April 16, 2021

Gone Fishin’: Purdue Fish Fry event goes virtual

College of Agriculture dean shares updates

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue alumni gathered virtually to celebrate their Boilermaker legacy the first week of February.

The week included virtual reunions and an innovation competition.

“Our college continues to change,” said Karen Plaut, the Glenn W. Sample Dean of the College of Agriculture at Purdue University. “We continue to be the No. 7 College of Agriculture and Forestry in the U.S., according to the QS World University Rankings. The Purdue Agriculture and Biological Engineering has been No. 1 in undergraduate education for 10 years in a row.”

When COVID hit Indiana in March 2020, students and faculty transitioned to online learning.

“Our faculty and students figured out a way to do research in the field with social distancing,” Plaut said. “At the same time, in all 92 counties, Extension was pivoting to new activities including helping with food delivery to children who were no longer in classes, making face masks and working on online programs for kids and parents.”

Viewers from around the world tuned in to watch gardening tips from Purdue Extension specialists.

During the summer 4-H fairs were held in all 92 counties — both virtually and in person, with social distance measures in place.

“At the same time, we were preparing for the fall semester to make it a safe residential experience,” Plaut said. “Our faculty pivoted. They had outdoor labs. They had take-home materials for students to do labs at home.

“We had our microscopes outfitted with Wi-fi capabilities so that people could get images from microscopes on their iPad or iPhone.”

College of Agriculture research programs ramped up as safe practices were determined for laboratories.

“I’m proud to say that our research awards this year were $76.5 million, the highest ever, second behind engineering,” Plaut said.

An example of the research being conducted includes that of Mohit Verma, who is working on biosensors for diseases.

“One of them includes bovine respiratory disease,” Plaut said. “Basically, what this allows us to do, is to check the disease right at the farm.”

In 2021, the College of Agriculture is starting a new five-year strategic plan titled Growing a Sustainable Future.

“We’re really excited as we continue to move forward in our teaching, research and engagement for Indiana and the world,” Plaut said. “This is our built on a foundation of inclusive excellence. The idea is that we make agriculture a place for everyone and a place that everyone feels welcome.”

Learn more about Purdue’s College of Agriculture at www.ag.purdue.edu.

Erica Quinlan

Field Editor