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This Is Purdue

Author: Purdue University

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This Is Purdue, the official podcast for Purdue University, highlights stories about Boilermakers from across all disciplines, who through research, innovation and determination, have persistently pursued their next giant leap.

Hosted by Purdue University alum, Brian Lamb School of Communication graduate, and Indiana native Kate Young, This is Purdue aims to examine all of the incredible accomplishments of Boilermakers and their contributions to the world.

Join us every other Thursday as we interview students, faculty, and alumni taking small steps toward their giant leaps, and inspiring others to do the same.

94 Episodes
In this episode of “This Is Purdue,” we’re talking to Dave and Donna Beering, proud alumni and son and daughter-in-law of Dr. Steven C. Beering, former Purdue president.    If you’re a Boilermaker, you’ve likely heard the name "Beering” or possibly taken a class or two inside Beering Hall. But in this special interview, you’ll get to know the Beering family on a more personal level, including stories about Dr. Beering’s time as a physician in the Air Force and how Dave, then a Purdue student, found out his dad was named the next university president. Dave (BS electrical engineering ’85, MS electrical engineering ’87) reminisces about his dad telling him, “The name ‘Beering’ will appear on your diploma twice.”  Plus, Dave’s wife, Donna (BS aviation technology ’86), reflects on meeting Dave at the Purdue University Airport, performing as a Purduette through Purdue Musical Organizations, flying iconic Boilermakers like Gene Keady to games as an aviation student, and serving as a captain for United Airlines for more than 20 years.  You don’t want to miss this episode full of Boilermaker spirit and nostalgia!
In this episode of “This Is Purdue,” we’re talking to Michele Buzon, professor of anthropology in Purdue University’s College of Liberal Arts.  This marks the final episode in our 2023 Purdue Research Series, which shares how Purdue provides practical solutions to the world’s toughest challenges.   As a bioarchaeologist, Michele’s examination of skeletal remains can help us better understand the lives of everyday people who lived thousands of years ago. She and her team conduct research along the banks of the Nile River Valley in Tombos, Sudan, exploring what life was like in ancient Nubia — and why that still matters today.  Although Michele’s work explores the past, collaboration with researchers like Dr. Randall Loder at IU Health is helping her better understand present-day medical conditions like CAM lesions, an injury on the femur that has been found in young athletes. Previously thought to be a modern issue exclusive to athletes, Michele discusses how she and Dr. Loder found evidence of its existence in the ancient communities she studies.  Hear how Michele’s work brings many different people and disciplines together as she and her team look to better understand the past, from relationship-building with the local community in Sudan to analyzing finds.
In this episode of “This Is Purdue,” we’re talking to our new Purdue University head football coach, Ryan Walters.  Listen as Coach Walters describes how he felt when he got the call from Purdue Athletics Director Mike Bobinski and what it’s like to join the ranks of legendary Purdue football coaches like Jack Mollenkopf and Joe Tiller – and as one of the youngest collegiate head coaches in the entire country, no less!  But first, Coach Walters takes us back to where it all began, growing up in a family of football fanatics and demonstrating the persistence and tenacity he’s shown throughout his career that continues today as his family embraces life as Boilermakers.   He also shares some of the lessons learned along the way, including the importance of relationship-building when it comes to recruiting players like Hudson Card. As Coach Walters tells us, “The grass is green when you fertilize and water it, so I’m pouring into this job and into this community.”  What should Purdue football fans be excited about this season? How will Coach Walters feel as the new Tiller Tunnel, named after the late Coach Tiller, opens to a packed Ross-Ade Stadium during the home opener vs. Fresno State on Sept. 2? Tune in and find out.  As we head into a new era of Purdue football, you don’t want to miss this episode as “This Is Purdue” gets to know Coach Walters!
In this episode of “This Is Purdue,” we’re talking to Danny Milisavljevic, associate professor of physics and astronomy in Purdue University’s College of Science.  This marks the third episode in our Purdue Research Series, which shares how Purdue provides practical solutions to the world’s toughest challenges.  Danny’s love of space dates back to his days as a crayon-wielding kid writing up an elementary school report on the solar system. Combined with his research in school library encyclopedias, the illustrations he created gave him a sense of being able to touch and understand these far-off planets.   Fast-forward to today, and Danny is using the most powerful telescopes on the planet to better understand the universe. His work, which has been featured on “60 Minutes” and other national outlets, includes leading an international research team to explore a remnant of a supernova explosion in the Milky Way, Cassiopeia A, with NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope.  As much as Danny loves understanding this vast and complex universe we inhabit, he takes equal joy in sharing its wonders with students – whether it’s rare discoveries like a star-destroying black hole nicknamed “Scary Barbie” or just looking up at the moon on a clear night through a telescope in his backyard.   Buckle in, because this episode is taking you for a ride across the Milky Way – and Danny’s enthusiasm alone is enough to power the whole trip!
In this episode of “This Is Purdue,” we’re talking to Tony-nominated actor and “Dune” star Stephen McKinley Henderson (MA theatre ’77).  You may know Stephen from box-office hits and award-winning films like “Dune,” “Fences” and “Lincoln.” But did you know that he spent some of his formative years at Purdue?   Listen as Stephen discusses what led him to Purdue – and how his time on campus propelled him to an esteemed career both on Broadway and in film. Stephen shares the story of how he met his wife at Purdue and how theatre faculty members Jim O’Connor and Joe Stockdale, along with Tony Zamora, director of the Black Cultural Center, served as key mentors and shaped his acting career path.  You’ll hear more about what Purdue’s College of Liberal Arts means to Stephen, some of his favorite roles throughout the years and the unique challenges of performing in front of a camera instead of a live audience.   Plus, Stephen shares what it’s like working with renowned Oscar-nominated actors Timothée Chalamet and Austin Butler, and you’ll get a sneak peek of what’s in store for “Dune” fans in the upcoming “Dune: Part Two” blockbuster sci-fi movie.   *Note: This interview with Stephen was recorded before the SAG-AGTRA Strike.*
In this episode of “This Is Purdue,” we’re talking to Amanda Deering and Haley Oliver from Purdue University’s Department of Food Science.   This marks the second episode in our Purdue Research Series, which shares how Purdue provides practical solutions to the world’s toughest challenges.  Amanda, associate professor of fresh produce food safety in Purdue’s College of Agriculture, and Haley, the 150th Anniversary Professor of Food Science and director of the USAID Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Safety, dive into a challenge facing the entire world: food safety, security and sustainability.  Contrary to what some may believe, their work in food science involves very little cooking. Amanda and Haley are addressing urgent questions about food production in a changing climate and a growing global population that hit 8 billion in November 2022.   On any given day, these two researchers may be working alongside researchers from Cornell University in the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Safety or partnering with women in Afghanistan or Indigenous communities in Peru. As a land-grant institution, Purdue is uniquely positioned to address questions of food production and safety by working hand in hand with farmers across Indiana — and the globe.  Tune in to learn more about their partnerships with organizations large and small, changing attitudes on sustainability, the importance of gender representation in food production and how research done in the heart of Indiana is helping feed the world.
In this episode of “This Is Purdue,” we’re talking to Susan Edgell, the daughter of Purdue University trailblazer Virginia Ferris.   Virginia was the first woman appointed to the College of Agriculture faculty and had a significant influence on the department’s teaching, research and culture. She was also one of the world’s leading experts on the soybean cyst nematode.    Susan shares stories about growing up in the Boilermaker community from her time at the Purdue nursery school to the memories she has of traveling for her parents’ nematode research.  She reflects on her mother’s journey navigating higher education as a woman in the 1950s, a time when academics were centered around the success of men, plus discusses her mom’s self-taught DNA research and the joy she had for mentoring Purdue students.   Listen as Susan shares her mother’s advice for women in male-dominated fields and how Virginia’s legacy of persistence helped pave the way for a new generation of women and diversity in STEM.
In this episode of “This Is Purdue,” we’re featuring the first guest in our Purdue Research Series, Mark Lundstrom, Purdue University’s chief semiconductor officer.  We’re sharing how Purdue provides practical solutions to the world’s toughest challenges in this new series.   As the United States strives to reclaim a leading role in the global semiconductor industry, Mark and other Boilermakers are acting to ensure our nation is prepared to meet the ever-growing demands for these essential components in virtually all of our electronic devices.  Mark dives into what semiconductors are, why they’re important and how Purdue is working hand in hand with semiconductor industry leaders to train the next generation of workers.  This isn’t a new role for the university. Mark explains Purdue’s storied history in semiconductor innovation, from alumnus Mohamed Atalla creating today’s most commonly used transistor back in 1959 to technology developed in Purdue’s Birck Nanotechnology Center that can be found in every Tesla car.  Tune in to learn about Purdue’s pivotal role in the development of semiconductor technology and why Mark describes this as a “Sputnik moment.”
In this episode of “This Is Purdue,” we’re talking to Tiffini Grimes (BA political science '05), Purdue University’s deputy athletics director and senior woman administrator.  This Boilermaker alumna highlights her journey in collegiate athletics as she made her way from law school to the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) to working in the athletics departments for universities like Penn State University, Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Alabama and, finally, back home to Purdue.  Tiffini, who was named in Sports Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 Class of 2022 and The Athletic’s College Sports 40 Under 40, shares her favorite memories from her time at Purdue, including cheering on the Boilermaker football team and interning for the John Purdue Club.   She also shares the deep pride she feels in pursuing her next giant leap at her alma mater and what it’s like helping Purdue’s talented student athletes have the best experience possible, both on and off the field.   Don’t miss this special episode with this Boilermaker alumna who exemplifies that special Purdue pride and spirit.
In this episode of “This Is Purdue,” we’re talking to Matt Kuebel and Mike Koenigs, Team Penske IndyCar engineers and Purdue University alums.   Listen as Matt (BS mechanical engineering ’22) and Mike (MS aeronautical and astronautical engineering ’03) discuss their Purdue College of Engineering journeys and what it’s like working for one of the most well-known, legendary teams in motorsports.   Matt, an IndyCar design engineer, and Mike, an IndyCar aerodynamicist, both work on all three Team Penske IndyCar entries – driven by Josef Newgarden, Will Power and Scott McLaughlin – that will be racing in the 2023 Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.    They discuss the persistence, grit and attention to detail required to be part of a winning Indy 500 team and how their Purdue education set them up for success in the professional motorsports world. As Matt tells us, “The race starts at noon on Sunday. If you’re not ready, the race still starts at noon on Sunday.”  Celebrate the month of May with these two proud Boilermaker alums.
In this episode of “This Is Purdue,” the podcast team is taking our listeners behind the scenes during the Purdue Institute for Cancer Research’s 15th annual Challenge 5K run/walk. More than 900 runners and walkers participated in this year’s Challenge, raising more than $100,000 for lifesaving cancer research.  As one of only seven National Cancer Institute-designated Basic Laboratory Cancer Centers in the U.S., the Institute for Cancer Research generated more than 150 patents during the past decade, and its members have over 40 drugs in various stages of development. More than 110 researchers across Purdue University share ideas, insights and findings to drive cancer research, with a shared goal of creating a world without cancer.  Listen as we talk to The Challenge’s 2023 guests of honor, Tony and Kelly Trent, parents of the late Tyler Trent, a 20-year-old Purdue student from Carmel, Indiana, who passed away from a rare form of bone cancer in 2019.  Tony and Kelly share more about what the word “persistence” means to their family – and what it meant to Tyler – and why the research the Purdue Institute for Cancer Research conducts is so important in providing hope to cancer patients and survivors.
In this episode of “This Is Purdue,” we’re springing into football season with esteemed former Purdue football players Kevin Sumlin, Mark Herrmann and Pete Quinn, plus our new Purdue University head football coach, Ryan Walters.  We caught up with these four special guests at John Purdue Club’s annual Mollenkopf-Keyes Golf Classic during President’s Council Weekend in Naples, Florida.  Listen as Kevin, Mark and Pete share stories about being part of the historic teams through the 1970s and 1980s and express their gratitude for the Purdue lessons, memories and relationships that have become integral parts of their lives. You’ll also hear from Coach Walters on what it feels like as he and his family join this Boilermaker community and which games he is most looking forward to this upcoming season. This episode is a celebration of the Purdue community through the eyes of some incredible Boilermaker athletes.
In this episode of “This Is Purdue,” we’re talking to twin sisters Almira “Sugar” Yllana (ChE '99) and Giovanna “Spice” Krozel (ChE '99).   Nicknamed by their maternal grandfather at birth, these two Purdue chemical engineering alums have taken the Boilermaker community by storm. From the Purdue for Life Foundation to the John Purdue Club to the Purdue Women’s Network Chicago Chapter, Sugar and Spice have a legacy of university involvement and think of their Purdue connections as one big family.   You’ll hear Sugar and Spice discuss the impact their Purdue education has had on their lives and why staying connected, being involved and giving back to the Boilermaker community is so important to them.   Listen as they share laughter and tears – and even finish one another's sentences – in this special, spirited episode. Sugar and Spice's twin bond, as well as their bond with the Purdue community, is the real deal!
In this special episode of “This Is Purdue,” we’re talking to the president of Pizza Hut U.S., David Graves.  That’s right, the president of one of America’s largest pizza chains is a Boilermaker who graduated from Purdue University’s business school, newly named after President Emeritus Mitch Daniels.  Listen as David (BS management ’03) describes how Purdue prepared him with the persistence and perseverance needed to innovate global brands such as Pampers, Pantene and several Yum! Brands, including Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) and Pizza Hut.  You’ll hear about some of David’s favorite advertising and marketing initiatives over the years, including working with actor Craig Robinson of “The Office” and using Pizza Hut’s brand nostalgia to bring its marketing into today’s modern age.  Plus, David shares some of his favorite memories at Purdue – including how he met his wife – and his love for Purdue Athletics. And you don’t want to miss hearing our podcast team go behind the scenes in a Pizza Hut kitchen to make his go-to pizza order.   This episode shares the success story of a Boilermaker who celebrates Purdue’s innovation, excellence and community.
In this episode of “This Is Purdue,” we’re celebrating this historic Purdue men’s basketball season with Ginny Smith, freshman starting guard Braden Smith’s mom, and Gary and Lotus Furst, sophomore starting forward Caleb Furst’s parents.   Join us for this special kickoff-to-March Madness episode as Ginny, Gary and Lotus discuss when they first noticed their sons’ basketball talent, their favorite memories from the past season (hint: kicking off the season at the Phil Knight Invitational is on the list) and what coach Matt Painter’s leadership means to them.   Plus, we go behind the scenes with the person behind the tweets, news releases, statistics and more. Chris Forman, Purdue men’s basketball associate strategic communications director, discusses what it’s like leading communications efforts for a top-ranked, elite basketball program and how he grew the popular Boiler Ball social media channels over the past decade.   This team has persistence, grit and spirit. As we celebrate their achievements this season, don't miss this episode to get a taste of a day in the life of a Purdue basketball parent.
In this special episode of “This Is Purdue,” we’re talking to Boilermaker and former D.C. Air National Guard fighter pilot Heather Penney.   Listen as Heather (BA English ’95, MA American studies ’97) shares her incredible story from 9/11, when she was prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice with her flight lead, Marc Sasseville. She reflects on the events of that historic day, from being selected to complete the mission to stop the hijacked United Airlines Flight 93 to being grounded after hours of time in the air to how she feels about that day now, more than 20 years later.  Heather also expresses her gratitude for her time at Purdue, where her passion for flying blossomed further, and shares more about her experience training to become one of the nation’s first female fighter pilots.  Goosebumps. That's what you can expect from our episode featuring this brave and relentless Boilermaker.
In this episode of “This Is Purdue,” we’re sharing a new update from our conversation with Boilermaker innovator Philip Low. Professor Low, Purdue University’s Presidential Scholar for Drug Discovery and the Ralph C. Corley Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, helped develop Cytalux, a fluorescent marker that allows cancer surgeons to quickly identify malignant cells and remove them during surgery. The Food and Drug Administration approved the drug in November 2021 for ovarian cancer, and in December 2022, the FDA approved Cytalux to help doctors during lung cancer surgery as well.  Based on foundational intellectual property developed at Purdue University and commercialized by On Target Laboratories, this newly authorized use of Cytalux has the potential to improve the outcomes of thousands of patients, helping surgeons to visualize otherwise undetected cancer tissue in 24% of lung cancer patients in a clinical trial.  In this episode, professor Low discusses how the drug works, why the team started using it for ovarian cancer patients first, and what attracted him to innovation at Purdue University. Listen as we share more details about one of the most popular “This Is Purdue” episodes to date.
In this episode of “This Is Purdue,” we’re talking to successful entrepreneur Kendra Bracken-Ferguson (BA communication ‘02), founder and CEO of BrainTrust. Listen as Kendra describes the early days of social media, blogging and influencing, and how she used platforms like Myspace to transform top-tier global brands. You’ll hear about Kendra’s journey as Ralph Lauren’s first director of digital media and why she eventually left to start her entrepreneurial career.   Kendra also dives into how her time at Purdue – between taking the field as part of the Purdue Golduster Dance Team to working at the Black Cultural Center to interning with the Indiana Pacers – shaped her into the woman she is today.   This Boilermaker uses her platform to support Black-owned beauty and wellness brands, and she’s partnered with superstar actress Halle Berry on her health and wellness company, rē•spin.  This dynamic interview highlights a Purdue alumna who is dedicated to promoting diversity, equity and inclusion and innovating new ways to use technology.
In this special episode of “This Is Purdue,” we’re talking to the 13th president of Purdue University, Mung Chiang.  Listen in as President Chiang discusses the day he learned he would become president of what he calls “the most consequential public university in the U.S.” He also shares stories of Boilermaker persistence and humility and why the college experience should be both transformative and fun. Plus, he shares more about his family life (the Chiangs will be the first Purdue family to live in Westwood Manor with young children), hobbies, and the best spot in West Lafayette to grab his favorite sweet treat – ice cream. President Chiang, who officially became Purdue’s president on Jan. 1, 2023, is also the Roscoe H. George Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering.  You don’t want to miss this chance to get to know Purdue’s new president on a more personal level!
In this episode of “This Is Purdue,” we’re celebrating even more popular episodes from 2022.  Part 2 of our “Greatest Hits of 2022” episode focuses on the academic side of Purdue University. Listen as these Boilermakers — from an IndyCar, Indy 500-winning engineer to a NASA flight director to a new Purdue Board of Trustees member — share their small steps and giant leaps.   You’ll hear from Purdue alums Rusty Rueff, Angela Ashmore, Ronak Dave, Shawn Taylor and Phil Cook as they share moments from their Purdue journeys and exciting career achievements.  Ring in the new year with this celebratory episode!
Comments (1)

Aakash Amanat

It's truly exciting to see the spotlight on Purdue! This university holds a special place in my heart, and I'm thrilled to share my thoughts on what makes Purdue stand out. Firstly, the sense of community here is unparalleled. Whether you're a student, faculty member, or even an alum, there's a strong bond that ties us all together. It's not just about attending classes – it's about engaging in discussions, collaborating on projects, and supporting each other's growth.

Aug 19th
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