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Equipping workers, researchers for next generation

Today's undergraduates and graduate students are becoming tomorrow's scientists and technologists and entrepreneurs, and today's faculty members are becoming tomorrow's business owners - all through Discovery Park.

Sharing laboratories and microscopes with distinguished faculty in electrical engineering in the Birck Nanotechnology Center or scientists at Bindley Bioscience Center, students Akshay Thomas and Matt Stier have worked alongside some of the world's brightest minds. They're prepared to move to the next stage of their careers as key players in corporations, research labs or even classrooms as graduate students, teachers or college professors.

"Working with faculty and researchers in Discovery Park has given me a perspective of medicine that I never would have imagined, opening my eyes to such advancements as telemedicine and robotic surgery," says Thomas, a 2008 health sciences graduate. "These transformative opportunities would not have been possible in a traditional university setting. Discovery Park is providing a leadership role for Purdue to launch tomorrow's leaders."

Students, faculty and friends are key players in a world that demands a better-prepared employee for the workforce, a more dynamic mechanism to get research to the marketplace faster, and stronger U.S. research institutions to compete in the global fields of science and technology. Through Discovery Park, Purdue is delivering on that transformative promise. For example:

  • 1,000 Purdue faculty and researchers are working on projects as diverse as nanotechnology and healthcare engineering to entrepreneurship and homeland security.
  • Undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students are participating in certificate programs, business-plan competitions, poster sessions, and research year-round.
  • Corporations are forming strategic alliances with researchers, seeking partnerships that will hone their competitive edge.
  • Purdue alumni and friends, seeing the park's potential, are contributing to build facilities, furnish labs and fund administrative infrastructure.

The $58 million Birck Nanotechnology Center has helped Purdue recruit 16 faculty members in various areas since 2002. Nearly 150 faculty members from 36 Purdue schools and departments are involved in Birck research to address everything from super-small computers, spacecraft and microscopic machines to tiny life-saving medical devices and a plethora of new materials. More than 400 graduate students regularly use Birck for research.

Learning sparked for grads, undergrads

Graduate student participates in outreach for Discovery Learning Research Center.

Researchers are studying how to diagnose diseases earlier and assist pharmaceutical companies in making drugs to target a specific cell for a specific purpose. They're reaching out globally, developing a low-cost diagnostic tool to detect the AIDS virus. The tool has great value in Africa, home to 28 million people who suffer from AIDS. Worldwide, 40 million have AIDS, which kills about 11,000 people daily.

"Discovery Park is Purdue's engine, fueling integrated and interdisciplinary research by providing world-class resources and intellectual access to creative minds," says executive director Alan Rebar. "It's where Purdue scientists, engineers and students tackle society's grand challenges, where the vision of today is transformed into the reality of tomorrow."

"Birck is a one-of-a-kind facility for nanotechnology research and learning on a university campus in this country, and we are seeing what research is capable because of the labs and our state-of-the-art cleanroom," says Birck director Timothy Sands, Purdue's Basil S. Turner Professor of Engineering. "We have faculty and students in Birck labs and the cleanroom at all hours of the day because of the strong interest in what it means for their research."

Undergraduates join graduate students in labs with leading faculty researchers to advance projects in drug discovery and development. During the summer, seven students through the Discovery Park Undergraduate Research Initiative worked in Bindley labs with V. Jo Davisson, Purdue professor of medicinal chemistry and molecular pharmacology.

Impact on Engagement

Since its launch in 2001, Discovery Park has provided a platform for driving Purdue's pursuit of funding for large-scale interdisciplinary research projects. Here is a list of success stories through Discovery Park that demonstrate how teamwork on a university campus is making a difference in the world of discovery:

Discovery Park leads response to STEM education challenge

Research opportunities are available in Discovery Park and across the Purdue campus, focusing on the transformative work in education, especially in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) and STEM-related disciplines.
Discovery Park, part of the Purdue Office of the Vice President for Research, serves as an interdisciplinary research hub, building on the university's strong academic disciplines and mission to launch tomorrow's leaders, promote discovery with delivery and address global challenges.
The primary building blocks known as STEM — Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics — play a vital role in discovery and learning. Purdue is committed to equipping the next generation of leaders with a solid foundation in the STEM disciplines.

STEM's Impact on Purdue Discovery

Purdue researchers and investigators depend on a strong base in the STEM disciplines in order to tackle projects like:
» Finding a cure for cancer
» Sustaining the environment through alternative energy sources
» Seeking healthcare system solutions
» Transforming education through teaching and learning research
» Developing new diagnostic tools for treating diseases » Leading innovations in cyber technologies

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Top high school students participate in USA Biology Olympiad at Purdue

For the second consecutive year, 20 top high school students will participate on the Purdue University campus next summer as finalists for the USA Biology Olympiad National Finals, sponsored by the Center for Excellence in Education.

The USABO national finalists will gather at Purdue from June 5-17, 2011, to compete for U.S. medals and one of the four places on Team USA. The winners will advance to the International Biology Olympiad on July 10-17 in Taipei, Taiwan.

The U.S. national finals event at Purdue consist of two weeks of intensive theoretical and practical tutorials, whereby the students will have the opportunity to study with leading U.S. biologists who are experts in the fields of cellular biology, microbiology, biotechnology, plant anatomy and physiology, animal anatomy and physiology, ethology, genetics and evolution, ecology, and biosystematics. The four highest scoring students will be named "Team USA 2010" and will represent the United States at the International Biology Olympiad. While at Purdue, the biology scholars also are taught and mentored by professors from Purdue and other leading U.S. research institutions. The students will tour research laboratories in Discovery Park and elsewhere on campus.

In 2010, U.S. team members Chelsea Voss of California, Charles Du of Illinois and Eric Liaw of Hawaii garnered gold medals. Debra Van Egeren of Michigan took home a silver medal. The U.S. students were accompanied by coaches Kathy Frame of the Center for Excellence in Education and Purdue animal sciences professor Scott Mills. All four members of Team USA earned gold medals at the 2007, 2008 and 2009 international Biology Olympiads.

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Facilitating undergraduate research opportunities

The Center for Authentic Science Practice in Education (CASPiE) is a multi-institutional collaborative effort designed to address major barriers to providing research experiences to younger undergraduate science students.


CASPiE will take advantage of the complementary strengths and needs of its different partner institutions to develop a program that will:

1. Provide first and second year students with access to research experiences as part of the mainstream curriculum.

2. Create a collaborative, "research group" environment for students in the laboratory.

3. Provide access to advanced instrumentation for all members of the collaborative to be used for undergraduate research experiences.

4. Help PUI faculty develop research projects so that their own research capacity is enhanced and the students at these institutions can participate in this research.

5. Create a research experience that is engaging for women and ethnic minorities and appropriate for use at various types of institutions, including those with diverse populations.

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Hands-on NanoDays targets K-12 education

You'll find these particles in high-definition LCD screen televisions, golf balls and easy-to-clean trousers. But because they are so small, you can only see them when millions of these particles are put together.

To introduce students, teachers and the general public to the tiny world of nanotechnology and provide a host of interactive learning experiences, Purdue's Birck Nanotechnology Center will again join more than 200 U.S. universities, science museums and research centers this spring to present the NanoDays on campus.

The 2nd annual NanoDays is April 15-16, 2011, at Birck Nanotechnology Center, a major research facility in Discovery Park at 1205 W. State St. Local and area schools are welcome to participate in the event, which is free and open to the public.

Nearly 50 undergraduate and graduate students and three faculty members are working to organize the Purdue event with support from the Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network. For more information, go to

"During the second edition of Purdue's NanoDays in April, you'll be able to see how nanomaterials are a part of advances in many technologies in our world today -- from exciting breakthroughs in medicine, computing, sensing, energies and materials technology," said Monica Allain, Birck's managing director.

More than 400 students - young and old - participated in Purdue's 2010 version of NanoDays and the goal is to exceed that turnout this next summer.

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Graphic novelist, illustrator speak at annual Purdue Cancer Culture event

Award-winning graphic novelist Joyce Brabner and illustrator Frank Stack highlighted the Oncological Science Center's Cancer Culture & Community Colloquium at Purdue University in November.

Brabner and Stack spoke during the Discovery Park event on Nov. 4 in Stewart Center's Fowler Hall. Brabner, Stack and the late Harvey Pekar, Brabner's husband, collaborated on the 1994 graphic novel, "Our Cancer Year," a book-length comics narrative that chronicles Pekar's diagnosis and treatment for lymphoma in 1990 and other events that year.

Pekar, who also had been scheduled to participate in this year's event, died July 12 at age 70, ending his decades-long battle with cancer. A book signing follow the Purdue event, which was free and open to the public.

The Lafayette, West Lafayette and Purdue communities participated in the event through the center's Creating Hope program. Those who have been personally touched by cancer submitted more than 30 stories -- from the local community and coming from as far away as Maryland and Colorado.

Discovery Park's Oncological Sciences Center, in partnership with the College of Liberal Arts, launched the annual Cancer Culture & Community initiative in 2007 to explore how the arts and literature provide an outlet of expression to those struggling with cancer.

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Free electronic field trips open science education doors

A Purdue zipTrip is an electronic field trip. That's right. Electronic! Let's face it. Kids love field trips. The chance to go places beyond their own classrooms and see for themselves how the world works.

But not every destination is close enough for a day trip, and you may not have the time or resources to commit a full day to one field trip. That's where we come in.

When you sign up to take your class on a Purdue zipTrip, the field trip comes to you!

Purdue scientists will share their exciting work with your middle-school students, without making them late for their after-school activities.

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Discovery Park: Transforming a major research university

Faculty can seek out colleagues from other disciplines to take their research to the next level.

Undergraduate and graduate students work alongside some of the world's brightest minds, gaining insights and experience and using the some of the most advanced facilities at a research university anywhere in the world.

Stakeholders, government agencies and researchers from other institutions and organizations can partner with centers to add value to their devices, research, systems or processes.

Entrepreneurs and investors who seek to bring an idea from the laboratory to the marketplace can access various experts across disciplines and utilize park resources to cultivate important initiatives quickly and effectively.

It's all happening at Purdue's Discovery Park

With its advanced research capabilities and state-of-the-art facilities, Discovery Park acts as a lens to focus many sources of light - sources that include top faculty, staff, researchers and students at Purdue, along with government and business interests throughout the state, nation and the world. It then focuses that light into promising solutions to complex global issues.

"Discovery Park makes it easier for me as a social scientist to meet and interact with other kinds of scientists on this campus. That would have been much harder to do, say, 10 years ago."

Leigh Raymond, political science professor and associate director, Purdue Climate Change Research Center

Contact Information By Audience

Contact information at the end of each chapter has been created to direct our audience - students, faculty, partners, and visitors - in their efforts to connect with the right person to discuss areas of potential involvement in Discovery Park activities. Related Web sites link visitors to programs at Discovery Park.

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The Overview chapter offers a glimpse at the unique features, the latest news, building locations and contact information for Discovery Park.


Learn about how research has been reinvented at Discovery Park, how collaborations among scientists and stakeholders are seeking solutions to grand challenges, and the impacts of discovery.


Discovery Park is delivering on Purdue's land-grant mission to serve the people of Indiana and the nation. Large-scale research drives economic development in a knowledge economy and Discovery Park is the engine.


Activities at Discovery Park transform people's lives. Undergraduates gain hands-on research experience, business plan competitions nurture a new generation of entrepreneurs, and innovative diagnostic tools detect early stages of disease.


To meet today's grand challenges, a spectrum of partnerships are forming at Discovery Park -- international partners, partnerships with foundations, institutions and industry all contribute to advancing learning and research.