Discovery Park International


Jennifer Burks, ESE/Agronomy PhD Student, Global Experience, China-US 2010 Joint Symposium on 'Energy, Ecosystem, and Environmental Change', September 22-24, 2010, Beijing, China


In September of 2010 I was given the opportunity to travel to Beijing, China to attend the "US-China Joint Symposium on Energy, Ecosystem, and Environmental Change."

I feel that this trip lent incredible value to my graduate school experience by enhancing both my professional and personal developments. With respect to professional development, I was not only provided the opportunity to deliver an oral presentation on my personal research, but I was also able to learn valuable information from hearing international researchers speak on a myriad of topics that relate to my research interests.

Opportunities were also made available to me in developing international collaborations with both students and faculty that share similar research interests. As a result of this, my academic skill set for both collaboration and public dissemination of results was made more robust. My personal development was also greatly enhanced by being given the opportunity to travel to China and experience the country's culture/history.

The hosts for the meeting were very generous in incorporating tours at the end of the symposium that allowed us visitors to experience the Chinese culture and learn about their history. We were exposed to Chinese cultural dinners, live entertainment, the Great Wall, and the Forbidden City. I feel that although this portion of the trip was more relaxed and less academically oriented, it was necessary in order to gain a more international perspective and respect for different cultures.

I feel that perspective development is essential in not only understanding international research, but also in developing international collaborations. Overall, this trip was very powerful and beneficial to my graduate school experience and I am honored to have been given the opportunity to represent Purdue University and the ESE (Ecological Sciences and Engineering) program at the meeting.

Leila Nyberg, Civil Engineering Graduate Research Student, Global Experience, China-US 2010 Joint Symposium on 'Energy, Ecosystem, and Environmental Change', September 22-24, 2010, Beijing, China


Participating in the China - U.S. Symposium on Energy, Ecosystem, and Environmental Change (E3C) was a great opportunity. September was the best time to visit China because it was during the Moon Festival, and preparation for Chinese National Day was in progress.

We started each day by exploring the miles of hiking trails in Fragrant Hill Park. I enjoyed meeting scientists from the University of Tennessee and several Chinese institutions while representing Purdue University. I attended several fascinating talks in the areas of microbial ecology and sustainability. I learned more about molecular techniques that would be applicable to my research, and received helpful feedback from colleagues about environmental risk assessment of nanomaterials.

We toured the State Key Laboratory of Environmental Chemistry and Ecotoxicology, and the Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences (Chinese Academy of Sciences). I especially liked hearing about their research in Antarctica and touring the laboratory involved in these projects. Our hosts treated us to a Chinese Cultural Evening at Laoshe Teahouse, where we enjoyed a family-style dinner, drank lots of tea, and watched a showcase of traditional entertainment, including Beijing Opera, acrobats, and music. At the end of the conference, we had a wonderful day at the Great Wall and the Forbidden City.

After dinner with our group, I traveled from Beijing to Hefei by overnight train, to spend the day with a colleague from Purdue, who's now at the University of Science and Technology - China. Hefei is in Anhui Province, which is famous for their green tea. The traffic in this city seemed even more congested than in Beijing. I was amazed at the spatial skills of taxi drivers throughout China!

My friend introduced me to her lab group and showed me the research facilities at USTC. I learned about their interesting work on microbial fuel cells. Then we had a nice lunch with her older son, who's now 11, visited her younger son at kindergarten, and rode bicycles around campus.

That evening, I took a high-speed train to Shanghai, where I stayed for two days and three nights. The metro system in Shanghai is inexpensive and very efficient - this made it easy to visit much more of the city than I'd planned. I spent one morning on the Tian-zi-fang Art Street. Several local artists and craftspeople there focus on environmentally friendly/recycled products. I took a ferry across the Huangpu River to the World Expo, which was fantastic even though it rained heavily most of the day. I would've needed two weeks to see all of it, but it was a great way to end my wonderful visit to China.


Yini Ma, EAS Graduate Research Student, Global Experience, China-US 2010 Joint Symposium on 'Energy, Ecosystem, and Environmental Change', September 22-24, 2010, Beijing, China


The US-China conference gave me a very good opportunity to experience the Chinese academia and culture. As a student from China, I was experiencing more "shock" than what I would expect.

First of all, what surprised me is the amount of funding from the Chinese government for environment related study. There are huge amount of research projects going on all over China. Just for climate change, thousands of projects to collect fundamental data are essential for understanding some simple fact like carbon storage and density. On the other hand, I saw a lot of very high tech methods being used in the research projects. This just happened a few years ago and the research in this area increased dramatically. But, there are still lots of problems.

The first one is the distribution of the research funding. It is so common that most of the funding is from some certain groups from some "top" institutions, so they have most of the best resources, but, in most of the research stations or groups, even if they have excellent idea and field sites, they just find it extremely hard to actually do it because of the lack of techniques, information and other resources.

The other one is the relatively lack of communication between groups even within group. I just find it's so hard for Chinese people treat each other equally like old and young professors, professors and graduate students. Since idea is the most important in research and this requires a free communication atmosphere. Without really open communication, it is much harder to move on.

Second, the desire of Chinese scientists to communicate with the western world is much higher than what I expected. I saw a huge amount of good opportunities for cooperation, in scientific, technology and industry area. Like the culture in china, the big diversity in any research area creates gaps but also opportunities. We can easily find something that's interesting and also doing in almost any field. But as a trade off, you may have to face the challenge of getting resources that would help you in a "Chinese" way.

Lastly, what I found hugely different is the "Chinese white wine culture". This is probably the most difficult part for me to get use to as a student who doesn't like alcohol but have to drink it just to show the respect to the others. In the US, drinking is more like a joy and more free style for most of people but in China, drinking is more like a force that's hard to say "no".

Elizabeth Casey, ABE PhD Student, Student Global Experience: Bioenergy Symposium at IIT Kharagpur, January 2010


In January 2010, I had the opportunity to travel to India to attend the International Symposium on Bioenergy hosted by the PK Sinha Center for Bioenergy at IIT Kharagpur. My time spent in India was rewarding from both a professional and cultural perspective. A summary of my experiences are provided below.

Prior to the symposium, I was able to attend the inauguration of the PK Sinha Center for Bioenergy. Similar to the Laboratory of Renewable Resource Engineering (LORRE) I am a member of at Purdue, the PK Sinha Center for Bioenergy is a collaboration of faculty and students across a variety of disciplines hoping to advance renewable energy research and applications. During the inauguration ceremony, I had the opportunity to meet the donor (PK Sinha) that made the center possible. His generosity towards a field that he knew little about was inspiring. The Indian Minister of New and Renewable Energy, Dr. Farooq Abdullah, also spoke at the ceremony. His dedication to advancing renewable energy in India was evident and led to an interesting discussion on India's renewable energy future amongst those in attendance including local media.

Following the inauguration, a student poster session opened the symposium activities. I presented a poster entitled "Systems Biology Approach to Understanding the Effect of Acetic Acid on the Co-fermentation of Glucose and Xylose by S. cerevisiae 424A(LNH-ST)." As the only international student in attendance, I was asked several thought-provoking questions from the local Indian students about my poster and how student academic and research life is in the United States. The discussions I had with them exposed the many similarities of graduate student life between the two countries. As I expected, the primary differences were the resources available for research.

During the symposium, I sat in on several technical presentations given by both international attendees and local faculty. The keynote presentations were given by the advisors to the center, Chris Somerville from the Energy Biosciences Institute and Luuk van der Wielen from Delft University of Technology. Their presentations provided an overview of the current state of art in renewable energy in their respective countries while highlighting where India may fit into the global renewable energy movement. From their presentations and several others, it became evident that the biggest challenge facing India was the identification of a suitable feedstock and land to grow that feedstock. This was identified as an area of focus for the center.

At the conclusion of the symposium, the attendees gathered together in a brainstorming session to provide suggestions on how the PK Sinha Center for Bioenergy should move forward. As part of a well-established research lab, I found it interesting to see this side of research.

Following the symposium, I travelled to Kolkata and was able to take a guided tour of the city in which I saw several historic landmarks from when it served as the capital during the British Raj. The extreme poverty was eye opening; however, the development of new business throughout the city provided hope.

I am very thankful for the opportunity to travel to India and participate in the Bioenergy symposium. I met leaders in my field that could serve as future career contacts, local Indian students that motivated me to take advantage of the resources I often take for granted, and experienced a culture unlike any I ever had before.

Mayra S. Artiles-Fonseca, Graduate Student, Department of Mechanical Engineering, January 2010


At the beginning of January 2010 I had the opportunity to visit Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai, India to attend "Conference on Infectious Diseases". The purpose of the conference was to present novel drug delivery and vaccines addressed towards the prevention of infectious diseases. I attended the conference with the purpose of a presenting a research platform for the development of a graphene bio-detector that could be applied to infectious diseases.

Coming from an almost strictly engineering background, I knew that I had a lot to offer through my poster presentation. However, on the same note and most importantly, I also knew that the amount of knowledge I would gain about the biological points of view of infectious disease research. In more ways than one the conference became a 4-day crash course into infectious disease biology. The subjects most discussed in the conference where specific to the malaria and dengue disease also almost specific to the Indian subcontinent.

The approach I presented was almost strictly nanotechnology, therefore many of the concepts I was proficient in and wanted to discuss with many of the conference attendees were unknown to them. However I did have the opportunity of discussing some key ideas regarding nanotechnology and drug delivery; this triggered a potential new direction for my current research, which is still under evaluation.

One of the most important aspects of the conference in my point of view was the roundtable discussion were most efforts regarding the diseases discussed were summarized and new ideas were brought to the table. The main issues that are currently hindering the research efforts in the field of infectious diseases were discussed by the leading investigators in these subjects; as a 1st year graduate student access to that insight was the most important part of the entire conference.

Regarding the cultural experience it was my first time in Asia. Some of the things were novel to me such as the slums, the language, and the food. However on other aspects it was into hard for me to identify myself with the Indian culture. I am Puerto Rican and just as India was under British rule for so many years; my country was under Spanish rule for little over 400 years. Visiting some of the old British buildings in south Mumbai was a very similar experience to visiting old San Juan and observing the Spanish architecture. In a similar fashion their language, which is a strong mix of English and Hindi, resembled the way I communicate which is a strong mix of English and Spanish.

Overall I believe attending this conference was a beneficial learning and growing experience for me as a developing researcher. Given the opportunity I would like to do this again.

Srinivas Nookla, Graduate Student, Discovery Park and Civil Engineering, August 2010


I have recently got an opportunity to present my research on "Innovation Capacity in India: Challenges and Opportunities" in the 21st Century University: Building Sustainable Communities of Growth and Development Workshop, DePaul University, Chicago IL (USA), 26 - 28 August, 2010. It was my first academic presentation. It was a wonderful experience meeting many distinguished academicians in various fields of study. The interactions with the people gained me a lot of valuable knowledge and also provided me a platform for networking. There were various people from Brazil, Japan, and various states from within US including Illinois, Ohio.

This diverse range of people from across the globe provided interesting insights into their countries and the different research they have been conducting. There was a pleasant and welcoming atmosphere all throughout the workshop. Critical comments were given to improved studies and presentations. The discussions from the workshop yielded new thoughts, ideas and ventures for further research.

Overall, it was an awesome experience being a part of the workshop and getting the opportunity to present my paper. I have gained lot of confidence through the presentation in this workshop and am looking forward to taking part in many more such events that would be organized.

Bishan Nandy, Graduate Student, Discovery Park and Krannert School of Management, August 2010


Universities in today's knowledge based economy play a major role in innovations, entrepreneurship and economic development. The recent workshop on "The 21st Century University: Building Sustainable Communities of Growth and Development" held at DePaul University from August 26 - 28, 2010 primarily focused on scrutinizing and recommending university's roles and responsibilities in economic development, community engagement and entrepreneurship.

I participated in this workshop as a Research Assistant working with Dr. Pankaj Sharma from Discovery Park in Purdue University. It was an international gathering represented by a variety of scholars including researchers, entrepreneurs, political scientists and urban planners from all across the world.

Research papers with a wide assortment of issues aligned to the theme of the workshop were presented for open discussions and critical feedback. It was a great opportunity for us on behalf of Purdue University to present our research paper on "Challenges, opportunities and barriers in university based economic development in Illinois and Indiana" and get some invaluable comments from the subject experts.

The scholars from different countries discussed about various models and conceptual frameworks involved in university stimulated economic development in India, Brazil, Japan and United States. The workshop indulged in debates and insights from both academicians and industry experts about the relevance of existing methodologies and importance of creating new approaches to measure university's role in economic development.

While the discussions on the first day of the workshop were more focused on university based community engagement, incubation management and innovation systems in different economies, the second day emphasized more on issues related to entrepreneurship and innovation capacity. Apart from gifting critical discussions and incredibly potential ideas to the thoughtful minds, the conference offered the participants a short and exciting tour to the city of Chicago and its Puerto Rican community.

Sharing ideas with scholars from different continents and learning about diverse modes of global economy with universities at the backdrop was an amazing experience for all of us. International workshops of these statures can immensely contribute towards establishing a global knowledge economy where universities can work together and complement each other on a universal scale.

Castillo, Birur, Smith

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Kendra Castillo, Dileep Birur, and Kyle Smith each expanded their individual sense of purpose, responsiblity, and capability to achieve these expectations while participating in the World Sustainable Development Forum:

"All in all, the DSDS was an invaluable learning experience for me because it demonstrated how science and technology translate into concrete policies and actions that will hopefully make a difference in society. It underscored our responsibility, as scientists, to communicate our research and to share our expertise in crafting feasible solutions to the problem of climate change."
- Kendra Castillo, Purdue graduate student of the Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

Entrepreneurship in Beijing

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The purpose of this study abroad opportunity was to improve students' understanding of Chinese business culture and to provide an up-close view of what it takes to do business with Chinese companies and customers.

Hale Jacob

Hale Jacob attended the Mahabaleshwar Seminar on Modern Biology at the Tata Institute for Fundamental Research (TIFR) in Mumbai, India. And had a progressive experience:

"The networking and education that resulted from my trip has strengthened my resume and career options. I feel more understanding of the global nature of scientific efforts as well as the global need for improving humanity."
- Hale Jacob, Purdue graduate student of the Biological Sciences

Benny Leong

Benny Leong not only developed new technical skills by participating in the Instep Global Internship program, but also developed new insight from his employer:

"As mentioned by the CEO of Infosys Technologies, Mr. N.R Narayana Murthy: "The global competition is becoming so tense, that even before you can say "I can't do it", somebody in the world has already done it." So, instead of fighting the competition on our own, I believe we could achieve much more if we combine our efforts, resources, and talents together and collaborate with each other internationally."
- Benny Leong, Purdue undergraduate student of Computer Technology

International Conference on Advances in Energy Research, December 2009 (Mumbai, India)

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Carrie, Greg, Gayatri and Dave with
Craig Barnes, CTO Cummins India, and Abhay Bhagwat, VP R&T Cummins India

In the fall of 2008, Professors Greg Shaver and Jay Gore hosted Professor Anuradda Ganesh of IIT-Bombay as a visiting faculty member in the School of Mechanical Engineering. During her semester here, Professor Ganesh taught a course on biofuels and bioenergy and collaborated with the students in Greg's research team. Little did they know that their work with Professor Ganesh would lead them to the other side of the world only one year later! Professor Ganesh invited Jay, Greg, and students to come to India for the 2nd International Conference on Advances in Energy Research (ICAER) which she was organizing. After several months of paper writing and trip planning, Jay, Greg, and graduate students Dave Snyder, Gayatri Adi and Carrie Hall were ready to head for India!

Dave, Gayatri, Carrie and Greg left Saturday, December 15th, and after about 18 hours on various airplanes, arrived in India very early Monday morning. After getting a little rest, they then headed to Pune, India where they were joined by Jay, and visited Cummins Research and Technology India (CRTI). CRTI is a joint venture between Cummins, Inc. and Cummins India Limited and handles much of the design and structural and computational fluid dynamics analysis for the Cummins Technical Center located in Columbus, IN. Monday night Greg, Dave, Gayatri, Carrie and Jay were the guests of honor at a dinner hosted by Craig Barnes, CTO of Cummins India Operations, and attended by many of the company managers and executives. On Tuesday, they visited several engineering schools and research centers in Pune including: the College of Engineering, Pune; the Cummins College of Engineering for Women (where Gayatri, and several other current and past Herrick students, completed their undergraduate education); the Automotive Research Association of India; and Cummins India.

After their whirlwind tour of Pune, they headed back to Mumbai where they attended ICAER on the beautiful campus of IIT-Bombay. The conference went from Wednesday through Friday and included many interesting talks on a variety of topics from solar ponds to fuel cells. Gayatri presented the alternative fuels work in a group session on Wednesday, while Greg and Jay gave plenary talks on Thursday and Friday. Greg presented on the research activities in the Cummins Power Lab at Herrick Labs, while Jay described Energy Research initiatives at Purdue. Thursday evening also included a cultural program put on by some of the students of IIT-Bombay which gave a wonderful flavor of the rich culture of India. The group also had the opportunity to visit Professor Ganesh's labs which includes an Energy Systems Laboratory and the Cummins Engine Research Laboratory.

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Greg, Carrie, Gayatri, and Dave with Professor

Ganesh in the Cummins Engine Research

Laboratory on the IIT-Bombay campus

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Jay and Greg learning about the village

electrification project from Abhay and Anuradda


ICAER ended on Friday, and Saturday morning Greg, Dave, Gayatri, Carrie, and Jay headed to the state of Orissa in eastern India to visit a Cummins-sponsored rural electrification project which Professor Ganesh leads, and which recently received the Cummins President's Award. The Purdue team, Professor Ganesh and several IIT-Bombay students and Cummins employees flew into Bubhaneswar, the capital of Orissa, and from there drove several hours to the remote village of Kolha. The village is now powered by a genset which runs on straight vegetable oil which the villagers extract from local seeds using an oil expeller. This electrification project was completed by IIT-Bombay in collaboration with Cummins India and the Renewable Energy and Agricultural Development (READ) Foundation in ten weeks and now provides the villagers with electricity for their homes and streets.

After their exciting visit to the village, Greg, Dave, Gayatri, Carrie and Jay left the lights of Kolha and went back to Bubhaneswar. They then flew back to Mumbai on Sunday and spent Monday resting, visiting and shopping in Mumbai and in Gayatri and Carrie's case taking an Advanced Combustion final exam. Their enjoyable and enlightening trip came to a close as they again boarded an airplane to head home for the US.

The Purdue Team - Carrie, Gayatri, Jay, Greg, and Dave - would again like to thank our fantastic hosts during our trip, Professor Anuradda Ganesh and Mr. Craig Barnes!

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Pankaj Sharma, Ph.D., MBA 
Associate Director for Operations and International Affairs (courtesy)
Sharma Associate Professor of Industrial Technology (courtesy) 

Sheryl Willison
Administrative Assistant