Contact: Tom Parisi, NIU Office of Public Affairs
April 9, 2009
DeKalb, Ill. — Two NIU researchers have each won National Institutes of Health grants of more than $200,000 that will enable undergraduates and graduate students to work on basic research projects in chemistry and biochemistry.
Professor Douglas Klumpp won an Academic Research Enhancement Award of $217,500 over three years. His research projects will involve as many as a dozen students at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
“We’ll be developing new chemistry and biochemistry that hopefully could be applied to the synthesis of pharmaceutical compounds,” Klumpp said. “Ultimately, we hope to find more cost-effective ways to produce drugs or ways to make drugs that are more effective.
“This type of experience for our students is invaluable,” he added. “It certainly helps in a job search upon graduation and also when they’re applying for post-secondary education.”
James Erman, former chemistry chair and now interim vice president for research and graduate studies, won an Academic Research Enhancement Award of $211,200 over three years.
Erman will use the funding to work with between six and 12 undergraduates. They will investigate protein-protein interactions involved in carrying out electron transfer reactions within a cell. Electron transfer is an important component in the basic energy metabolism of all living organisms, yet many aspects of these reactions are still incompletely understood.
“The importance of this research, and the funding from the National Institutes of Health to allow the research to go forward, is not only to increase our understanding of fundamental biological processes but also to train students in the art of research,” Erman said.
“The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry really emphasizes undergraduate research, and two emphases within the program require students to do at least one full semester of research with a faculty member,” Erman said. “So these awards are particularly useful as we line up students for research projects that potentially will have real-world value.”
Over the past eight years, the number of undergraduates majoring in chemistry and biochemistry at NIU has more than doubled, to 200 majors this past fall. Additionally, the department has 49 graduate students.
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