Dr. Lizbeth Rostro Represents a First for the School

Dr. Lizbeth Rostro with collegues in the labThis summer, Dr. Lizbeth Rostro completed her PhD, representing two firsts for the School.

She is the first of Dr. Bryan Boudouris' graduate students to earn a Ph.D. and the first Native American student to earn a graduate degree from Purdue Chemical Engineering.

“Lizbeth is one of the hardest working and dedicated people with whom I have had the pleasure to work. The scientific vision and results that were produced during her doctoral thesis led to the discovery of new fundamental physics in the polymer electronics world; she is a true leader in the field," says Boudouris.

Those efforts in the synthesis and characterization of a new class of conducting radical polymers with specialized applications, such as organic solar cells, resulted in four first author publications during her graduate program. She has another in press. She also was awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and the School's 2015 Faculty Lectureship Award.

Rostro says she was pleasantly surprised to win the award, which honors outstanding achievement in scholarly research and publication by a Purdue Chemical Engineering graduate student. She counts the experience as a fulfilling one, since it allowed her to talk about her work with the entire department and particularly the younger graduate students.

As one of Boudouris' first graduate students, she helped set up his new lab in Forney Hall. She counts the experience of going from an empty room to a complete lab as an incredibly rare opportunity that is not usually afforded to most graduate students.

Rostro's path to graduate school began during Co-op assignments with Dow Chemical Company. Through the course of her undergraduate studies at the University of Arkansas, Rostro completed three Co-ops with the company, which sparked her interest in scientific research. She was a sought after graduate student, and she credits the ChE student colloquium with her eventual decision to complete graduate school at Purdue.

“Purdue had the most complete set-up for the initial student visits. Right from the time that we arrived at the airport, to the time we left, there were no missing links” she reminisced. “The faculty was involved during the colloquium and the graduate students seemed welcoming and just happier."

With her school days behind her, Rostro is excited about her next career step, a full-time position at the Dow Chemical Company.

As for being the first Native American to earn a graduate degree from Purdue Engineering, Rostro says her family was her biggest source of inspiration through graduate school, but she downplays the distinction.

For our part, the School wishes her the best as she continues in her research career.