Students innovate with new products from corn, soybeans

March 29, 2013

Team Ceres designed a corn-based line of cosmetics for environmentally conscious people. Team members are, from left, Soo Yee Kuah, Michaelann Kresel, Shengjie Xu and Jessica Brazelton. (Purdue Agricultural Communication Photo/Tom Campbell)

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Note to journalists: After the contest prizes were announced, it was decided to award an additional second-place prize in the soybean competition.The last paragraph of the news release reflects that information.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Teams of Purdue University students who made cosmetics from corn and a biodegradable electronic substrate earned the top prizes in the annual Student Soybean and Corn Innovation Contests.

The awards were announced at a banquet Wednesday night (March 28) in Indianapolis.

The competitions, sponsored by the Indiana Soybean Alliance and the Indiana Corn Marketing Council, teach students how to be innovative entrepreneurs with corn and soybeans.

Both teams received a $20,000 prize for their work.

"Indiana soybean and corn farmers continue to fund these competitions at Purdue because they believe that encouraging students to think about corn and soybeans in new ways benefits our state's soybean and corn industries in a multitude of ways," said Jane Ade Stevens, executive director for both the corn and soybean checkoff organizations. "We are excited to see that interest in these competitions continues to be strong and that we continue to attract students from across the university who use their creativity and knowledge to bring us a high caliber of products."

The Soytronics team that includes Anand Venkatesan, left, and Aniruddha Kelkar invented this soybean-based resin that can be used to make computer circuit boards. Not pictured is Carmen Valverde-Paniagua. (Purdue Agricultural Communication Photo/Tom Campbell

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The winning corn team produced Ceres Cosmetics, composed of 40 percent corn chaff, which is known for its ability to absorb oils and is hypoallergenic. The corn chaff powder replaces the talc normally found in cosmetics.

"Its environmental footprint is significantly smaller," the team said. "The target market for Ceres Cosmetics will be environmentally conscious women who care deeply about what they put on their bodies."

Ceres Cosmetics team members are Jessica Brazelton, a graduate biology student of Monongahela, Pa.; Michaelann Kresel, a senior agro-business student of Westville, Ind.; Soo Yee Kuah, a junior biochemistry student from Ipoh, Malaysia; and Shengjie Xu, a junior biology student of Shanghai.

The winning soybean team created Soytronics, a flexible, lightweight and low-cost substrate on which an electronic circuit is printed. The team said the key advancement is in replacing petroleum-derived, epoxy-based substrates currently used for making printed circuit boards. 

These students put their heads together and invented shock-absorbing helmet pads made of corn. Clockwise, from lower left, are Team Kaizen members Jin Sun, Xiangye Xiao, Peren Xiao and Alice Bao. (Purdue Agricultural Communication Photo/Tom Campbell)

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"As the major component of our substrate is a soy derivative, our substrates are biodegradable, eco-friendly and reusable," the team said.

Soytronics team members are Carmen Valverde-Paniagua, a junior mechanical engineering student of Chihuahua, Mexico, and chemical engineering graduate students Aniruddha Kelkar of Mumbai, India; and Anand Venkatesan of Chennai, India.

Second-place teams received a $10,000 prize.

The second-place corn team developed helmet padding made from corn starch. The padding can be used in helmets that would need to absorb dangerous blows, such as in football. Team Kaizen members are Alice Bao, a junior management student from Beijing; Jin Sun, an agronomy graduate student from Lanzhou, Gansu Province, China; Peren Xiao, a junior economics  student from Austin, Texas; and Xiangye Xiao, a graduate student in agronomy from Xi'an, Shaanxi Province, China.

PHMilad Alucozai, left, and Edward Van Bogaert developed SoyBright, a nanomolecular polish that gives cars a showroom shine. (Purdue Agricultural Communication Photo/Tom Campbell)

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There were two second-place teams in the soybean contest. One team developed SoyBright, a nanomolecular soy-based polish aimed primarily at the automotive market. Team members are Milad Alucozai, a sophomore psychology student from West Lafayette, Ind., and Edward Van Bogaert, a senior history student from Rochester, Ill. The other team created Soytures, bio-absorbable sutures. Those team members, all students in the agricultural and biological engineering program, are Yeshaben Shah of India; Allison Ustynoski of Shavertown, Pa.; Kaitlyn Wolak of Indianapolis; and Megan Morrison of Carmel, Ind.
Writer: Keith Robinson, 765-494-2722,

Sources: Jane Ade Stevens, 317-614-0376,

                  Megan Kuhn, communications director, Indiana Soybean Alliance, 317-614-0377,

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722;
Keith Robinson,
Agriculture News Page