program
The Purdue Master Gardener Program was featured in Purdue Today's "Did You Know?" section recently. From presenting tips for cultivating robust fruits and vegetables to providing opportunities to meet like-minded friends, the Purdue Master Gardener Program offers many ways for Indiana horticulture enthusiasts to grow. Purdue Extension coordinates the statewide program, which is offered in 85 of Indiana's 92 counties. It provides gardening training to volunteers, who then pass their knowledge on to other community members. The photo shows Rosie Lerner, state coordinator of the Purdue Master Gardener Program, and Jeff Phillips, Extension educator and coordinator of the master gardener program in Tippecanoe County, standing among sunflowers planted in a demonstration garden at the Extension office on Sagamore Parkway in Lafayette.
A/P Staff Advancement Work Begins
The 2012-2013 Administrative/Professional Staff Advancement Program is underway. All A/P staff should have received the materials via email. Advancement documents are to be processed and approved through the individual department committees this fall before they are submitted to the Dean’s Committee for evaluation (due January 9). It is recommended that staff update their advancement documents each year to make it much easier when they are eligible to submit a document for advancement. For details, visit the College of Agriculture’s A/P Staff Advancement Program web site under the “Faculty & Staff” tab on the Purdue Agriculture home page: http://www.ag.purdue.edu/Pages/advance_info.aspx
Representatives from Purdue's Global Policy Research Institute will be featured at the CTO Forum dinner on Sept. 13 in San Francisco. Arden Bement, director of the institute and Purdue's chief global affairs officer, and Gebisa Ejeta, director of Purdue's Center for Global Food Security and distinguished professor of agronomy, also will participate in a fireside chat on "Food Security - Humanity's Foremost Challenge of the 21st Century." The CTO Forum enables technology and business leaders at the highest levels to network, explore topics of mutual interest, share knowledge and forge solutions that are critical to the industry.
Michael Gunderson, Agricultural Economics, received the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) Teacher Fellow Award during the June 2012 NACTA Conference. According to the award letter from NACTA President Rick Rudd, the award is “an international recognition of your excellence in teaching and your commitment to the scholarship of teaching and learning in agriculture.”
Dan Annarino, agricultural communication graphic designer, devotes much of his evening and weekend time to painting—and he’s gaining acclaim in Indiana for that work. Currently his work as been accepted into juried exhibitions at The Indiana History Center (Hoosier Salon 88th Annual Juried Exhibition, downtown Indianapolis), at the Minnetrista Museum (Open Space: Art About the Land Exhibition, Muncie) and he recently had paintings at the Swope Art Museum (68th Annual Wabash Valley Juried Exhibition, Terre Haute). Dan also has three paintings in a group show at the LALA Gallery in downtown Lafayette.
Steve Cain, disaster communication specialist in Ag Communication, was featured recently as a Purdue "Momentum Maker". Steve has been involved in disaster relief since arriving at Purdue in 1987 and has worked on the front lines in droughts, floods and tornadoes. Steve is the director of the Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN) Homeland Security Project and president of Indiana Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD).
Mariah Huff, a junior in agricultural education, was crowned queen of the Indiana State Fair on August 19. The Brownstown, Ind., native will reign through the 2013 queen contest at the conclusion of next year’s state fair. Mariah will be the second Purdue Agriculture student to serve as Indiana State Fair queen since 2011, when Sara Alford reigned.
Wild native shrub suitable for home landscape plantings
Hoping for an alternative to the common landscaping plant Japanese Spirea, Mike Mickelbart, associate professor of horticulture, found that it's possible to bring the plant's native cousins into backyards. Mickelbart has filled his yard with native plant species. Spiraea japonica, a shrub also known as Japanese Spirea that typically has pink flowers, is one of the most common landscape native species available at nurseries, but Mickelbart has never been attracted to it. "Planting natives in my backyard is a fun way to learn about the native flora," Mickelbart said. "I see a lot of Spiraea japonica and day lilies. But I would like to see the palette of native plants available for landscape use expand."
Low oxygen boosts stem cell survival in muscular dystrophy therapy
Controlling the amount of oxygen that stem cells are exposed to can significantly increase the effectiveness of a procedure meant to combat an often fatal form of muscular dystrophy, according to research conducted by Shihuan Kuang, assistant professor of animal sciences, and Weiyi Liu, postdoctoral research associate. A genetic mutation in patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy causes the constant breakdown of muscles and gradual depletion of stem cells that are responsible for repairing the damage and progressive muscle wasting. Stem cell therapy - implanting healthy stem cells to combat tissue wasting - has shown promise against muscular dystrophy and other neurodegenerative diseases, but few of the implanted stem cells survive the procedure.
Never-before-seen plant metabolites discovered
Purdue researchers have captured evolution in action through the discovery of a new set of metabolites synthesized by Arabidopsis plants, according to research findings published in August in the journal Science. Clint Chapple, distinguished professor of biochemistry; former Purdue graduate student Jing-Ke Weng; current Purdue graduate student Yi Li; and Huaping Mo, associate director of the Purdue Interdepartmental NMR Facility, were studying how new metabolic pathways evolve in plants when they discovered the metabolites, which they are calling arabidopyrones. Many different metabolites are used by plants for defense, pigmentation and to attract pollinators, while others are used by humans as pharmaceuticals and flavorings. Arabidopyrones are found only in Arabidopsis, a common research plant, although it's unclear what the metabolites do. "Understanding plant metabolism is critical to being able to understand how plants evolve and adapt to their environment, and, in an applied sense, having access to the genes involved in plant metabolism helps us manipulate those processes and harness them for our own use," Chapple said.
Indiana sees more drought relief, but dry conditions persist
Remnants from Hurricane Isaac significantly improved Indiana's drought status, but the state is not out of the woods quite yet. The U.S. Drought Monitor (www.droughtmonitor.unl.edu) released on September 6 showed that none of the state remains in extreme or exceptional drought - the two most extreme levels. In the previous week, more than 25 percent of the state was in extreme drought and more than 10 percent was in exceptional drought. Ken Scheeringa, associate state climatologist, said some parts of northeastern Indiana saw only about a half inch of rain from the leftovers of Hurricane Isaac, while Southwestern Indiana received as much as 4.5 inches. Overall, most of the state saw 2 to 2.5 inches.
Poor pollination leads to moldy growth in corn
Indiana corn farmers are seeing high incidences of a specific mold in their fields this year after a season-long drought hindered the crop's pollination. Smut, a gray, moldy growth on corn ears, is present in Indiana cornfields every year, but rarely at the level of 2012. "Researchers have debated about what conditions favor smut development, but it is reported that poor pollination, dry weather and warm temperatures can increase smut development," said Kiersten Wise, Purdue Extension plant pathologist. "That certainly fits the conditions experienced during the majority of the 2012 growing season."
Gene's function may give new target for cancer drugs
Elizabeth Tran, Biochemistry, is part of a group of Purdue scientists who have determined that a gene long known to be involved in cancer cell formation and chemotherapy resistance is key to proper RNA creation, an understanding that could one day lead to new therapies and drug targets. The human gene p68 has long been recognized as an oncogene, one associated with cancer formation, but its function was unknown. Tran found that misregulation of p68 causes problems with RNA formation and arrangement, possibly leading to chromosomal abnormalities. "Our results show that Dbp2, and likely p68, functions in proper formation of RNA. Our evidence suggests that Dbp2 keeps the RNA from folding improperly," Tran said. "We think that misfolded RNA may not be released from the DNA, causing problems with the DNA itself."
Survey: Indiana farmland values, cash rents soar
Indiana's farmland values and cash rents have continued to soar in 2012, even amid the worst drought in decades, according to the June Purdue Farmland Value Survey. The survey showed a statewide increase in farmland value ranging from 14.3 percent to 18.1 percent, depending on land quality, since the 2011 survey. Cash rents increased between 12.8 percent and 15.2 percent. "Robust net farm incomes, favorable interest rates, strong farmland demand and a limited supply of farmland for sale kept Indiana farmland values and cash rents moving higher," said Craig Dobbins, Purdue Extension agricultural economist. Statewide the average value of bare Indiana cropland ranged from $5,013 per acre for poor-quality land to $7,704 per acre for top-quality land.
Conference examines woody biomass production, challenges
A conference sponsored in part by Purdue University will address issues related to growing and harvesting hardwood trees for cellulosic biofuels. Woody Biomass in Indiana takes place Sept. 26-27 at Clifty Falls State Park in Madison. The registration deadline is Sept. 21 and includes one- and two-day attendance options. A field tour of biomass harvesting at Southeast-Purdue Agricultural Center in Butlerville on Sept. 28 comes with both registration options. "This conference will address the potential of both native- and plantation-grown woody biomass in the central Midwest as a source of renewable energy," said Dan Cassens, professor of wood products in the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources and a conference organizer.
Purdue Extension publication a resource for pesticide users
A new Purdue Extension publication is designed to remind producers about the basics of measuring pesticides correctly for their operations. "Measuring Pesticides: Overlooked Steps to Getting the Correct Rate" is a recent, expert-reviewed publication that helps producers understand the steps needed to properly measure chemicals for pesticide application. According to Fred Whitford, coordinator of Purdue Pesticide Programs, not measuring pesticides prevents producers from gaining control of the weeds, insects and diseases in their crops. It also can reduce yields or increase costs when additional applications are needed.
Purdue economist predicts record losses for pork industry
The nation's pork industry will continue to experience some of its worst economic losses in recent history as record-setting drought decimates feed supplies, says Purdue Extension agricultural economist Chris Hurt. Producers could lose about $30 per head this summer and nearly $60 per head during the final quarter of the year as continued liquidation of herds drives down market hog prices and drought drives up feed prices. This exceeds the previous record quarterly losses of $45 per head in the final quarter of 1998.In the next 12 months, losses could average $33 per head, meaning about $4 billion in losses for the U.S. pork industry. "A tsunami of red ink is about to wash across the pork industry, which is facing losses unseen even in the fall of 1998 when hog prices approached zero value," Hurt said. "Stressors include more hogs than expected in the market, rapid sow liquidation and record feed prices."
Purdue researchers get free, fast BLAST processing with a friendly face
An easy-to-use, Web-based BLAST tool and Purdue¹s DiaGrid distributed computing system, which offers thousands of processors to speed results, are available at no cost to Purdue researchers. Faculty, research staff and graduate students are invited to try BLASTer at a free luncheon on Wednesday, Sept. 19. Register at: http://diagrid.org/events/details/5.
Faculty search procedures workshops announced
The Office of Institutional Equity announces its 2012 fall semester Faculty Search and Screen Procedures series. Faculty and support staff may register for the sessions that best suit their needs by clicking on the links provided on the event dates. Session participants will receive the Faculty Search and Screen Procedures manual. Additional copies of the manual may be requested from the Office of Institutional Equity at any time or viewed at www.purdue.edu/ethics/oie/documents/FacultyManualFinal_1.2012.pdf.
September deadlines for OVPR incentive grant proposals, equipment programs
The deadlines to apply for new incentive and research-equipment grants offered through the Office of the Vice President for Research are in September. This spring, the office announced programs that will provide grants to West Lafayette faculty members for new research, for laboratory research equipment, and for nonlaboratory research infrastructure and equipment. The deadline to submit letters of intent for incentive grants, which will provide up to $300,000 for interdisciplinary research or up to $100,000 for single-disciplinary efforts, is Sept. 6. The deadline to submit letters of intent for the laboratory research equipment program is Sept. 5; that program is limited to requests of $100,000 or less. The deadline to submit proposals requesting $5,000 or less for nonlaboratory research infrastructure and equipment is Sept. 26. Proposals requesting between $5,000 and $20,000 are due by Sept. 26.
For more information about these programs, including where to send letters of intent and proposals, go to http://www.purdue.edu/research/vpr/rschdev/fund_main.php.
Initiative offers path for students to graduate in 4 years
As a new class of students settles in for the academic year on the Purdue University campus, a new initiative is in place to help them earn a bachelor's degree in four years. 4-3-2-1-Graduate! is an initiative developed through the Indiana Commission for Higher Education that is being modified and promoted at Purdue. The initiative's four pillars include:
Check the College online calendar for all events, seminars and deadlines here: http://www.ag.purdue.edu/Lists/Agriculture%20Calendar/calendar.aspx