About - Purdue Policy Research Institute - Purdue University


Discovery Park is focused on:

  • The Human Dimension Of Transportation: behavioral issues, public policy, privacy, ethics
  • Our Built Environment: legacy infrastructure, sensors, materials, environmental issues, land use
  • The Vehicles: vehicle technologies, vehicle design, data, communication

Contact us at ppri@purdue.edu

Leaders on campus

Tomas Diaz de la Rubia
Executive Director and Chief Scientist of Discovery Park

Tomas Diaz de la Rubia

Tomás Díaz de la Rubia is a seasoned science and technology leader, strategist and administrator with extensive experience in government, academia and the private sector. At present, Díaz de la Rubia is Purdue University’s chief scientist and executive director of Discovery Park.  In this position, he is responsible for an interdisciplinary research complex within Purdue University composed of fourteen centers and institutes that focus on new approaches to major national and global challenges in health and life sciences, energy and sustainability, and national security and defense.

Díaz de la Rubia has published more than 150 peer-reviewed articles and has co-edited several books and conference proceedings. His h-index is 50. He is an elected fellow of the American Physical Society and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and served as an elected member of the board of directors of the Materials Research Society, and vice-chair of the division of computational physics of the American Physical Society. He holds a bachelor's degree (summa cum laude) and a doctorate in physics from The State University of New York, Albany.

S. Laurel Weldon
Director of Purdue Policy Research Institute (PPRI)

S. Laurel Weldon

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.

Srinivas Peeta
Director of NEXTRANS

Srinivas Peeta

Dr. Srinivas Peeta is a Professor of Civil Engineering at Purdue University and the Director of the NEXTRANS Center, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Region 5 Regional University Transportation Center. He received his B.Tech., M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Indian Institute of Technology (Madras), Caltech and The University of Texas at Austin, respectively. He was the immediate past Chair (2007-2013) of the Committee on Transportation Network Modeling of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) of the National Academies. He has authored or co-authored over 200 articles in referred journals and conference proceedings. He serves on the editorial boards of the journals Transportation Research - Part B, Journal of Intelligent Transportation Systems, Transportmetrica B: Transport Dynamics, and Transportation in Developing Economies. He is the Area Editor for Transportation Dynamics for the journal Networks and Spatial Economics, and serves on the advisory board of the KSCE Journal of Civil Engineering. His awards include the INFORMS TSL Best Dissertation Award (1994), NSF CAREER Award (1997), Purdue Civil Engineering Wansik Excellence in Research Award (2004), Exceptional Paper Award from TRB’s Traffic Signal Systems Committee (2007), Purdue’s Seed for Success Award (2007-2013), AATT Conference Best Paper Award (2008), ASCE Walter Huber Research Award (2009), UniSA Distinguished Researcher Award, Australia (2010), Purdue College of Engineering Mentoring Award (2012), TRB Blue Ribbon Committee Award (2013) as the chair of the TRB Transportation Network Modeling Committee, and TRB AT045 Intermodal Freight Award (2015). Five dissertations supervised by Dr. Peeta received best dissertation awards from professional organizations. His research interests are multidisciplinary and broadly span transportation and infrastructure systems.

Campus team

Caitlin Anne Surakitbanharn
PhD, PPRI Postdoctoral Policy Fellow

Caitlin Anne Surakitbanharn

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.

Dustin Souders
PhD, PPRI-NEXTRANS Postdoctoral Autonomous Vehicle Policy Fellow

Dustin Souders

Dr. Dustin J. Souders is a researcher working in the area of human factors, aging, and transportation safety.  He received his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Florida State University, and under the tutelage of Dr. Neil Charness, continued there to earn his master’s and doctoral degrees in cognitive psychology. He has worked as a graduate researcher for the Center for Research and Education on Aging and Technology Enhancement (CREATE) Lab, the Aging Drivers and Pedestrians (ADaPts) project, and the Center for Accessibility and Safety for an Aging Population (ASAP) University Transportation Center.

Dustin’s graduate work focused on leveraging advanced vehicle technologies, from advanced driver assistance systems to fully autonomous vehicles, to safely maintain older adults’ mobility, and his work in the transportation area has been published in both the Transportation Research Record and Accident Analysis & Prevention.  He has been a standing member of the Transportation Research Board’s committee on Safe Mobility of Older Drivers (ANB60) since 2015.

As a post-doctoral research fellow with a joint appointment working with Dr. Srinivas Peeta at the Nextrans University Transportation Center and Dr. Laurel Weldon at the Purdue Policy Research Institute, Dustin is looking forward to conducting interdisciplinary research to provide objectively backed policy recommendations to in the area of autonomous vehicles.

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