Global Ambassador: Juliana Pereira

Juliana Pereira is from a small island called Florianópolis, located in the state of Santa Catarina, Brazil. Juliana is pursuing a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering with a research focus in Geotechnical Engineering – the study of foundations. She also did her masters at Purdue in the same department. 

Watch Juliana's Global Ambassador Cafe on how to apply to Purdue Graduate School. (Video in Portuguese)

Ambassador Q & A (Questions and Answers)

Juliana Pereira

Why did you choose Purdue?

I didn’t know Purdue before my professor in Brazil mentioned that she has two great students who became professors at Purdue, and it could be an excellent opportunity for me to study under their supervision. Then I started researching the university, and I just fell in love with Purdue. The university is huge and has so many different opportunities for international students. Besides, the city is not that big, so the living costs are not high if you compare to other places in the USA. And for sure, Purdue has a great international reputation, especially in Civil Engineering. In 2016, Purdue won the title of the best civil engineering institution in the world. I knew It was the perfect place for me!

Please briefly describe your research. 

My research focus is deep pile foundations; those types of foundations can be used for many different constructions, like skyscrapers, bridges, off-shore structures, and many others. Right now, I am working on the study of the effects of interface roughness on different materials and the interactions of materials like steel and concrete with varying types of soil.

What was your research process for choosing a graduate school?

My process was kind of straight forward. I did not have the money to pay for my grad school, so first I searched for funding at my home country and found a scholarship to study abroad. Then I needed a place with affordable living costs, as my funding was not much. And if I could find a great university with a fantastic international reputation and high rankings, that would be perfect. Purdue was my first choice!

What is your favorite fact about Purdue?

I had no clue that sports are a big thing at universities in the USA. And the truth is that I was not a big fan of sports until I arrived at Purdue. It is not just a game; it is a show! I love to watch and cheer for Purdue in all types of sports! I am planning to attend at least one game of every single sport that Purdue plays before I graduate.

Where do you spend most of your time on campus?

I work in many different laboratories; one of them is the Bowen Laboratory, which is a colossal lab, for big-scale experiments. In the Hampton Hall of Civil Engineering, there are three other labs for small scale experiments. I also have an office in the Civil Engineering building. Besides, I work 20 hours a week for the University Residences at my work office in the Hillenbrand Residence Hall. So, I am pretty much all over campus; it depends on my schedule for the day.

What does your travel from home country to Purdue look like?

It was a long trip from my city to Purdue! I am from a small island in the south of Brazil, so first I had to travel to a big city in Brazil to get my visa. On my moving day, I took one airplane from the island to a big city in Brazil, then another plane from Brazil to Atlanta, and then to Indianapolis, the closest commercial flight airport from Purdue. Now it is time to hit the road on a shuttle from Indy to Purdue (1-hour trip). After arriving at PMU – Purdue Memorial Union, my roommate drove me to our place. Today I would recommend a flight to Chicago O’Hare Airport. Usually, the flights are cheaper because it is a bigger airport than Indianapolis, but the shuttle time is one hour longer than Indy. Purdue has an airport, but there are no commercial flights, just private planes.

How did you decide where to live?

I had little time to find a place after my scholarship was confirmed, and the classes were starting in 2 weeks. I found my roommate on the internet. She organized everything, and I went to live in Lafayette, the city next to West Lafayette, where Purdue is located. Today I live in West Lafayette because it is closer to campus, and public transportation is a bit better. Still, I bought a car anyway as the Bowen Laboratory is far from campus.

What does you typical day look like?

Usually, I work in the morning for University Residences in the Hillenbrand Residence Hall. I typically eat at the Hillenbrand Dining Court, as I work for University Residences, I have a staff meal plan, so I eat every day at Purdue Dining Courts. Then after lunch, I go to the laboratory of the day to run experiments or to work in my office in the Civil Engineering building to analyze my data. Depends on the day, I may have lunch with the girls in the women in engineering events, as I am part of the leadership team. And some nights, I have dinner with my students from the University Residences Multicultural Connections club.

What’s the biggest difference between home country and Purdue?

For me, it is the weather. Brazil is a tropical country, and Purdue is close to Canada! Most of the year is cold (for my standards). But you learn how to live in the cold comfortably. Warm and special clothes help you to deal with the weather, and all the places, your house, buses, classes, the mall; everywhere has heating.

What’s one thing prospective students from your home country should know about Purdue?

You should be prepared to study a lot. Purdue has an excellent reputation, and only great students are accepted. Even if you are a fantastic student in your home country, at Purdue, everybody is incredibly smart, and you need to keep up with all your classmates. However, Purdue gives the base for you to thrive. Amazing laboratories, famous speakers from all over the world, you have all the infrastructure you need to be your best self.

How do you de-stress in your free time?

I love to be in contact with nature, and West Lafayette city has many beautiful natural parks. The Celery Bog Nature Area is close to my house, and I love to go for walks. When it is too cold, I go to Purdue Recreation and Wellness. It is an unbelievable, 5-floor gym with everything you can imagine, from climbing walls to huge heated pools.

How do you keep yourself organized?

I am a big fan of agendas, appointment books, little sticky notes, everything to keep me on track of my to-do list. I also use online calendars so that I can share my schedule with my colleagues, boss, and students.

What are you hoping to do after your life at Purdue?

Now, I am not sure. I like the idea of working in the construction industry, as I love to see my ideas coming out of the paper and people using the structures I design. But I also love to work with my students, so maybe a faculty position. We’ll see; the world has endless possibilities for Purdue Alumni.