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May 4, 2007

Purdue launches faculty expertise database

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue University has launched a publicly accessible database of research expertise for all faculty members at the West Lafayette campus.

The Purdue University Research Expertise database, or PURE, provides information for more than 2,000 faculty members and includes expertise in more than 650 areas of research.

"PURE crosses all college and departmental boundaries to provide a uniform view of its faculty expertise to assist in a variety of multidisciplinary collaborations," said Jeffrey Vitter, Frederick L. Hovde Dean of Science, who first conceived the project. "Faculty members working on current issues like energy, climate change and health care span many disciplines. Solutions to many of our problems will come from researchers working together. PURE simply makes it easier for those outside Purdue, and even those on the inside, to find researchers by topic."

PURE, accessible at http://www.purdue.edu/pure , can be searched by the name of the researcher, area of research, keywords or the full list can be displayed.

The database provides summaries of faculty members' departments, areas of research and keywords, and provides a link to their Web page. It includes researchers in the arts and humanities, life sciences, management, physical sciences, mathematics, engineering and technology, and social and behavioral sciences.

"PURE meets a variety of objectives," Vitter said. "Potential students search PURE to assess Purdue's strengths and to identify faculty with whom they would like to conduct research. Faculty members use the database to identify colleagues with compatible research interests. It spawns new research groups and partners in grant proposals. Within the state of Indiana, defense and other contractors use PURE to identify faculty with whom to collaborate on their next multimillion dollar project."

Development of PURE was led by Aditya Mathur, associate dean in the College of Science; Cindy Nakatsu, interim dean of the graduate school; and Rab Mukerjea, Purdue's director of strategic planning. PURE includes information provided by departments and faculty members from across the entire West Lafayette campus. 

"The beauty of PURE is that the majority of information is available by links to the faculty members' Web pages, which are kept up-to-date," Vitter said. "The summary information is less susceptible to change so the database can be easily maintained."

Department heads and the developers of PURE entered the information, and faculty members are able to modify or add to their entries, he said.

In a future development phase, PURE will integrate faculty members from all Purdue campuses, Vitter said.

A proposal to extend the database to all interested colleges and universities in the state of Indiana is currently being considered. The extended version would be called the Indiana Database of University Research Expertise, or INDURE.

"INDURE will cross the barriers of colleges, universities and departments," Vitter said. "It will, for the first time, provide a fully integrated database that allows faculty, students and companies within and outside the state of Indiana to search for faculty research expertise at the click of a button."

INDURE will be a collaborative, multi-university state and private enterprise effort aimed at producing a system that is easy to maintain and requires little effort on the part of faculty and administrators for its long-term maintenance.

Purdue also participates in the Community of Science database, or COS, an international resource for researchers at universities, corporations and government agencies. This database can be accessed at http://www.cos.com .

COS allows faculty to view the research expertise profiles, including links for cited journal articles and patents, of all faculty at subscribing institutions who have entered this information into COS. A more direct benefit of this system is its searchable database of more than 22,000 funding opportunities. Those who input contact information and select keywords related to their research receive a weekly e-mail of all new federal, foundation and industry funding opportunities relevant to their research interests.

Writer: Elizabeth Gardner, (765) 494-2081, ekgardner@purdue.edu

Source: Jeffrey Vitter, (765) 494-1730, dean@science.purdue.edu

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; purduenews@purdue.edu

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