ABE Retirements

Albert (Al) J. Heber is retiring from the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering Thursday, December 31, 2020. Because of the limitations on gatherings, we will not be celebrating together - yet.

From Department Head Nate Mosier: I am sad to announce that Dr. Al Heber will be retiring from Purdue University on December 31, 2020, but please join me in congratulating Dr. Heber on his upcoming retirement and thank him for his years of service in the department!

In his time at Purdue University, Dr. Heber made enormous impacts through is research, extension, and teaching in managing air quality impacts from animal agriculture. His work has influenced the siting, design, and management of many, many livestock buildings and animal waste facilities. More than 1,400 “barn-months” of air emission data have been collected under his direction. His work has been highly sought after by the pork, dairy, and poultry industry for locating the proper sites for farms, and designing buildings and waste handling systems to minimize odor and particulate release into the air. Through Dr. Heber’s leadership, 12 universities cooperated on extensive research that became the National Air Emissions Monitoring Study that was required by the U.S. EPA Air Consent Agreement.

In addition to his research and extension programs, Dr. Heber has been active in teaching and service to the profession, including service on multiple college of agriculture extension, promotion, and other committees. He is currently a member of the Purdue faculty senate until the end of December. Dr. Heber has contributed significantly to the teaching in our department in the AE, BE, and ASM curricula as well, teaching such courses as the senior seminar course ABE 490 and the ASM 420, electric power and controls.

The pandemic makes gathering very difficult right now, so please look for upcoming announcements for a chance celebrate in person with Dr. Heber later in 2021.

Dr. Heber also offered some comments: Yes, it is true, and I am very grateful for your support, collaboration and friendship over the past memorable and wonderful 27-1/2 years! I especially appreciate and will miss Ji-Qin as he and I go back to 1996 when we started working together on livestock air quality studies together and continue with yet another air quality project that just started last month. While singling him out, I can think of many others who have blessed me with their help the entire time or most nearly so since ’93 including Becky, Stan, Scott, Carol, and Kathy. I want to thank Don Jones and Bill Field who served on the ’92 search committee and Larry Huggins, Dept Head when I was hired. And I must say that all the department heads I’ve worked with since then have been great!

I must give credit to my dear wife Gloria who has been a true and faithful partner and companion working behind the scenes helping in so many ways! Besides taking care of things in our home including teaching our children, she has often reviewed my writings, and even studied the first couple chapters in the ASM 420 electricity book so she could help me grade homework!

The future of ABE is so very bright with the fantastic new building, many vibrant new faculty and staff members, and great students who enroll in our programs every year!  I wish all the very best for you!  Dream big and stay #1!

We hope to “see you around” as Gloria and I have no immediate plans to move away and I plan to frequent ABE in the months and years to come as Emeritus Professor!

Bernard (Bernie) Y. Tao is retiring from the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering Thursday, December 31, 2020. Because of the limitations on gatherings, we will not be celebrating together - yet.

From Department Head Nate Mosier: I am sad to announce that Dr. Bernie Tao will be retiring from Purdue University on December 31, 2020, but please join me in congratulating Dr. Tao on his upcoming retirement and thank him for his years of service in the department!

 In his time at Purdue University, Dr. Tao has made enormous impacts through his work with the Indiana Soybean Alliance, especially in founding and growing the Student Soybean Innovation Competition. This competition has provided hundreds of Purdue students with invaluable practical experiences in innovation that launched numerous products and life-long innovators and entrepreneurs into their careers around the US and the world. In addition, Dr. Tao’s research in soybean utilization resulted in numerous innovations that has led to wider use of soybeans in crayons, candles, concrete sealant, and more. He holds more than 11 US patents!

Dr. Tao also made tremendous impacts in teaching through the development of a number of courses, especially in the biological engineering program as it grew into a separate degree program and curriculum. Dr. Tao is a Founding Fellow of the Purdue Teaching Academy in addition to numerous awards for his positive impacts on students in the classroom and the lab. 

The pandemic makes gathering together difficult, but please look for an announcement in the future about ways to celebrate.

Dr. Tao also offered some comments: It is with great fondness that I retire from ABE and Purdue, thanks to my colleagues, associates, friends, and students who have made my journey so enjoyable and fun!

I have thoroughly enjoyed life in ABE and Purdue, having been involved in a lot of terrific experiences in the normal processes of teaching, research, and outreach, as well as being chair of the university senate, a member and chair of the teaching academy, working with the BOT to hire university presidents, and, of course, all the camaraderie of colleagues, graduate students, and friends in lots of university functions. To my younger faculty colleagues, Purdue has a lot of wonderful experiences in store for you, particularly if you range outside of the department and college into university affairs with administration and other universities. As Frank Capra's movie title noted, it's a wonderful life and I am proud ot have been a member of the #1 ABE department in the country for the last decade. I am confident that the faculty and staff will continue this terrific record and greatly enhance ABE's reputation in the future.

FYI, if interested, Ann and I purchased a place in the Villages in Florida, where we plan on being during the cold Indiana winters, and plan to travel as global conditions allow. Our daughter and son-in-law, who reside in Nashville, Tennessee, will be having our 1st grandchild in January, so very likely we will also get a place there in the near future. For the next couple of years, we will also be hanging around Lafayette intermittently between activities, so I look forward to seeing the new building up and running, as well as visiting you all as conditions permit. Will keep the department and Purdue notified of addresses and locations, so you all can come and visit, should your plans allow!

Again, thanks to all my colleagues, the outstanding members of the ABE staff, and friends across the Ag and Engineering Colleges for your friendship and many years of sharing life.


Constance (Connie) McMindes retired from the Maha Fluid Power Lab and the ABE Department on December 19, 2019. Connie served as the account clerk in the business office before moving to the Maha Lab on Kepner Court. We will miss Connie after 12 years in the ABE family, but we are counting on her spending more time with her beautiful grandbabies. Connie (left) with Dr. Andrea Vacca.

ABE hosted a retirement reception on Tuesday, May 14, at the ADM Agricultural Innovation Center for Dr. Daniel Ess. Dr. Ess has been a part of the ABE faculty for almost 25 years. He officially retired on Wednesday, May 15, 2019, after teaching thousands of hours and mentoring/advising thousands of Agricultural Systems Management students, several of whom returned for his celebration. Retired professors Don Jones, Mack Strickland, and Gary Krutz were on hand to wish him the best, along with Karen Plaut, the Glenn W. Sample Dean of the College of Agriculture.

Dr. Ess will be moving back to Missouri - "back home again." ABE wishes you all the best, Dr. Ess.

(photos courtesy Becky Peer, Gary Krutz)

Professor Richard Stroshine officially retired August 31, and the department hosted a celebration on Friday, September 28, at the ADM Agricultural Innovation Center in his honor. In addition to his wife, Alice, and his son, Tim, many of the China Agricultural University students attended, along with many other colleagues of Dr. Stroshine. Thank you for the faithful years of service and for being a DifferenceMaker!

Professor Don JonesProfessor Don Dennis Jones was born April 22, 1944 in Kinmundy, Illinois to James and Nelda Jones. He received a BS and MS in Agricultural Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1966 and 1967 respectively, and worked as a research associate at the Agricultural Engineering Department after the MS degree. He was granted a PhD in Agricultural Engineering from Purdue University in 1976. In 1975, while still a graduate student at Purdue, he began working full-time as an extension specialist in the Agricultural and Biological Engineering Department at Purdue (ABE), assisting agricultural producers with livestock production and associated environmental management issues. In 1976, he became an Assistant Professor at Purdue with appointments in research, teaching and extension. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 1981 and Professor in 1986.

Professor Jones taught or co-taught six classes at Purdue in Engineering and Agriculture, and was twice nominated by ABE for the Best Teacher in Agriculture Award. He served as faculty advisor to the Alpha Epsilon and Alpha Mu Honor Societies and to the ASAE Student Society, as well as advisor to a number of undergraduate design projects. Professor Jones served as faculty advisor for six graduate students and on a large number of graduate examining committees.

 Professor Jones worked with Professors Strickland and Engel in several collaborative projects with USEPA from 1990 until 2003 to develop over 90 interactive environmental education programs. The programs were designed primarily for use by the public and by students and were either freely available for download from an EPA website, or sold at cost by Purdue. Many program disks were distributed to elementary and high schools around the US. Six of the programs were translated into other languages for use in other countries. During this 14-year period, over 80 undergraduate and graduate students were employed by the project, where they gained experience as designers and programmers, as well as improved their knowledge about various environmental subjects.

Professor Jones was involved in over $12 million in funded projects involving teaching, research and extension. He worked with a number of faculty members, both at Purdue and at other universities to develop a large number of publications, research and extension projects. These efforts resulted in 14 books and handbooks, 90 numbered extension publications, over 90 educational computer programs as well as a number of other reports and articles. Most notable were long-term collaborations with Animal Science Professor Allan Sutton in the area of livestock environmental issues and with Agronomy Professors Joseph Yahner and Brad Lee in the area of onsite residential wastewater. 

Professor Jones was recognized at Purdue with four Purdue University Cooperative Extension awards, two Dean’s Team awards and the Hovde Award for Excellence in Educational Services to Rural People of Indiana. In addition, he received the 2008 Certificate of Distinction Award from the Purdue Agricultural Alumni Association. Nationally, he served on a number of technical committees for his professional society, The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE), received the ASABE Young Extension Engineer award (1981) and was named a Fellow of the Society in 2007. Professor Jones received a total of 25 extension education awards for his publications and displays as well as two journal paper awards from ASABE.

In retirement, he continues to complete a handbook with Keith Johnson (Agronomy) and Ron Lemenager (Animal Science) which is intended for use by farmers in the Corn Belt. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling, carpentry and reading.

Don married Hiromi Asano in Honolulu in 1968. They have one daughter, Jo.  Family also includes one brother, James, and two sisters, Lila and Nina. 


Professor Buddy Miles with the Boilermaker SpecialProfessor Gaines (Buddy) Miles - retired after 25 years of service with Purdue University in the Agricultural and Biological Engineering Department. 

Buddy joined Purdue in 1983 as an associate professor and became a full professor in 1989. His research interests are power and machinery with interests in robotics, machine vision, expert systems and artificial intelligence applied to mechanization of specialty crops. 

Buddy received his BS in Agricultural Engineering in June 1968 from Mississippi State University, and his MS in Agricultural Engineering in December 1972. He attended Purdue University, 1972-1975, where he received his PhD. in Agricultural Engineering in December 1975.

Professor Miles through the Agricultural Systems Management program helped prepare graduates to develop and manage technology-intensive agricultural production and processing systems.

The ABE department is establishing a scholarship fund in honor of Professor Miles to benefit Agricultural Systems Management undergraduate students. Gifts for this scholarship fund may be sent to Becky Peer, Agricultural & Biological Engineering, 225 South University Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907