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Batteries powered by electrical charges. Biofuels derived from yeast. Heating systems smart enough to adjust to human occupants. In a world of shrinking energy reserves, these are the tools of the future. Tools that are artfully crafted in labs and workrooms across campus by scientists, engineers, agricultural economists, technologists. This is the work of Purdue’s Difference Makers.

Jim Caruthers
Jim Caruthers
Engineering

Jim Caruthers

In the 1967 movie “The Graduate,” Dustin Hoffman was given one word of advice concerning his future — “plastics.” Jim Caruthers applied that sage wisdom to “polymers” instead , and has forged a career that is helping lead the auto industry to a more sustainable future.

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Nancy Ho
Nancy Ho
Engineering

Nancy Ho

The drive that led Nancy Ho to make an indelible mark in biofuels research was born from the desire of a young girl to overcome weakness and hold her own among other youngsters. This conviction led to the creation of a unique yeast that could produce cellulosic ethanol and earned Ho an invitation as a special guest at President George W. Bush’s 2007 State of the Union address. Read more »

Bill Hutzel
Bill Hutzel
Technology

Bill Hutzel

Bill Hutzel would love to see a future where houses adjust to their inhabitants using automation systems that strike a balance between energy efficiency and human comfort. And so, in addition to his own research in sustainable energy sources, including photovoltaic and solar heating, Hutzel is building a house.

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Wally Tyner
Wally Tyner
Agriculture

Wally Tyner

Developing new, clean and sustainable energy sources is a top priority for many nations around the world. The challenge is that for any of these options to be effective, they have to be economical. This is the quest for energy economist Wally Tyner.

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Maureen McCann
Maureen McCann
Science

Maureen McCann

Maureen McCann doesn't believe in doing things by half measures. This is why she is focused on finding alternatives to our national dependence on oil and leads the charge for next-generation biofuels that more efficiently and economically turn plant biomass into liquid fuels for transportation. McCann thinks that research should have societal impacts in addition to scientific ones. Read more »