Purdue Agriculture InFocus

March 2021

Purdue Ag People
Purdue Ag in the News
Dates and Deadlines
University News
From the Dean 

Hope is in the Air

On March 19, we had a very successful virtual reception for 13 distinguished ag alumni who have made a difference, whether it was developing:
  • new tools for agriculture from our fields to plants to our animals,
  • new ways to package foods,
  • new ways to improve and enhance our environment from the natural world to cut flowers,
  • or new data to provide insights that impact our scientific enterprise or our economy.
It is the creativity, passion and perseverance of people like our distinguished alumni that show us how bright the future will be. They are an inspiration to our students, faculty and staff. Their accomplishments and their stories are profound. These individuals represent what it means to be a land grant university as they are making an impact on people in their communities, throughout the U.S. and across the globe. 

Even during a pandemic, we continue to engage with our alumni in new, creative ways. The Purdue Ag Alumni Association, under the leadership of Danica Kirkpatrick, showed amazing resilience and grit as they pivoted to a virtual Gone Fishin’ Alumni Event to replace our annual in-person Fish Fry.

During the first week of February, we had more than 300 individuals participate in a series of virtual reunions, more than 14,000 engage with us on Facebook, and 12 entrepreneurs pitch their innovations to 100 participants during our Fish Tank competition.

Campus Ag Week Moves Forward

While our ag alumni continue to make a mark on society, we are nurturing the next generation of students who will do the same. Our talented students are figuring out ways to engage during the pandemic and offer activities on campus in a safe way, including Ag Week taking place April 12-16. Members of the college’s Ag Week Taskforce and other student organizations are planning a mix of virtual and on campus events highlighting the importance of agriculture, food and natural resources.

The students are planning a virtual series of Presidential Dialogues with agricultural leaders, including Jeff Simmons, president and CEO of Elanco; Phil Nelson, one of our distinguished World Food Prize laureates; Katy Bunder, CEO of Food Finders; and Joe McGuire, CEO of Pure Green Farms.

Food plays a big part in the on-campus activities of Ag Week. College of Agriculture students will be handing out prepackaged ag products, such as ice cream, potato chips and other fun snacks, on the Purdue Mall to encourage all students to think about how agriculture and food play a part in their daily lives. In addition, our students are actively involved in a campus-wide effort, led by the College of Agriculture’s Melissa Funk, to support Food Finders Food Bank, which not only serves Tippecanoe County but also serves the ACE food pantry on campus.

Future Looks Bright

As we continue to see low rates of COVID-19 infections on campus coupled with the rollout of vaccines, we will take what we have learned over the last year and apply it to what I believe is an exciting future. During this pandemic, our students have gained resilience, patience and compassion for others, which will serve them well and help them do great things in the future.

We also look forward to taking the best practices and the tools developed by our faculty and staff and bring those forward as we return to in-person classes and activities in the fall. I know these learnings will help the College take our next giant leap.

Purdue Ag People

Schull Graduate Ag Research Spotlight: Val Zayden Schull

The Graduate Research Spotlight highlights graduate students and their work. The March spotlight is on Val Zayden Schull, PhD student, Agricultural and Biological Engineering.
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Ethan Smiley Three agriculture students named Academic All-Big Ten

Three student-athletes from Purdue University's College of Agriculture earned Academic All-Big Ten recognition during the winter sports season, including Ethan Smiley, botany and plant pathology, shown here.
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Laramy Enders Purdue team predicts next-generation microbiome research

A group of Purdue University scientists from entomology, botany and plant pathology and agronomy authored a recently published review of agricultural microbiome work for the journal Nature Plants.
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Pat Smoker AgIT reads the tea leaves and stays a step ahead of the game

Technology doesn't stand still, which means neither does the Agriculture Information Technology department, led by Pat Smoker. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit last March, AgIT played a major role in moving everything from classrooms to labs online.
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Lynda Ciufetti Alumna honored as a Distinguished Woman Scholar

Lynda Ciufetti, professor emeritus of botany and plant pathology at Oregon State University, was honored as one of the 2020 Distinguished Women Scholars by the Susan Bulkeley Butler Center for Leadership Excellence at Purdue University. Ciufetti earned her PhD in plant pathology/plant physiology in 1983 from the department of botany and plant pathology. 
Global Ag Innovation Forum Launched in March

The Global Agriculture Innovation Forum began on March 2 with its first virtual event, Farms and Farmers of the Future, welcoming participants and speakers from around the world. The Forum is produced through a partnership between USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service and Purdue University's Office of International Programs in Agriculture. The event has attracted more than 1,000 registrants from more than 90 countries.

Future virtual events, happening throughout 2021, will offer opportunities for networking and collaboration, and facilitate connections between innovators and stakeholders, private and public stakeholders and those with local and global perspectives.

The next virtual event - Informed and Connected to Markets - is on March 30. Participation in all events is free, but those interested must register.

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Statue of Liberty image Don’t forget to track Civil Rights and Diversity Training    

All Purdue Agriculture faculty and staff members are required to receive training in civil rights (the regulations), diversity awareness or sexual harassment each year. Rather than mandate a specific training, we ask that you attend any training that fits your needs and interests and enhances your knowledge and understanding of diversity, civil rights or sexual harassment. Please use our Qualtrics survey tool to report training activities.
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Awards and Recognitions

David Barbarash David Barbarash, Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, was recognized as the junior level winner of Excellence in Design Studio Teaching from the Council of Educators for Landscape Architecture for his work training the next generation of landscape architects.
LeafSpec The Association of Equipment Manufacturers and the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers recently awarded one of the 2021 Davidson Prizes to LeafSpec, LLC, for the LeafSpec, a portable hyperspectral corn leaf imager. The technology behind the LeafSpec was developed in the lab of Jian Jin, Agricultural and Biological Engineering.
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Purdue Ag in the News

Andy Mesecar Researchers race to develop antiviral weapons to fight the pandemic coronavirus

Andrew Mesecar, Biochemistry, talks about the rapid progress in finding treatment options for COVID-19.
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beetle Ironclad beetles offer a lot to learn for engineers and entomologists

The Purdue Entomological Research Collection, housed in Smith Hall, has almost 2 million insect specimens, most of which are mounted on stainless steel pins. Pinning insects is usually easy, unless you are Aaron Smith.
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Mental Health Purdue Extension continues to offer virtual Mental Health First Aid courses

Purdue Extension is offering Mental Health First Aid courses to the campus community and across the state, providing education about mental health issues including depression, anxiety, psychosis, suicidality and substance abuse. 
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Purdue Ag Econ Purdue study finds limited economic impacts from U.S. rejoining Paris climate accord

President Biden has recommitted the U.S. to the Paris climate accord and also moved forward with the climate plan calling for carbon free electricity by 2035 and net zero emissions by 2050.
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Marguerite Bolt State's hemp industry going through growing pains

While admittedly still in its infancy, Ben Hartman sees Indiana as well positioned to become a national leader in the burgeoning hemp production industry.
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Nicole Widmar Data suggest COVID herd immunity may be hard to achieve

While the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines offers hope for the end of the now yearlong pandemic, new data from a Purdue agricultural economist suggest that the virus' spread may be slowed but not stopped anytime soon.
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Beth Hall Indiana State Climate Office provides spring outlook

Beth Hall, Indiana state climatologist, says predictions indicate most of the state will receive about a half-inch of precipitation above average for the next three months.
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Dates and Deadlines

March 30: Global Agriculture Innovation Forum

April 12-16: Purdue Ag Week

April 22: College of Agriculture Spring Awards Banquet - Virtual

May 8: Semester Ends
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University News

New technology aims to improve battery life

If you want power, you lose battery life. If you want battery life, you lose power. Purdue University innovators have come up with an invention to help.
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Purdue named a top producer for Fulbright U.S. student program

Purdue University has been named a 2020-21 Top Producer for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, highlighting the university's dedication to international education and research.
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Purdue University is a community where diversity is valued and incidents of hate and bias are not tolerated. Students, faculty, staff, and campus visitors who feel that they have been the victim of a bias related incident (or who have witnessed a bias related incident) are encouraged to report it online at www.purdue.edu/report-hate or to contact the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities at 765-494-1250. Your report can remain anonymous if you wish. Remember, if it is an emergency situation that requires immediate medical or emergency services attention, please call the Purdue University Police Department at 911 or 765-494-8221.
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