September 15, 2021

Environmental and ecological engineering senior selected as Purdue’s sixth Udall scholar

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Madison Hodges has a heart for public service and the gift of leadership.

As a senior in Purdue University’s College of Engineering and Honors College, she is already well established in local environmental and sustainability circles. In addition, she is a talented student, already having received numerous academic honors.

It’s no surprise that as a result of her accomplishments, Hodges has been selected as a 2021 Udall scholar.

The scholarship, provided by the Udall Foundation, recognizes college sophomores and juniors for leadership, public service and commitment to issues related to the environment or American Indian nations.

It provides up to $7,000 for the scholar’s junior or senior year, connects them to a rich network of leaders in their fields of study and develops their skills with a five-day national conference. Hodges is one of 55 scholars among 416 candidates at 187 colleges and universities to receive with the scholarship. She is Purdue’s sixth Udall scholar since 2013.

Hodges, of Greenwood, Indiana, is charting a future of public service. She is pursuing a degree in environmental and ecological engineering and a minor in environmental politics and policy. She hopes to make a societal difference as an environmental engineer (She speaks about the benefits of the honor and her plans in this video interview).

“Since becoming a Udall scholar, I have had the opportunity to connect with a network of dedicated and forward-thinking public servants,” Hodges said. “Speaking with like-minded students and hearing advice from scholar alumni has given me the confidence to pursue my dreams.”

After completing her undergraduate studies, Hodges plans to pursue an MS in environmental studies, focused on policy, resiliency and adaptation. Her aspirations are to lead cities toward a low-carbon society through climate adaptation and resilience planning.

“I think I best fit at the city level. I want to help cities develop and implement climate action plans,” Hodges said. “We’re going to have to change our habits and mitigate the effects of climate change but we also need to adapt to the changes that are already happening.”

Her efforts to advocate for environmental sustainability have included roles that bridge Purdue and the city of West Lafayette, including service in 2020-21 as the Go Greener Commission’s professional client/mentor to a senior design team in Environmental and Ecological Engineering, which is a standalone academic unit in the College of Engineering. She also worked with the Purdue Student Sustainability Council to divert food waste from trash to the city’s biodigester, where it would be converted to green electricity.

“Madison has shown true initiative while helping to organize the food waste collection program,” said Ben Anderson, West Lafayette’s street commissioner. “She has contacted all parties involved, convinced house managers and chefs to participate in the program, helped to educate and motivate students to sort their waste and prevent contamination. She has been instrumental in helping to develop and implement the food waste program.”

Hodges has been the recipient of several awards honoring her achievements in engineering including the Environmental Engineering Outstanding Sophomore, the Gaylord Nelson Award, the Industrial Roundtable Scholarship and the Raytheon Scholarship.

“I strongly believe Madison will be incredibly effective as a public servant in building resilient, sustainable communities,” said Lindsey Payne, assistant professor of practice in Environmental and Ecological Engineering.

Purdue students can apply for the Udall scholarship through Purdue’s National and International Scholarships Office, which supports all Purdue students in applying for prestigious scholarships. Students interested in such awards are encouraged to contact NISO by email at, or to visit its website at

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a top public research institution developing practical solutions to today’s toughest challenges. Ranked in each of the last four years as one of the 10 Most Innovative universities in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, Purdue delivers world-changing research and out-of-this-world discovery. Committed to hands-on and online, real-world learning, Purdue offers a transformative education to all. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue has frozen tuition and most fees at 2012-13 levels, enabling more students than ever to graduate debt-free. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap at

Writer: Leslie Valiant,

Media contact: Amy Patterson Neubert, 765-412-0864,

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