6:00 am
Wed July 30, 2014

To Learn More About Solar Power, Researchers Zap Spinach With Lasers

When the spinach is processed to harness a protein called Photosystem II, it becomes a deep green substance that's manipulated with a paintbrush in a test tube.
Credit Stan Jastrzebski / WBAA News

A Purdue University researcher and her students are using store-bought spinach leaves and lasers to try to better understand photosynthesis -- that’s the process by which many plants make their food.

But Yulia Pushkar and her students have a bigger goal in mind – understanding how the plants turn sunlight into energy so much more efficiently than solar panels.

Her study of a compound known as Photosystem II could help scientists learn how to better harness the sun’s power.

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6:00 am
Wed July 23, 2014

Research Could Lead To Printing Drugs For Individuals, Not Populations

This is the sixth incarnation of the drug printing rig, which drops small amounts of a drug onto the concave surface of a pre-made placebo pill.
Credit Stan Jastrzebski / WBAA News

Rex Reklaitis thinks of his drug printing rig almost like a time machine.

The Purdue researcher is working to develop a commercially viable machine that can print small amounts of a drug which are tailored to an individual patient.

That would be a shift away from the current model used by large drug companies which can make hundreds of thousands of aspirin tablets in an hour.

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6:00 am
Wed July 9, 2014

Video Games Could Identify, Train Better Vet Surgeons

A student participating in the study plays an archery game requiring the same sorts of dexterity and coordination used in laparoscopic surgery.
Credit courtesy Purdue Veterinary Medicine

Video games have long been known to improve hand-eye coordination. Now, a Purdue study shows that may be of particular use to veterinary surgeons.

The research suggests video games may be better tools than the so-called “box trainers” vets currently use to learn laparoscopic surgery.

A box trainer is usually made from PVC pipe that's covered by a cloth to hide what's inside (usually rings which students are told to put on posts). The catch is that has to be done using two arms with mechanical fingers on the end.

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5:15 pm
Wed June 25, 2014

Daniels To Congress: Do You Want To Go To Mars Or Don't You?

Daniels had to look past some partisan in-fighting, but did find some support for a plan to increase NASA's budget and work with other nations to get humans to Mars.
Credit Wally Gobetz /

Purdue President Mitch Daniels testified Wednesday before a Congressional committee that wanted to grill him about a report arguing for manned spaceflight to Mars.

The House Committee on Science, Space and Technology questioned Daniels and Cornell University professor Jonathan Lunine about a report from a committee the two men co-chaired looking at the future of American space exploration.

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4:26 pm
Thu June 5, 2014

Daniels And Committee: NASA Needs More Mars Money

A "self-portrait" of NASA's Opportunity rover from the surface of Mars.
Credit NASA /

The United States needs to spend more – a lot more – on space flight if astronauts are ever going to land on Mars.

That’s the finding of a report issued by a committee co-chaired by Purdue President Mitch Daniels. Daniels says while the reasons to go to space have changed in the past 60 years, the need to go remains.

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4:11 pm
Tue May 27, 2014

New Extension Leader To Focus On Food Security

Mike Schutz says genetically-modified crops have largely proven to be safe and will help feed the world's growing population, so he'll advocate for their use.
Credit Mike Loizzo / WBAA News

The new head of the Purdue University Extension’s agriculture and natural resources programs says he’ll focus on food security. But that may mean butting heads with activists opposed to genetically-modified crops.

If recent marches against agriculture company Monsanto are any indication, there are plenty of people concerned that too many crops are produced by lab techs first and farmers second.

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3:25 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

Termite Genome Research Could Lead To Non-polluting Pesticides

Termites feasting on a wood shim inside one of professor Mike Scharf's colonies.
Credit Stan Jastrzebski / WBAA News

Termites have long been seen as unique in the animal kingdom – Think about it: how many other species can you name that digest wood? But until a few years ago, it wasn’t affordable to sequence a termite’s entire genome.

Now that the price has come down, Purdue entomology professor Mike Scharf and about 60 colleagues worldwide have developed a gene map and are looking for weak spots in the bugs’ genetic code.

“We can target those particular things in a more efficient way to eventually get better termiticides,” Scharf says.

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6:00 am
Thu May 15, 2014

IU Professor Thinks He's Found Columbus' 'Santa Maria'

A replica of Christopher Columbus' ship Santa Maria in a Spanish museum. Divers believe they may have found the real one near Haiti.
Credit Adam Jones /

On Christmas Day in 1492, the flagship of Christopher Columbus’ fleet hit a reef and sank.

More than 500 years later, Indiana University underwater science and diving professor  Charlie Beeker says there’s compelling evidence that a shipwreck near Cap-Haitien is the Santa Maria.

“It’s the right location, it’s the right type of dynamics I would expect of a shipwreck of the time period," Beeker says.  "It’s going to take an investigation to prove it, but as with other shipwrecks, that is what my mission will be.”

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3:23 pm
Fri May 9, 2014

Navy Taps Purdue For Fuel Research Deal

Naval ships need fuel that's more renewable and still won't cause harm to engine parts.
Credit courtesy U.S. Navy

Though it’s unclear whether Purdue will get any federal funding from the deal, President Mitch Daniels inked an agreement with the U.S. Navy Thursday to jointly research energy projects.

Daniels was joined in West Lafayette by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, who touted his branch of the military as a historical leader in energy initiatives – pointing out Navy ships have transitioned from wind to coal to oil to nuclear power in 238 years on the seas.

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5:04 pm
Mon May 5, 2014

Purdue Professor Has Spent The Last Year Battling MERS

A 3D representation of the MERS virus. The colored globes at the center are the therapy Andy Mesecar is currently modifying to try to treat the disease.
Credit Stan Jastrzebski / Courtesy Andy Mesecar

Even before the first case of Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, turned up in Indiana last week, a Purdue team was trying to thwart the disease. Biology professor Andy Mesecar has been studying MERS for about a year. That’s on top of a decade trying to kill a fatal disease which caused a worldwide panic a decade ago.

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