USDA grant creates rare three-college collaboration between Polytechnic, Agriculture, Engineering faculty

Nawrocki (center) recruited his colleagues Siegmund (left) and Karcher (right) as co-principal investigators.

An ongoing research grant awarded last year by the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA NIFA) has prompted new levels of cross-college collaboration between Purdue faculty.

Robert Nawrocki, Purdue Polytechnic’s principal investigator on the grant, is an assistant professor in the School of Engineering Technology specializing in organic electronics and sensors. Nawrocki has brought Darrin Karcher from the College of Agriculture and Thomas Siegmund from the College of Engineering onto the project as co-principal investigators.

Nawrocki provided some language from the team’s original grant proposal, which clarifies some of the points of collaboration in this research:

“Up to 73% of egg laying hens experience catastrophic and sometimes even fatal changes to their keel bone. Besides the humanitarian aspect of animal suffering, it has direct financial consequences for farmers and consumers alike.

“This research aims to develop and deploy new sensors, as well as construct an animal computer model, to (finally) determine the root causes of the problem. As expressed by our industry partners, the results of our investigations will be used to re-design bird housing, including changes to perch, nest and litter area(s), to minimize or eliminate the keel bone damage.”

The project will implement patent-pending sensor technology, and the research background which has guided the methodology includes the works listed here:

  1. "Effect of Additive Manufacturing on β-Phase Poly(Vinylidene Fluoride)-Based Capacitive Temperature Sensors"—Fan, et al.

  2. "Electric poling-assisted additive manufacturing technique for piezoelectric active poly(vinylidene fluoride) films: Towards fully three-dimensional printed functional materials"—Fan, et al.

  3. "Capacitive sensors and methods and apparatuses for producing capacitive sensors"—Nawrocki, et al.

  4. "Piezoelectric sensors and methods and apparatuses for producing piezoelectric sensors"—Nawrocki, et al.

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