Faculty Profiles

Dr. Suely M. Black, Professor
Chemistry and Center for Materials Research
Norfolk State University





I serve as the Principal Investigator and Director of the IGERT-MNM project, working closely with Monica Cox, Purdue University, and Christopher “Kit” Umbach, Cornell University, to ensure the equal engagement of trainees on all three sites. The IGERT project fits well with my other efforts to develop quality research and education programs for undergraduate and graduate students in science and engineering. Although my education is in chemical engineering (B.Eng. from Rio de Janeiro Federal University, Brazil), and computational chemistry (Ph.D. from Columbia University, NY), my passion lies in training talented students to excel by offering “out-of-the-box” learning experiences. From 2007-2011 I led the implementation of the Ph.D. in materials science and engineering program at Norfolk State University, our school’s first doctoral program in STEM. This experience showed me the challenges of interdisciplinary education, and the dissonance between the traditional graduate education process and the outcomes it should engender. The IGERT project provides me a terrific opportunity to try out innovative approaches to interdisciplinary education in a controlled setting. It is also exciting to work collaboratively with faculty and students from so many different disciplines and on three campuses. My goal for the IGERT-MNM is to identify and test interdisciplinary graduate training models that provide trainees and associate trainees opportunities to practice the non-technical skills that will ensure maximum impact of their technical training.


Dr. Monica F. Cox, Associate Professor
School of Engineering Education
Purdue University





I am an Associate Professor of Engineering Education at Purdue University, the Interim Director of the Indiana Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program, and the Inaugural Director of the Purdue University College of Engineering’s Leadership Minor Program. I hold degrees in mathematics (B.S., Spelman College), industrial engineering (M.S., University of Alabama), and leadership and policy studies (Ph.D., Vanderbilt University). I serve as Co-PI on the IGERT-MNM project, and I lead the development of the eight-week teaching and learning module. This project is of interest to me given my interests in interdisciplinary learning, my graduation from a Historically Black College, and my desire to educate traditional science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) audiences about assessment and pedagogy. As the first known African-American woman to obtain tenure in the College of Engineering at Purdue University, I hope to serve as a role model to IGERT-MNM students and mentor students who demonstrate technical competence and abilities to work confidently and competently in diverse environments.


Dr. Chekesha M. Liddell-Watson, Associate Professor
Department of Materials Science and Engineering
Cornell University

Through Cornell's Department of Materials Science and Engineering, I advise the research of a doctoral student in the IGERT. I have also presented workshops and facilitated discussions on professional development topics such as mentor-mentee relationships and high impact publishing.  I received a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry with Highest Distinction from Spelman College (1999) and a Bachelor of Materials Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology (1999).  I was awarded the NASA Women in Science and Engineering Scholarship to support my undergraduate work and held three internship appointments at NASA, Kennedy Space Center in the Cryogenics and External Tank Branch and the Microchemical Analysis Laboratories. I joined the Cornell University faculty in November of 2003, after receiving a Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering with a minor in Science and Technology Policy from Georgia Tech. Awards for scholarly achievement include the Provost’s Award for Distinguished Scholarship, Cornell University (2010);  National Science Foundation Presidential Early Career Award (PECASE, 2007);  NSF Career Award (2006);  Facilitating Academic Careers in Engineering and Sciences Career Initiation Grant, (2003); Office of Naval Research Graduate Fellowship (1999-2003);  Georgia Tech President's Fellowship, (1999-2003);  Facilitating Academic Careers in Engineering and Sciences Fellowship (1999-2003);  NSBE, National Society of Black Engineers Fellowship (2000);  Hertz Foundation Fellowship Grant, (1999);  TMS materials society, J. Keith Brimacombe Presidential Scholarship, (1999);  ASM Foundation Scholarship, ASM International materials society, (1998);  and the ASTM, American Society for Testing and Materials, Mary R. Norton Memorial Fellowship, (1999).  The IGERT project interests me because it is a vehicle for broader impacts in the area of developing underrepresented populations in science-engineering disciplines as well as enhancing their access to infrastructure for materials science and engineering.

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