April 2019 ABeNotes

ABE Building Renovation and Addition

Looking for details on how the renovation and construction project is going? Our website has three dedicated cameras - one on Nelson Hall of Food Science, one on Lyles-Porter, and one on Drug Discovery. You can watch a time-lapse of the whole project from any (or all!) of those views at your convenience. Stay up-to-date by visiting regularly.


April 2019 ABE Gives Back

Wednesday, March 27, saw us hit an all-time high with our Indiana Blood Center drives with Biological Sciences! Only 5 times in 30 drives have we collected more than 20 units and this drive was the most ever - 27! Since the addition of the double-red-cell option, we have surpassed this drive's 8 only once, though we have managed 8 four times. The March 2016 drive had an additional double appointment option. Thank you for rolling up your sleeve and making a better life available to so many. Our total collection to date is 478 whole blood and 98 doubles. Using IBC's math, that is 1728 lives affected. Boiler up!

Hammer Down Hunger

As part of the 150 Years of Giant Leaps, the Purdue Ag Council offered an opportunity to pack 150,000 meals through a partnership with Lifeline. In less than 4.5 hours, over 1,000 volunteers packed meals with rice, beans, dehydrated vegetables, and a protein/vitamin supplement. Previous years had seen 70,000 meals packed, but the organizers wanted to blast through to a new record for a Giant Leap and Dr. Bernie Engel made sure that happened and that half of those meals stayed in Indiana. Congratulations to the organizational team (including our own Chaela Minor), and all of the volunteers that participated. Margaret Hegwood and Carol Weaver also participated in the festivities. Boiler UP!

April 2019 AgrAbility News

The Indiana AgrAbility Project staff have been busy!

  • The Indiana AgrAbility Project exhibited at the 2019 Indiana Horticulture Congress in Indianapolis February 12-14.  The exhibit included a popup banner, AgrAbility brochures, News Notes, AgrAbility Harvests, FSA flyers, and Indiana Vocational Rehabilitation services information.  Over 400 attended the event including vintners, produce farmers, fruit growers, and related industries.
  • The Indiana AgrAbility Project exhibited at the 7th Annual Indiana Small Farms Conference in Danville, Indiana on February 28 thru March 2.  The exhibit included veteran/beginning farmer information, Farmer Veteran Coalition of Indiana information, AgrAbility brochures and case studies, and arthritis information. 
  • The National AgrAbility Project exhibited along with Life Essentials at the National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville, Kentucky February 13-16.  The exhibit included AgrAbility popups, brochures, case studies, and examples of what is possible thru assistive technology.  Life Essentials exhibited a John Deere tractor with a pilot lift, an Action Track power wheelchair, and a Jiffy-Hitch with a PTO connector.
  • Indiana AgrAbility staff conducted farm visits and assessment throughout the state.  The visits were to veterans, Amish, and other individuals with disabilities returning to the farm to face challenges to continue farming.
  • Indiana AgrAbility and the National AgrAbility Project hosted Mike Lewis, project manager for the Kentucky AgrAbility Project, for discussions about AgrAbility, a visit to Life Essentials, and a visit to Mark Hosier’s farm.  The farm visit explored the process and history of AgrAbility services provided and to show the results of AgrAbility services.
  • Farm visits included initial visits to learn the barriers to their disabilities and follow-up visits to formally conduct Indiana Vocational Rehabilitation Services accessibility assessments.  Clients included spinal cord injuries and leg amputations.
  • The National AgrAbility Project staff and AgrAbility Planning Committee conducted the 2019 AgrAbility National Training Workshop in Lincoln, Nebraska on March 25-28, 2019.  There were 247 conference participants from 33 states and 2 countries.  There were 70 speakers, 52 total sessions, 6 tours, 19 exhibitors, 8 students, 19 identified as veterans, and 56 identified as farmers.  Participants raised $1,057 for Nebraska Farmer Relief Funds and approximately $10,000 for the Farmer Stipend Fund for 2020.  There were 14 sponsors supporting farmer stipends, attendee items, and various auction items.

April 2019 Alumni News

Dr. Kumar Navulur was honored as a Distinguished Agriculture Alumnus on Friday, March 22, 2019.

Navulur, a 1996 PhD graduate of ABE, is the senior director of strategic business development at DigitalGlobe, and president of the DigitalGlobe Foundation. While on campus with his wife and children, he presented "Leveraging New Space Technologies for Digital Agriculture Solutions" as part of the Data Science and Digital Agriculture Seminar Series. Our alumni are making a difference all over the world and we are proud to recognize Dr. Navulur as one of our distinguished alumni.

April 2019 Maha Fluid Power Laboratory News

Author: Meike Ernst and Paul Kalbfleisch

Maha Graduates

The Maha Fluid Power Research Center is proud to celebrate two new graduates.

First, on February 25th, Dan Ding defended his master’s thesis on diagnosing of axial piston machines of swash plate design using acoustic holography methods. These machines are employed as pumps and motors in a wide range of hydraulic systems, e.g. in construction and agricultural machinery, where noise reduction is an important aspect of machine operator health and comfort. Ding’s research focuses on acoustic holography ― that is, using an array of microphones taken over a hemispherical grid of 1m radius around the axial piston pump in the Maha Fluid Power Research Center’s semi anechoic sound chamber, Ding successfully reconstructed the 3D acoustic far field using the HELS method for a spherical harmonic basis decomposition. Proper post-processing techniques for this type of measurement data is key to moving towards a deeper understanding of pump noise emissions, and enabling research on design measurements aimed at effectively reducing that noise. Congratulations to Dan Ding on his contribution to these post-processing techniques, and on his new degree!

The second graduate, Ashkan Darbani, defended his work on March 27th. His research also focuses on axial piston machines of swash plate design--- specifically on the slipper-swash plate lubricating interface in these machines. This interface can be a major source of power loss, contributing to both the leakage and the torque loss due to viscous flow; using a genetic algorithm and an in-house simulation tool for predicting the performance of the interface, Darbani found an optimal micro-surface shape for the sealing land of the pump slippers that minimizes the described losses for a number of different operating conditions. Furthermore, Darbani measured the vibrations experienced by this type of hydraulic pump during operation, and studied the effects of those vibrations on the slipper-swash plate interface. He concluded that they are small, i.e. unimportant to the interface’s performance. Congratulations go out to Ashkan Darbani, for his outstanding work in designing more efficient axial piston machines, and his master’s degree!

April 2019 Student News

Alpha Epsilon, the Agricultural & Biological Engineering honorary society inducted its latest members (l-to-r), Jonathan BradwayReed TrendeMaddie O'NeillSean McCormick, and Mia Romine, on April 3rd.  Alpha Epsilon officers, President - Madalyn Alm; Vice President - Susan Hubbard; Treasurer - Calvin Willhite; Secretary - Hannah Hawrot; and Grad Student Liaison - Casey Hooker, conducted the initiation.  Alpha Epsilon’s faculty advisors are Abby Engelberth, Bob Stwalley, and Bernie Tao.

Alpha Mu, the Agricultural Systems Management honorary society inducted its latest member, Ben Chambers, on March 5th.  On hand to view Dr. Bob Stwalley conduct the initiation ceremony for Ben were his family members: Gary Chambers, Glenda Chambers, Ryan Wierenga, and Benjamin Chambers II.  Young Beau Chambers expressed significant satisfaction in knowing that he would be able to become an ASM like his dad, but in a cool new building.


Emma Brace is the recipient of the 2019 Emily M. Wadsworth Graduate Mentoring Award from Purdue’s Women in Engineering Program. This annual award recognizes special contributions made to the mentoring of women at Purdue and in the community. Emma received the award in recognition of her contributions to graduate student peer mentoring during her time at Purdue, including serving on the leadership team for the Graduate Women in Engineering Network, organizing a book club and craft group for graduate women engineers, and other service and outreach activities.


Purdue Student Soybean Innovation Competition Award Ceremony is a Big Hit on Campus!

Author: Micky Creech

For the first time, the Purdue Student Soybean Innovation Competition Award Ceremony was held on the Purdue campus in the Shively Club at Ross-Ade Stadium.  This year's Award Ceremony was a combination of the 25th Anniversary of the Soy Competition and a 150th Giant Leaps Ideas Festival Event.

Purdue President, Mitch Daniels visited the celebration and gave a few opening remarks along with Indiana Soybean Alliance CEO, Jane Ade Stevens. 

ABE Alumna, Jocelyn Wong gave the keynote address to a standing ovation.  Jocelyn participated in the very first soy competition and won with her entry of soy-based crayons.  Jocelyn is currently the Chief Marketing Officer for Lowe’s and is responsible for overseeing the integrated marketing and communications strategy, and gives a great deal of credit to the soy competition for her beginning and continuing career success.

Lowe’s Executive Vice President, William Boltz and Lowe’s Senior Vice President J. Todd Bleckly, flew in on the company jet to surprise Jocelyn and hear her keynote address, visit with students and talk with them about their soy-based products.  Both VPs were impressed with the students, their prototypes, and the amazing opportunity the soy competition allows Purdue students.

This year’s $20,000 winning team is Team Stroy, a soy-based drinking straw designed to replace plastic and paper straws.  Team members are; Morgan Malm (Food Science), Natalie Stephenson (Marketing) and Ruth Zhong (Electrical Engineering).  Team Advisors are; Chad Allred (Management) and Jozef Kokini (Food Science).

Second Place Team Soy Seal earned $10,000 with their soy-based wood finish with Nanocellulose.  Team members are Alyson Chaney (Agronomy) and Peyton Clark (Sustainable Biomaterials Process and Product Design).  Team Advisors are; Eva Haviarova (Forestry & Natural Resources) and Robert Holland (Economics).

Third Place and $5,000 went to Team SoyShield, a soy-based windshield wiper fluid and team members are; Jason Clark (Accounting) and Thomas Smith (1st Year Engineering).  Team advisors are; Maria Marshall (Ag Economics) and Enrico Martinez (Chemical Engineering).

The People’s Choice Award went to Team Luma, a soy-based glitter.  Team members are; Ryann Davis (Chemistry), Lauren Oparah (Biological Engineering), Elizabeth Tedder (Biological Engineering) and Hillary Vrba (Agricultural Economics).  This team earned $500 by receiving the most votes from those in attendance.  Team Advisors are; Natalie Carroll (ABE & ASEC) and Abby Engelberth (ABE).

Twelve teams competed for this year’s top prizes with students from various colleges and degree areas.  For a complete list of this year’s teams and products visit the competition web page at - https://engineering.purdue.edu/ABE/academics/competitions.

April Fools'!

We would be remiss if we did not honor the celebration of April Fools Day, 2019. Several individuals, who shall remain forever nameless, honored their faculty in their own inimitable way. Disclaimer: no ABE printers or supplies were used or harmed in the execution of these rather epic pranks.

Contact Us

Send your thoughts on what you’d like to see in this e-newsletter to Purdue ABE at cmweaver@purdue.edu.