At Rent Intermission Club

What do you do outside Lab?

What do you do outside Lab?

This is not how I normally look in the Lab
My Lab Face

That’s the most frequent question I got whenever I met new person once standard questions like name (Irma), occupation (Grad student), major (Food Science) answered. I think it’s a fair question since the stereotype of scientist promoted by the oh-so-famous-with-never-ending-season TV show is working in a Lab (which I do).

To answer that, let’s do some background first. I am a big Opera/Symphony fan that used to be a racer (this is a story for another day), so, I tried to find things to do in West Lafayette-Lafayette area related to my passions. Luckily, there is Purdue Convocations that sometimes host classical music and musicals. However, the tickets price for those shows are a little bit much when tallied, with student budget, I have to be creative.

This is our most Formal Shot, usually we're just being caught unaware
“Official” Group Photo before Ushering Duty (Photo Credit: Rodrigo A Rodriguez-Fuentes)

Lo and behold, I found CVN, a student organization of volunteer usher for Purdue Convocations show. I registered and started signing up for shows. There is point system, so the more frequent you signed up, the more chance you got selected for ushering. Perks of this student organization is seeing shows for free after ushering duty is done. That, plus free food (Pizza or Donuts) and coffee (or no coffee if the food is Pizza). Also, Volunteer can sign up for pre-show, usually consist of talks (sometimes recorded for WBAA radio) and Intermission Club. Intermission club is for honoring donor patrons of Purdue Convocations, light refreshments like non alcoholic beverages (for alcoholic beverages donor patrons have to pay)and finger foods (cheese cubes, vegetable dips) are provided. Volunteer usher can also have some of those afterwards.

CVN Instagram once show my smiley face
I’m featured in CVN Instagram Page! well, it’s MK and I, but still 😀

I remember my first show, it’s Calmus Ensemble. The ECHO-Klassik award winning group of They were singing Shakespeare inspired a capella. Needless to point out they are the best first experience for me. One Soprano, Two Tenors, Two Baritones. I am in heaven.

However, free show is not the best experience I gained from CVN. It’s meeting people with similar music taste and more. I met my tribe, people I can rely on for fun (Hey, let’s go to Chicago for Chicago Symphonic Orchestra College Night) and be there for me when I’m stressed out by academic burdens (the Lab, don’t forget the Lab).

Winning this plus Cabaret tickets
My Semester Bounty

This semester is special for me. I won the raffle for Chamber Tickets from Purdue Convocations, yes, all six shows on Classical music. It means I (plus one) get to go to those shows for free, no need to work for it. Needless to say, I’m ecstatic. When CVN other volunteer (a.k.a semiofficial photographer) asked me whether I will still be volunteering or not since I now get free tickets I said yes, for the shows I don’t have tickets for but mostly for fun and the people. Since that is one of the thing I do outside my Lab.

 

Food

My path to a plant-based lifestyle

Back in February 2016, I had been experimenting with a couple of dietary changes. I am a coffee drinker but I challenged myself to stop drinking coffee for a whole week. Good thing I survived lol and I learned that I can probably get away with a good night sleep and no caffeine intake during the day. However, I found that with a restful sleep the night before, drinking a cup of coffee in the morning actually enhances my productivity and who doesn’t love to smell the coffee first thing in the morning!

Another experimentation I did was I gave myself a week to be a “vegan.” My inspiration came up from the curiosity to see how eating diet coming purely from plant sources would make me feel. Prior to the start, I expected that I would feel really hungry quickly after a meal and lack of energy. To my surprise, I noticed that I felt more awake and fresh even when I just stopped eating meats and dairy for two days. Of course, I felt like I need to eat more in order to feel satiated because plant-based diet, in general, is less energy-dense than meat-containing diet. By the end of my one-week challenge, I told myself that if it doesn’t hurt and I can make it a sustainable lifestyle, why not give it a try.

One of my easy go-to dish is this sun dried tomato basil pesto pasta!

I did a lot of research on vegan recipes and meal plan. First few things that came up were chickpea-based menus like soup, hummus, falafel or salad. Even though I do like these foods, it’s not what I enjoy to eat all the time. After a couple of weeks in, I realized that key to a sustainable dietary change is to find what I like to eat so I went back to my ground. I came from Thailand and if you’ve ever tried Thai food, you know cooked rice is our food staple. In addition to rice, I like to add quinoa or some beans into my rice cooker. This way I add some more protein to my diet. I then started to look up for vegan Thai recipes which were actually easy to find. Sometimes, I would simply cook the same dishes as when I was eating meat but substitute meat with tofu. As I progress, I expanded my cooking repertoire to Korean, Chinese and Mexican foods.

Thai noodle 

The message I wanted to convey here is not to convert you to be a vegan but to persuade you to step out of your comfort zone or from what you think things should be. Try it for yourself and make a decision from there. You might discover a more pleasant path in your life. This applies to different aspects of life, not just about your food choices. I had been told my whole life that I need to eat meat and dairy in order to stay healthy. This statement is true but it is not the only absolute way to stay healthy. I have been living on plant-based food sources for almost two years, feel stronger than ever and am also training for my first marathon which would be on November 4th.

If you want to follow my journey on plant-based lifestyle, health, and grad student life, find me on Instagram @poomponyo.

Video
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.

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/.

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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