Suzanne Zurn-Birkhimer


  • Ph.D. in Atmospheric Science, Purdue University, 2003.
  • M.S. in Atmospheric Science, Purdue University, 1999.
  • B.S. in Mathematics, University of Minnesota, 1989. 
  • Chair of the Department of Earth and Space Science
  • Affiliate Director of Indiana Space Grant Consortium

For the past decade, Dr. Zurn-Birkhimer has been working to increase diversity in the STEM fields. Specifically, she conducts research along with program and partnership development to increase the participation of Native Americans, Native Hawaiian, and Alaska Natives in the STEM disciplines.

Dr. Zurn-Birkhimer has had an interesting (and ironically, circular) path since earning her PhD.

  • 2003 - 04: Assistant Professor of Environmental Science at Saint Joseph’s College.
  • 2004 – 07: Assistant Department Head of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Purdue.
  • 2007 – 09: Associate Director of Purdue’s Women in Engineering Program.
  • 2009 – 11: Deputy Director of Purdue’s ADVANCE program, an NSF-funded project focused on increasing the number of female faculty in the STEM disciplines.
  • 2011 – 13: second stint as Assistant Department Head of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at Purdue. 
  • 2013 – present: returned to Saint Joseph’s College

Dr. Zurn-Birkhimer has mentored 100s of STEM students, and is dedicated to their success. To that end, in July 2013 she began certification in academic coaching through LifeBound, a student success and transition company in Denver, CO. She resides with her husband and children in West Lafayette, IN.

Explore the Core
  • Start Your Major Freshman Year

    Like Elementary Education major Brittany Cooper ’12, you start your major as soon as you walk in the door, so you will have four years of knowledge and experience in your field.You can even change your mind about your major and still graduate on time with lots of experience.

    Core and the major work in harmony to develop the cognitive skills requisite for success in a competitive, global society. Students better understand the forces that shape the future by exploring the past. They discuss contemporary events; analyze the impact of science on our understanding of humanity and the universe; and investigate diverse cultures and world civilizations. 

  • Mentorship

    Small colleges offer you personal attention; SJC professors, such as Communication Professors Fred and Sally Berger, do more for you—they serve as mentors. Studies show that having a mentor leads to success in your field. Alumni often tell us how their professors not only played a major role in their success, but also became lifelong friends.  If you are undecided about what to major in, we help you decide.

  • High Quality Academics

    In the Core Program, you will be inspired to debate, analyze, and solve problems. Discussion of culture and society, the modern world, and Christian Humanism are just a few highlights of the Program. New perspectives will be gained, your worldview will expand, and you will graduate from SJC as a well rounded, highly marketable person.

  • Leadership

    You get more deeply involved at SJC, so you get more meaningful experiences that prepare you for career and life. LaMichelle Sanders ’14, for example, has spent two summers helping Chinese study abroad students adapt to life in the U.S. and at SJC. If you want to start a club or activity that doesn’t exist, we encourage you to start one. At SJC, prepare yourself for what you want to do in life.

  • Real-life Skills

    Because of the skills you develop by having the Core Program interact with your major for four years in addition to internships, job shadowing, and service learning, you get hands-on experience in preparation for your career or graduate school. Students Hanna Kane ’14, Emily Baird ’15, and Alyssa Guarnaccia ’14 collect food in the SJC hoophouse to be distributed on campus. You will also get four years of analytical, writing, and speaking skills that will serve you well for the rest of your life.

  • Start Your Major Freshman Year

    Get a jump start on your career and have your resume ready to go at graduation.  

  • Mentorship

    Small colleges offer you personal attention; SJC professors do more for you—they serve as mentors.

  • High Quality Academics

    The Core Program is all about you and your role in the world.


  • Leadership

    You get more deeply involved at SJC, so you get more meaningful experiences that prepare you for career and life.

  • Real-life Skills

    Get real-life experience and become an excellent communicator.