September 2019 ABeNotes

ASPIRE 2019 Internships

ASPIRE Internship

Sungwuk Choi (Biological Engineering), Eung Baek (Andy) Kim (Biological Engineering), Lauren Oparah (Biological Engineering), Thomas Smith (1st Year Engineering) and Chris Tague (Chemistry) recently completed the 2019 ASPIRE Internship.

The ASPIRE Internship allowed these successful competitors from the 2018-19 Purdue Student Soybean Innovation Competition to continue working on their soy-based products, by participating in research and customer delivery activities on campus full-time for 9 weeks during the summer.  These Students conducted research, attended professional development seminars, built their research network, and advanced their soy-based prototype toward commercialization and/or a student start-up company.

Thomas Smith (Team SoyShield) and Lauren Oparah (Team Luma) recently pitched for Ag-Celerator funding.

September 2019 Faculty News

L-R: Dave Corsi, Mohit Verma, Jim Byron, Luxin Wang, and Drew McDonaldAugust 6, 2019, Woodland, CA - Center for Produce Safety (CPS) has awarded three groundbreaking solutions-directed concepts to develop tools that can help growers identify and evaluate food safety risks posed by proximity to domesticated animal agriculture in the real world, in real time. 

CPS awarded a total of $135,000 in innovation challenge awards to three teams of scientists. The center's inaugural challenge called for "Growers' Risk Assessment Biomarker Investigative Tools" (GRABIT) to help growers identify and evaluate pre-harvest risks posed by potential transfer of contamination biomarkers, focused primarily on airborne transport, from animal feeding operations. Receiving their GRABIT grant awards at CPS's  2019 Research Symposium in Austin, Texas from board chair Dave Corsi and technical committee chair Drew McDonald were (pictured left to right):  Dr. Mohit Verma, Purdue University - $30,000 award; Jim Byron, Nano Reagents, LLC - $75,000 award, and Luxin Wang, University of California, Davis - $30,000 award. 

"Our GRABIT awards are designed to stimulate the science and technology communities, to bring us relevant tools that our growers and processors can use to better manage the relationship between plant and animal agriculture," said Corsi, vice president of produce and floral for Wegmans Food Markets. "These new awards are just one of the ways that CPS has revamped our research funding programs, to be more flexible and responsible to industry's needs."


  • The Purdue team is working on using paper-based microfluidic technologies to detect fecal contamination associated with animals (Verma's team).  
  • UC-Davis and Auburn researchers are seeking to develop a field tool to detect a broad fecal indicator group (known as Bacteriodales) associated with all animals. 
  • Nano Reagents LLC is working to harness aptamer technology to detect multiple animal biomarkers, with or without co-detection of pathogens.

"We know that produce growers are aggressively searching for better methods and tools to identify product contamination, so that they can then eliminate suspect material quickly to prevent cross-contamination of healthy product downstream.  Until now, that focus has mostly on pre-harvest and finished product testing," said Nano Reagents LLC's Byron. "Now, our company is focusing on the fundamental building blocks of testing, using a new class of reagents to provide growers and processors with an entirely new capability that is fast, easy, inexpensive and accurate. This is a true breakthrough for fresh produce safety."


Innovation challenge funds like the GRABIT grants are one prong of CPS's newly-revamped research program. To reflect changing times in produce food safety, CPS's Board of Directors adopted a new strategic plan last year that refocuses CPS's research to be more flexible and responsive to industry needs. In addition to its ongoing focus on post-harvest control and intervention of Listeria monocytogenes and the new challenge grants, CPS has also just called for research to study antimicrobial water treatments, and can now fund rapid response research to address urgent topics, in coordination with industry partners. To learn more about CPS's new strategic plan, view our new annual report.

ABE Adjunct Professor Dennis Flanagan and graduate student Ryan McGehee visited the northeastern Mollisol region of China in mid-August. They flew into Beijing on August 13, then flew to the city of Harbin about 750 miles to the northeast. From there they traveled by van north through large areas of corn and soybean fields in this major grain producing region of China, to the city of Keshan.  They visited several field sites that had some extreme gully erosion visible, and also saw some conservation practices aimed at slowing the gully advances (check-dams, grass waterways, etc.).  Gully erosion is a severe problem in this region, and is threatening roads and fields. They also visited the Keshan Station of the Institute of Soil and Water Conservation in Heilongjiang Province, which had numerous soil erosion plots as well as a large dam and sediment retention basin to control gully erosion. The dam was very effective at controlling advance of the gully. Next stop was in Changchun, for  a workshop presentation on the Water Erosion Prediction Project (WEPP) model at Jilin Agricultural University to about 40 students and faculty from several institutions, on August 18-19.

On August 20, Dennis returned to the United States, but Ryan remained in China and traveled to Northwest Agriculture & Forestry University in Yangling, in the Loess Plateau, 1300 miles southwest of Changchun.  He will be in Yangling and then Beijing until September 11, before returning to Purdue.  During this time Ryan is working with students and faculty on a project to apply erosion prediction models to the Mollisol region in northeast China, as well as conducting seminars and workshops. He is helping our Chinese cooperators convert their observed field soil, cropping, and weather data into forms that the erosion models can use.  Travel funding support for Dr. Flanagan and Mr. McGehee was provided by a research grant from the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST).

Picture at top: Visiting a field site with severe gully erosion on August 15. This gully had taken out a farm road, and advanced about 90 meters in the past year. Purdue ABE graduate student Ryan McGehee is on the left.

(Above) Bottom of a very long (300 meter) erosion plot at the Keshan Station of the Institute of Soil and Water Conservation in Heilongjiang Province, August 16, 2019.

(Above) Part of the tour group on top of an earthen and stone dam, with a sediment retention pond above it to control gully advance, at the Keshan Station of the Institute of Soil and Water Conservation in Heilongjiang Province. Dennis Flanagan is second from right; Ryan McGehee is third from left. August 16, 2019.

.(Above) WEPP workshop participants and instructors, at Jilin Agricultural University in Changchun, China, August 18, 2019. Dennis Flagan and Ryan McGehee, front row, center. To the left of Dr. Flagan is Dr. Qingyu Feng, former Purdue ABE graduate student and post-doc, who also attended and assisted with the workshop.

(Above) Dr. Flagan assisting participants during the WEPP Modeling workshop at Jilin Agricultural University, August 19, 2019.

In July 2019 Dr. Jian Jin's group deployed a new field hyperspectral imaging gantry system in Purdue’s research farm (pictured left). The system is located at ACRE behind the Indiana Corn and Soybean Innovation Center building. The imaging gantry will be used to scan the crops growing within its 150-foot imaging range and predict the physiological features of the plants including drought stress, nutrients status, disease symptoms, and so on. Compared with similar systems recently constructed at the University of Arizona and the  University of Nebraska, the Purdue system was uniquely designed and features high-resolution hyperspectral imaging, shadow-less operation, and continuous scan of the field every 10 minutes. One of Dr. Jin's research goals is to use this system to study how the Ag remote sensing images are impacted by the changing environmental conditions in the field, which has been a major limiting factor for the crop imaging quality.

Professor Narsimhan has recently published his book, Aerated Foods: Principles, Formation and Stability. (Citation: Narsimhan, G. (2019). Aerated Foods: Principles, Formation and Stability. John Wiley & Sons. Congratulations, Dr. Narsi!

September 2019 National AgrAbility Project News

The National AgrAbility Project was one of many exhibitors at the 2019 Farm Progress Show in Decatur, Illinois.  Exhibiting jointly with Illinois AgrAbility Unlimited in the Health and Safety tent was coordinated by Kelly Gagnon from Illinois AgrAbility Unlimited.  The three-day show provided an opportunity to give attendees information to farmers and ranchers and their families with disabilities how they might continue farming with a disability.  The displays included NAP publications and Illinois AgrAbility publications and an Action Track Stander power wheelchair and an adapted Polaris Ranger utility vehicle.

Indiana AgrAbility again had an exhibit at the 2019 Indiana State Fair in the FFA Pavilion.  Staffed by AgrAbility staff, consultants, and volunteers, the exhibit included an AgrAbility popup, AgrAbility publications, It’s About Hope video, beginning farmer and veteran resources, Indiana Farmer Veteran publications, VR publications, health and safety publications, a tool display of Tools to Make Your Life Easier, a John Deere tractor with a Life Essentials lift, and an Action Track Stander power wheelchair.

Indiana AgrAbility also took part in the Purdue Extension displays in the Agriculture/Horticulture building for two days of the Indiana State Fair as a rotating exhibit.  The display was similar to the one in the FFA Pavilion with the exception of the John Deere tractor and lift.

Steve Swain, Indiana AgrAbility rural rehabilitation specialist, presented AgrAbility, farm safety, and assistive technology on the farm to the Agriculture Mechanization class at North Montgomery High School.  The class is part of the North Montgomery FFA chapter who was a past winner of the Bridging Horizons Community Service Contest sponsored by Indiana AgrAbility.  Class members asked many questions about AgrAbility and continuing to farm with a disability.


September 2019 Student News

Purdue Student Soybean Innovation Competition

Top Prize $20,000 / 2nd Place $10,000 / 3rd Place $5,000

Thursday, September 19th

LILY G-126 @ 5:30 pm - Pizza, Soda, Tee Shirts, Giveaways!

Find out how you could win CA$H at the Call-Out!

Michelle (Micky) Creech

Purdue Student Soybean Innovation Competition Program Manager
ASPIRE Program Manager
Philip E. Nelson Hall of Food Science, Room 3259
745 Agriculture Mall Drive
West Lafayette, IN  47907

ABE Welcome Back Picnic 2019

From Dr. Nate Mosier:

Thanks go to the ABEGSA for organizing the food and the ABE staff for everything both behind the scenes and out in front to make everything go smoothly today and this evening.

Thank you to the faculty who made it to the picnic and/or contact session to talk with our new and returning students, alumni, guests, and for pitching in elsewhere, too!

These events wouldn't be possible without all of this help and the spirit of community in ABE that enables everyone working together.


Professor and Interim Head

We love to share success stories! This is from Steve Riedel, sponsor of one of the 2019 Senior Capstone/Senior Design Projects (RS-1: Residential Drainage Design - Joshua Nurrenbern, Ethan Smith, Hannah Hawrot, Jeremy Garst)

Greetings Jeremy, Josh, Hannah & Ethan, from Battle Ground, Indiana!

Hope you all are doing well… just wanted to pass along some photos of the septic & curtain drain install.  I didn’t get a chance to see the actual Presby tiles uncovered, but you can see the system-sand mound.  This morning, John Hack was digging for the pump tank.  So, it’s all coming together nicely!

Many thanks for all you did for our family!


Steve & Lynn Riedel

"Before" pictures:

"After" pictures:

The work we do here matters! This is one of the reasons we have capstone/design projects. If you know of other stories we could share, please let us know.

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