2 Awards, Honors
5 Faculty Profile
6 Centralized Resources for
Data-Driven Research at Purdue
8 Research Findings
10 Program Announcements
11 EVPRP Announcements
13 Cover Story, Continued
14 Core Facility Spotlight
15 Sponsored Program Activity
16 Researcher Spotlight
Research Services Directory
Research at Purdue
Research at Purdue
Problem-Solving for Scientist-Engineer
Began Decades Ago on Ohio Farm
Kevin Keener, the winner of the 2014 Spirit of the Land-Grant Mission Award, cred-
its much of his inventiveness to having grown up on a small farm between Cleveland
and Columbus, a couple hundred acres where making do was the norm.
When equipment was lacking, Keener would scrounge the property for parts with
which he could MacGyver his way through the situation. He loaded animals onto
vehicles via a chute rigged out of a wagon frame and plywood, and when he needed to
raise a building, he welded old bedframes into a 15-foot triangular hoist that could be
raised or lowered from his tractor.
“Mental problem-solving was an inherent part of every day,” he said. “Interestingly, a
lot of the things I’ve done over my career have involved that same skill set.”
Now a professor in the Departments of Food Science and Agricultural and Biological
Engineering, Keener has created such innovations as a machine that fries food with
infrared energy — which requires far less oil than conventional fryers and can reduce
fat and calories by up to 50 percent. He also invented a system that uses liquid carbon
dioxide to quickly cool eggs, doubling their shelf life and tamping down the growth
of Salmonella bacteria. He is particularly proud, however, of the in-package bacteria-killing plasma technology he developed to sterilize food products, water and medical
supplies in less than a minute.
Keener also plays a vital role in outreach and education, spending about half of
his time providing technical assistance to companies of all sizes and the other half
teaching groups, students and workshops on food safety, processing, technology and
sanitation. He facilitates meetings between regulators and industry, helping people
sort through the red tape.
“Keener’s research and Extension activities have addressed the needs of food manu-
facturers at all levels, from multi-national companies to food entrepreneurs,” says
Jay Akridge, dean of the Purdue College of Agriculture. “His work benefits the food
industry in Indiana, across the country and around the world.”
Along the way, Keener has honed his ability to communicate science to laypeople,
tailoring the message to what his audience needs to know and putting concepts into
an everyday context.
“I was fortunate to learn these skills and gain this knowledge,” he says. “If I can share
that and help someone become better at what they do and generate revenue for their
family and community, I feel an obligation to do so.”
Awards, Honors and Announcements
Captions from p. 1
Top row, left to right: Prof. Jay Melosh led a study
of large concentrations of mass beneath the
lunar surface (background image courtesy of
NASA). Profs. George Chiu and Rebecca Kramer,
shown here with postdoctoral research associate
J. William Boley, have both conducted space
technology research for NASA. Purdue alumnus
Jerry Ross on his last space walk (image courtesy
of NASA). Prof. Cary Mitchell studies how to grow
plants in space.
Middle row, left to right: Footprint on the moon
(image courtesy of NASA). Prof. Jeff Volenec
(right) and former graduate assistant Shane
Howard discovered ways to turn human waste
into purified drinking water and plant fertilizer.
Graduate student Samantha Alberts and Prof.
Steven Collicott discuss details of a zero-gravity
flight experiment that flew in 2012 on NASA’s
so-called Vomit Comet. Barrett Caldwell has
served on a NASA research team as part of the
Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute.
Bottom row, left to right: The work of Profs. Mark
Lundstrom and Supriyo Datta has resulted in a
new generation of compact, high-performance
computers for NASA. Prof. Lisa Mauer has studied
food quality and shelf-life for extended space
missions. This image from graduate student Loic
Chappaz shows the orbits of the Martian moons
Phobos and Deimos. From left, Purdue doctoral
students Zach Hallum, Michael Bedard and Eric
Meier have worked on a team to design, build and
test part of a new rocket engine for a spacecraft to
land on the moon, Mars and asteroids.