As an NSCORT partner, Lisa Mauer has focused on food quality and shelf life for
extended space missions. “What-if questions have the potential to bring together diverse
groups of scientists to solve problems, big and small, and to imagine new ways of
supporting life, travel and perhaps the pursuit of happiness,” says Mauer, a professor of
Through a $13.2 million NASA grant, George Chiu, a professor of mechanical engineering, has studied how to grow plants in space using LED lights, which are more
robust than light bulbs. Chiu, a mechanical engineering professor, has identified a lighting system that will allow 100 percent of the leaves of a plant to receive light, instead of
the typical crop growth in which only the top canopy receives light.
Agronomy Professor Jeff Volenec has discovered ways to turn human waste into purified drinking water as part of a $7.3 million NASA grant in connection with the Purdue-led NSCORT project. Waste passes through plant roots to the leaves; the plant’s pores
then release water vapor, which condenses upon contact with cold pipes, producing
clean, recycled water. Remaining solids can fertilize certain plants.
Mark Lundstrom and Supriyo Datta each have received more than $8 million in
funding to direct the NASA Institute for Nanoelectronics and Computing. The work
of these electrical and computer engineering professors has resulted in a new generation of compact, high-performance computers for NASA, reducing the need for human
interference and mission control.
Kathleen Howell, the Hsu Lo Distinguished Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics,
has received $3.07 million in NASA funding to research spacecraft trajectory design and
maneuver strategies for transfers and on-orbit operations.
Through a $1.84 million grant, Marshall Porterfield, director of Space Life and Physical Sciences at NASA, has played a key role in a Purdue “SporeSat” experiment to test
how plant cells sense and respond to different levels of gravity. Porterfield, on leave
as a Purdue professor of agricultural and biological engineering and horticulture and
landscape architecture, developed lab-on-a-chip technology that was used to study
ferns aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, which launched from Cape Canaveral,
Fla., in May.
Steven Collicott, aeronautics and astronautics professor, has received $1.4 million
from NASA to design experiments operated in weightlessness on the space station
and by using suborbital rockets and drop towers.
John Sullivan, longtime aeronautics and astronautics professor, has used $4.8
million in NASA funding to advance experimental aerodynamics/fluid mechanics.
He also served on the prestigious NASA Advisory Council from 2006-08.
Barrett Caldwell has served on a NASA research team as part of the Solar System
Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI), which is addressing scientific
questions about the moon, near-Earth asteroids and the Martian moons Phobos
and Deimos. Through $8.9 million in NASA funding, he has conducted research
on voice communications for mission control during the earliest period of development of protocols and processes for communicating between the Space Shuttle and
International Space Station.
“Purdue is one of the very few universities that is universally recognized and held
in the highest regard — whether at Ames, Dryden (now Armstrong), Goddard,
Johnson or Kennedy space center,” says Caldwell, a professor of industrial engineering (and aeronautics and astronautics) who also directs the Indiana Space
Grant Consortium. “I have met a large number of Purdue alumni at the centers and
contractors who were eager to speak with me because I was Purdue faculty.”
continued from page 1 Purdue’s AAE School
Turns 70 This Summer
While NASA/NACA is celebrating its 100th
anniversary, the Purdue School of Aeronautics and Astronautics will mark its 70th
year as a separate entity on July 1.
Aeronautical education existed on at least
a small scale in 1920, and aeronautical
were first offered at
Purdue during World
War II by the School of
Mechanical & Aeronautical Engineering.
Since then, the school
has produced the most
degrees in the United States over the past
10 years, and during the last 50 years has
awarded six percent of all B.S. and seven
percent of all Ph.D. degrees.
“These Purdue alumni have led significant
advances in research and development
of aerospace technology, headed major
corporations and government agencies,
and have established an amazing record
for exploration of space,” says Tom I-P.
Shih, professor and head of the Purdue
School of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
Tom I-P. Shih
Cover Story, Continued
total amount of Purdue research
conducted for NASA since 1978
number of alumni selected as
astronauts, including the ;rst and
last men to step foot on the moon
percent of all human U.S. space
missions including at least one
number of space shuttle ;ights
;own by graduates
for producing most aerospace
engineering degrees the
percent of all bachelor’s degrees
awarded in aeronautics and
astronautics in the past 50 years
By the Numbers