Despite the B+, Pulliam’s excellent undergraduate background helped pave the way
for a successful graduate career. He is on
the homestretch, expecting to finish in fall
2016 or spring 2017.
Pulliam draws accolades from Cooks
for his strong research and lab work, which
the distinguished professor says has helped
close the gap between the “mini,” portable
mass spectrometers and the “big, bench-top
“Chris has — especially recently —
made these instruments sing,” Cooks says.
Pulliam recently published a paper, “Mass
Spectrometry in the Home and Garden,”
which summarized the everyday chemical
analysis that is now possible when using
small mass spectrometers.
In addition to Pulliam’s hands-on talent
with spectrometers, Cooks values his pure
chemistry skills. “He uses mass spectrometry as a preparative method, not just as an
analytical technique,” Cooks explains.
Onyejekwe says her connection with the
College of Science Diversity Office helped
her thrive during her undergraduate years.
Zenephia Evans, the office director, became
a mentor for the young student, and the
diversity office became a go-to hangout.
“I practically lived there,” Onyejekwe
says. “I would just go there and visit. (Evans)
was probably a large reason why I came to
Purdue. Having her support really helped
me transition from high school to college.
Initially, you don’t really know how to study
properly. She was there when we needed
help or needed connections to study groups.”
Among Onyejekwe’s accomplishments
were four years of involvement in Women
in Science Programs ( WISP) and experience
as a counselor for the STEM Academic Boot
Camp for high school students who are
interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
“During her involvement in
Multicultural Science Programs and WISP,
I saw her accept challenging opportunities
and embrace her full potential,” Evans says.
“I watched her strive to excel in academics,
Evans was and still is impressed by
— and close to — the couple. The bond
transcends science. There was the time
Evans cared for Pulliam after an illness sent
him to the emergency room. And another
time when Evans helped Onyejekwe navi-
gate a visit to Texas by putting her in touch
with an alumnus.
She is thrilled to have seen Pulliam and
Onyejekwe grow over the past several years.
“I am elated that I had the chance to watch
them form the strong covalent bond that
anchors their relationship, and I look forward to the chemistry in their future.”
Onyejekwe was born in the suburbs of
Chicago to Nigerian parents but fulfilled her
family’s wishes that the wedding take place
in Oraifite, Nigeria.
During the 2015 fall break, the couple
flew to Lagos, Nigeria, and spent the next
two days on a charter bus to Oraifite. There,
preparations were well underway for a
traditional Nigerian wedding.
It was the first trip to Nigeria for
Pulliam, who was born in Norwood,
Massachusetts, and grew up in Indianapolis.
“You can’t really prepare for that kind of
trip,” Pulliam says, reflecting on that