sealPurdue News

November 30, 2001

University appoints six Discovery Park directors

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue has named six top researchers to head the centers at the university's new Discovery Park.

"We found the very best people for both their expertise and their ability to build effective interdisciplinary teams," said Charles O. Rutledge, program director of Discovery Park and dean of Purdue's Schools of Pharmacy, Nursing and Health Sciences.

Purdue so far has raised more than half of the $100 million needed for Discovery Park's four centers, including $40 million from alumni. The Lilly Endowment has given nearly $26 million toward start-up costs. The park will include the Birck Nanotechnology Center, a bioscience/engineering center, an e-enterprises center and a center for entrepreneurship.

"These appointments represent the best combination of team building, vision and expertise to lead a diverse team capable of realizing our vision of Discovery Park," said Provost Sally Frost Mason.

Purdue researchers chosen to head the centers are:

• Nanotechnology center: Co-directors James A. Cooper, professor of electrical and computer engineering, and Richard J. Schwartz, dean of the Schools of Engineering.

Just as antibiotics, the silicon transistor and plastics affected nearly every aspect of society in the 20th century, nanotechnology is expected to have profound influences in the 21st century. Nanotechnology will have numerous applications in everything from super-small computers, spacecraft and microscopic machines, to tiny life-saving medical devices and a plethora of new materials.

• Bioscience/engineering center: Co-directors Vincent Jo Davisson, professor of medicinal chemistry and molecular pharmacology, and George R. Wodicka, head of the Department of Biomedical Engineering.

The bioscience/engineering center will support a variety of projects, some of which will explore genomics, which is the mapping of individual genes of living organisms and then figuring out how those thousands of genes function. This would show how cells are regulated and respond to chemicals, mutations, environmental stimuli, age, disease and pathogens. Genomics research offers promise in many areas, from improving the disease resistance of plants and animals, to saving endangered wildlife and increasing the production of certain crops that require fewer pesticides.

• E-Enterprise Center: Director Joseph F. Pekny, professor of chemical engineering.

The e-enterprises center will pull together a myriad of related new-technology activities on the campus, with a special focus on three core areas where Purdue has, or can develop, national leadership. These areas are network security and reliability, management of distributed e-enterprises, including database systems, logistics and distribution of products and marketing of e-enterprises.

• Center for Entrepreneurship: Director Richard A. Cosier, dean of the Krannert School of Management and Leeds Professor of Management.

The entrepreneurship center will nurture the entrepreneurial spirit of Purdue faculty and students. It will be the home of: the Technology Transfer Initiative, which will research issues industry encounters when trying to license and market new technologies and products; the Purdue Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS) program, in which undergraduates work with community service agencies to find ways to use technology to solve problems and improve services; the Burton D. Morgan Entrepreneurial Competition, in which engineering and management students work together to demonstrate their ideas for new products or services and show how they could be developed into profitable businesses; the Innovation Realization Lab, which pairs engineering and management graduate students on projects to help them understand the way research fits in with social and commercial needs; and forums where graduating students can present business plans to business and community leaders.

The appointments are effective immediately. The directors of each center will serve no more than half time in Discovery Park roles. Schwartz and Rutledge had earlier announced that they will retire as deans this school year.

Mason said Discovery Park also will play a major role in the state's economy and that the nanotechnology facility will position Indiana to become a national leader in the new scientific revolution that nanotechnology offers.

Federal research spending for nanotechnology is expected to increase sharply in coming years. The facility will help Purdue attract millions of dollars of research money, as well as the best scientists, engineers and students. Construction on the nanotechnology building is expected to begin in July and be completed in the summer of 2004.

Discovery Park will cover an area bounded by State Street on the north, Nimitz Drive on the south, Airport Road on the west and South Intramural Drive on the east.

"It will be a while before the buildings are built, but the research will begin right away," Rutledge said. "The center directors will actively engage faculty in the research of Discovery Park. These are faculty from many different schools at Purdue who either conduct or plan to conduct interdisciplinary research in these four new research areas.

"So, we are bringing together all of these researchers now. It's a virtual center until the buildings are constructed."

Writer: Emil Venere, (765) 494-4709,

Sources: Sally Frost Mason, (765) 494-9709,

Charles O. Rutledge, (765) 494-1368,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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