April 11, 2014
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around the college

In this issue:

Dinner is served—58,000 times!— to Haiti
Sharing strengths:  Purdue and Alcorn ag programs fortify partnership
Landscape architecture student and grads capture top national design awards

Dinner is served—58,000 times!—to Haiti

56,000 meals for Haiti
(Purdue Agricultural Communication Photo/Tom Campbell)
Emmy Kratz (center left) chats with Jay Akridge (center right), Glenn W. Sample Dean of Purdue Agriculture, as he helps students assemble pre-packaged meals bound for Haiti. Other students include Sam Evenkamp (right), a freshman majoring in farm management, and Nick Heldt (left), a freshman majoring in agricultural economics. Kratz, a senior majoring in agricultural education and agricultural economics, is the chairperson of the Purdue Ag Week Task Force.

By Tom Campbell

It took 400 students and one dean working for four hours to assemble 58,000 meals for Haiti on April 7 as part of the third annual Purdue Ag Week.

56,000 meals for Haiti, image 3
(Purdue Agricultural Communication Photo/Tom Campbell) Justin Schroeder, a senior majoring in agriculture business management, loads a pallet containing some of the 216 boxes students loaded during the Hammer Down Hunger event held on Purdue’s Memorial Mall.

“The meal-packing event was a great way for students to make a huge impact in a short amount of time,” said Emmy Kratz, chairperson of the Purdue Ag Week Task Force.

Jay Akridge, Glenn W. Sample Dean of Purdue Agriculture, donned a hairnet and rubber gloves to help assemble the dehydrated meals, which will primarily be used by school lunch programs in Haiti. Each bag included dry ingredients — rice, soy, vegetables and flavoring — that will make six servings when added to hot water.

Three sponsors — Syngenta, Elanco and Purdue Student Government — paid the $12,000 cost of the meals. The meal-assembly project was just one of 27 events held April 6–11. Each event was presented by College of Agriculture student organizations.

Connect to more information about Purdue Ag Week through Facebook and Twitter.  

Sharing strengths:  Purdue and Alcorn ag programs
fortify partnership

By Natalie van Hoose

Nearly 800 miles lie between Purdue’s main campus in West Lafayette, Ind., and Alcorn State University near Lorman, Miss., but the two institutions just got a lot closer.

Purdue Agricultural Communication photo/Tom Campbell
Daniel Collins, chair of Alcorn’s Department of Agriculture and professor of plant pathology, told a group of Purdue and Alcorn faculty, “Bringing people together is extremely important in bridging any type of gap.”

A delegation of nine professors from the Department of Agriculture at Alcorn—a historically black land-grant university—recently bused its way north to meet with counterparts at Purdue and lay the groundwork for a rich partnership between the two agricultural programs.

At first glance, the two institutions could not seem more different: Purdue is home to about 40,000 students, compared with Alcorn’s student population of 4,000. Purdue’s College of Agriculture often focuses on large Midwestern cropping systems of corn and soybeans, while Alcorn caters to small Southern farms that grow a variety of fruits and vegetables, sometimes with limited resources.

But Daniel Collins, chair of Alcorn’s agriculture department and professor of plant pathology, said that Purdue and Alcorn share a fundamental commitment to agricultural research, education and extension.

“What we have in common with one another is the land-grant mission,” he said. “Both institutions are doing an excellent job of advancing the global competitiveness of American agriculture. We welcome this partnership with Purdue.”

Collins and Shawn Donkin, Purdue’s assistant dean and associate director of agricultural research and graduate education and professor of animal sciences, believe the programs have much to offer one another. For two days, faculty from Alcorn and Purdue met to discuss opportunities to share resources and expertise, collaborate on research, and more effectively recruit Alcorn undergraduates to study in Purdue’s graduate programs.

The delegation grew out of conversations between Collins, Donkin and Purdue’s Pamala Morris, assistant dean of agriculture and director of the Office of Multicultural Programs, when Donkin and Morris visited Alcorn last year.

Alcorn is south of the Mississippi Delta near the Louisiana border. Founded in 1871 as a college for former slaves, it became an 1890 land-grant institution with the passing of the second Morrill Act, legislation that aimed to create land-grant colleges in the South. The act made Alcorn the first black land-grant college in the U.S. Alcorn currently employs about 180 professors, 14 of whom teach in the agriculture department.

Donkin recalled being impressed by the university’s mentoring culture.

“As we walked down the halls, faculty would greet each student by name, regardless of whether or not that student was in their class,” he said. “It’s a very nurturing environment. We need to be aware of ways in which we can help Alcorn students transition to Purdue—how we can create a soft landing place for them.”

The Alcorn faculty, in turn, was struck by the size and scope of Purdue’s agricultural resources. Collins described the visit as “exciting, inspiring and eye-opening.”

After meeting with Purdue faculty and touring the college and the Black Cultural Center, ideas of what an Alcorn-Purdue partnership could look like began to fly. The whiteboard in Pfendler Hall’s Deans Auditorium was quickly covered with potential projects: an intensive course for Purdue faculty and students in Mississippi’s subtropical agriculture, a crash course in large-scale Midwestern cropping for Alcornites, an integrated doctorate program and joint research proposals.

But the biggest challenge, said Donkin, is connecting people.

“It doesn’t matter how many great ideas you have. People have to make them happen,” he said. “Individuals have to connect and make these goals a reality. It takes energy to follow through, so we have to keep the energy from this first visit going.”

Landscape architecture student and grads capture
top national design awards

By Emma Hopkins

One landscape architecture student and three recent graduates of Purdue’s Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture recently earned national awards in a competition sponsored by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA).

Zhicheng “Daniel” Xu won the Award of Excellence in the Analysis and Planning Category, while Camille Mahan and Lana Merrill, both BS ’13, received an Award of Honor in the same category. Zheming Cai, BS ’13, received an Award of Honor in the General Design Category.

“This is an incredibly competitive program,” said Sean Rotar, assistant professor of landscape architecture and director of Purdue’s Center of Community and Environmental Design. Rotar is one of several faculty members who advised the four award-winning students.

The competition featured 391 student submissions from the 93 accredited landscape architecture programs in the United States.

“Winning is very difficult, especially when you consider the state and national competitions are open to both undergraduate and graduate students,” Rotar said.

Zhicheng “Daniel” Xu

Xu, a junior studying landscape architecture, won the Award of Excellence in Analysis and Planning at both the state and national levels of the ASLA design competition for his project, “Natural Water as a Cultural Water: A 30-Year Plan for Wabash River Corridor in Lafayette (Ind.).” This award is presented only if the judging committee feels a particular submission stands out among the rest.

Xu developed his project from an assignment in his Community Planning and Design class. The project was an overview of a long-range, broad vision for the Lafayette area to reconnect the underappreciated Wabash River corridor with the community and alleviate storm water and flooding problems in the area.

Xu is currently an intern in Boston for Sasaki Associates, a design firm that works in landscape architecture. He will return to Purdue for the fall semester.

Camille Mahan and Lana Merrill

Mahan and Merrill won an Award of Honor in Analysis and Planning at the state and national levels for their project, “Designing for Resilience: Reshaping Purdue University’s Campus for an Ecologically Sound Future.”

Their project examined ways to reduce the amount of storm water and sewage overflow from the Purdue campus into the Wabash River. The main focus of the project was reducing Purdue’s environmental footprint and how to handle storm water runoff in a way that is sensitive to historical areas and the aesthetic appearance of campus.

Mahan and Merrill worked with Purdue’s campus planning department to ensure maximum economic efficiency in their project. Their plan incorporated rain gardens — areas planted with water-tolerant vegetation that allows water to filter into the ground — and rainwater retention systems.

Mahan currently works at Berger Partnership, a landscape architecture firm in Seattle, Wash. Merrill works at MKSK Studios, a multidisciplinary firm of architects and planners in Indianapolis.

Zheming Cai

Cai originally created his project for a competition held by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. His project connected instead with judges in the national ASLA competition, winning an Award of Honor in General Design. His submission, “Preservation as Provocation: Redefining Tourism,” was a design brief for a historic military site on Shutes Folly Island in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina.

His goal was to decrease human impact on the ecologically sensitive island while keeping it a tourist destination. While many of the submissions for this contest constructed new tourism buildings, Cai’s plan proposed building a floating visitors’ center offshore to ensure the minimum amount of damage to the island’s natural beauty. Cai says he was happy to incorporate two of his interest — cultural landscape and “genius loci,” which refers to the distinctive spirit or atmosphere of a place — into his final project.

Cai is working on his master’s of landscape architecture post-professional degree at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design.

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