Professor Douglas Klumpp made a few stops before joining NIU in 2003, but his biggest splash in the world of chemistry research has come as a Huskie.
“Very shortly after his arrival at NIU, Professor Klumpp established himself as one of the most active researchers in the department,” Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry Chair Ralph Wheeler said in nominating Klumpp for a Presidential Research Professorship.
Klumpp earned the notable distinction this year. A prolific author of academic and scientific papers which have been cited around the world, he has also raised nearly $2 million in external funding for research through a variety of sources. He points out his success rate in the competitive world of federal funding outpaces the typical average by a notable margin.
After starting his academic career at California Polytechnic University he was drawn to the opportunity at NIU, where family and friends had attended. He also knew it would be good to work with top-level chemistry students.
“If you’re really serious about research, you need to work with graduate students,” Klumpp said. “I’ve been really fortunate to have some superstar students at the graduate and undergraduate level.”
His research has covered a lot of ground, especially within the realm of organic chemistry. He’s explored ways to make pharmaceuticals more affordable and their chemical process more environmentally friendly. Klumpp’s also looked into the bio-renewable chemistry to prepare fuels and commodity chemicals.
Klumpp praised his students’ success in publishing research papers within scientific journals, something that arose out of good lab work, high-level skills and enthusiasm for the their work. His teams have even discovered new chemistry through “happy accidents” – unplanned results. The university also benefits from an environment where students have access to high-caliber research opportunities.
“Research experience and strong publication records really help students get jobs,” he offered.
Klumpp is modest about his role in it all and the Presidential Research Professorship itself, instead emphasizing the teamwork involved in good scientific research. While pointing out he places high value on seeing his papers cited and others using the science he develops, Klumpp was humble in his appreciation of the award and the accompanying peer recognition.