May 12, 2014

around the college

In this issue:
   Wetzstein appointed head of Purdue HLA department
   Innovations in advancing biofuels lead to Purdue TEAM award

Purdue campus greenhouse tarp
Purdue Agriculture Communication photo/Tom Campbell

It is a rite of spring on the College of Agriculture campus when maintenance crews cover the greenhouse on the north end of Whistler Hall with a giant sunscreen. Mike Wise (foreground) of the Operations and Maintenance Department and a work crew covered the greenhouse recently as temperatures on campus rose above the 80-degree mark for the first time this year. The screen will stay on the greenhouse through the summer months and will be removed when temperatures — and the amount of daylight — is reduced in the fall.



  Wetzstein appointed head of
Purdue HLA department
By Keith Robinson

Hazel Wetzstein , professor of horticulture at the University of Georgia, has been appointed professor and head of Purdue University’s Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture.

Wetzstein succeeds Robert Joly, who is returning to the faculty after serving eight years as department head.

Hazel Wetzstein
Hazel Wetzstein

“Dr. Wetzstein is a respected scholar and thoughtful leader,” said Jay Akridge, Glenn W. Sample Dean of Purdue Agriculture. “She made a deep and positive impression on the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture and the college during her visits here, and I could not be more excited about the future of the department under her leadership.”

Wetzstein received her bachelor’s degree in biology from California State University in 1975 and a doctorate in botany from the University of California–Davis in 1978. She first joined the biological sciences faculty at the University of Nevada before moving in 1980 to the University of Georgia, where she was promoted to professor in 1995. In addition to her work in the Department of Horticulture there, she also was on the faculty in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources.

Wetzstein’s research emphasis has been in plant growth and development, reproductive biology, conservation and tissue culture, and medicinal plants.

Akridge thanked Joly for his service as head of the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture.

“I want to express my deepest appreciation to Dr. Joly for his eight years of service as department head,” Akridge said. “Bob has been a passionate and effective leader, and advocate for the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture during his tenure.”

The department has about 25 faculty members, enrolls approximately 170 undergraduate majors and 27 graduate students, and has a strong research portfolio. Faculty and staff through Purdue Extension serve the state’s green, horticultural and specialty crops industries. The landscape architecture undergraduate program is ranked No. 3 in the nation by DesignIntelligence magazine.


Innovations in advancing biofuels lead to Purdue TEAM Award

By Emma Hopkins

A group of Purdue University faculty and staff who work to convert nonfood plant materials into usable transportation fuels and other products received the 2014 College of Agriculture TEAM Award.

TEAM is an acronym for Together Everyone Achieves More, and the award is given annually to a team of Purdue professionals for their interdisciplinary achievements. This year’s winning group is the Center for Direct Catalytic Conversion of Biomass to Biofuel, or C3Bio.

A ceremony to honor the winners was held Monday (May 12) in the Deans Auditorium of Pfendler Hall on the Purdue West Lafayette campus.

“The C3Bio team brings together collaborators from multiple colleges, Discovery Park and external partners to answer critical questions around using biomass from grasses and trees to produce energy-dense fuels that will provide the next generation of sustainable energy for our planet,” said Jay Akridge, Glenn W. Sample Dean of Purdue Agriculture. “Their demonstrated commitment to innovative research, conscientious mentorship and broad dissemination of scientific advances to our stakeholders make them a deserving recipient of this award.”

Established at Purdue in 2009 as one of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Frontier Research Centers, C3Bio tackles societal issues and approaches them through the integration of multiple disciplines. With members in four Purdue colleges, the team pulls resources from study focuses such as plant genetics, molecular biology and analytical chemistry.

C3Bio works with biomass — in particular, the stems of trees and grasses — to convert components of plant cells called lignin and cellulose into hydrocarbon fuels. Some of the group’s key findings include discovering ways to control the assembly of lignin in biomass at the molecular level, improvement of catalyst systems to convert biomass to fuels, and the integration of biology, chemistry and chemical engineering to maximize carbon and energy efficiency.

C3Bio consists of members from the Colleges of Agriculture, Engineering, Science and Technology as well as Discovery Park.

The team award includes a commemorative plaque to be displayed in the Agricultural Administration Building and a $10,000 cash prize. The team plans to use the award to provide travel grants for their graduate students and research staff to attend professional conferences.

More information about C3Bio is available at

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