Purdue Agriculture InFocus

Fall 2023

Join us in welcoming these new
Purdue Agriculture faculty members.
Thaisa Cantu-Jungles
Thaisa Cantu-Jungles, Research Assistant Professor, Food Science. Dr. Cantu-Jungles most recently worked 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
Da Chen, Assistant Professor, Food Science. Dr. 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. 
Bernard Dalheimer
Bernard Dalheimer, Assistant Professor, Agricultural Economics. Dr. Dalheimer most recently was a visiting research fellow at the University of Minnesota. 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 enjoys traveling, soccer, surfing and playing the trumpet and is increasingly becoming aquatinted with American sports.
Chad Fiechter
Chad Fiechter, Assistant Professor, Agricultural Economics. Before returning to Purdue, Dr. Fiechter spent 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
Upinder Kaur, Assistant Professor, Agricultural & Biological Engineering. Dr. Kaur joins the ABE 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 Montenero
Laura Montenero, Assistant Professor, Agricultural Economics. Dr. Montenero earned her Ph.D. in public affairs from Indiana University. Born and raised in Italy, Montenero 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. Montenero has grown fond of the Midwest and enjoys hiking and spending time outdoors with her dog. 
Siddhartho Paul
Siddhartho Paul, Assistant Professor, Agronomy. Dr. Paul joins the agronomy department after serving as a research scientist in Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, leading its 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
Erin Percevault, Assistant Professor of Practice, Horticulture & Landscape Architecture. She joins the HLA 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. Percevault is nearly halfway to completing her personal goal of reading at least one author from every country. 
Hinayah Rojas de Oliveira
Hinayah Rojas de Oliveira, Assistant Professor, Animal Sciences. She 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
Karthik Sankaranarayanan, Assistant Professor, Agricultural & Biological Engineering. Dr. Sankaranarayanan most recently worked as a postdoctoral associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 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
Guy Tchuente, Assistant Professor, Agricultural Economics. Dr. Tchuente was most recently an assistant professor in the School of Economics at the University of Kent. He 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
Weicang Wang, Assistant Professor, Food Science. Dr. 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.