News

10/7/2020 – The NRT Team spends the day harvesting corn for later data analysis.

Harvested corn waiting to be collected

Jonathan bagging the harvested corn

Daniel carries a sack of corn out of the field

A panorama of the farm with David and Daniel


8/21/2020 – The NRT Team heads out to the farm to collect final height measurements on this year’s crop


8/20/2020 – NRT Trainee David Rokke wins the best presentation award in the Materials Science category at the 2020 Chemical Engineering GSO Symposium


7/23/2020 – NRT Trainee Ryan Ellis defends his Ph.D thesis “Synthesis and Ligand Engineering of Colloidal Metal Chalcogenide Nanoparticles For Scalable Solution Processed Photovoltaics”. He’ll be starting his career as a Senior Scientist I at AbbVie in Chicago this August. Congratulations, Dr. Ellis!


7/17/2020 – The NEOWISE comet was spotted over the array structures at the test farm!


7/10/2020 – NRT Trainee David Rokke’s submission to the 2020 AIChE Conference, Synthesis and Characterization of Solution-Processed AgInSe2 Thin Films as a Candidate for Low-Cost, High Efficiency Printable Photovoltaics is accepted for a presentation


7/8/2020 – The NRT Team starts data collection for the season. Today we started by measuring the height of every plant in the study.

Apurva, Shelby, Kyle, and Jonathan going over the procedure for taking measurements

Kyle taking plant height measurements


6/24/2020 – Work starts on the NRT Farm. The NRT Team measured the plots in the field, staked out the different plots, and tagged the corn for later data collection. All while maintaining social distancing of course!

A socially distanced group selfie. Back row: Varsha, Anna, David, Val, Jonathan, Betsy, Apurva, Kyle. Middle: Shelby. Front: Daniel

Val, Betsy, Jonathan, Kyle, Varsha, and Shelby work in the field.

Apurva, David, Shelby, Val, Jonathan, Kyle, and Anna work in the field. 

A view of the young corn crop at the NRT Farm


5/5/2020 – Hybrid Ligand Exchange of Cu(In,Ga)S2 Nanoparticles for Carbon Impurity Removal in Solution Processed Photovoltaics, on which NRT Team members Ryan Ellis, Jonathan Turnley, David Rokke, and Rakesh Agrawal are authors is published in Chemistry of Materials.


4/24/2020 – The 2020 corn crop is planted on the NRT Farm.


4/8/2020 – NRT Associate Yiru Li defends her Ph.D. thesis “Energy System Modeling towards a Sustainable Future”. She’ll be starting her career as a Process Research Engineer at Sinopec in Beijing this August. Congratulations, Dr. Li!


3/30/2020 – NRT Trainee David Rokke is accepted to the National Renewable Energy Lab’s (NREL’s) Hands-On Photovoltaic Experience, a week-long on-site workshop with photovoltaic experts at NREL.


2/18/2020 – NRT Trainee Ryan Ellis receives a $1000 travel grant from the Davidson School of Chemical Engineering to cover his travel expenses for the 2020 Spring MRS Conference.


1/13/2020 – Daniel Hayes and Varsha, graduate students in the Davidson School of Chemical Engineering advised by Prof. Rakesh Agrawal, join the NRT Team.


12/23/2019 – NRT Trainee Ryan Ellis’ submission to the 2020 Spring MRS Conference is accepted for an oral presentation.


12/18/2019 – The NRT Trainees finished shucking the corn for it to be analyzed in the Ear Photometry system at Purdue’s Indiana Corn and Soybean Innovation Center.

Anna and Betsy shucking corn

Anna and Kyle preparing corn for analysis

Ears being analyzed in the photometry system. This system instantly analyses dozens of metrics for the ears, including number of kernels and kernel size


12/2/2019 – NRT Trainee Elizabeth (Betsy) Grubbs presents to her committee and NRT Trainees for her preliminary examination in the school of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue. Congratulations, Betsy!

Betsy giving her preliminary exam


11/12/2019 – NRT Trainee Ryan Ellis wins first place in the Electronic and Photonic Materials Graduate Student Award Session at the 2019 Fall AIChE conference with his presentation Synthesis and Ligand Engineering of Impurity Free Cu(In,Ga)S2 Nanoparticles for Slot-Die Coated Photovoltaics . Congratulations, Ryan!

Ryan after his award session


11/1/2019 – NRT Trainees spend the day at the farm harvesting corn. Data from the harvested corn will be analyzed over the next few weeks

The NRT Farm the morning of the harvest

David harvesting corn

Anna harvesting at the farm

Kyle harvests corn

Apurva (left) and Jonathan (right) harvest corn on the farm

The NRT Team in front of the test plot

Left to Right: Anna Murray, NRT Director Professor Rakesh Agrawal, David Rokke, Kyle Weideman, Betsy Grubbs, Apurva Pradhan, Jonathan Turnley. Front: Shelby Gruss


10/21/2019 – Versatile Colloidal Syntheses of Metal Chalcogenide Nanoparticles from Elemental Precursors using Amine-Thiol Chemistry, on which NRT Team members Ryan Ellis, David Rokke, and Rakesh Agrawal are authors, is published in Chemistry of Materials.


10/18/2019 – “Analyzing FEW Nexus Modeling Tools for Decision-Making and Management Application“, on which NRT Team members Val Schull and Margaret Gitau are authors, is accepted in Food and Bioproducts Processing: Special Issue on Towards a sustainable bioeconomy: Working in harmony with the environment-food-energy-water nexus


10/17/2019 – Nature Sustainability selects the NRT Team’s work for the cover art of the October 2019 issue.


10/15/19 – Prof. Rakesh Agrawal publishes a contributor blog post for a “Behind the Paper” view of the recent Nature Sustainability paper. Read the post here.


10/9/2019 – Purdue College of Engineering releases a blog post written by NRT Director Rakesh Agrawal and NRT Co-Director Mitch Tuinstra about the potential of the NRT project and the paradigm shift envisioned by this work. Read their post here.


10/07/2019 – Sustainable co-production of food and solar power to relax land-use constraints, authored by six of the NRT Team members, is published in Nature Sustainability.


9/26/2019 – NRT PIs present the team’s work at the 2019 NSF Research Traineeship Annual Meeting at Northwestern University.

Left to Right: Professor Peter Bermel, Professor Aavudai Anandhi Swamy, Professor Rakesh Agrawal, Professor Margaret Gitau, Professor Gang Chen


9/24/2019 – NRT Director Rakesh Agrawal is awarded the Phillip C. Wankat Graduate Teaching Award in Chemical Engineering recognizing his achievements as an instructor in graduate-level courses. Congratulations, Dr. Agrawal!

The Director of Graduate Studies in Chemical Engineering, Dr. John Morgan, presenting the award to Professor Agrawal


9/19/2019 – NRT Trainees collect height measurements on the test field. This was the final data collection prior to the harvest coming up in October

David taking height measurements in the field

Jonathan measuring flower height

Shelby recording data

Kyle collecting ear height measurements


9/15/2019 – NRT Trainee Shelby Gruss participates in Purdue’s Wheel Rise Event, aimed at inspiring Paralympic athletes. See photos from the event here. Way to go, Shelby!


9/9/2019 – NRT Thrust Lead Peter Bermel gives a presentation Radiative cooling for concentrating photovoltaics at the SPIE Conference in San Diego, CA


8/15/2019 – NRT Trainee Ryan Ellis receives the best presentation award in the Energy and Process Intensification category at the 2019 Chemical Engineering GSO Symposium

Ryan receiving his presentation award


8/12/2019

NRT Farm Grand Opening

The NRT Team gathered for the official ribbon cutting ceremony to open the PV test plot at the ACRE farm. We were pleased to have the John A. Edwardson Dean of the College of Engineering, Dr. Mung Chiang, and the Glenn W. Sample Dean of the College of Agriculture, Dr. Karen Plaut, attend the ceremony and give a few remarks for this milestone. We were also pleased to have Dr. Sangtae Kim, the Jay and Cynthia Ihlenfeld Head of the Davidson School of Chemical Engineering, in attendance as well. All three of these individuals were instrumental in making this project a reality.

Professor Agrawal walks with Dean Chiang and Dean Plaut to the farm site

Left to Right: Dr. Tuinstra, Dean Chiang, Dean Plaut, Dr. Agrawal, Dr. Swamy, Dr. Kim, and Jim Beaty prepare to cut the ribbon

The farm officially opens!

Dean Chiang, Dean Plaut, and the NRT Team members from both Purdue and FAMU at the newly opened farm. Not pictured: Dr. Peter Bermel, Dr. Juan Sesmero

The NRT Cohort in front of the panels


8/8/2019 – Purdue News Service features the NRT project in a press release.


8/1/2019 – NRT Trainees spend the day preparing the farm for future data collection.

Left to Right: Shelby Gruss, Val Schull, Anna Murray, Jonathan Turnley, Undergraduate Researcher Daniela Cadena, David Rokke, Apurva Pradhan. Not pictured: Kyle Weideman


7/24/2019 – Chloe Henson, a graduate student in Agricultural Economics advised by Dr. Juan Sesmero, joins the NRT Team.


7/17/2019 – NRT Associate Allison Perna defends her master’s thesis Modeling and Optimizing Irradiance Distributions in Agrivoltaic Systems. Congratulations, Allison!


7/11/2019 – Investigating Chemistry of Metal Dissolution in Amine–Thiol Mixtures and Exploiting It Toward Benign Ink Formulation for Metal Chalcogenide Thin Films, on which NRT Trainee David Rokke is an author, is published in Chemistry of Materials by the Agrawal research group and collaborators.


7/9/2019 – NRT Trainee Ryan Ellis’ submission to the 2019 Fall AIChE conference Synthesis and Ligand Engineering of Impurity Free Cu(In,Ga)S2 Nanoparticles for Slot-Die Coated Photovoltaics is accepted for an oral presentation in the Electronic and Photonic Materials Graduate Student Award Session.

NRT Trainee Kyle Weideman’s submission to the 2019 Fall AIChE conference Facile Fabrication of Lead Chalcogenide Thin Films with Controlled Structure and Composition is also accepted for an oral presentation.


6/19/2019 – NRT Trainee David Rokke’s poster A Novel Approach to Amine-Thiol Molecular Precursors for Fabrication of High Efficiency Thin Film CISSe/CIGSSe Devices is nominated for best poster in the Focus Session on Thin Film PV Absorbers at the 46th IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference in Chicago, IL.

David in front of his poster


5/6/2019 – NRT Director Rakesh Agrawal releases a blog post written with NRT Co-Director Mitch Tuinstra about the motivation behind the NRT project. Read their post here.


5/1/2019 – Ground sculpting to enhance energy yield of vertical bifacial solar farms , on which NRT Thrust Lead Prof. Peter Bermel is an author, is published in Applied Energy.


4/26/2019 – NRT trainee Kyle Weideman receives Purdue University’s Teaching Academy Graduate Teaching Award for outstanding work as a teaching assistant for CHE378


4/26/2019 – NRT trainee David Rokke and project partner Zachary Monroe Batts win the student-voted best final presentation award in the Systems and Economic Analysis for SFEWS course (CHE597) taught by Prof. Rakesh Agrawal and Prof. Juan P. Sesmero.

Left to Right: David Rokke, Prof. Juan P. Sesmero, Zachary Monroe Batts


3/13/2019 – NRT Associate Allison Perna’s submission is accepted for an oral presentation at the 46th IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference in Chicago, IL. NRT Trainees David Rokke, Ryan Ellis, and Elizabeth Grubbs all have their submissions accepted for poster presentations.


11/16/2018 – First Year Chemical Engineering students Anna Murray, Jonathan Turnley, and Apurva Pradhan join the Agrawal Solar Lab and the NRT Team.


9/26/2018 – NRT Associate Yiru Li is awarded a travel grant from the Women in Engineering Program to present an oral presentation at the 2018 AIChE Conference in Pittsburgh, PA.


9/18/2018 – NRT Trainee David Rokke is awarded a travel grant to attend the 2018 AIChE Conference in Pittsburgh, PA. The grant is funded by the Professor K.C. Chao and Jiun Chao Graduate Education Endowment through the Davidson School of Chemical Engineering.


5/15/2018 – 9/15/2018 – NRT Trainee Ryan Ellis completes a 4 month visiting graduate student position at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) at the Manufacturing Flagship site in Melbourne, Australia. Ryan worked on site with experts to develop and optimize the slot die coating of Cu(In,Ga)S2 nanocrystal inks for low cost and high throughput fabrication of solution processed photovoltaics.


8/21/2018 – Ryan Ellis’ submission to the 2018 Fall MRS Conference titled “Ligand Exchange of Copper Indium Gallium Sulfide Nanoparticles for Minimization of Carbonaceous Impurities in High Efficiency Solution Processed Photovoltaics,” is accepted for an oral presentation


8/17/2018 – NRT Trainees David Rokke and Kyle Weidman receive the best poster award in the Energy and Process Intensification Category at the 2018 Chemical Engineering GSO Symposium


8/3/2018 – NRT Associate Allison Perna (right) is awarded the 2018 Graduate Student Mentor of the Summer award for her work mentoring an undergraduate student through a summer research project


Purdue University PhD student and NRT Trainee, Shelby Gruss, captains USA women’s wheelchair basketball team


7/30/2018 – 8/2/2018 – Nine members of the NRT Team attend the 2018 Cross-INFEWS Workshop held at the University of Montana in Missoula, MT


7/12/2018 – David Rokke’s submission to the 2018 AIChE Conference, Understanding the Formation and Pyrolysis of Metal Thiolate Complexes for Solution-Processed Thin Film Photovoltaicsis accepted for an oral presentation


5/16/2018 – Professor Swamy and Professor Agrawal presenting the SFEWS proposal at the NSF INFEWS meeting in Washington DC.


4/9/2018 – Principal Investigator Rakesh Agrawal and the NRT work was recently featured in Forbes.