Skip to Main Content

This Is Purdue: Susan Edgell Talks About Her Mother, Virginia Ferris

In this episode of “This Is Purdue,” Kate Young talks 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.

You can find the podcast at The Persistent Pursuit here:
Podcast Ep. 86 – Susan Edgell Discusses How Her Mother, Virginia Ferris, Became the First Woman Appointed to Purdue Agriculture Faculty

In 2023, the Department of Entomology established a graduate award to honor Virginia, known as the Virginia Ferris Memorial Endowment Award. This award recognizes a female graduate student considered an emerging leader in their field of academic study. The award is intended to support graduate research and leadership development in an area related to the student's thesis work. More information can be found here:

Virginia Ferris Award

Featured Stories

Jonathan Lu tends to a plant he is studying in the Lilly Greenhouses.
Fields Of Discovery: A hunger to research carnivorous plants

This summer, Jonathan Lu researches drought tolerance in carnivorous plants with the Department...

Read More
a robotic arm reaches out to touch a corn plant leaf. you can see the Sheeraz Athar, Jian Jin, and Yu She in the where the arm bends
How robots touch on the future of agriculture

Walking into Purdue’s Mechanisms And Robotic Systems (MARS) Lab feels like falling into a...

Read More
Beca Appelmann stands next to her research poster; Beca holds her dog on a beach; Beca holds a Northern Saw-whet Owl
Meet FNR Outstanding Sophomore Beca Appelmann

Wildlife major Rebeca Appelmann has been selected as FNR’s Outstanding Sophomore for...

Read More
Shopping cart in store
Consumers see food prices as rising more than other goods and services, find ways to adapt

More than 80% of consumers perceive that food prices have increased a little or a lot over the...

Read More
Registration is now open for upcoming Purdue Small Farm Education Field Day

Register for the Purdue Small Farm Education Field Day, an event featuring an array of...

Read More
Chris Wirth holding bug specimen
Behind the Research: Chris Wirth

Many people are involved in the remarkable range of programs, services and facilities that...

Read More
To Top