Posts tagged with "Purdue"

Nadya Ortiz Parallels that of ‘Queen’s Gambit’ Character

She grew up in an economically depressed area, became a teenage chess star, and traveled the world as an international chess woman grandmaster.

Now she is a senior software engineer at Apple.

This isn’t the story of the fictional character Beth Harmon from “The Queen’s Gambit,” but rather of Nadya Ortiz, who received a master’s degree in computer science from Purdue University in 2014.

And although Ortiz’s story doesn’t have the pathos of Beth Harmon’s, it is every bit as inspiring. Her story, she says herself, is one of persistence.

As another chess grandmaster once said, no one ever won the game by resigning.

Streaming on Netflix, “The Queen’s Gambit” became the surprise global cultural television touchstone of 2020. The story of an orphaned girl who rises to become a world chess champion seems like an unlikely premise for what is at its core a sports movie. The program was the No.1 show in 63 countries, and in the top 10 in 29 more within a month after its October release.

In some ways, the story of Ortiz parallels that of fictional Beth Harmon. Both came from less-than-privileged backgrounds, Harmon in rural Kentucky and Ortiz in Colombia. Both endured discrimination by being women in a male-dominated sport. Both became national champions and went on to become professional chess players traveling through Europe at a young age. There was one minor difference: Ortiz says her tournament attire would not have been considered high fashion.

“In terms of the clothing, that’s more fictional. As you can imagine, chess players are more on the nerd side,” she says with a laugh.

Ortiz is a fan of the program because it triggered worldwide interest in the game. She also appreciates the care the filmmakers took to faithfully reproduce the action on the boards.

“As a chess player I was amazed at how the chess positions were so accurate. I would pause the show and look at the player’s move and ask, ‘Is this correct?’ As a professional chess player, I was really amazed to see such brilliant positions. You know [former world champion] Garry Kasparov was a consultant, and the chess moves were real. I liked that.”

Ortiz learned the game from her chess-enthusiast father, she says, when she was 6 or 7 years old. She grew up in the city of Ibagué, in the center of the country in the Colombian Andes, an economically depressed region where the average annual income is less than $5,000 U.S. per year.

“Like in many other poor areas of the world, sports is one of the few economic opportunities, so my parents encouraged me to see chess more as a sport, an opportunity,” Ortiz says. “And when I was a teenager, I wanted to just play chess, and that meant I needed to be out of Colombia. And you can imagine the tension that caused with my parents.

“But even though I grew up with all of these economic and social challenges, my parents had given me core values. And they supported me.”

By age 14, she had become the national champion of Colombia. At 16, she won the Central American Championship in Barbados. Soon, while still a teenager, she was a professional chess player, playing on an international stage. Eventually she competed in more than 30 countries, becoming an international woman grandmaster at the 2010 World Chess Olympiad in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia.

“I played tournament after tournament. I was in heaven,” she says. “After four years I didn’t have the world title. But I was like, that’s it. I tried.”

Her life took a turn when at age 20 she received a surprise offer from Juliet Garcia, the president of the University of Texas at Brownsville (now the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley). The university sits at the southernmost tip of Texas, in an area with one of the highest poverty rates in the United States. Garcia wanted to form a university chess team, in part as a means to help the children of the area become more engaged with their education, and she wanted a woman on the team. Garcia offered Ortiz a chess scholarship, but something was blocking her next move.

“It was a dream,” she says. “I wanted to study. I wanted to play chess. But I didn’t speak English.”

She asked if she could delay her start at the university by six months, and she spent the time learning the language.

“I passed the English admission exams, but when I arrived, I could barely understand the instructors in my classes. But I love math, and so for the first two years I mainly took math classes and continued to learn English. Then, I began studying computer science. It’s about reasoning and implementing, and in that way, it is like a kind of game.”

She graduated summa cum laude but was concerned that she would not be able to get the job she dreamed of with just an undergraduate degree from a small, largely unknown college. Her chess coach at the time was an international grandmaster, and he mentioned that he had met people around the world who were Purdue graduates and that the university seemed to have many international students. Ortiz applied and received a scholarship to work on a master’s degree in computer science.

At Purdue, she quickly began to fear that she was in over her head; her classes were more rigorous and competitive than her undergraduate classes. After her first exams, she began to panic and thought she might lose her scholarship.

She was able to recover, thanks to the encouragement of her advisor at Purdue, Jan Vitak, who now is a professor of computer sciences at Northeastern University, whom she calls “my angel.”

“I went to his office, and I told him, ‘Professor, I study Monday to Monday without a break. I’m afraid I’m going to lose this scholarship.’ He told me, ‘Look, we believe in you. That’s why we gave you this scholarship. If you keep working, your knowledge will accumulate and you will catch up and be fine.’

“I learned you can be in an amazing program and super smart, but you still need that humanity, and I found that at Purdue.”

After Purdue, Ortiz next move was to head to Apple Inc., where she now works in machine learning and data science.

She makes sure to mention the advice and support she received from her parents, her coaches and her professors. She now passes on her life lessons in part through a program in her hometown where she sponsors an instructor to teach chess in two schools.

“It’s small, but the goal is to expand and promote chess in the schools,” she says. “Not as a sport or competitive chess, but using chess as an educational tool, especially in low-income areas. I really hope the current spike of interest in chess will help to promote the game and support chess in schools around the world.”

When asked what advice she might have for young people who consider her a role model, she refers to the lessons she learned as a competitive chess player.

“Persistence, perseverance and hard work,” she says.  “These have been major qualities I have cultivated throughout the course of my life, and try to do so every day. Having persistence to accomplish the goals, persevering when the situation is not ideal and working hard regardless of the situation have helped me to keep fighting for my dreams.”

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a top public research institution developing practical solutions to today’s toughest challenges. Ranked the No. 5 Most Innovative University in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, Purdue delivers world-changing research and out-of-this-world discovery. Committed to hands-on and online, real-world learning, Purdue offers a transformative education to all. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue has frozen tuition and most fees at 2012-13 levels, enabling more students than ever to graduate debt-free. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap at https://purdue.edu/.

Opioid Crisis Takes a Turn with Death of Founder

By: Elle Grant

The opioid epidemic is one of the great public health crises facing the United States today. Over the past two decades, the crisis has ebbed and flowed in different moments, but overall deaths, especially amongst younger people, have increased at an alarming rate. One of the most distinct drugs at the root of the problem is OxyContin from the company Purdue Pharma, a substance now known to be distinctly addictive and dangerous.

OxyContin, also known on the street as killers, OC, Oxy, poor man’s heroin or Oxycotton, is dangerous particularly due to its most active ingredient; “a 12-hour, time-released form of oxycodone, a synthetic form of morphine that is found in common painkillers like Percodan and Percocet.” Alarmingly, OxyContin can have as much as ten times the amount of oxycodone as an average Percodan or Percocet. Approved by the FDA in 1995, the National Institute on Drug Abuse asserts the “chronic use of drugs such as OxyContin can lead to physical dependence and severe withdrawal symptoms if use is stopped, including insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, cold flashes with goose bumps, and involuntary leg movements. Large doses can cause severe, potentially fatal, respiratory depression.” Intended to be taken orally, many patients and addicts chose to inject or snort the pills (after being modified) to quicken and heighten the effects. Oxycodone is intensely addictive, requiring more frequent and stronger doses as the body becomes dependent.

Efforts were being made to hold OxyContin owners and Purdue Pharma executives accountable for their actions. Thousands of lawsuits had been filed against the Sackler family, one of America’s wealthiest with an estimated combined net worth of about $13 billion. One of the main pillars of the family was Jonathan Sackler, son of one of the three Sackler brothers that transformed the small drug company Purdue Frederick into a hugely profitable pharmaceutical firm. Sackler passed away on the June 30 due to cancer, complicating many of the lawsuits as he was often named a defendant. Other members of his family have been named other defendants, depending on the case.

The famed OxyContin pill launched in the mid-1990s and was continually and thoroughly promoted by the Connecticut based family. The members of the family are charged with the accusation that “eight people in a single family made the choices that caused much of the US opioid epidemic” due to an unethical, irresponsible, and often illegal scheme. Furthermore, “the actions of the Sackler family and Purdue Pharma included sharing studies that they knew were misleading, claiming that this was an effective, long-term treatment that didn’t give rise to risks of addiction,” Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser told reporters at a news conference last year. “Those claims were verifiably false and ignored expert warnings. And they even undermined studies suggesting that there were addictive effects.”

Purdue as a company as well as the Sackler family deny any wrongdoing. Currently, Purdue seeks bankruptcy protection in order to counteract nearly 3,000 lawsuits that attribute blame to Purdue for beginning the opioid crisis. A Department of Justice criminal investigation is ongoing, relating to this process.

The opioid crisis, an epidemic that has spanned from 1999 to the present, has killed almost 500,000 individuals, potentially more. This count includes those that have died from an overdose involving an opioid, including both prescription and illicit opioids. Said epidemic can be characterized in three waves. The first beginning with the rise of prescribed opioids in the 1990s, including “natural and semi-synthetic opioids and methadone.” The second wave is marked by an increase of overdose deaths specifically related to heroin. The third commenced in 2013, with alarmingly stark increases in overdose deaths due to synthetic opioids, especially those “involving illicitly manufactured fentanyl” Unfortunately, “the market for illicitly manufactured fentanyl continues to change and it can be found in combination with heroin, counterfeit pills, and cocaine.”

Many Americans are unaware of the impact of the opioid crisis, or the fact that it is becoming increasingly, not decreasingly relevant to society. Yet, there are signs of positive change. Overall opioid-involved death rates decreased by 2% from 2017 to 2018, with sharper drops in prescription and heroin-involved deaths. Yet the increase in synthetic opioid-involved death rates increased by 10%, proving more work must be done to protect Americans. Currently, the Center for Disease Control combats this epidemic by monitoring trends, advancing research, equipping states with resources, supporting providers, partnering with public safety officials, and increasing public awareness.

Apart from crooked doctors, big pharmaceuticals, especially Jonathan Sackler, the Sackler family, and Purdue Pharma have received a majority of the blame for the epidemic. Jonathan Sackler’s death marks the death of who many see as a villain, but before justice was served in the American court system.

The opioid crisis, two decades in, has captivated the American imagination through film and media, as many crises often due. Netflix in particular has made efforts to document the crisis, including with the true crime series The Pharmacist and the limited series The Business of Drugs. Coming to Netflix next month is the long-awaited Hillbilly Elegy, starring Glenn Close and Amy Adams, both nominated for six Academy Awards each. The film lends a careful eye towards Appalachia, an area ravaged by the opioid epidemic, and features Adams in the role of a struggling addict. The film has already generated major Oscar buzz and will certainly bring further attention to a crucial issue.

Addiction is an incredibly difficult disease to combat. If you or a love one is struggling, please consider contacting the national hotline.

music Ivory Rowen illustration for 360 Magazine.

Music Educators Teaching Online

K-12 musical instruction and performances may look different this fall, but the beat will go on thanks to creativity and music-making technologies, says a Purdue University expert.

“There are so many online tools out there that music educators can use to bring students together during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Christopher Cayari, assistant professor of music education in the Patti and Rusty Rueff School of Design, Art, and Performance at Purdue. “One option is for programs to host online concerts or performances through the recording and mixing of virtual ensembles and individual performances.”

Platforms like Soundtrap by Spotify and Protools are great resources for sound editing. Other softwares like Flipgrid and Adobe Premiere do video editing, while Acapella by PicPlayPost and BandLab are compilation apps available for mobile devices to create musical productions amid the pandemic. Cayari encourages music educators to experiment with these softwares to make music with their students, and the skills they develop while distance learning can then be carried into physical classrooms after the pandemic is over.

 “Putting together a virtual ensemble can be difficult, but I have seen many tech-savvy educators or sound engineers helping music educators create virtual performances,” Cayari said. “Students can also collaborate with one another to create anything from karaoke videos to vlog projects. The great thing about technology is that students can collaborate with others without geographical restraint.”

For the last 10 years, Cayari has researched online music making and virtual performances, focusing most of his attention on YouTube and how the platform has changed the way people create, consume and share music. According to Cayari, online music-making projects, research, technologies and literacies occur within three dispositions:

  • Do-it-yourself: “There are many avenues for do-it-yourself projects thanks to social media or audio recording websites like SoundCloud or Bandcamp. This method is great for students because it allows them to learn for themselves about the aspects that go into music recording projects.”
  • Do-it-with-others: “Online music making isn’t a new concept. For many years, people have been collaborating with others to create music and connect with one another through the production of music.”
  • Do-it-for-others: “These type of performances are organized projects where individuals submit their own performances and someone else pulls it all together. Everyone from the organizer to the performers to the editors have a hand in creating something for the enjoyment of others.”

This week, a special issue of the Journal for Popular Music Education, co-edited by Cayari and Janice Waldron from Windsor University in Ontario, Canada, was released that focuses on learning, performing and teaching, which includes international research about how music teachers are using the internet to teach students.

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a top public research institution developing practical solutions to today’s toughest challenges. Ranked the No. 6 Most Innovative University in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, Purdue delivers world-changing research and out-of-this-world discovery. Committed to hands-on and online, real-world learning, Purdue offers a transformative education to all. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue has frozen tuition and most fees at 2012-13 levels, enabling more students than ever to graduate debt-free. See how Purdue never stops in the persisten

New approach to airborne disinfection uses food-coloring dyes

Purdue – Airborne Disinfection

By Chris Adam

The COVID-19 pandemic has shed new light on the needs for improved disinfection methods, both for individuals and facilities.

Purdue University innovators have developed an airborne disinfection method – using food-coloring dyes – to be applied to the entire body and rooms for sterilization purposes and lowering the risk of infection.

The Purdue team’s disinfection method uses edible materials. The Purdue team presented the technology in July during a COVID-19 virtual conference sponsored by the National Council of Entrepreneurial Tech Transfer.

“Most of the antiviral and antibacterial sprays used for airborne antiviral and antibacterial disinfectants, such as aerosolized hydrogen peroxide, ozone, and deep ultraviolet illumination, are a biohazard risk to humans,” said Young Kim, an associate professor of biomedical engineering at Purdue. “Additionally, disinfectants containing titanium dioxide and noble metal nanoparticles pose carcinogenic and cytotoxicity risks.”

Kim also said new methods are needed since transmission of pathogens (viruses and bacteria) often occurs in the air and infection with pathogens is transmitted by an airborne route. The Purdue method might also help in medical settings, where healthcare workers typically are exposed to the disease-causing agents when they take off their personal protective equipment.

The Purdue airborne antiviral phototherapy technique uses small aerosols FDA-approved food coloring dyes to mitigate the risks of airborne transmissions of pathogens. This is referred to as Photodynamic Airborne Cleaner (PAC).

“We have demonstrated with our novel solution how visible light activation of several FDA-approved food coloring dyes generate singlet oxygen, which can be used to kill airborne pathogens,” Kim said. “In the medical community, it is well known that singlet oxygen is effective to inactivate viruses. We are developing a scalable aerosol generation system for the dyes, allowing uniform fog-like dispersion lingering in the air to minimize wetting and surface staining. In addition, as health care workers are often infected when removing PPE, this technology can be installed in a confined chamber for health care professionals to change PPE in hospital settings.”

The novel photoreactive arrangement can be used in rooms where many people are present at risk of airborne pathogen exposure.

The innovators are working with the Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization to license this patented technology.

The researchers are looking for partners to continue developing their technology. For more information on licensing and other opportunities, contact D.H.R. Sarma of OTC at DHRSarma@prf.org and mention track code 2020-KIM-69064.

Kim also is receiving support from Purdue’s Trask Innovation Fund, which helps labs commercialize their innovations.

About Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization

The Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization operates one of the most comprehensive technology transfer programs among leading research universities in the U.S. Services provided by this office support the economic development initiatives of Purdue University and benefit the university’s academic activities through commercializing, licensing and protecting Purdue intellectual property. The office recently moved into the Convergence Center for Innovation and Collaboration in Discovery Park District, adjacent to the Purdue campus. In fiscal year 2020, the office reported 148 deals finalized with 225 technologies signed, 408 disclosures received and 180 issued U.S. patents. The office is managed by the Purdue Research Foundation, which received the 2019 Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities Award for Place from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. In 2020, IPWatchdog Institute ranked Purdue third nationally in startup creation and in the top 20 for patents. The Purdue Research Foundation is a private, nonprofit foundation created to advance the mission of Purdue University. Contact otcip@prf.org for more information.

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a top public research institution developing practical solutions to today’s toughest challenges. Ranked the No. 6 Most Innovative University in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, Purdue delivers world-changing research and out-of-this-world discovery. Committed to hands-on and online, real-world learning, Purdue offers a transformative education to all. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue has frozen tuition and most fees at 2012-13 levels, enabling more students than ever to graduate debt-free. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap at purdue.edu.

Book illustration

Purdue Commercialization System ranks 3rd in US

Purdue University technologies have generated 300-plus startups, helping millions of people in 100-plus countries and continuing Purdue’s commercialization ecosystem on a fast-paced upward trend to move inventions to the global market, where they can improve lives and advance the economy.

In fiscal-year 2020, two pillars of Purdue’s commercialization ecosystem, Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization and Purdue Foundry, generated record growth with the highest numbers ever reported in a single year for patent applications, issued patents, technology disclosures, licensing deals and startup creation.

During FY20, Purdue generated a record 55 startups in West Lafayette, Indiana. Of those, 22 originated from Purdue-licensed intellectual property and 33 from company-based entrepreneurs including Purdue students and alumni.

“The numbers are important, but even more important are the lives that are changed by the research of Purdue’s outstanding faculty and students as the results of this research are moved through the commercialization process and made available to people around the world,” Purdue President Mitch Daniels said. “There is much happening in the world today, and one of the most important contributions we can make to our society is to educate tomorrow’s leaders and involve them with the world-changing research of our faculty.”

Purdue’s FY20 ended June 30 and results include:

· Technology disclosures – 408, compared with 360 last year.

· Signed licenses and options – 148, compared with 136 last year.

· Technologies licensed – 225, compared with 231 last year.

· Startups from Purdue intellectual property – 22, compared with 17 last year.

· Issued patents – 252, with 180 U.S. and 72 international. Last year, the figures were 141 U.S. and 68 international patents issued.

· Total patent applications filed ­– 721, compared with 671 last year.

Click on technology commercialization data and/or Purdue-affiliated startups for a full list of each set of metrics.

Purdue is ranked third in the U.S. for startup creation in a report, compiled and reported by IPWatchdog Institute. The data used in the study was collected by AUTM over the period of 2008-18. Purdue also is ranked 13th in the world among universities granted U.S. utility patents for 2019 by the National Academy of Inventors and the Intellectual Property Owners Association.

Cumulative commercialization results include $400 million-plus in startup investments and funding, 400-plus jobs created and nine Purdue startups that have been acquired by international companies for $2.3 billion-plus. The research concentrations reported in the disclosures include numerous sectors in sustainability, health, space and artificial intelligence.

“I could not be more proud of Purdue’s researchers who have dedicated their lives to creating technologies to help others and our team of technology transfer professionals, who work diligently to move Purdue’s inventions from the laboratory to the public,” said Brooke Beier, vice president of the Office of Technology Commercialization. “Everyone involved in this process understands and appreciates the important work that is being done to help our global society.”

Wade Lange, vice president and chief entrepreneurial officer of the Purdue Research Foundation, said, “The Purdue commercialization ecosystem has developed into one of the most effective technology-based startup and licensing machines in the world, and these annual results reflect its success. From researchers to students to administrators to alumni and to our Greater Lafayette community partners, we are working together often and collaboratively to create and advance startups. We anticipate the next year will garner even more life-changing results.”

Resources available through the Purdue entrepreneurial ecosystem include the Purdue Foundry, Purdue Research Foundation, Office of Technology Commercialization, the Burton D Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship, the John Martinson Entrepreneurship Center and the Anvil.

Assistance for startups include mentorship, networking, marketing and funding programs. JUA Technologies International, a Purdue-affiliated startup that is developing solar-powered crop-drying devices, has received assistance from the Purdue Office of Technology Transfer Commercialization and Purdue Foundry. The startup was co-founded by husband-wife team of Klein Ileleji, a professor in agricultural and biological engineering at Purdue, and Reiko Habuto Ileleji, a Purdue alumna who earned her Ph.D. from Purdue’s College of Education.

“I am part of the research team that developed our crop-drying innovation at Purdue, and my wife and I founded JUA in 2016 after licensing the technology through the Office of Technology Commercialization. We continue to work closely with the Purdue Foundry,” Ileleji said. “I don’t believe we would have pursued a startup without Purdue’s strong entrepreneurial assistance programs.”

JUA has received funding, including a $100,000 Small Business Innovation Research Phase I grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and a $50,000 match investment from Elevate Ventures through Indiana’s 21st Century Research and Technology Fund. The company also received $50,000 through the Purdue Ag-celerator Fund, a research advancement initiative created in 2015 and managed through Purdue Ventures, Purdue Foundry and Purdue College of Agriculture. Purdue Moves supports Ag-celerator fund.

startup, business, online, idea, entrepeneur

Krenicki Center Webinar Series

The John and Donna Krenicki Center for Business Analytics and Machine Learning in Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management will begin hosting a monthly webinar series that brings together speakers from academia and industry to talk about different topics of interest.

The first of the series, scheduled for 3-4 p.m. (EDT) July 14, will focus on two important and current issues.

Tom Aliff, senior vice president of Equifax, will discuss the economic and credit- trending elements and impacts of COVID-19. Krannert professor Karthik Kannan will address the notion of unfairness/bias that can creep into machine learning algorithms as analytics are increasingly used.

Kannan is Purdue’s Thomas Howatt Chaired Professor in Management and director of the John and Donna Krenicki Center for Business Analytics and Machine Learning. The center is used for conducting research, student-led consulting projects, conferences and competitions.

“Our center connects businesses with Purdue researchers to find answers to data-driven business challenges,” Kannan says. “We team faculty and graduate students from science, engineering, agriculture and management to utilize business data analytics to solve deep specialized problems.”

To register and receive updates and instructions on how to join the upcoming webinar on Zoom, click here.

New Purdue Pharmacy Programs

Purdue pharmacy programs take innovative approach to saving lives

Programs designed to provide much-needed health care services to rural families in Kenya are leading to a new generation of medical professionals and innovators – who are helping save the lives of those facing financial and mobility constraints.

Purdue University’s College of Pharmacymhas a strong presence in Kenya, with multiple programs supporting the health care needs of families. Purdue is one of a handful of schools involved in the Academic Model Providing Access to Healthcare (AMPATH) program, which promotes and fosters a comprehensive approach to address the multifaceted needs of the western Kenyan population AMPATH serves.

This program has helped to permanently change the trajectory of the millions of citizens it serves. One such example is Benson Kiragu, who was one of the first Kenyans the AMPATH program reached. Benson’s experience with AMPATH serves as a microcosm of the impact AMPATH and consortium partners like Purdue can have in unlocking the potential of vulnerable populations.

When Kiragu first met AMPATH staff, he was one of many street youth with an extensive list of health issues that impeded his desire to break the poverty cycle. He suffered from eye conditions, which could have easily led to permanent blindness, and life-threatening asthma that has nearly taken his life on several occasions.

However, through the support of a team of faculty from Purdue and Indiana University, Kiragu has been able emerge from his humble beginnings to become the leader of several initiatives that now prevent other Kenyans from being trapped in the same poverty cycle he once found himself in.

Now, Kiragu is leading programs focused on providing education to street kids and treating cardiovascular and other diseases in the clinic and in homes.

“I know from my own experiences that working together as teams has helped to dramatically improve health care in Kenya,” Kiragu said. “Western Kenya now has some of the best access to health care in sub-Saharan Africa and this infrastructure is being used to help people of all ages and incomes.”

Through Kiragu’s training as a pharmacist, he has been able to become a part of the transformation in the roles that pharmacists play in Kenya through the support of the Purdue’s College of Pharmacy, Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, and Moi University School of Medicine.

“Pharmacists are now seen as experts in providing health care support to patients,” Kiragu said. “We know how certain medications will likely impact patients and which ones are the most likely to improve their lives with minimal side effects.”

Kiragu said he was inspired by the work of Julie Everett, an associate professor of pharmacy practice from Purdue who was based full time in Kenya. Everett had suffered an unexpected health emergency and passed away in 2006 but was able to inspire individuals like Kiragu to follow in her footsteps and address the needs of the Kenyan population.

“Kiragu was determined to become a pharmacist and carry on the great work Julie had started with the people of Kenya,” said Sonak Pastakia, who was hired in 2007 to lead Purdue’s presence in Kenya. “I continue to be thankful that programs like AMPATH and people like Julie have been able to inspire vulnerable youth like Benson to become the change agents the country needs to prevent additional generations of Kenyans from succumbing to treatable illnesses or being trapped in the poverty cycle.

“It is because of AMPATH’s years of collaborative efforts that I have the good fortune of working alongside people like Benson who have a deep firsthand knowledge of the challenges Kenyans face and then work tirelessly to overcome them.”

Pastakia and his team in Kenya have worked with the Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization to patent some of their technologies and approaches. They are looking for additional partners as they work to take their proven approaches and expertise to other parts of the world. For more information on licensing a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization at otcip@prf.org

About Purdue Research Foundation

The Purdue Research Foundation is a private, nonprofit foundation created to advance the mission of Purdue University. Established in 1930, the foundation accepts gifts; administers trusts; funds scholarships and grants; acquires property; protects Purdue’s intellectual property; and promotes entrepreneurial activities on behalf of Purdue. The foundation manages the Purdue Foundry, Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization, Purdue Research Park and Purdue Technology Centers. The foundation received the 2019 Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities Award for Place from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.

Alcoholism in the Family

Alcoholism in the family affects how your brain switches between active and resting states.

A family history of alcoholism affects a process that the brain uses when transitioning from a mentally demanding state to a resting state, researchers have found.

You don’t have to be a drinker for your brain to be affected by alcoholism. A new study shows that just having a parent with an alcohol use disorder affects how your brain transitions between active and resting states – regardless of your own drinking habits.

The study, performed by researchers at Purdue University and the Indiana University School of Medicine, discovered that the brain reconfigures itself between completing a mentally demanding task and resting.

But for the brain of someone with a family history of an alcohol use disorder, this reconfiguration doesn’t happen.

While the missing transition doesn’t seem to affect how well a person performs the mentally demanding task itself, it might be related to larger scale brain functions that give rise to behaviors associated with addiction. In particular, study subjects without this brain process demonstrated greater impatience in waiting for rewards, a behavior associated with addiction.

Brain-Reconfiguration
Multiple regions of the brain are involved in a “reconfiguration” that happens between completing a difficult task and resting. But for people with a family history of alcoholism, this reconfiguration is diminished.

Findings are published in the journal NeuroImage. The work was led by Enrico Amico, a former Purdue postdoctoral researcher who is now a researcher at EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland.

How the brain reconfigures between active and resting states is like how a computer closes down a program after you’re finished with it. “The moment you close a program, a computer has to remove it from memory, reorganize the cache and maybe clear out some temporary files. This helps the computer to prepare for the next task,” said Joaquín Goñi, a Purdue assistant professor in the School of Industrial Engineering and the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering.

“In a similar way, we’ve found that this reconfiguration process in the human brain is associated with finishing a task and getting ready for what’s next.” Goñi’s research group, the CONNplexity Lab, takes a computational approach to neuroscience and cognitive science.

Past research has shown that a family history of alcoholism affects a person’s brain anatomy and physiology, but most studies have looked at this effect only in separate active and quiet resting states rather than the transition between them.

“A lot of what brains do is switch between different tasks and states. We suspected that this task switching might be somewhat lower in people with a family history of alcoholism,” said David Kareken, a professor of neurology at the Indiana University School of Medicine and director of the Indiana Alcohol Research Center.

The study defined a “family history of alcoholism” as someone with a parent who had enough symptoms to constitute an alcohol use disorder. About half of the 54 study participants had this history.

Researchers at Indiana University measured the brain activity of subjects with an MRI scanner as they completed a mentally demanding task on a computer. The task required them to unpredictably hold back from pressing a left or right key. After completing the task, the subjects rested while watching a fixed point on the screen.

A separate task outside of the MRI scanner gauged how participants responded to rewards, asking questions such as if they would like $20 now or $200 in one year.

Amico and Goñi processed the data and developed a computational framework for extracting different patterns of brain connectivity between completing the mentally demanding task and entering the resting state, such as when brain areas rose and fell together in activity, or one brain area rose while another fell at the same time.

The data revealed that these brain connectivity patterns reconfigured within the first three minutes after finishing the task. By the fourth minute of rest, the effect had completely disappeared.

And it’s not a quiet process: Reconfiguration involves multiple parts
of the brain at once.

“These brain regions talk to each other and are very strongly implicated in the task even though by this point, the task is already completed. It almost seems like an echo in time of what had been going on,” Kareken said.

Subjects lacking the transition also had the risk factors that researchers have seen to be consistent with developing alcoholism. These include being male, a greater number of symptoms of depression,
and reward-impatience.

A family history of alcoholism, however, stood out as the most statistically significant difference in this brain reconfiguration.

The finding affects research going forward.

“In the past, we’ve assumed that a person who doesn’t drink excessively is a ‘healthy’ control for a study. But this work shows that a person with just a family history of alcoholism may also have some subtle differences in how their brains operate,” Goñi said.

This research was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (grant P60AA07611) and the Purdue Discovery Park Data Science Award “Fingerprints of the Human Brain: A Data Science Perspective.” The work was also partially supported by the National Institutes of Health (grants R01EB022574, R01MH108467, and R00AA023296).

About Discovery Park
Discovery Park is a place where Purdue researchers move beyond traditional boundaries, collaborating across disciplines and with policymakers and business leaders to create solutions for a better world. Grand challenges of global health, global conflict and security, and those that lie at the nexus of sustainable energy, world food supply, water and the environment are the focus of researchers in Discovery Park. The translation of discovery to impact is integrated into the fabric of Discovery Park through entrepreneurship programs and partnerships.

Purdue University Engineers New Nickel Material

Hybrid technique aims to produce stronger, corrosion-resistant nickel for auto, medical, manufacturing industries

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Nickel is a widely used metal in the manufacturing industry for both industrial and advanced material processes. Now, Purdue University innovators have created a hybrid technique to fabricate a new form of nickel that may help the future production of lifesaving medical devices, high-tech devices and vehicles with strong corrosion-resistant protection.

The Purdue technique involves a process where high-yield electrodeposition is applied on certain conductive substrates. The Purdue team’s work is published in the December edition of Nanoscale. One of the biggest challenges for manufacturers with nickel is dealing with the places within the metals where the crystalline grains intersect, which are known as the boundary areas. These conventional grain boundaries can strengthen metals for high- strength demand.

However, they often act as stress concentrators and they are vulnerable sites for electron scattering and corrosion attack. As a result, conventional boundaries often decrease ductility, corrosion resistance and electrical conductivity.

Another specific type of boundary, much less common in metals such as nickel due to its high-stacking fault energy, is called a twin boundary. The unique nickel in a single-crystal-like form contains high-density ultrafine twin structure but few conventional grain boundaries.

This particular nickel has been shown by the Purdue researchers to promote strength, ductility and improve corrosion resistance. Those properties are important for manufacturers across several industries – including automotive, gas, oil and micro-electro-mechanical devices.

“We developed a hybrid technique to create nickel coatings with twin boundaries that are strong and corrosion-resistant,” said Xinghang Zhang, a professor of materials engineering in Purdue’s College of Engineering “We want our work to inspire others to invent new materials with fresh minds.”

The solution of the researchers at Purdue is to use a single crystal substrate as a growth template in conjunction with a designed electrochemical recipe to promote the formation of twin boundaries and inhibit the formation of conventional grain boundaries. The high-density twin boundaries contribute a high mechanical strength exceeding 2 GPa, a low corrosion current density of 6.91 × 10^−8 A cm^−2, and high polarization resistance of 516 kΩ.

“Our technology enables the manufacturing of nanotwinned nickel coatings with high-density twin boundaries and few conventional grain boundaries, which leads to superb mechanical, electrical properties and high corrosive resistance, suggesting good durability for applications at extreme environments,” said Qiang Li, a research fellow in materials engineering and member of the research team. “Template and specific electrochemical recipes suggest new paths for boundary engineering and the hybrid technique can be potentially adopted for large-scale industrial productions.”

Potential applications for this Purdue technology include the semiconductor and automotive industries, which require metallic materials with advanced electric and mechanical properties for manufacturing. The nanotwinned nickel can be applied as corrosion-resistant coatings for the automobile, gas and oil industries.

The new nickel hybrid technique can be potentially integrated to the micro- electro-mechanical system industry after careful engineering designs. MEMS medical devices are used in critical care departments and other hospital areas to monitor patients.

The relevant pressure sensors and other functional small-scale components in MEMS require the use of materials with superior mechanical and structural stability and chemical reliability.

The team worked with the Purdue Research Foundation, Office of Technology Commercialization to patent the technology. They are looking for partners. For more information on licensing and other opportunities, contact D.H.R. Sarma from OTC at dhrsarma@prf.org 

The research has been funded by the Department of Energy’s. The Purdue team worked with scientists from Sandia National Laboratories on the technology.

About Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization

The Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization operates one of the most comprehensive technology transfer programs among leading research universities in the U.S. Services provided by this office support the economic development initiatives of Purdue University and benefit the university’s academic activities through commercializing, licensing and protecting Purdue intellectual property. The office is managed by the Purdue Research Foundation, which received the 2019 Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities Award for Place from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. The Purdue Research Foundation is a private, nonprofit foundation created to advance the mission of Purdue University. Visit the Office of Technology Commercialization for more information.

Sustainable Vacation Planning: Tips and Tricks

Americans aren’t great at planning vacations. So much so that a large tourism industry group, the U.S. Travel Association, is encouraging workers to begin planning their getaways on Jan. 28, dubbed National Plan for Vacation Day

But planning a sustainable vacation – one with a small environmental footprint that is respectful of a destination’s people and culture – is an even taller task, said Jonathon Day, an associate professor in The School of Hospitality and Tourism Management in the College of Health and Human Sciences at Purdue University.

Jonathon Day, chair of the Travel Care Code initiative and author of the book, “An Introduction to Sustainable Tourism and Responsible Travel,” provided these tips for making vacations more socially and environmentally friendly:

Shop local: “Visit local businesses and enjoy authentic experiences from your destination. Visiting farm-to-table restaurants, local arts-and-crafts stores and farmers markets all make a bigger contribution to the communities you visit.”

Be waste wise: “Bring your best habits from home. Plan to recycle and minimize waste, particularly plastic waste when you travel.”

Limit your carbon footprint: “Be a fuel-efficient traveler or purchase carbon offsets for those flights you are taking.”