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About Me – Nicole J. Olynk Widmar, PhD

May 25, 2020 | Letters

Nicole Widmar

Welcome to Consumer Corner where we strive to create insights from consumer research that you can take home to the farm! In other words, this is consumer-oriented conversation with the explicit intention of garnering understanding and insights for those in agricultural businesses from farms through food supply chains.

I specialize in farm business management and on-farm decision making and currently serve as the associate department head and graduate program chair in the Purdue University Department of Agricultural Economics. I have taught AGEC 310, Intro Farm Management, since 2012 and consider myself privileged to get to work with over 120 undergraduate students each year in one of the country’s largest farm management programs. In terms of background, my academic training marries livestock production (animal sciences) with agricultural economics and farm business management. I earned my A.A.S. from Alfred State College in animal science, B.S. from Cornell University in animal science and M.S. and Ph.D. from Michigan State University in agricultural economics.

There is a lot of consumer-focused research that goes on in the food and agricultural industries. My passion lies in bridging the gap between consumer demands and on-farm production systems. While understanding consumers’ supermarket shopping behaviors is intriguing, my real interest lies in understanding the demands of various types of consumers to better aid agricultural and food supply chains in making sound decisions. I participate heavily 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 insight into the implications of changing consumer demand and preferences for agricultural producers.

My most recent works integrate the use of large datasets (including those developed from online and social media spaces) into producer decision making. I have an affinity for taking lessons learned from other industries and applying them in agriculture. What lessons can agriculture draw from non-traditional places, such as customer service industries, high-level computing devoted to social media and online communications, and even casinos? Is there a lesson in consumer relations for agricultural and food industries to be learned from Winnie the Pooh® or Mickey Mouse®? I believe that there are many!

I hope you’ll join us here in Consumer Corner to think differently about how consumer research can help inform your decision making.


Nicole J. Olynk Widmar, PhD

Professor |Associate Head and Graduate Program Chair

Department of Agricultural Economics

Purdue University



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