Purdue Northwest names two science faculty members to endowed professorships

February 8, 2021

Two Purdue University Northwest (PNW) faculty members of the College of Engineering and Sciences have been awarded Nils K. Nelson Endowed Professorships.

Scott Bates, associate professor of Biological Sciences, and John Durocher, associate professor of Health Studies, are the two faculty members named to the professorships. The honor recognizes their commitment and dedication to research and teaching within the Biological Sciences department at PNW and provides additional support for research and scholarly activities in their respective fields of study.

“Named professorships come from endowments established by donors, and generally highlight areas of excellence at the university,” stated Kenneth C. Holford, PNW provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs. The Nelson professorships were established by a gift from the estate of Nils K. Nelson, a retired PNW organic chemistry professor who left an $8 million legacy donation to the university. Nelson’s gift also supported completion of the Nils K. Nelson Bioscience Innovation Building and established the Dr. Nils K. Nelson Memorial Scholarship.

“Endowed professorships allow the university to recruit and support top scholars, especially in areas of significant interest or importance to Northwest Indiana,” Holford said. “These exceptional faculty members continue to translate their work into an even more impactful and meaningful educational experience.”

“I am incredibly honored to be recognized in this way by the College of Engineering and Sciences and the university,” Bates stated. “It was clear Dr. Nelson was very supportive of students and their intellectual curiosity. This endowment will continue his legacy by funding innovative research and supporting students to aid in that research.”

Bates is excited to build on his research in seeking to harness the power of modern molecular methods to broadly investigate how assemblages of microbes function in their environment, and further his research in the areas of fungal taxonomy, natural history collection data management, mycology, microbial ecology, biodiversity and bioinformatics.

John Durocher, associate professor of Health Studies at PNW

John Durocher, associate professor of Health Studies at PNW

“I am humbled not only to have received this distinction, but also by Dr. Nelson’s generosity,” stated Durocher. “This endowment will make a difference to many students, the field of cardiovascular health, and to help disseminate our research findings.”

Durocher is looking forward to furthering his research in the areas of exercise, autonomic, and integrative physiologies. His research team focuses on proactive approaches to health that include improving fitness, mitigating anxiety, and reducing several key risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

“Thanks to Dr. Nelson’s generous gift, PNW has been able to recruit and recognize two deserving faculty members by placing them in endowed professorships,” Holford noted. “Professors Bates and Durocher are terrific examples of the type of scholar-educators working in the science faculty at Purdue Northwest.