Breaking Through Developing Multidisciplinary Solutions to Global Grand Challenges

About the PI, Co-PIs, Team PIs, and Mellon Team

Primary Investigator

Laurel Weldon

Director of the Purdue Policy Research Institute and Distinguished Professor of Political Science

Professor Weldon received her PhD from the University of Pittsburgh in 1999. She is the author of two books, and a co-editor of the first ever Oxford Handbook on Politics and Gender, (February 2013, Oxford University Press). She is also the Lead Editor of the journal, Politics, Groups and Identities published by the Western Political Science Association. Professor Weldon has served on the Council of the American Political Science Association and of the Midwest Political Science Association and has served as President of the Women and Politics Research Section of APSA. She has been the recipient of both teaching and research awards, and has worked in a variety of capacities for local and national governments, non-governmental organizations and international, intergovernmental organizations.

Taking a global perspective, Weldon's work on social movements and public policy explores many themes central to democratic and feminist theory including questions of representation, intersectionality, solidarity, and state-civil society relations. She is an expert on gender and social policy, especially policies on violence against women, but has also written on family law and policy, living wage and anti-poverty policy and employment policy more generally. Weldon's work combines quantitative cross-national and cross-state analysis with comparative case studies and fieldwork. With Mala Htun of the New School, Weldon is currently involved in an NSF-funded project investigating women's rights in 70 countries. She was named the Director of the Purdue Policy Research Institute in February 2016.


Rosalee Clawson
Department Head and Professor of Political Science

Abhijit Deshmukh
Professor and James J. Solberg Head of Industrial Engineering

Tomás Diáz de la Rubia
Executive Director and Chief Scientist of Discovery Park

James Mullins
Dean of Libraries and Professor of Library Science

Melissa Remis
Professor of Anthropology and Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education

Megan Sapp Nelson
Professor of Library Science

Team PIs

Chris Clifton

Professor of Computer Science

Thomas Hertel

Distinguished Professor of Agricultural Economics

David Johnson

Assistant Professor of Industrial Engineering and Political Science

Manjana Milkoreit

Assistant Professor of Political Science

Grant Staff

Soraida Garcia

Graduate Assistant

Soraida Garcia has served as the Graduate Assistant for the Breaking Through grant since Spring 2017. She is a graduate student at Purdue seeking a PhD in Ecological Sciences within the Forestry and Natural Resources dept. She has held various internships, including one at Argonne National Laboratories in which she assisted the Bureau of Land Management assessing the environmental impacts of large scale solar paneling on public lands. Her research interests include terrestrial landscape rehabilitation, ecosystem function of cemeteries, and constructing vertical forest ecosystems to decrease the rate of deforestation while utilizing degraded lands.  Her role as a Graduate Assistant for the Breaking Through grant has given her the opportunity to work in policy related issues that will be an asset to her future work within the environmental field.

Krista O. Kelley

PPRI Operations Manager

Krista Kelley has nearly two decades of experience in office administration in the airline industry, property management, and in academia. At Purdue University, she served in the Graduate School’s Office of the Dean, and in the Office of the Provost in Faculty Affairs. Krista was also part of the steering committee which began the Clerical and Administrative Assistant Mentoring Program (CAAMP) at Purdue, and served on the CAAMP leadership team with a focus on technology. Institute in February 2016.

L. Allison Roberts

Bement Senior Policy Fellow

L. Allison Roberts is a graduate of Purdue University, with a Bachelor's degree, double-majoring in History and Political Science, and a Master's degree in Political Science, majoring in International Relations. Currently in the final year of her Sociology Ph.D., her research on traumatic injury involves qualitative methods, specifically narrative inquiry via in-depth, semi-structured interviews. Ms. Roberts previously assisted the PPRI Director, Dr. Laurel Weldon, on the interdisciplinary Diversity and Inclusion Research Project from 2013-2016. She served as the Deputy Administrator's intern at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. in 2013 and was a Postgraduate Visiting Scholar in the School of Geography, Politics and Sociology at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom during 2014. ​

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