May 1, 2019

Discovery Park’s Big Idea Challenge 2.0 finalists to present their proposals

On May 7, Discovery Park’s Big Idea Challenge 2.0 finalists will present their proposals to a panel of judges that will determine the winning teams. The panel will consist of Purdue faculty from across the West Lafayette campus and highly regarded campus thought leaders. The Big Idea Challenge 2.0 will award funding to a select few interdisciplinary teams of Purdue faculty and students pursuing bold proposals that address global challenges.

“Discovery Park has a long history of initiatives that encourage interdisciplinary research; the Big Idea Challenge is no different. It is at the core of what Discovery Park is all about: forming new collaborations and bringing researchers together to solve the biggest problems. I’m eager to learn about the selected projects,” says Sasha Boltasseva, Discovery Park fellow. 

The eight proposals selected for presentation are:

* Addressing the Biodiversity Crisis: A Four-Platform Boilermaker Solution. Bryan Pijanowski, College of Agriculture.

* Conversion of Plastic Waste into Pristine Polymers, Naphtha, Fuels, and Other Products for Sustainability. Nien-Hwa Linda Wang, College of Engineering.

* From Cell Cultures to Community Cultures: Bringing Precision Health to Autism. Bridgette Tonnsen, College of Health and Human Services.

* Quantum Informatics for Businesses and Economies. Karthik Kannan, Krannert School of Management.

* Revolutionizing the Development and Manufacturing of Next-generation Biologics. Rainer Fischer, College of Science.

* Solving Problems Previously Reserved to Quantum Computing with Purdue’s P-bits and How These Future Computational Capabilities Will Impact Security, Politics and the Society as a Whole. Joerg Appenzeller, College of Engineering.

* The Energy Corridor Along the US/Mexico Border: Changing the Conversation. Luciano Castillo, College of Engineering.

* The Materials Genome Initiative Approach to Wearable Bioelectronics and Global Health, Bryan Boudouris, College of Science.

“The response to the Big Idea Challenge 2.0 has surpassed the initial Challenge in faculty participation, and it will be exciting to watch brand-new partnerships evolve within Discovery Park that will catalyze and enable novel areas of research and tackle critical problems facing our society today,” says Tomás Díaz de la Rubia, vice president for Discovery Park.

During the two-month submission window, Discovery Park received 41 proposal submissions from 280 participants at Purdue, representing 11 colleges and 57 departments. Eighteen Discovery Park centers or institutes provided endorsements for the projects, and an additional 69 endorsements came from other academic units, as well as government and industry partners. Proposals were cross-cutting in nature and aligned thematically across five major areas of research: global sustainability, global health, global security and defense innovation, and digital/quantum/nano. 

Presentations are open to the public. Each team will be given eight minutes to present its proposal and seven minutes to answer questions from the judges. The presentations are scheduled to take place beginning at 1 p.m. on May 7 in the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship, Room 121. A list of the finalists, as well as their presentation times, is listed on the Big Idea Challenge 2.0 webpage.

Writer: Elizabeth Harwood, 765-494-7324, 
Source: Cliff Wojtalewicz, 765-496-3961,

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