Chevy Chase, MD | Distinguished Ag Alumni: 2008
Marking Tuajuanda Jordan’s journey
— from studying chemistry as an
undergraduate at Fisk University to
collaborating with world-class scientists
and educators as Senior Program Officer
for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute
— lie a trio of clearly marked pointers:
Patience, passion, and perseverance.
Patience was honed at Purdue, where
adapting from a small, liberal arts
college to a Big Ten university with 30,000
students took months. But a passion for
biochemistry blossomed, an energy that
defines her extraordinary career.
Throughout 11 years at Xavier
University in New Orleans, Jordan
advanced from an assistant professor of
chemistry to the university’s Associate
Vice President for Academic Affairs. Her
tenure was characterized by a focus on
undergraduate research and a
commitment to fostering an increase of
under-represented ethnic groups in
Following Hurricane Katrina’s wrath in
August 2005, she and her teenage twins
made the difficult decision to relocate
near her parent’s home in D.C. — a
move that reconnected her to colleagues
at Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
From temporary offices at the institute,
she worked electronically to facilitate
Xavier’s reopening in January 2006, and
to establish a program that provided
sabbaticals for over 50 Xavier faculty.
As Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s
Senior Program Officer, Jordan’s most
compelling mission is the launch of a
multi-million dollar, four-year Science
Education Alliance Program, which will
create and introduce a national research
course for freshman at 12 colleges and
“There’s nothing like seeing students’
faces when they discover something
that’s truly theirs, and realize they’re
thinking like scientists,” says Jordan.
Jordan was the first in her family to
pursue higher education, and the first
African American woman to earn a Ph.D.
from Purdue’s Biochemistry Department.
“In addition to the process of science, Purdue University
offered valuable exposure to the culture of science.
These life tools gave me confidence in my skills, and
enabled me to accept challenges without hesitation.”