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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

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