Purdue Agriculture's partnership with the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE) has led to many opportunities. Because Tamara Benjamin, a Purdue research scientist, is on the ground at CATIE, Purdue Agriculture researchers have been involved in major tropical agriculture research projects.
For example, Cliff Sadof, Purdue entomologist, has been working with Eduardo Hidalgo, a CATIE doctoral student, on a project called the Clean Stock Program. The researchers have focused on reducing pests in ornamental plants grown in Costa Rica and exported to the United States.
Sadof and Hidalgo’s research has scientifically proven that the size of an exported plant doesn't matter when it comes to transporting insects and plant diseases. Their research is being used to change U.S. size regulations on plants imported from Costa Rica. When larger plants are allowed to enter the United States, ornamental farmers and ornamental plants dealers can earn more profit, and consumers can save more money.
Sadof says the project also made him a better researcher and professor.
"I've been at Purdue for 20 years. In that time, I repeatedly was faced with the same problems and had the same approaches to dealing with them," Sadof said. “Working internationally has helped me develop new approaches to looking at a complex industry with complicated problems and creating step-by-step approaches to solving them. It has rejuvenated my research and the experience has revamped my teaching."