Purdue Agriculture InFocus

June 2020

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

Karen Plaut
Since I wrote my last In Focus note, our academic community has changed the way we do almost everything. While this has been disruptive, our faculty, staff and students are stepping up to the challenge.  With the inability to host in-person classes, meetings and workshops, our College embraced new ways to deliver curriculum, information, programming and services.  It is amazing to see what has happened and I will highlight a few examples below.  

Reaching New Audiences  

Hosting events online has attracted new – and larger – audiences for Extension across the state.  

The 4-H Youth Development team hosted an animal science web series engaging hundreds of youth each Tuesday from April through June. A virtual Extension asparagus workshop had 150 people attending through Zoom.  

On a global scale, the Global Trade Analysis Project (GTAP) moved its conference online and almost doubled the number of attendees and countries participating this year.  

Each of our 92 counties is holding a virtual 4-H fair, as well as an in-person 4-H fair if the county decides it is safe to do so. This is the first year for the virtual fair option and it gives us an opportunity to connect youth to 4-H in new ways.  

Working with Health and Human Sciences Extension educators, the Office of Multicultural Programs hosted a virtual conversation for the College, titled Race Matters, with 130 faculty and staff participating and a waiting list of others who were interested.  

And many of our departments, as well as Extension, are connecting with their audiences through their social media accounts, including Forestry & Natural Resources which has been hosting an “Ask the Experts” Facebook Live series.  

Giving Back  

County Extension educators often serve as the hub for community action and that has certainly been the case this spring. With rising unemployment and schools closed, many of our educators have helped organize food drives, as well as the distribution of milk through the federal Coronavirus Food Assistance Program.  

A group of graduates from the class of 2020 developed a virtual campaign to fund a class gift that will support scholarships for future College of Agriculture students.   Connecting with Students  

With students not coming back to campus after Spring Break, faculty worked hard to adapt courses to go online and many student organizations took to Zoom to stay engaged.  

This summer, students are being welcomed to campus with online visits. Dr. Wilson and the Office of Academic Programs recently hosted a virtual visit for incoming freshmen and their parents in advance of virtual STAR events.  

Moving Research Forward  

While much research at Purdue slowed, the College was able to keep 160 labs open during the pandemic due to their essential research and the need to get fields planted this spring.  

Our investments in automation have paid off as well. For example, the Controlled Environment Phenotyping Facility (CEPF) occupancy in the growth chamber was 81% for the month of May with critical research efforts continuing for maize, rice and brassica. Due to automation, we were able to capture 24,752 RGB images and performed 7,616 hyperspectral scans of plants during this time.  

We are grateful for the investment from Ag Alumni Seed allowing us to purchase a second growth chamber. The Board of Trustees approved the renaming of the CEPF to the Ag Alumni Seed Phenotyping Facility.  

So, I will end with…Who would have thought?  

Who would have thought that we would turn lemons into lemonade? We are agriculture. We are designed for change and we rose to the occasion.  

With the Protect Purdue plan in place, we anticipate the next year to be dynamic and robust. We all will have the opportunity to find new ways to enhance the reach and effectiveness of the College of Agriculture.

All the best,
Karen signature

Purdue Ag People

Marian Rodriguez-Soto Graduate Ag Research Spotlight: Marian Rodriguez-Soto 

The Graduate Research Spotlight highlights graduate students and their work. The June spotlight is on Marian Rodriguez-Soto, Entomology.
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Theoneste Nzaranyimana Graduate Ag Research Spotlight: Theoneste Nzaranyimana 

The Graduate Research Spotlight highlights graduate students and their work. The May spotlight is on Theoneste Nzaranyimana, Agricultural Science, Education and Communication.

Nzaranyimana also received the North American Colleges & Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) Graduate Student Teaching Award in June.
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Ethan Hillman Graduate Ag Research Spotlight: Ethan Hillman 

The Graduate Research Spotlight highlights graduate students and their work. The April spotlight is Ethan Hillman, Agricultural and Biological Engineering.
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Alex Helms Behind the Research: Alex Helms

Many people are involved in the remarkable range of programs, services and facilities that undergird research in the College of Agriculture. Collectively they are integral to the college fulfilling its research mission. This month’s spotlight is on Alex Helms, Farm Technical Coordinator, SEPAC, and Chief Supervisor of Purdue University UAV Instruction.
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Robert Waltz Indiana State Chemist Retires after Career Spent Serving Hoosiers

According to Indiana State Chemist Robert Waltz only two things are nearly as old as the human race: mistakes and grifters. It has been his job for the past 14 years to safeguard Hoosiers and Indiana Agriculture against both.
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Zachary Brown ASEC Student Elected National MANRRS Graduate President

Zachary Brown, Agricultural Sciences Education and Communication, was recently selected to be the 2020-2021 Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) National Graduate Student President.
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Eileen Kladivko Purdue Agronomy professor reflects on 35-year research project

Eileen Kladivko began her career at Purdue University as an assistant professor of agronomy. Little did she realize that for the next 35 years, she would work on a water drainage project that she initially learned about during her interview.
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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

Songlin Fei Mark Russell Levon Esters
Songlin Fei, Forestry and Natural Resources, is the winner of the 2020 Agricultural Research Award, the College of Agriculture’s highest award for research. His research into critical ecological problems and leadership of the integrated Digital Forestry initiative will be celebrated at an event in the fall. Mark Russell, Agricultural Sciences Education and Communication, received an Honorary Hoosier Degree from Indiana FFA and was the recipient of the Murray Brown Leadership Award from the North American Colleges & Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA). Levon Esters, Agricultural Sciences Education and Communications, is a Fulbright Scholar Award recipient and will participate in the inaugural Regional Universities Network of Australia in 2021. More.
Kamryn Dehn Danielle Marks Michael Mashtere
Kamryn Dehn, Forestry and Natural Resources, received the 2nd Annual Tyler Trent Courage & Resilience Award. The scholarship is given to undergraduate students at the West Lafayette campus who have encountered serious physical or similarly daunting adversity in their pursuit of higher education. More. Danielle Marks, Animal Sciences, received the North American Colleges & Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) Graduate Student Teaching Award. Michael Mashtere, Agronomy, received the North American Colleges & Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) Educator Award.
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Purdue Ag in the News

COVID Worker Dashboard New Purdue/Microsoft collaboration calculates agricultural product supply risk due to COVID-19 worker illnesses

The Department of Agricultural Economics at Purdue University, in collaboration with Microsoft, has created the Purdue Food and Agricultural Vulnerability Index online dashboard to quantify the potential risk to the supply of agricultural products as a result of COVID-19 farm and agricultural worker illnesses.
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Mohit Verma Purdue, Raytheon BBN Technologies, PortaScience, Cortex Design, and LaDuca partner on COVID-19 point-of-care test kit

Purdue University, Raytheon BBN Technologies, PortaScience Inc., Cortex Design Inc., and LaDuca LLC on Wednesday (June 24) announced a partnership to produce and manufacture a COVID-19 home test. The test will be submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for approval. The test was developed by Mohit Verma, an assistant professor in Purdue’s Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering. 
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Podcast Ag and Public Health Agriculture + Public Health: This Is Purdue Podcast Episode 9         

Amanda Deering, Food Science, and Catherine Hill, Entomology, are guests on the This Is Purdue podcast. Hill talks about why we need mosquitoes even though most of us would prefer they go away ... and how to keep them from biting us during the summer months. And Deering answers questions about whether we can trust the fresh fruits and vegetables in our produce section during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Leaf Spec Purdue Ag-Celerator invests $100,000 in plant, leaf scanning technology startup 

The Purdue Ag-Celerator will invest $100,000 in an agriculture technology startup that was selected for the investment following the semiannual Ag-Celerator Demo Day.Leaf Spec Ag Technologies took first place in the Spring 2020 Demo Day, which was held virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 
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Indiana Wine Celebrate Hoosier wines during Wine Grape Month 

June is Indiana’s Wine Grape Month and the Purdue Wine Grape Team encourages people to celebrate by visiting Indiana’s wineries.Wine Grape Month will highlight Traminette, Indiana's signature wine grape variety. Traminette varieties have assisted in generating an estimated $94 million in Indiana tourism spending since 2011
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Laurynn Thieme Celebrating Dairy Products and Communities in Indiana 

Purdue Extension teamed up with Prairie Farms to provide the liquid milk surplus to local food pantries and non-profits. Due to Purdue Extension’s broad presence in all 92 Indiana counties, milk has been widely distributed across the st
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farmers markets Purdue's College of Agriculture and Microsoft collaborate to support Hoosier farmers 

Purdue University’s College of Agriculture and Microsoft are preparing to launch the Hoosier Food Market, a website where farmers can sell directly to consumers with no overhead costs and offer flexibility for the producers and customers.
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Andrew Mesecar The sprint to solve coronavirus protein structures - and disarm them with drugs 

Lying in bed on the night of 10 January, scrolling through news on his smartphone, Andrew Mesecar got an alert. He sat up. It was here. The complete genome of a coronavirus causing a cluster of pneumonia-like cases in Wuhan, China, had just been posted online.
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Maize Ears Purdue scientists identify genetic 'immune system' for junk DNA

 A significant portion of an organism’s DNA is made up of transposons — so-called “jumping genes,” junk DNA or selfish DNA whose sole purpose is to replicate. In doing so, they reinsert themselves into other parts of the genome, much like viruses.
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Ag Barometer COVID-19 continues to impact farmer sentiment; majority indicate economic assistance bill necessary 

Farmer sentiment improved slightly in May after falling sharply in both March and April, according to the Purdue University/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer. The index was up 7 points from April to a reading of 103, but it remained nearly 40 percent below its all-time high of 168 set in February.
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University News

Bayer commits to opening space in Purdue University's Discovery Park District 

Purdue University announced June 18 that Bayer, a global life sciences company, intends to open Bayer at Convergence in Purdue’s Discovery Park District.
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Beck's Hybrids to open space in Purdue's Discovery Park District 

Purdue University announced June 24 that Beck’s, a family-owned and -operated seed company, intends to open a satellite location in Purdue’s Discovery Park District.
Beck’s Hybrids to open space in Purdue’s Discovery Park District
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What do farmers and pharmacists have in common? Data Science 

Purdue University is proving a national leader with a living and learning community devoted to data science, and the opportunity for every student who leaves the university with at least one course in the field.

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Your pets are stressed out, too 

The COVID-19 pandemic is creating emotional stress and anxiety for humans – but chances are, their furry companions are likely feeling the same way. Dr. Niwako Ogata, an associate professor of veterinary behavior medicine in Purdue University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, says pets could be feeling secondhand anxiety from their owners who are coping with lifestyle changes caused by the pandemic. 

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Boiler Up Against Hate and Bias logo Report Hate and Bias

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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