Grant Overview

Duration of Grant:

August 1, 2016 – July 31, 2019

Grant Title:

“Breaking Through: Developing Multidisciplinary Solutions to Global Grand Challenges”

Grant Summary:

This ongoing Purdue initiative seeks to develop and promote a new model for grand challenges research and publishing, one that aims to generate fresh solutions for grand challenges and to employ new means of scholarly communications.

The model is unique it two ways: 1) it catalyzes collaboration between STEM researchers and scholars in the Humanities and Social Sciences; and 2) it integrates communication planning into projects from the start, in order to prioritize reaching communities of interest (policymakers, expert communities, not-for-profit and advocacy organizations, entrepreneurs, and other stakeholders).

Research Teams


Peter Froelich Director of Purdue University Press and Head of Scholarly Publishing Services, Purdue University Libraries

Picture of Peter Froelich

Froehlich received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and an MBA from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. He started working at Indiana University Press in 2006, and from 2010-2014 served as the subsidiary rights manager at IUP. Froehlich works independently and with series editors to acquire manuscripts for publication. He is also in charge of strategy, general administration, budgeting, and subsidiary rights, and is an integral member of the Libraries' senior leadership team.

Laurel Weldon Director of Purdue Policy Research Institute, Distinguished Professor of Political Science

Professor Weldon received her PhD from the University of Pittsburgh in 1999. She is the author of two books, and a co-editor of the first ever Oxford Handbook on Politics and Gender, (February 2013, Oxford University Press). She is also the Lead Editor of the journal, Politics, Groups and Identities published by the Western Political Science Association. Professor Weldon has served on the Council of the American Political Science Association and of the Midwest Political Science Association and has served as President of the Women and Politics Research Section of APSA. She has been the recipient of both teaching and research awards, and has worked in a variety of capacities for local and national governments, non-governmental organizations and international, intergovernmental organizations.

Taking a global perspective, Weldon's work on social movements and public policy explores many themes central to democratic and feminist theory including questions of representation, intersectionality, solidarity, and state-civil society relations. She is an expert on gender and social policy, especially policies on violence against women, but has also written on family law and policy, living wage and anti-poverty policy and employment policy more generally. Weldon's work combines quantitative cross-national and cross-state analysis with comparative case studies and fieldwork. With Mala Htun of the New School, Weldon is currently involved in an NSF-funded project investigating women's rights in 70 countries. She was named the Director of the Purdue Policy Research Institute in February 2016.

Grant Staff

Soraida Garcia Graduate Assistant

Picture of Soraida Garcia

Soraida Garcia has served as the Graduate Assistant for the Breaking Through grant since Spring 2017. She is a graduate student at Purdue seeking a double Masters in Ecological Sciences and Statistics. She has held various internships, including one at Argonne National Laboratories in which she assisted the Bureau of Land Management assessing the environmental impacts of large scale solar paneling on public lands. Her research interests include terrestrial landscape rehabilitation and constructing vertical forest ecosystems to decrease the rate of deforestation while utilizing degraded lands.

Krista Kelley PPRI Operations Manager

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Krista Kelley has nearly two decades of experience in office administration in the airline industry, property management, and in academia. At Purdue University, she served in the Graduate School’s Office of the Dean, and in the Office of the Provost in Faculty Affairs. Krista was also part of the steering committee which began the Clerical and Administrative Assistant Mentoring Program (CAAMP) at Purdue, and served on the CAAMP leadership team with a focus on technology. Institute in February 2016.

Alli Roberts Graduate Student Fellow

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Allison Roberts is a graduate of Purdue University and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Sociology. She most recently worked with Dr. Laurel Weldon on the interdisciplinary Diversity and Inclusion Research Project from 2013-2016. Allison was also a Postgraduate Visiting Scholar in the School of Geography, Politics and Sociology at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom, and served as the Deputy Administrator's intern at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Tyler Spence, Ph.D. Postdoctoral Policy Fellow

Picture of Tyler Spence

With a background in aviation as a pilot, flight instructor, and researcher, Tyler Spence completed his PhD in Aviation Technology. He also completed the graduate certificate in social policy in order to bridge aviation with the social sciences. Tyler’s future research will continue to bring rigorous and systematic policy evaluation techniques to aviation research in order to find best practices as the aviation industry seeks to adapt to 21st Century problems.