sealPurdue Education & Careers Briefs

March 1997

Purdue Bug Bowl not for the faint-of-stomach

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: A color photo of a family at the 1996 Bug Bowl is available. It's called Bug Bowl '96. For b-roll from the 1996 event, contact Grady Jones (765) 494-2079; e-mail,

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Although they don't show up on the Food Pyramid, insects as entrees will be a featured attraction at Purdue University's annual Bug Bowl, April 18-20. That's where the vendors rattle off a menu that includes chocolate chirpy chip cookies, mealworm chow mein and a trail mix called "caterpillar crunch."

A snack that once crawled may not sound enticing, but bug cravings draw more than 10,000 people to Bug Bowl every year. A three-day celebration of insects, Bug Bowl includes everything from a cricket spitting contest to an insect petting zoo. Other events include a Big Bug Bakeoff, a human caterpillar race, an insect petting zoo, insect crafts, a butterfly exhibit and, the crowd favorite, cockroach racing at "Roach Hill Downs." New this year will be a parade of Volkswagen Beetles decorated as bugs.

"The Bug Bowl is the biggest outreach event in the School of Agriculture. People come from all over the state. The news channels all cover the Bug Bowl, and we've even been on CNN," says Kathy Heinsohn, a graduate student in Purdue's entomology department. "People are very intrigued by insects, by the alien characteristics bugs have."

Her involvement with Bug Bowl began in the spring of 1992 when she helped plan the event. "Bug Bowl is a fun approach to insects with an educational aspect. It is also a great way for entomologists to interact with many different people," she says.

Each year she demonstrates ways to cook favorite foods with insects, teaching people about insects and nutrition. She also asks audience members to step up and participate in a blind taste test of spice cakes, one with meal worms and one without.

Started as a cockroach race in 1990 as a way to stir up campus interest in entomology, Bug Bowl went public by accident. Tom Turpin, professor of entomology and Bug Bowl founder, says he never intended for the public to find out about it.

During a 1990 interview about corn research with a radio reporter, Turpin was interrupted by his secretary who walked in with the Bug Bowl cockroaches. Turpin says, "The fellow went back to WASK and the word was out. Purdue was having a cockroach race." The following Saturday, 1,500 people showed up.

Response was so great that the following year the organizers made Bug Bowl a formal event with more activities, expanding it to three days.

"Even if you don't plan to become an entomologist, you're bound to have fun and to learn something," Turpin says. "We hope that everyone comes out of the Bug Bowl a little more knowledgeable about insects."

Bug Bowl is free and open to the public. This year it begins at 4:30 p.m. Friday, April 18, with the Big Bug Bake-Off. The full slate of activities then takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 19, and from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, April 20. The entomology department has dedicated a world wide web page to the event at with more information on events and times.

CONTACTS: Turpin; (765) 494- 4568; e-mail,
Heinsohn, (765) 494-8646; e-mail,

Changing roles in health care broaden opportunities

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Job opportunities in the health care industry are growing, especially for nurses and pharmacists with advanced degrees.

By the start of the next century, the number of jobs for nurses with advanced degrees will be twice the supply. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, there will be 392,000 jobs for nurses with master's and doctoral degrees, but only 185,000 will be in the work force.

"This is only one of the indications -- although it may be the most startling -- that the health care industry offers promising futures in a variety of fields," says Sandra Irvin, assistant head of student affairs in the Purdue University School of Nursing.

Dan Mezibov, director of public affairs for the association of colleges of nursing, explains the demand for people with advanced degrees this way: "In large part, this need is due to the trend in hospitals to have fewer inpatients and the move toward primary care. In addition, more nurses with doctoral degrees are needed as researchers and to fulfill an increasing demand for faculty at nursing schools."

A 1996 U.S. Department of Labor study forecasts that registered nurses who graduate with a bachelor's degree also will be in great demand. While the national average salary for all nursing employees is $40,000, the average starting salary among Purdue nursing graduates is $35,000.

"Our most recent placement numbers indicate that 44 of the 65 graduates from May 1996 have found employment. The remaining 21 did not reply to our survey," Irvin says.

The Labor Department study says a continuing trend away from hospital-based care means that more nurses will be needed to fill openings in home health, long-term and ambulatory care. It also forecasts that the number of jobs in the health care industry as a whole will increase by as much as 35 percent during the decade that ends in 2005. Total job growth in the U.S. economy during that same period is forecast at about 13 percent.

The study attributes much of the job growth in health care to the demand created by an increasing elderly and disabled population. Not only are the number of job openings in the health industry growing, the traditional definitions of these jobs are expanding as well.

For example, Patrick George, associate director of student services at Purdue's School of Pharmacy, says: "Pharmacy is a profession in transition, and what we're doing here at Purdue is emphasizing the doctorate in pharmacy."

At the moment, pharmacy graduates are in high demand. At Purdue, their starting salaries and placement rates are among the highest at the university.

Of 122 May graduates from Purdue's five-year pharmacy program, all but six had found jobs or enrolled in graduate study within five months of their graduation. Starting salaries for 101 of them who answered a Purdue questionnaire averaged $54,578. Actual salaries ranged from $28,992 to $65,000.

George, a registered pharmacist, says: "Pharmacy has been a profession stereotyped by an image of the person standing behind a drug store counter in a white lab coat. But there are so many other things pharmacists do, such as hospital pharmacy, nuclear pharmacy, industrial pharmacy and consulting. It's important to know that people will always need us, and we are the most accessible health care professional."

According to George, the behind-the-counter role has been affected by the increasing number of pharmacy technicians and automation of prescription filling. The expanded role for pharmacists sometimes includes allowing pharmacists to set the dosage for patients' prescriptions, advising individuals on other health matters, and generally interacting more with patients.

CONTACTS: Irvin, (765) 494-4008
George, (765) 494-1357
Mezibov, (202) 463-6930 ; e-mail,

Professor's research shows value of washing hands

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: A color photo of a young boy washing his hands is available. The photo is called Niffenegger/Hands.

HAMMOND, Ind. -- Mom knew what she was doing when she told us to wash our hands. A Purdue University Calumet study shows that handwashing does help keep youngsters healthier.

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A 1994-95 study during the traditional cold and flu season months of January through March showed fewer colds in a test group of 3- to 5-year-olds using proper and frequent handwashing techniques than within a control group of similarly aged youngsters. Joann Niffenegger, assistant professor of early childhood development, conducted the study at Purdue Calumet's Riley Child Center.

At the child center, 18.9 percent of the children and teachers caught colds, compared to 27.8 percent in the control group. Each group comprised 30 children and 10 teachers. Both groups were from centers complying with state regulations. However, the handwashing curriculum that the Purdue Calumet center implemented went beyond state guidelines.

Components of Niffenegger's program included:

"From an educator's standpoint, I don't think caregivers know how to teach handwashing," Niffenegger says. "Just telling kids to do it isn't enough; it's an abstract notion.

"We learned that it takes a while to change behavior, but that eventually children understand the importance of handwashing and become very involved in doing it properly with the help of the adults around them."

She says the only drawback of handwashing is that you can get very dry hands, but that can be remedied by using moisturizing lotions.

Her project also involved teaching youngsters about germs, how they linger and how to get rid of them. "We did a pretend germ experiment, using petroleum jelly and nutmeg," Niffenegger says. "The nutmeg served as germs. We asked the children to wash away the 'germs' with cold water. When the 'germs' remained, the children were taught the effectiveness of washing."

CONTACT: Niffenegger, (219) 989-2219

Compiled by Kate Walker (765) 494-2073; e-mail,
Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; e-mail,

Photo captions:
Preschool children using proper handwashing techniques like this were healthier than a control group of similar children. (Purdue News Service Photo by David Umberger)
Color Photo, electronic transmission, and web and ftp download available. Photo ID: Niffenegger/Hands
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David Fisher and Liz Grauerholz of West Lafayette share daughter Lara's amazement at the size of a New Guinea stick insect at Purdue's sixth annual Bug Bowl in 1996. (Purdue News Service Photo by David Umberger)

Color photo, electronic transmission, and Web and ftp download available. Photo ID: Bug Bowl '96
Download Photo Here

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