About Us

The Purdue Policy Research Institute’s aims to foster high-impact, interdisciplinary research in established and emerging areas of strategic focus, and leverage extant research to maximize impact.


PPRI is a research community led by faculty but including also staff, post-doctoral students, graduate and undergraduate students.

This Team generates policy research that attracts national and international attention and support to Discovery Park and Purdue. The PPRI team creates and participates in interdisciplinary grant activities in strategic areas. PPRI is hosting a “Policy Lab” where faculty and students (fellows and affiliated faculty) work together producing new ideas and research, and supports faculty teams in incorporating policy into their projects. PPRI works closely with the Director to ensure these efforts reflect the overall goals of Discovery Park.


Laurel Weldon

Director of Purdue Policy Research Institute


Laurel Weldon (University of Pittsburgh, 1999) is Distinguished Professor of Political Science and at Purdue University in Indiana and director of the Purdue Policy Research Institute (PPRI). Last year, Weldon held the O’Brien Residential Fellowship in the Faculty of Law at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. She is founding co-editor of the new journal Politics, Groups and Identities, a journal sponsored by the Western Political Science Association and she was founding Director of the Center for Research on Diversity Inclusion (2012-2015) and interim Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs (2013-2014) and (very briefly) Acting Provost (2014). Professor Weldon’s work focuses on the role of civic groups in shaping social policy as well as formal and informal institutions, and is cross-national, interdisciplinary and global in scope. She has won numerous awards, including, most recently, the Victoria Shuck Award from the American Political Science Association (APSA) (2012) and the Outstanding Professional Achievement Award for Scholarship and Mentoring from the Midwest Political Science Association’s Women’s Caucus (2015). She has consulted for international organizations such the UN and the World Bank as well as national, state, local and Tribal governments.

Krista Kelley

Operations Manager

kokelley@purdue.edu | 765.494.1050

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. She has presented and served on panel discussions with CAAMP, mentored a handful of Purdue support staff members, and is a trained Clifton StrengthFinders coach (Krista’s top five “Signature Strengths” are Strategic, Ideation, Woo, Positivity, Communication).

L. Allison Roberts

Bement Senior Policy Fellow


Allison Roberts is a graduate of Purdue University and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Sociology. She most recently worked with Dr. Laurel Weldon on the interdisciplinary Diversity and Inclusion Research Project from 2013-2016. Other areas of experience are working with Dr. Valeria Sinclair-Chapman for the Center for Research on Diversity and Inclusion, assisting with the collaborative multi-institutional INSuRE project (Information Security Research and Education) with Dr. Melissa Dark, and on the Family Journeys Project at the Military Family Research Institute. Allison was also a Postgraduate Visiting Scholar in the School of Geography, Politics and Sociology at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom, and served as the Deputy Administrator's intern at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Caitlin Anne Surakitbanharn

Postdoctoral Policy Fellow


Caitlin Anne Surakitbanharn completed her Ph.D. in 2017 (Industrial Engineering, Purdue University) with a focus on human/automation interaction, particularly in aviation and transportation. Her research also evaluates cultural differences amongst professionals, and how to design successful human-integrated systems taking these elements into account. This work led her to the Purdue Policy Research Institute in an effort to help influence policy from a technical perspective as it is being created for automated and autonomous transportation environments. During her graduate school tenure, she took a series visiting research fellow positions at Keio University (Tokyo, Japan), Chulalongkorn University (Bangkok, Thailand) and the University of Queensland (Brisbane, Australia), where she was able to develop a network of cross-functional international contacts for her multi-cultural air traffic control systems engineering research. She has been an active mentor and recruiter for the Women In Engineering Program (WIEP) at Purdue, and worked under Dr. Steven Landry for a NASA-funded project to assess the safety of automated air traffic control in a distributed environment. Away from work, Caitlin is a passionate amateur chef, wine enthusiast, yogi, bookworm and dog lover.

Emily Temple

Administrative Assistant

ertemple@purdue.edu | 765.494.1610

Emily Temple is an alumna of Krannert School of Management at Purdue University. She is also a graduate of Indiana University McKinney School of Law with a J.D. and a Certificate in International and Comparative Law. After obtaining her Juris Doctorate, she went on to the University of Miami to complete a Legal Masters in the White and Case International Arbitration program. Ms. Temple is a member of the Indiana Bar.

Summer Forester

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Movements, Markets & Transnational Networks Project


Summer’s focus in PPRI is on the project, Movements, Markets and Transnational Networks, an initiative funded by the Gates Foundation. Summer just recently earned her PhD and her research focuses on how security threats affect government action on women's rights in the Middle East. She is particularly interested in this phenomenon in Jordan, where she conducted sixteen months of fieldwork during 2015-2016.

While in Jordan in 2016, Summer served as part of the Fullbright leadership working with running camp for girls.

Soraida Garcia

Graduate Assistant, Grand Challenges Project


Soraida is a graduate student in Forestry and Natural Resources and is part of the team working on Breaking Through: Developing Interdisciplinary Solutions to Global Grand Challenges, a Mellon Foundation funded initiative.

Her research focuses on ecosystems in Chicago cemeteries. Harmful chemicals and toxins used in the embalming process and in coffins are released into the soil of graveyards as decomposition takes place. With human population growing, Soraida recognizes the immediate concerns of the depletion of natural resources and additional toxins in the air, especially in urban areas. Her research aims to identify a redesign of cemetery management that would remedy this problem.

Tyler Spence

Consultant for the Drones Regulatory Research Institute (DRRI)

tyler.spence@sjsu.edu | 765.494.9793

Tyler Spence served as the first PPRI Postdoctoral Policy Fellow in the 2016-17 academic year. In his one year tenure, Tyler started the Drones Regulatory Research Initiative (DRRI) among other significant contributions leading to the growth and success of PPRI in its inaugural year.

With a background in aviation as a pilot, flight instructor, and researcher, Tyler Spence completed his PhD in Aviation Technology. He also completed the graduate certificate in social policy in order to bridge aviation with the social sciences, making him an ideal candidate for this institute which fosters an interdisciplinary approach to problems, especially between STEM fields, humanities, and social sciences.

Tyler accepted an offer for a tenure-track faculty position at San Jose University, starting in the Fall of 2017 and PPRI continues to engage with Tyler when projects arise that can benefit from his specific expertise.

Faculty Leadership Committee

The Purdue Policy Research Institute aims to include input from a broad representation of faculty through the Faculty Leadership Committee. The Faculty Leadership Committee (FLC) is the “voice of the faculty” in advising PPRI on its vision, goals, plans, programs, and faculty and student outreach. Members of this committee are active partners who assist in fulfilling PPRI’s strategic plan and mission. FLC members serve for two academic years. They represent Health, Transportation, Data Science, Food Security, Political Science, and other areas within Purdue University.

  • TJ Boisseau
  • Gebisa Ejeta
  • Leigh Raymond
  • Jeff Dukes
  • Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth
  • Jerry Shively
  • Peter Froehlich
  • Wally Tyner
  • Rosie Clawson
  • Maureen McCann
  • Tithi Bhattacharya
  • Linda Prokopy
  • Suzanne Nielsen
  • Wendy Kline
  • Rhonda Phillips
  • Ali Shakouri
  • Melba Crawford
  • Patrice Buzzanell

External Advisory Committee

PPRI invites key external leaders to be a part of our External Advisory Committee (EAC). The role of the EAC consists of offering advice, support, and strategic connections to PPRI in order to advance our research and outreach goals. This committee will meet once a year at Purdue University during the Spring semester.

Contact Us

Purdue Policy Research Institute


Gerald D. and Edna E. Mann Hall, Room 166
203 S. Martin Jischke Drive
West Lafayette, IN 47907-1971