Black History Month

At the Office of the Vice Provost for Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Scholars, black and African-American students inspire and instigate progress in their persistent pursuit of graduate education. Celebrate Black History Month by learning about the giant leaps black graduate students are taking at Purdue, presented by the Office of Graduate Diversity Initiatives.

Celebrating Black Excellence at Purdue University

Student/Alumni Profiles

The Office of Graduate Diversity Initiatives is proud to highlight the accomplishments of these black and African-American graduate students and alumni. Click each name below to see their stories.

Adeoye Temitope

Temitope (Temi) Adeoye is a PhD candidate of Educational Psychology in the College of Education. Her areas of interest include achievement motivation, academic persistence, academic setbacks, and marginalized student populations.

"As an educator, I value environments that celebrate diverse students’ knowledge instead of communicating that there are limited opportunities to excel. My work at Purdue has taught me how to use and create disciplinary practices that communicate to students that their knowledge is relevant and their success is achievable." - Temitope Adeoye

Chanel Beebe

Chanel Beebe earned her MSE in Industrial Engineering and Ph.D. in Engineering Education at Purdue University. Her research focus on meaning made by non-engineers in engineering design settings. 

"In general, I am interested in socially engaged design and how designers from various backgrounds solve social problems. More on My Dissertation. I became interested in Engineering Education after observing/finishing an undergraduate engineering program that didn’t feel culturally relevant or community engaged. I chose to come to Purdue because they had the oldest program for Engineering Education. More About MeNext Steps: I just finished a role as a Design Researcher at Greater Good Studio researching barriers to homeownership for African American and Latinx populations in the State of Wisconsin. On Nov 1st, I started a role as a Design Researcher at D-Ford Detroit researching the future of work and transportation. I’ll also be continuing my artistic and community based endeavors with Beebe Arts LLC, Family First Solar and Bitten Magazine." - Chanel Beebe

Arryn Blaine

Arryn Blaine is a fifth-year PhD student in the Medicinal Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology department under the College of Pharmacy. Her research focuses on how to develop opioid drugs that can treat pain, but do not have detrimental side effects of current opioids.

"Current opioid drugs are effective in treating pain but are easily addictive which has largely contributed to the opioid epidemic. My research aims to analyze opioid receptor signaling with the aims of developing new opioids that are therapeutic but do not have the same abuse liability as current drugs." - Arryn Blaine

Mikala Bowen

Mikala Bowen is 2nd year Master's student in the Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences. Her areas of interest are child language disorders, neurocognition, and disorders of feeding and swallowing.

"I chose Purdue due to the top-ranked academics and the kindness of the faculty and staff in my department and the office of Graduate Diversity!" - Mikala Bowen

Myson Burch

Myson Burch is a fifth-year PhD student in the Department of Computer Science. His areas of interest are Data Science, Bioinformatics, Health and Medical Informatics and Computational Biology.

"The coalition of technology and life sciences has created a paradigm allowing us to uncover truths about health and disease. This gives medical professionals the ability to analyze patients, improving disease prediction, prevention, and treatment. My works contribute to this paradigm applying data science to facets of health." - Myson Burch

Ali Camara 

Ali Camara is a fifth-year PhD student in the Department of Biological Sciences. He investigates the physiological consequences of AMPylation and conducts high-throughput screens for activators and inhibitors of this post-translational modification.

"The recently discovered post-translational modification AMPylation, has been implicated in a wide array of disease pathways from neurodegeneration to cancer. I joined this field to help advance our understanding of AMPylation and use this knowledge as a basis for discovering novel therapeutic interventions." - Ali Camara

Jordan Cross

Jordan Cross is currently a master's student in the Environmental and Ecological Engineering program as well as the Ecological Sciences and Engineering program. Her areas of interest are in human cognition, health, and wellbeing in response to the built environment, specifically indoor air pollutants. 

"Factors from the built environment effect everyone, especially those within vulnerable populations. I came to Purdue to study how indoor air pollutants affect cognition, behavior, and health." - Jordan Cross

Rasul Diop

Rasul Diop is a fourth-year PhD student in Environmental and Ecological Engineering. His areas of interest include water quality, waste reuse, sustainable infrastructure, and international development.

"I came to Purdue to be on the cutting edge of innovation in the field Environmental Engineering and to be able to build a more equitable and sustainable planet. I aim to create lasting change in the community domestically and abroad. The wealth of knowledge and resources available here are helping shape the future for myself and others." - Rasul Diop

Kiera Estes

Kiera Estes is a fourth-year PhD candidate in Purdue’s chemistry department. Her areas of research range from polymer chemistry, organic chemistry, and structural biology.

"Polymer materials are utilized by most people everyday in the form of plastics, light sources, and technologies. Researchers often use polymers for delivery agents, bioimaging probes and more. Anticipating to advance the field of polymer chemistry, I decided to attend Purdue because of the unlimited resources offered here for researchers to accelerate their scientific findings." - Kiera Estes

Crenel Francis

Crenel Francis is currently a second year Master’s student in the Department of Agricultural Sciences Education and Communication. Crenel is a Graduate assistant in the Office of Graduate Diversity Initiatives in the Graduate School. His research area is in Agricultural Policy and the intersections of food security, nutrition education, BIPOC farmers, and government support for research and education at 1890 Land Grant Institutions.

"Attending Purdue as a diverse student from a Historically Black College and University (Florida A&M University) was an opportunity to challenge myself in new environments. Purdue is a place where Black students can come to highlight the achievements and acknowledge the struggles we face in an educational setting where students of color can be appreciated." - Crenel Francis

Leinelle Fredrick

Leinelle Frederick is a Master's student in Polytechnic Institute studying Computer and Information Technology. Her area of interest is cloud security engineering.

"I chose to attend the Purdue graduate school and obtain my MS degree from the Polytechnic college because I wished to sharpen my management and critical thinking skills, as well as apply my technical skills in a new environment. I come from a family of educators and they have always stressed the importance of operating at your full potential. While at school I found a related quote that continues to inspire me to this day: 'Education means emancipation. It means light and liberty. It means the uplifting of the soul of man into the glorious light of truth, the light by which men can only be made free.' – Frederick Douglass" - Leinelle Frederick 

Darren Henry

Darren Henry is a first-year Ph.D. student in the College of Education studying Higher Education Administration. His areas of interest include DE&I and student success.

"My grandfather was never allowed to learn how to read and write. None of his children were able to attend college except one: my mother. My Ph.D. journey is obviously for professional development, but also a tribute to my grandfather who was denied a formal education." - Darren Henry

Keturah Kiper

Keturah Kiper is a fifth-year Ph.D. student in the Toxicology program studying developmental toxicity of arsenic (As) and lead (Pb) exposure. Her dissertation work has three main components, including predictive mixture modeling, molecular and cerebral vasculature development after mixture exposure and generation of a disease model of neurodegeneration using CRISPR-Cas9—a gene-editing technology.

"I pursued a graduate degree for three reasons:  1) To transition out of engineering into scientific research, 2) I thought it would be an adequate steppingstone until my ideal career revealed itself, and 3) I wanted to serve and improve the health and safety of my community. " - Keturah Kiper 

Vanessa Kwarteng

Vanessa Kwarteng is a fourth-year PhD student in the School of Mechanical Engineering. For her research she uses mechanism design and machine learning to solve a problem in the residential energy sector. More about her research can be found at:

"At Purdue, I am the President of the Black Graduate Students Association (BGSA), GEM Fellow and National Science Foundation Fellow." - Vanessa Kwarteng

Nicholas Lacy

Nicholas B. Lacy is a first-year Ph.D. student in the Brian Lamb School of Communication, and a graduate student worker in the Office of Graduate Diversity Initiatives. His areas of interest include Critical Race Theory, Critical Race Methodology, Racial Battle Fatigue, and Racial Microaggressions. 

"Racial disparities are a constant for BIPOC individuals within many organizations. Therefore, I am interested in the ethical and equitable policy, leadership, and decision making within organizations as it pertains to race. I am unapologetically obsessed with liberation and justice. I came to Purdue due to the infinite opportunities at my disposal to expand on liberation and justice research." - Nicholas B. Lacy, MS

Jenisis Moreland

Jenisis Moreland is a first year Master’s student in the Agricultural Economics Program. Her area of interest is food security.

"I came to Purdue University to gain insight through research on food insecurity domestically to eventually find efficient and effective ways to improve food access especially in inner city communities." - Jenisis Moreland

Elisabeth Noland

Elisabeth (Liz) Noland is a third-year PhD student in the Psychological Sciences department. Their areas of interest include examining the relation between prejudice and dominant racial ideologies such as colorblindness, prejudice-reduction strategies to address biases at both the personal and systemic levels and improving the experiences and well-being of minority group members.

"As a scholar committed to social change, I came to Purdue to examine the relation between prejudice and dominant racial ideologies such as colorblindness, prejudice-reduction strategies to address biases at both the personal and systemic levels, and ways to improve the experiences and well-being of minority group members." - Elisabeth Noland

Victoria Parker

Victoria Parker is a third-year PhD student in the College of Agriculture’s Department of Agricultural Sciences Education and Communication. Her areas of interest include international education and African American studies.  

"As a first-generation college graduate, I never thought about pursuing a graduate degree until I studied abroad the last year of my undergraduate studies. While in Costa Rica, I realized I am capable of succeeding in spaces I never imagined being in. When the opportunity to attend graduate school at Purdue University was presented I knew I had to take it!" - Victoria Parker

Alex Robinson

Alex Robinson is a first-year Master’s student in the College of Agriculture. My areas of interest includes agricultural policy, food security, and natural resource management. I am currently working on research regarding agricultural lending practices and the preferences of farmers.

"Agriculture is at a crossroads between traditional practices and sustainable practices that will be more beneficial as population continues to increase and we need to feed more people with less land. I decided to attend Purdue so I can use economics to help others by allocating resources efficiently." - Alex Robinson

Aaron Rodriques

Aaron Rodriques, PhD, alumni from the Department of Entomology, Purdue University. He successfully defended his thesis on November 15, 2021. His research areas are insect biochemistry, molecular biology, and proteomics.

"I study a German cockroach protein called Bla g 2, as well as other proteins present in German cockroach structures known as tergal glands. Starting January 10, 2022 I will work as a postdoctoral scientist at Columbia University, where I will research the protein biochemistry of calcium channels involved in heart disease under Professor Jared Kushner in the Division of Cardiology. After my postdoctoral training I intend to continue medical research at Columbia University using the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster and other insect species as model organisms." - Aaron Rodriques

Marquetta Strait

Marquetta Strait is a Ph.D. candidate in the College of Education’s Learning Design and Technology Program. Her interests include empowering learners’ learning experiences by promoting quality and equitable instructional practices.

"My doctoral program and interests in equity-centered pedagogy position me to be a knowledgeable advocate for equitable instructional practices, especially for our Black and Brown students’ academic well-being. With these experiences, I have continued to make culture prominent, steer away from assimilation, and train educators to be culturally responsive." - Marquetta Strait

Candace Young

Candace Young is a 2nd Year Master's student in the Purdue Animal Science department. Her area of research includes swine nutrition, climate change induced heat stress and natural supplements such as essential oils.

"I chose Purdue where, originally wanted to become a zoo nutritionist. However, in March of 2021, I was diagnosed with non-celiac gluten sensitivity, where I became very aware of my condition research wise. Purdue broadened my horizon where I am now interested in chronic human nutrition diseases utilizing similar animal models for research." - Candace Young

Purdue Celebrates Black Excellence

Black female students at Purdue

See how Boilermaker history has been shaped by black Purdue’s outstanding Black students, alumni, faculty, and staff. 

Learn more at Life at Purdue