Alumni Success Stories

Howard Jordi

Ph.D. 1974 (J. Erman)
Jordi Labs LLC

“My time at NIU helped prepare me for my career in Chemistry by providing me a broad exposure to analytical methods such as NMR, FTIR, TJump and Steady State Kinetics etc. Also the rather complex purification of Crystalline Cytochrome C Peroxidase from 100 lb batches of yeast used in my thesis work provided excellent lab experience. The invaluable guidance given to me by Dr. Erman in my thesis research made my success possible. Also the great job of teaching done by the departmental staff gave me a great love of Biochemistry that I still have to this day.”

Malcolm J. D'Souza

Ph.D. 1992 (D. Kevill)
Professor of Chemistry and Associate Dean of Interdisciplinary/Collaborative Sponsored Research
Wesley College

“NIU has a small tight‐knit environment which provides a great educational experience. As a first‐generation college student, I was allowed to mature academically (at my own pace) while working in both physical organic chemistry (Kevill) and biochemistry (Erman) labs. This experience enabled me to secure my first faculty position (Ball State U, IN) immediately upon graduation.”

Zhenzhen Yang

Ph.D. 2011 (T. Xu)
Assistant Chemist
Argonne National Laboratory

“As a graduate student, I developed the skills necessary for my career as a government research scientist. I learned valuable communication skills preparing and presenting talks every semester. The skills I developed have been valuable in my current position, which include communicating to my group, presenting at national conferences and leading meetings.”

Robert M. Sobel

Ph.D. 2004 (D. Ballantine)
Vice President for Research and Innovation
FONA International

“I started my graduate studies after teaching high school Chemistry for two years. NIU's graduate program offerings are very diverse and can accommodate many industries and individual interest. I was able to prepare myself for a role within food chemistry research through my NIU graduate school experience. One the big challenges within the food industry is the need for rapid analytical techniques that can ensure the safety of our food supply. My research advisor and the department provided a positive environment whereby I was able to create an artificially intelligent electronic nose capable of sniffing out food adulterants.”

Kiran Kumar Solingapuram Sai

Ph.D. 2009 (D. Klumpp)
Assistant Professor
Wake Forest Medical Center

“I always wanted to perform cutting‐edge translational research in the field of Oncology and Alzheimer's disease as I have seen my family lose their loved ones because of poor diagnosis. The Chemistry graduate program really helped me as an international graduate student to follow my dream. The course work and intensity of the program gave me insights well beyond basic chemistry.”

Mai Thao

Ph.D. 2014 (E. Gaillard)
Senior Chemist

“NIU helped me develop the skills essential for my career. I worked on multiple projects to test my hypotheses with numerous undergraduate students during my dissertation work. Because of this, I developed several skills that were crucial to my career including: 1) a strong technical skillset in Analytical Chemistry; 2) effective communication skills (both written and verbal); 3) critical thinking skills; and 4) teamwork.”

John Carr

Ph.D. 2007 (J. Carnahan)
Technology Manager

“My educational experience at NIU catalyzed a phase of rapid intellectual growth and significantly increased cultural awareness that certainly equipped me for career success. The exposure to a program that had a unique mix of students and faculty from diverse technical and cultural backgrounds combined with a highly collaborative and competitive environment ensured that graduates were prepared for the opportunities and challenges that would arise in many career paths. I left the program confident in my capabilities to solve technical challenges and had also developed strong interpersonal skills.”

Christopher Stewart

M.S. 2019 (T. Hagen)
Associate Scientist II
AbbVie Inc.

“During my experience at NIU I was able to hone many of the skills necessary to develop a career in the pharmaceutical industry. Much of my graduate work in medicinal chemistry and drug discovery, provided under the training of Prof. Hagen, a former industrial scientist, translated well into many of the common practices used by many leading pharmaceutical companies today. These practices include effective communication for an ever-growing collaborative field, the drive and initiative required for independent lab-work, and the rigor of the many high-level organizational standards that govern pharmaceutical research. My organic synthetic lab work was also supplemented by many diverse interdisciplinary techniques which played a vital role in my employment opportunities. After graduation I was able to utilize a culmination of these skills to begin a fulfilling career in pharmaceutical development while working on the cutting edge of science.”

Michael Lesslie

Ph.D. 2017 (V. Ryzhov)
Senior Scientist I
AbbVie Inc.

“The NIU doctoral program in chemistry afforded me the opportunity to collaborate with multiple research groups, both internally and externally (often internationally), in order to complete multidisciplinary research projects. These experiences translate well into the pharmaceutical industry where multi‐group projects are now the norm. While at NIU I was able to author eight peer‐reviewed publications and present at six conferences. The technical writing and oral presentation skills I developed were crucial to attaining a position after graduation.”

Reddy Naredla

Ph.D. 2013 (D. Klumpp)
Senior Scientist
Alcami Corp.

“My education at NIU prepared me not only for my career but also for life that will stimulate and challenge for the rest of your days. Through interactions with fellow researchers, professors, students and staff I gained valuable knowledge and social skills that are helpful for future growth. I have been very fortunate to be able to complete my PhD at NIU, benefited from a knowledgeable mentor and attended masterclasses.”

Yuriy Pyatkivskyy

Ph.D. 2010 (V. Ryzhov)
Principal System Engineer
Waters Corp.

“Mass spectrometry has always been of great interest to me and while working on my dissertation I had opportunity to modify and maintain LC–MS hardware. That work [laid the] foundation of my current career. My graduate studies were essential for success in my current position, as I am involved in installation and repairs of most advance analytical instrumentation as well as constant interactions with a very diverse customer base. NIU has been a great place to learn and develop my skills, its faculty were always committed to helping students like me to succeed. The Department and my advisor have always been supportive and allowed me to present my research at numerous scientific conferences and meetings, which prepared me for professional presentations of my findings, led to great networking opportunities and allowed me to stay up‐to‐date with newest advancements in technology and science. Now I have a chance to utilize my skills and knowledge in my daily work with the latest mass spectrometry hardware and software.”

Yiliang Zhang

Ph.D. 2006 (D. Klumpp)
Senior Scientist II
Organix, Inc.

“During my graduate studies in NIU, I was trained well not only in academic research, but also in social relation development. As a foreign student, I was treated very nicely by the faculty and staff members of the department. During the four and half years I stayed in NIU, I improved my English skills to communicate with scientists and regular people, and this was the crucial part of preparation for my career. At the same time, I was trained well in research. I learned how to conduct my experiments efficiently, and find a solution if [any problems arose]. Most importantly, I learned how to positively face a failure during research and try to turn that into a success.”

Contact Us

Northern Illinois University
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Faraday Hall, Room 319
DeKalb, IL  60115