HBCU Alma Mater Technical Talk Program selects second cohort of participants

Event Date: May 5, 2023
Jordan Cross, Rasul Diop, and Brandon Harrison-Smith, Ph.D.
From left are Jordan Cross, Rasul Diop, and Brandon Harrison-Smith, Ph.D.

The Alma Mater Technical Talk program is focused on supporting current Purdue University graduate students and postdocs who previously attended Historically Black Colleges and Universities for their undergraduate studies.

Alma Mater Technical Talk logoAs part of the program, selected students and postdocs are invited to give a technical talk about their Purdue research to undergraduate students at the participants’ alma maters. This experience contributes to the professional development of the selected participants and also benefits undergraduate students who learn more about the research journey and experiences of alumni in their network.

The program launched in 2022 with the selection of three graduate students:

  • Albert Patrick, master’s student in mechanical engineering (Alma mater: Prairie View A&M University)
  • Naomi Deneke, PhD candidate in materials engineering (Alma mater: Prairie View A&M University)
  • Annika Robinson-Hudspeth, PhD candidate in biological sciences (PULSe) (Alma mater: North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University)

The program continues in 2023 with the selection of two graduate students and a postdoctoral fellow:

  • Jordan Cross, master’s student in environmental and ecological engineering (Alma mater: Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University)
  • Rasul Diop, PhD candidate in environmental and ecological engineering (Alma mater: Prairie View A&M University)
  • Brandon Harrison-Smith, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellow in mechanical engineering (Alma maters: Cheney University (B.A.) and Temple University (M.S. and PhD))

To be considered for the next round of HBCU Alma Mater Technical Talk, potential candidates may apply the semester before they would like to travel. Selected students will receive $1,000 to fund their travel. For fall travel, apply by May 5, and for spring travel, apply by Dec. 15.


Questions can be addressed to the Purdue University Graduate School Office of Graduate Diversity Initiatives (OGDI).

Jordan Cross, Naomi Deneke, and Annika Robinson-Hudspeth
PVAMU students that attended Naomi Deneke's presentation on her graduate research and presentation on "Is graduate school for you?"

Testimonial from a 2022 Alma Mater Talk participant: “I think more programs that allow students to attend their alma maters and present their research or career journey should be more common. There are seminar series that usually have professionals who are a bit more removed from undergraduate learning that usually speak. I think having recent former students talk to current students might resonate more. Especially since it was only a few years previously that the presenter was in the students' shoes. When I was introduced, the professor emphasized that I was a graduate and that aided in holding the interest of the students and established a connection and commonality.” - Annika Robinson-Hudspeth

Written by: Jackie McDermott, Ph.D.
Article Date: February 2, 2023