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Jessica Eisma photo

PhD student Jessica Eisma impacts African dams

PhD student Jessica Eisma has completed a one-year project studying sand dams in Tanzania.

In 2016, Eisma was awarded a pair of prestigious research grants — totaling more than $45,000 — from the Fulbright U.S. Student Program and the U.S. Borlaug Fellows in Global Food Security Program to study the ecological impact of sand dams in Tanzania. She flew to Africa in August 2016 to begin her study, which is the basis for her doctoral thesis.

Eisma, whose focus is in hydrology, investigated the ecological impacts of three sand dams in collaboration with researchers from the Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology.

In semi-arid regions of the world, sand dams are useful for capturing and storing rainwater into the dry season. The water is used for domestic or agricultural purposes, saving women and children up to three hours each day normally spent collecting the family’s water.

Her research aims to develop an understanding of how sand dams influence both the physical and biological changes that occur after a sand dam is constructed. Preliminary results indicate that a typical sand dam actually has a much smaller impact on groundwater levels than previously believed. Studies thus far have largely been performed on the “ideal” sand dam, when in reality up to 60% of sand dams are silted and therefore non-functioning. Furthermore, Eisma has found little to no trace of macroinvertebrate life in sand dams, hinting that sand dams do not create a suitable habitat.

This research is particularly important, because NGOs across sub-Saharan Africa are increasingly building sand dams, yet few field studies have been conducted to understand the greater impacts of these structures. Eisma says, “As civil engineers, we are constantly addressing the consequences of decisions made when certain concepts were still largely misunderstood. In a similar vein, I hope my research helps illuminate both the positives and negatives of sand dams before over-development occurs.”

Eisma also worked closely with local community water groups to achieve her research objectives. Volunteers from the community were trained by Eisma to take daily measurements of climate data and water table depth as well as bi-weekly erosion measurements. The volunteers will continue collecting data until Eisma returns to Tanzania in December 2017 for a two week data validation trip.

About her year in Tanzania, Eisma says, “The challenges were definitely greater and different from what I was expecting, but I am grateful for the opportunity to learn and conduct research in Tanzania. This experience has been irreplaceable in terms of developing cross-cultural competence and refining my scientific communication skills.”

Eisma plans to pursue a professorship at a research university after completing her PhD at Purdue.

Purdue design facility creates ‘magnet space’

$18.5 million Purdue design facility creates ‘magnet space’ for collaborative creativity, prototyping

The new Bechtel Innovation Design Center is aimed to become a “magnet” where Purdue University students, staff and faculty can move their ideas and innovations to real-world products and impact.

Innovators will be able to use the facility to advance conceptual designs, execute capstone projects, build prototypes and conduct product testing as well as further develop softer business and life skills such as team building across multiple disciplines and acquire leadership acumen.  

“Purdue is already recognized for its strong pipeline of innovation, and we all recognize the importance of an innovator or startup founder demonstrating a hands-on product in order to make a connection to investors and customers,” said Dan Hasler, chief entrepreneurial officer for the Purdue Research Foundation. “Creating such a prototype or product can be expensive and time-consuming endeavor. The Bechtel design center is a game-changer in filling this critical need at Purdue.”

The 31,000-square-foot, $18.5 million building will be available 24/7 for Purdue innovators. The center is located at 1090 Third St. and opened Sept. 23. Some of the assets available in the center include CNC tools, waterjet cutter, laser cutter, laser engraver, 3D plastic printing, paint and surface finishing, welding, wood working tools and electronics assembly.

Artist rendering

“Designing and creating a prototype for a device is one of the most challenging aspects for an innovator, and I spent quite a bit of time finding the right place to further develop a medical syringe that I had patented and am commercializing,” said Kyle Hultgren, founder of Image Medical Device life sciences startup and director of the Purdue University Center of Medication Safety Advancement. “The Bechtel center will provide me and other innovators with a tremendous asset to advance our technologies.”

Providing a hands-on environment in design and development fills an important need for students, staff and faculty.

“We have witnessed a tremendous increase in student engagement in design and creation of products and in startup creation over the past three years,” said Gary Bertoline, dean of the Purdue Polytechnic Institute. “The Bechtel design center provides them with a place to explore new ideas and put those ideas into action.”  

About 50 percent of the 100 Purdue startups based on patented intellectual property and the more than 60 startups based on know-how over the past five years have at least one Purdue undergraduate or graduate student in a leadership role with the company.

“The opportunity for Purdue engineering students to learn and create in BIDC will greatly enhance their overall educational experience ,” said Mung Chiang, John A. Edwardson Dean of the College of Engineering. “The College of Engineering is proud to collaborate with the Purdue Polytechnic Institute to launch this remarkable makerspace. The talent and programs in this space will further enrich the vibrant ecosystem for entrepreneurs at Purdue: turning our education and research into positive impact on people’s lives.”

Kyle Hultgren, founder of Image Medical Device and cirector of the Purdue University Center of Medication Safety Advancement, plans to take advantage of the new design center.

“Designing and creating a prototype for a device is one of the most challenging aspects for an innovator, and I spent quite a bit of time finding the right place to further develop a medical syringe that I had patented and am commercializing,” Hultgren said. “While the partnerships that I ended up making are invaluable, the Bechtel center will enhance these partnerships and provide me and other innovators with a tremendous asset to test our ideas and advance our technologies”

The facility is the latest of improvements to the Purdue innovation ecosystem. Other programs developed to help innovators move new technologies to the public include the:

* Purdue Foundry, a startup accelerator hub based in Discovery Park’s Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship.

* FireStarter program to guide entrepreneurs through the “ideation” and startup development process.

* Express License, an expedient method for innovators to license an innovation.

* Student-owned technologies, a policy change that allows Purdue students to own their innovations developed as part of their university coursework.

* Funding resources, a number of funding opportunities for Purdue-affiliated startups.

* Innovation and entrepreneurship landing page to drive interested innovators to the right entrepreneurial resources online.

The Bechtel Innovation Design Center is dedicated in honor of Stephen D. Bechtel Jr., chairman emeritus of Bechtel Group Inc., who earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Purdue in 1946 and received an honorary doctorate in 1972.

More information on the design center can be found here.

Adesina Lecture Series

World Food Prize laureate to speak at Presidential Lecture Series

The most recent World Food Prize laureate will join Purdue President Mitch Daniels on Oct. 23 as part of the fall 2017 Presidential Lecture Series.

Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina
Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina

Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina, a Purdue alumnus and president of the African Development Bank Group, will speak with Daniels at 6:30 p.m. in Stewart Center’s Loeb Playhouse. The event will be during the same week Adesina is presented as the 2017 World Food Prize. The World Food Prize, often referred to as the Nobel Prize for food and agriculture, is the highest international honor recognizing the achievements of those who have advanced human development by improving quality, quantity and availability of food in the world.

Adesina was honored as this year’s recipient in recognition of his work with the Rockefeller Foundation, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and as minister of agriculture for Nigeria. For the past 20 years, he has dedicated his career to improving the agricultural sector in Africa, having led initiatives to expand agricultural production, end corruption in the Nigerian fertilizer industry, and increase the availability of credit for smallholder farmers across the African continent.

“Purdue’s researchers and alumni have helped feed the planet by making significant contributions in science-based agriculture and food science, and there is no calling that is both more noble and necessary,” Daniels said. “Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina continues that tradition, and we are thrilled that he will join us to discuss his extraordinary work.”

As a Purdue graduate, earning his master’s (1985) and doctoral (1988) degrees in agricultural economics as well as receiving an honorary doctorate from Purdue (2015), Adesina joins Purdue faculty members Gebisa Ejeta (2009) and Philip Nelson (2007) as World Food Prize laureates. For more information, visit https://www.purdue.edu/pls/.

kangoma

Purdue World provides Mandela Fellows with social entrepreneurship skills

A group of 25 young African leaders learned about how to use social entrepreneurship to try to solve challenges their nations face during a six-week intensive executive-style leadership training program at Purdue University and Purdue Foundry.

kangoma
Kangoma Turay, a Mandela Fellow from Liberia, took part in a six-week intensive executive-style leadership training program at Purdue University. Turay was among 25 young African leaders who took part in the Mandela Washington Fellowship program that included involvement in the Firestarter program in the Purdue Foundry, an entrepreneurship and commercialization accelerator. (Photo provided).

Ten social entrepreneurs and researchers from Purdue presented their new technology and business ideas to members of the Mandela Washington Fellowship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative, which empowers African leaders between the ages of 25 and 35 through academic coursework, leadership training and networking opportunities, and embodies the U.S commitment to invest in the future of Africa.

“The Mandela Global Challenge was a fun way for the participants to apply what they had learned about starting a successful business and use those skills to evaluate new technologies being developed by Purdue,” said Ron Ellis, general manager of social innovation for Purdue World a social entrepreneurship program at the Purdue Foundry.

The Purdue Foundry is an entrepreneurship accelerator in Discovery Park’s Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship. 

The technologies covered a wide range of issues, including low-cost rapid diagnostics to detect infectious disease, fortified corn to provide essential nutrients, community water systems and new therapies to treat malaria.

Leaders taking part in the Mandela Washington Fellowship at Purdue, which took place June 19-July 28, were given “Monopoly money” to invest in as many of the technologies as they wanted.  They could invest all the money in one technology or spread the money across a variety of technologies. The Mandela Fellows also scored the technologies on a variety of investment criteria. A new treatment for drug-resistant malaria presented by Panae Noomuna received the most investment among the student-presented technology.

 The faculty-presented technology winner was low-cost diagnostics for detection of infectious disease by Tamara Kinzer-Ursem, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Purdue.  

“We want to thank everyone at Purdue who presented at the Global Challenge,” Ellis said, “It was a great learning experience for Mandela Fellows and an opportunity for feedback on research.”

The program also allowed Purdue to further its international mission. Officials at Purdue and the Purdue Research Foundation announced in August the launch of “Purdue World,” a global project to accelerate its social entrepreneurship programs that can contribute to the welfare and advancement of human societies throughout the world.

The Mandela Fellows took part in the Firestarter program in the Purdue Foundry. The goal was to work through ideation and market discovery to prove out their ideas and determine a path forward to commercialize their ideas. 

Kangoma Turay, a Mandela Fellow from Liberia, who developed a business plan to expand his computer training business in his home country, said the Firestarter program inspired him.

“It has helped me a lot, I mean, with the issue of planning, how to take care of people that are working with me and a whole lot of things,” he said.

Turay, who was born into a family of nine children whose parents were subsistence farmers, founded the Lofa Young Farmers Association to teach computer and agricultural skills to youth and underserved women in Voinjama, the provincial capital of Lofa County in northern Liberia.

He returned home with 10 laptop computers donated by a local business so he could expand his business. He said there remains a great need.

“We need people to partner with us so we can get more training to be able to help create more jobs for young people in our area,” he said.

The program at Purdue is a campus-wide collaboration, co-sponsored by Discovery Park’s Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship and the colleges of Engineering and Agriculture, and with support from Krannert School of Management, Center for Global Food SecurityOffice of Engagement, and the Office of Corporate and Global Partnerships.

Here is a list of all the Mandela Fellows who took part in the program at Purdue, their home country and their goals. Click on their names to see videos of them:

Atinuke Bodunde Lebile, Nigeria, a farmer, works with rural communities to mentor young, out-of-school girls on various entrepreneurial and leadership skills.

Ben Wokorach, Uganda, an architect and social innovator, is seeking to increase accessibility to nutritious foods from small farmers by using solar-power refrigerated carts for distribution.

Daliwa Joseph Bainamndi, Cameroon, is production manager of a company that specializes in rice production, where he implements new production techniques in trying to make nutritious food more available.

Diabangouya Delia Carmen, Togo, quality control manager at a cooperative, is working to help cocoa farmers by producing top-quality chocolate at her business, part of her effort to improve enterprises to produce safe foods.

Dina Kikuli, Tanzania, a nutritionist and an agribusiness entrepreneur, is working to connect rice farmers, especially female rice farmers, to the market through her work with rice processing and distribution. She also wants to help women achieve their potential.

Efe Anthony Omudu, Nigeria, experience in animal farming and machine fabrication, is focused on helping farmers making their businesses more profitable by acquiring modern agricultural skills.

Gounou Bachirou Sariki Imorou, Benin, an accountant and an executive director of a nongovernmental agency involved with peacekeeping and local development, is working to reduce joblessness by creating jobs and job training programs.

Grace Ngosa Musonda, Zambia, started a farming and food processing business, is working to solve food insecurity, to improve nutrition for children and to reduce youth unemployment.

Issa Konate, Ivory Coast, general manager of a global agribusiness, is working on improving farmer training so farmers get better yield for their production and working on connecting them with exporters.

Jacob Paarechuga Anankware, Ghana, founder and CEO of a company that focuses on insect rearing for food and nutrition, is working to solve the problems of malnutrition, food insecurity and poverty.

Joel Reagan Siamito, Kenya, is a youth leader at an initiative where he focuses on solving youth unemployment by equipping people with business skills and trying to instill them with an entrepreneurial spirit.

Jona Ambuga Ambuga, Namibia, project manager for an investment company that specializes in fundraising for nongovernmental organizations and other business activities, is seeking to help poor families obtain affordable cars.

Kangoma Turay, Liberia, is the founder and CEO of a young farmers association that focuses on offering agricultural extension services to local farmers as he seeks to reduce youth unemployment.

Marc Nkaya Passongo Severin, Congo-Brazzaville, mechanical technician in the field of oil drilling and a computer programmer, wants to bring modern farming practices to Congo-Brazzaville, where farmers currently depend heavily on hand tools.

Zaina Banda, Malawi, is a chartered accountant and founder of an agricultural enterprise that aims at becoming a world-class entity that participates in the end-to-end agricultural value chain, creating jobs and wealth for the community.

Miora Harifetra Rajaonasitera, Madagascar, head of operations at a company that promotes agricultural products, wants to expand and empower the community of farmers to build sustainable supply chains.

Naomi Mohammed Said, Ethiopia, a chemical engineer, hopes to build an agro-industry enterprise that will allow the country to reduce imports and create more jobs.

Eluwole Olaniyi, Nigeria, an entrepreneur and agricultural extension officer with experience running farms as a social enterprise, is working to create jobs and seeking ways to support women and young people in agriculture.  

Sabriino Clair, Mauritius, is a project manager/food technologist, wants to increase poultry production and improve innovation in the industry.

Sebastien Roger Ayimambenwe, Gabon, founder and CEO of an agricultural company that focuses on creating and developing plantations of cocoa tree and corn for local and international markets, is trying to improve the quality of cocoa beans for farmers.  

Sylvie Sangwa, Rwanda, managing director of a business, is working to improve agricultural productivity, especially healthy foods, through sustainable agricultural practices.

Tanyada Maluwa, Botswana, is managing director and lead facilitator of an organization that formulates and implements workshops and programs to educate people on various aspects of nutrition, wellness, and food businesses. She is seeking to reduce Botswana’s reliance on horticulture imports.

Temwananani Phiri, Malawi, is an agricultural entrepreneur involved in general farming who is seeking to improve food security through practical farming and getting more young people involved in agriculture.

Japi Yemisrach Mesfin Bogale, Ethiopia, CEO of a startup, is trying to create a way for farmers displaced by urban sprawl to earn money through aquaponics, which combines growing vegetables and fish.

Zena Afework Demissie, Ethiopia, agriculture communication and extension expert, wants to create a community that provides farmers information on the best agricultural practices, market information and nutrition education.

About Purdue Foundry

The Purdue Foundry is an entrepreneurship and commercialization accelerator in Discovery Park’s Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship whose professionals help Purdue innovators create startups. Managed by the Purdue Research Foundation, the Purdue Foundry was named a top recipient at the 2016 Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities Designation and Awards Program by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities for its work in entrepreneurship. For more information about funding and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Foundry at foundry@prf.org.

About Purdue Research Foundation

The Purdue Research Foundation is a private, nonprofit foundation created to advance the mission of Purdue University. Established in 1930, the foundation accepts gifts; administers trusts; funds scholarships and grants; acquires property; protects Purdue’s intellectual property; and promotes entrepreneurial activities on behalf of Purdue. The foundation manages the Purdue Foundry, Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization, Purdue Research Park and Purdue Technology Centers. The foundation received the 2016 Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities Award for Innovation from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. For more information about funding and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Foundry at foundry@prf.org.

Purdue Research Foundation contact: Tom Coyne765-588-1044, tjcoyne@prf.org  

Source: Ron Ellis, 765-588-5253, prellis@prf.org