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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Sandra Sydnor, associate professor in the White Lodging-J.W. Marriott, Jr. School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, has been named the College of Health and Human Sciences’ first Innovation and Entrepreneurship Fellow.

“I am pleased to serve as the fellow in the College of Health and Human Sciences,” Sydnor said. “Although Purdue has a great technology transfer process, there isn’t as much entrepreneurship and innovation in areas not aligned with engineering and biomedical pursuits. But these other areas are equally vital to improve people’s lives and can be just as innovative.”

In this new role, Sydnor will find ways to engage her colleagues with the university’s innovation and entrepreneurship resources.

“Purdue has a wonderful entrepreneurial ecosystem about which many faculty are unaware,” Sydnor said. “They may have the ambition to enter through a touchpoint of that ecosystem, but they may not be aware of the multiple modes of entry. My goal has been to create mindful awareness and increase levels of faculty and even student entrepreneurial engagement.”

Sydnor became an entrepreneur at a young age, starting as a franchisee for almost 20 years with Burger King Corp. She also founded a strategy consulting company and studied entrepreneurship from an academic perspective at her doctoral program at Ohio State University.

Sydnor and several of her colleagues teach a capstone course that all HTM seniors must complete before graduation. She teaches it through an entrepreneurship/intrapreneurship lens and oftentimes involves community and HTM alumnae entrepreneurs.

“At semester’s end of the capstone class, students present their business idea in front of a panel of judges, in much the same way as you might view on ABC’s hit show, ‘Shark Tank,'” Sydnor said. “Based on the desirability, feasibility and sustainability of the idea and its likely implementation, students are rewarded with a Shark who wants to ‘invest’ or one that passes.”

On the faculty side, Sydnor also graduated from the Faculty Entrepreneurial Learning Academy (ELA). Faculty with a particularly fervent interest in understanding the commercialization possibilities for their research, learning or engagement activities can write a proposal to study and research their idea for an academic year. Her acceptance to ELA at the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship led to her own presentation to a panel of judges who evaluate the desirability, feasibility and sustainability of an idea. Subsequently, Sydnor chose the route a number of ELA graduates pursue, enrolling in the Ignite program, an ideation program managed by the Purdue Foundry, which helps Purdue innovators create a startup company. Sydnor said these opportunities, and others like them, deserve wide dissemination, one of the activities she intends to pursue over the summer sessions and the fall semester.

Marion K. Underwood, dean of the College of Health and Human Sciences and distinguished professor of psychological sciences, expressed support of the fellowship and Sydnor’s skills.

“The College of Health and Human Sciences supports our researchers and students who are committed to finding solutions to challenges that face the world,” Underwood said. “Sandra is a highly esteemed researcher and entrepreneur in her own right. She knows the paths entrepreneurs can take at Purdue so their innovations can impact human health and quality of life. She will bring that knowledge to her interactions with other researchers in the college to expedite their journey.”

Sydnor becomes Purdue’s fifth Innovation and Entrepreneurship Fellow following Christian Butzke in the College of Agriculture, Yung-Hsiang Lu in the College of Engineering, Zhan Pang in the School of Management and Nathalie Duval-Couetil in the Purdue Polytechnic Institute. The campuswide program is coordinated through the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship. Faculty interested in learning more about this program may contact Arnold Chen at

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Writer: Steve Martin,

Sources: Sandra Sydnor,

Marion K. Underwood,

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