New named Health Sciences professorship to honor two pillars of the program

Written by: Tim Brouk,

Paul Ziemer head shot

Paul Ziemer

John Christian head shot

John Christian

The Purdue University School of Health Sciences has begun the search for a young researcher to be the first John Christian and Paul Ziemer Assistant/Associate Professor of Health Sciences.

The professorship is named after two pillars of the program – Professor Emeritus Paul Ziemer and Purdue Health Sciences’ first head, Dr. John Christian. The goal of this professorship is to recognize upcoming researchers who, with the support of this professorship, can invest more time in research that will advance Health Sciences.

“This will help us retain and recruit highly successful faculty for the benefit of our research programs, for the benefit of our educational and outreach programs,” said Professor Aaron Bowman, head of the School of Health Sciences. “It’s a recognition to the work of Dr. Ziemer, who expanded the programs started by Dr. Christian.”

The inaugural dinner to celebrate the Christian and Ziemer Assistant/Associate Professor of Health Sciences is set for 6 p.m. May 22 at the Buchanan Club in the Ross-Ade Pavilion. Tickets are available through May 13.

In partnership with the Regenstrief Center for Healthcare Engineering (RCHE), the named professorship will give the researcher more opportunities to pursue a better understanding of exposure sciences, health physics and biomedicine with an emphasis on their applications to healthcare systems and delivery, health equity and population health. Building on the mission first outlined when the Regenstrief Foundation established RCHE in 2005, it will support researchers in developing novel multidisciplinary studies that examine broad questions around health and well-being. The named professorship will also emphasize delivering practical, implementable solutions directly to communities in keeping with the Purdue land-grant mission.

Dennis Paustenbach head shot

Dennis Paustenbach

Purdue Health Sciences alumnus Dennis Paustenbach, a major donor to the named professorship as well as a board-certified toxicologist and industrial hygienist, knew both Health Sciences leaders and considered them as special mentors. He was Christian’s last PhD student in 1982 before he retired in 1990.

“What’s significant about the two of them is their leadership skills,” Paustenbach said. “They were absolutely world class. Both of them could have been presidents of a Fortune 500 company. They just had that wonderful way with people that you almost never see in a university professor.

“They were in the business of teaching students and encouraging them to go contribute to the betterment of society.”

Ziemer is honored to be part of the named professorship, especially linked with his former colleague. Starting in the 1950s, Christian helped shape the health sciences program to what it is today. Christian passed away on his 98th birthday, July 12, 2015.

“Dr. Christian was my mentor when I did my graduate work at Purdue,” said Ziemer, who joined Christian’s program as a young bionucleonics assistant professor after earning his PhD from Christian almost 60 years ago. “I’ve been associated with him since 1959. I’m pleased that linkage can continue through this new professorship.”