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November 22, 2013

Appointments, honors and activities

Notables:

- Phytoption LLC, a start-up company based at Purdue Research Park, was awarded runner-up among more than 220 entries in the Global Food and Health Innovation Challenge this month at the Global South Summit in Nashville, Tenn., for its All Natural Food Color initiative. Phytoption won the award after being named one of six finalists and presenting its business plan to judges and investors. By using all natural and sustainable food materials, Phytoption promotes large-scale, broad-spectrum use of natural colors - a nearly $1 billion market - in the food industry. Because of health concerns, replacing artificial food colors with natural food colors is a major trend in the food market. Scientific studies have linked artificial food colors to health problems in humans, especially increased hyperactivity in children. Natural food colors are coloring materials extracted from natural resources, such as plants. Most of these materials, such as beta-carotene, are antioxidants, providing not only coloring but also potential health benefits. For more information, contact Phytoption LLC at 765-490-7738 or contact@phytoption.com.

- Two members of the Purdue University chapter of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) received awards at the recent 2013 AISES National Conference. Kyle Bemis, a graduate student in statistics and president of Purdue AISES, won first place in the graduate student poser competition. Raymond 'Studie' Red Corn, a graduate student in agricultural and biological engineering, received honorable mention in the graduate student poster competition. Also, Felica Ahasteen-Bryant received the 2013 AISES Chapter Adviser of the Year award. Ahasteen-Brant, director of the Purdue Native American Educational and Cultural Center, has been the AISES adviser since 2007. Additionally, Purdue AISES presented results of its GeoScience Day. The event was designed to introduce geosciences to Native American high school students in Illinois, Indiana and Michigan. Purdue AISES was one of 11 U.S. institutions that received a 2013 AISES National Science Foundation mini-grant. AISES was established with the goal of developing Native professionals and leaders in the area of science, engineering, and technology. (GM)

Student honors:

- The Purdue University International Genetically Engineered Machine team, also known as Purdue Biomakers, was second runner-up overall in the undergraduate North America Regional Jamboree competition of iGEM. It also earned a gold medal in meeting a set of requirements for teams and the Best New BioBrick (natural) special award, and advanced to the world championships at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass., this month. The competition provides undergraduate students the experience of working on a research project they design and increases awareness of synthetic biology. The goal of Purdue's team was to increase efficiency, reliability and accessibility of synthetic biology, which is a combination of biology, genetics and engineering principles. The project consisted of applying statistical analysis to synthetic biology, applying a genetic part to increase the reliability of protein expression, and creating a standard way to characterize genetic parts. Team members are working to establish an education biotechnology laboratory in Noblesville, Ind. Team members are Elizabeth Benner of Edina, Minn.; Charlotte Hoo of La Grange, Ill.; Nidhi Menon of Mumbai, India; Peter Mercado-Reyes of Indianapolis; James Nolan of Munster, Ind.; Amanda Shanley of Denver, Ind.; Chris Thompson of Greenfield, Ind.; Swetha Vinjimoor of Carmel, Ind.; Ryan Wagner of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; and Xiuyuan Yang of Nanjing, China. Advisers are Jenna Rickus, associate professor of agricultural and biological engineering/biomedical engineering, and Kari Clase of the Department of Technology Leadership and Innovation, and ABE.