​​About Us​

Our Mission

The Purdue Institute for Family Business (PIFB) is an integrated research, outreach, and teaching program. It offers educational programs that address the major competencies needed for effective family business ownership and management. The goal of the initiative is to prepare family business stakeholders—strategically, financially, and emotionally—for the significant and sometimes unpredictable transitions and decisions that must be made, which determine the success and continuity of the family business.

The Purdue Institute for Family Business (PIFB) provides multi-generational family businesses with research-based business management resources aimed at improving personal leadership performance and driving operational growth. Our ambition is to prepare family business owners, managers, and stakeholders (including non-owner spouses and future owners) to be effective stewards of their family enterprises.

Our People​

Maria Marshall​​​

Maria Marshall

PIFB Director & Professor of Agricultural Economics
Phone: 765-494-4268

Professor Maria Marshall conducts an applied research, teaching, and Extension program in small and family business management, food marketing, and entrepreneurship. Dr. Marshall received her M.A. from the University of Missouri, Kansas City and her Ph.D. in agricultural economics from Kansas State University.

Her research focuses on small business development and family business management. Her small and family business research is focused on areas such as the resource exchange between the household and the business, family business management, and marketing. She is particularly focused on the resource exchange between household and business when each system experiences a normative and non-normative shock. Dr. Marshall's outreach and teaching programs seek to increase economic development through entrepreneurship.

Renee Wiatt​​​

Renee Wiatt

Family Business Management Specialist
Phone: 765-496-9051

Renee Wiatt serves as the Family Business Management Specialist for the Department of Agricultural Economics at Purdue University, namely for the Purdue Institute for Family Business (PIFB). She works on extension and applied research in family business management and collaborates with partners such as centers focused on agriculture and families, Extension teams focused on agriculture and farm management, and researchers to develop funded programming focused on family business management. She is responsible for coordinating with producer associations to determine family business needs as well as conducting research and fundraising focused on family businesses.

Renee was previously a research scientist at Iowa State University in the Center for Survey Statistics and Methodology (CSSM) as well as an ag and natural resources educator for Purdue Extension in Montgomery County. She holds a Master of Science in Agricultural Economics and a Bachelor of Science in Quantitative Agricultural Economics, both completed at Purdue University.

Michael S Delgado​​​

Michael S Delgado

Assistant Professor of Ag Economics & PIFB Affiliate
Phone: 765-494-4211

Michael Delgado received his Ph.D. in economics from Binghamton University. His research focuses on application of semiparametric and nonparametric econometrics to environmental and developmental issues. Some recent research has focused on econometric analyses of pollution prevention programs, private provision of environmental public goods, and the effects of education and foreign investment on economic development in developing countries.

Ariana Torres​​​

Ariana Torres

Assistant Professor of HLA/Ag Econ & PIFB Affiliate
Phone: 765-494-8781
Craig L Dobbins​​​

Craig L Dobbins

Professor of Agricultural Economics & PIFB Affiliate
Phone: 765-494-9041

Professor Dobbins conducts extension and teaching programs in farm management. His areas of interest include the application of decision support tools to farm management problems, farm financial management, and farmland economics.

Professor Dobbins teaches two undergraduate courses: AGEC 411 – Farm Management and AGEC 412 – Farm Business Management Workshop.

His recent publications include: Measuring and Analyzing Farm Financial Performance, Purdue Extension Publication EC-712; Developing Vision and Mission Statements, Purdue Extension Publication EC-720; Principles for Structuring Small Businesses and Farms, Extension Publication EC-729; and “Indiana Farmland Values and Cash Rent Jump Upward,” Purdue Agricultural Economics Report, August 2005, pages 1–8.

Nicole J Olynk Widmar​​​

Nicole J Olynk Widmar

Associate Professor of Ag Economics & PIFB Affiliate
Phone: 765-494-2567

Nicole Olynk's research and extension activities are focused primarily on farm business management and production economics. Much of Nicole's work focuses on assisting with and providing support for agricultural producer decision making. She has a strong interest in applied research which incorporates both the economic outcomes of an on-farm decision and the intricacies of the biological processes underlying the production system employed. Nicole has a strong interest in inter-disciplinary research which provides support for on-farm decision making regarding technology adoption, analysis of producer costs and benefits associated with alternative production processes, support for management of purchased inputs, and providing insight into the implications of changing consumer demand and preferences for agricultural producers.

Nicole's dissertation research focused upon the responses of agricultural producers to changing consumer demand for production process attributes. Her dissertation was a series of papers that identified consumer preferences for production process attributes in livestock production, provided insight for producer responses to verification of production process attributes, and assessed producer welfare implications of altering the set of production practices available for use.

Sandra Sydnor​​​

Sandra Sydnor

Associate Professor of Hospitality & Tourism Management & PIFB Affiliate
Phone: 765-494-3449

Sandra Sydnor, M.B.A., Ph.D., is an Associate Professor at Purdue University's School of Hospitality and Tourism Management. She has twenty years industry experience as a multi-unit franchisee of Burger King® restaurants in Columbus, Ohio and has held executive leadership positions in marketing research and communication agencies.

Dr. Sydnor's interest in service management in healthcare settings has produced usable research, such as a health and wellness behavioral campaigns for a hospital foodservice department. Recent research in clinical healthcare settings has resulted in findings of the strong and significant contribution of healthcare foodservice (food + service) to two items on the HCAHPS: overall rating and word-of-mouth recommendations. Preliminary results from exploratory research indicate new mandates for innovation in HCAHPS data collection procedures.

Michael Langemeier​​​

Michael Langemeier

Professor, Department of Agricultural Economics
Phone: 765-494-9557

Michael Langemeier joined Purdue University in July 2012. Michael's Extension and research interests include cropping systems, benchmarking, strategic management, cost of production, and technical and economic efficiency. Most of Michael’s research has focused on the efficiency of farms and ranches, and crop and livestock enterprise production costs and efficiency. He has also conducted research related to tillage systems, biomass crops and the tradeoff between crop rotation profitability and water quality.

Prior to arriving at Purdue, Michael spent 22 years in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Kansas State University. In addition to working on Extension and research projects, Michael taught courses in economic theory and farm management and worked closely with the Kansas Farm Management Association. He also conducted workshops for feed mill managers, emphasizing the importance of tracking financial performance, benchmarking and capital budgeting.

In addition to conducting numerous workshops and presenting Extension and research information to numerous audiences in the United States, Michael has conducted workshops and given presentations in Australia, China, Ecuador, Ireland, Germany, New Zealand, Russia, South Africa and Tanzania. He is currently involved in agribenchmark, an international benchmarking group centered in Germany.

Michael received a bachelor's degree and master's degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His doctorate is from Purdue University. Michael's family operates farms in eastern Nebraska.

Gerald Harrison​​​

Gerald Harrison

Professor of Agricultural Economics
Phone: 765-494-4216

Gerry Harrison's Extension education, teaching and research focuses on farm management, estate planning, federal tax law and numerous legal topics with emphasis on Indiana agriculture. Gerry is a Member of the Indiana Bar.

He has conducted Extension programs and authored or co-authored numerous articles, papers, and publications for over 44 years at Purdue. His program is of daily assistance to farmers, landowners, lawyers and accountants in Indiana and beyond for: farm management, estate planning, business organization and many other legal and tax topics such as farmland leasing, conservation easements, like-kind exchanges and mineral leasing.

He presents a seminar in Indiana "Ag Law and Taxes … with Estate and Business Transfer Planning". This seminar serves not only farmers and landowners but also with continuing education credits for Indiana lawyers, accountants, insurance producers and certified financial planners.


Holly L. Schrank

Professor Emeritus, Consumer Sciences & Retailing



Agricultural Economics, 403 West State Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907 USA, (765) 494-4191

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