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Purdue colleges collaborate in pursuing diversity opportunity

A Purdue team is seeking to increase diversity within the graduate programs in the colleges of agriculture, pharmacy and science by visiting University of Puerto Rico (UPR) campuses. Elizabeth Tran, professor of biochemistry, leads the project and a team that includes Mark C. Hall (Biochemistry), Andrea Kasinski (Biology), Tony Hazbun (Medicinal Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology), and graduate student Zulaida Soto Vargas (Biology).

“We have a couple of alumni from Purdue College of Agriculture in faculty positions at the University of Puerto Rico who we’ve been in contact with,” said Mark C. Hall. Edwin Traverso Aviles, who received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Purdue in 2002, is now a faculty member at UPR-Humacao.

“It is of great satisfaction for me to collaborate with Purdue faculty in their efforts to recruit students from the University of Puerto Rico at Humacao,” said Traverso. “I know firsthand the high standards of Purdue graduate education.” The Purdue faculty team will visit six out of the eleven total UPR campuses.

“Our presentations and interactions with the UPR faculty and students will cover professional development topics, information, and tips on applying to the graduate school and information about Purdue University,” said Hazbun. “We know that it is an intimidating process to apply to graduate schools, students often have so many questions, and we will be providing a friendly and informative session that will help to answer many of those questions.”

Biology graduate student Vargas said, "It is a privilege to be able to travel back to Puerto Rico, where I am originally from, to recruit and encourage more students to continue graduate studies at Purdue University. My experience as a Puerto Rican graduate student at Purdue has been amazing. I have received so much support from many people, and the least I can do is share my experience with the undergraduate students at URP so they can consider Purdue as a great opportunity."

Funds from John Gates, Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion and clinical professor in the Krannert School of Management, enabled the group to plan the first trip in November 2021.

“I am pleased to provide support for this project,” said Gates. “I look forward to welcoming new scholars to our campus as a result of this important trip.”

“Purdue has a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion, and we are excited to be involved in an active graduate student recruitment effort to continue building our community,” said project leader, Elizabeth Tran.

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