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Student Success Stories

Selected by the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Education and the Student Success Team based on applications, these students exemplify the range of experiences and opportunities provided to undergraduate students in the College of Science. As graduating seniors they share their stories to inspire and motivate others.

Kevin Altman, Chemistry: My internship let me experience first-hand what a STEM career was like in the pharmaceutical industry. Although the science was important, so were my organizational and communication skills.  Hope Cullers, Statistics: Studying abroad in Scotland changed the way I looked at the world. When I came back to Purdue, it honestly felt like I was seeing everything for the first time again.

Colin Harris, Biological Sciences: Studying in Colombia showed me what can be achieved with limited resources, but also showed me the importance of bringing aid to developing countries, something I hope to accomplish being a doctor.  Kai Hoffman, Computer Science: Study to understand, not to get good grades. Memorizing limits you to the problems you've seen, but if you understand a concept, you can solve problems you've never seen before.

Sydney Keenan, Mathematics: Prepare to be challenged. Prepare to struggle. Prepare to work hard. However, you are not alone. Faculty, staff, and other students are here to help you. You are part of the Purdue family.  Chinyere Kemet, Chemistry: Participating in broad scientific activities can lead to new experiences and provide the technical and soft skills needed for future careers.

Samuel Mercier, Mathematics: The flexibility of the math major allows students to explore their interests within their discipline more deeply and to branch out into other disciplines.  Kavya Nagalakunta, Computer Science:

Eryn Sale, Biological Sciences: Be persistent and resilient. Let your challenges and your unique journey guide you forward. Honor where you come from and keep your eyes open to new beginnings.  Andrew Santos, Physics & Astronomy: It can be easier to follow your head over your heart in physics. If you like music, keep playing; if you like soccer, keep playing. Let your interests intersect your intrigue in physics.

Jasmine Stephen, Biological Sciences: As a Boiler Mentor, I loved the opportunity to help mentor incoming fresham and give them the support they need to be successful here at Purdue.  Xinyi Tan, Mathematics: Global Science Partners offered me numerous opportunities for stepping out my comfort zone and making friends with people who are culturally different than me.

Connor Tinker - Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences: Seek those challenges which fall beyond the scope of the classes as these are the ones that will provide you with the most growth.  Evan Wang, Computer Science and Mathematics: My mission as a future scientist in the rapidly developing AI field will be to minimize the negative impact and reap the positive benefits of technological integration.

Darah Waskin, Biological Sciences: The Women in Science Program provided me with both mentorship and leadership to overcome challenges I've faced - and helped me develop professionally and personally as a leader.  Brianna Westerberg, Chemistry: I never thought about how I could use chemistry in industries outside of pharmaceuticals or academic research, but I'm going to work in a commercial lab making wine!

Goldwater Scholars

Goldwater Scholarships are the nation's preeminent scholarship for undergraduates in mathematics, natural sciences or engineering. Three of the four Purdue students receiving this honor are from the College of Science.

Robert Gustafson, Lindsey Wilson and Alexandra Stiffler.

Robert Gustafson is pursuing majors in physics and astronomy, and mathematics. He stood out as a leader among his peers in physics since early in his studies in associate professor of physics and astronomy Raphael Lang's dark matters research group. His independent spirit further shined through in NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory when he was able to propose a new method of using neutrinos to determine the interiors of solar system bodies. "My research experiences have been extremely rewarding," he said. "I have greatly appreciated the opportunities to utilize creative independence within a larger collaboration and arrive at tangible conclusions that push the scientific community forward."

Lindsey Wilson is pursuing a major in genetics. For over two years, she has conducted research on phage folding in the lab of Nicholas Noinaj, an associate professor of biology. Her research and leadership in the area of genetic mutation and disorders continues to impress her professors and colleagues. "Little is known about the impact of many mutations involved in genetic disorders," she said.  "I aspire to fill the gaps in our knowledge by drawing connections between the mutations and the symptoms of the genetic diseases."

Alexandra Stiffler is pursuing a major in ecology, evolution, and environmental sciences. She shines as a scientific researcher and a community leader. Stiffler has conducted research on Fic proteins in the lab of Seema Mattoo, an assistant professor of biology, for more than three years. She is described by her professors and mentors as excelling in collaboration and displaying a high degree of intercultural competency. "Many biologists ask why organisms display a particular type of behavior," she said. "However, I seek to discover the 'how' and am building a background in biochemistry and microbiology to do so."

Fulbright Scholars

Andrew Santos, Maya Black, Will Austin and Eryn Sale.

Andrew Santos is a graduating senior in the College of Science and the Honors College with a major in physics and astronomy. His Fulbright offer is to research neutrinos with the Leprince-Ringuet Laboratory (LLR) at École Polytechnique in France. This is a natural extension of experimental work for Santos, who worked on neutrino oscillations in a summer REU program in astrophysics, and has served as president for both Purdue Impact Theory, a student science communications organization, and for the Purdue Science Student Council.

Maya Black is a graduating senior in the College of Science and the Honors College with majors in genetics and cell, molecular, and developmental biology. She applied to teach English in Spain. She is a leader in scholarly approaches to diversity, as well as an excellent researcher. As a student diversity officer in the Honors College, she led a variety of workshops, film screenings, and panel discussions related to diversity, equality, and social justice. Upon returning to the United States, she intends to enter the medical field.

Will Austin graduated from Purdue in May 2019 from the College of Science and the College of Agriculture with a bachelor's degree in health and disease, and entomology, and is now a graduate student. He has set his sights on Thailand, where he will be teaching English, with a goal to gain an intercultural perspective on tropical diseases. This will enhance his ability to combat neglected tropical disease in the future.

Eryn Sale is a graduating senior in the College of Science with a major in neurobiology and physiology, and a second major in genetics. Her Fulbright offer is to study cell types in the brain through the Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience in Norway. On a Fulbright, she will also engage with the public dissemination of the institute's work, via video platforms and blogs, aiming to communicate neuroscience to the general public. This is especially fitting for Sale, as her interests lie at the intersection between biophysics and public policy.

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