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Elburn man, NIU professor receives distinguished faculty award

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013 5:30 a.m. CST

ELBURN – Elburn resident James Erman, a professor at Northern Illinois University, last week earned a 2013 Distinguished Alumni, Faculty and Staff Award for his work in the university’s chemistry department.

Erman joined NIU’s faculty in 1970 after earning an undergraduate degree in physical chemistry from the University of California Berkeley and his Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, according to a news release from the university.

Erman was one of four distinguished faculty members honored this year. The awards ceremony took place Friday.

In his career at NIU, Erman has served in numerous capacities, including chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, president of the Northern Illinois Research Foundation and Presidential Research Professor.

Erman contributed to many areas at NIU, including research, teaching, service, administration and program development. He also served as chair emeritus and distinguished research professor emeritus, the release stated.

Erman served as chair of the Department of Chemistry from 1998 to 2006. His research grants have totaled more than $2.2 million from the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, according to the release.

In his last years as chair, he helped raise more than $1 million in external research funding. During his tenure as chair, the number of chemistry majors also increased from 87 in the fall of 2000 to 143 by fall of 2005.

“An early advocate of engaged learning, Dr. Erman helped create the context for NIU’s current emphasis on mentored research as a key aspect of the undergraduate experience,” the release stated. “The recognition brought to the institution and the college as a result of his research, lectures, teaching and service are immeasurable and make him most deserving of this distinguished recognition.”

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