Father-and-Son Professor Duo Make Work a Family AffairFebruary 09, 2005
Rowan professors Dr. Donald Dahm and Dr. Kevin Dahm have a professional relationship like most other co-workers: they eat lunch together, discuss classes and debate current events. But their bond doesn?t end there ? these two professors are a father-and-son research team.
Kevin Dahm, of Eastampton, has been a professor in the Chemical Engineering Department at Rowan for the past six years. When he heard the Chemistry Department needed an adjunct professor in 2001, he immediately thought of his father, who was looking for a new teaching position.
?I would not be here if Kevin were not here,? said Donald Dahm, a Pennsylvania resident who worked his way up the corporate ladder at Monsanto Company in St. Louis before entering academia. ?Kevin likes to tease me that he got me my job here, Not only that, he?s fond of reminding me that he makes more money.?
Recently the father-son team established the Dahm equation, an important chemistry breakthrough that took them 10 years to perfect. Chemists long had the know-how to determine the concentrations of chemicals in a clear mixture, but had not been able reveal the amounts of chemicals in an unclear or powdery mixture without resorting to complex statistical techniques. The Dahms started working on an equation to describe this situation more simply and succeeded on their second try. For their efforts, Donald Dahm, now a full-time professor, recently won the Outstanding Achievement in Near Infrared Spectroscopy Award given by the Eastern Analytical Symposium.
?Our mathematics skills complement each other,? said Kevin Dahm. And putting those skills to use in the same region has been helpful. ?It is much easier to do research together now that we are in the same area,? said Kevin Dahm. Before Donald Dahm?s move to Rowan, the team would communicate over the phone and through email. Kevin Dahm says being able to see each other every day is more rewarding.
Currently the team is working on a book that is being edited by Kevin?s wife, Robin, a technical writer, papers on applications of the Dahm equation and a textbook supplement.
Donald Dahm graduated from Central College in Pella, Iowa, with a degree in chemistry and mathematics. He earned a Ph.D. at Iowa State in physical chemistry with a minor in inorganic chemistry. He began his career at Monsanto Company in St. Louis as an analytical chemist and advanced to the position of research director of the Environmental Science Center.
After early retirement from Monsanto, he worked as an instructor at NIRSystems, an analytical instrument company in Silver Spring, Md., before entering academia. Prior to coming to Rowan, he taught at Central College in Pella, Iowa, and Kirkwood College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Kevin Dahm received his bachelor?s degree in chemical engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts. He completed his doctoral work in chemical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before teaching a semester at North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University.