Interview with Dr. Rob Pfaff

August 26, 2014


Ph.D – University of Oklahoma, Norman 1980
M.S. – University of Oklahoma, Norman, 1978
B.A. – Augustana College (IL), Rock Island 1975

Areas of Expertise

My training is in chemical kinetics, the speeds and atom-level steps reactions go through from beginning to end, but most recently my research has been in theoretical drug design.

Professional Background

Following graduate school, I took a one-year postdoctoral research appointment at the USDoE Ames Laboratory on the campus of Iowa State University. My first teaching position was at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, where I stayed for 12 years, before coming to SJC in 1993.

Research Interests

My training is in measuring the speeds of chemical reactions and trying to deduce the minute steps the participants go through. In many ways, I am trained as much in numerical analysis as in chemistry. In a natural progression of that, I moved from reactions to exploring patterns in drug properties, and finally to using computers to design drug molecules.

Tell us about your job at SJC. 

I split my time between teaching upper-level chemistry classes, Quantitative Analysis, Physical Chemistry, and Medicinal Chemistry, and Core 5 and Core 10, as Professor of Chemistry, and being responsible for data reporting to all constituencies on behalf of the College, as Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs and Director of the Office of Institutional Research.

Why do you teach? 

I love to teach because of my students. Our classes are small enough that we really get to know one another and there’s no better thrill than watching a student who suddenly understands a complex concept.


I belong to the American Chemical Society, “Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society,” the Association for Institutional Research, and the Indiana Association for Institutional Research.

Fun Fact

I am a member of the Sons of the American Revolution, and am a radio-control pilot, a genealogist, and an international election observer for the US State Department.

What is your favorite thing about SJC?

The people…well, most of them!



Explore the Core
  • SJC Education Students in the field

    Start Your Major Freshman Year

    Like Elementary Education major Brittany Cooper ’12, you start your major as soon as you walk in the door, so you will have four years of knowledge and experience in your field.You can even change your mind about your major and still graduate on time with lots of experience.

    Core and the major work in harmony to develop the cognitive skills requisite for success in a competitive, global society. Students better understand the forces that shape the future by exploring the past. They discuss contemporary events; analyze the impact of science on our understanding of humanity and the universe; and investigate diverse cultures and world civilizations. 

  • Professor Fred and Sally Berger at Graduation


    Small colleges offer you personal attention; SJC professors, such as Communication Professors Fred and Sally Berger, do more for you—they serve as mentors. Studies show that having a mentor leads to success in your field. Alumni often tell us how their professors not only played a major role in their success, but also became lifelong friends.  If you are undecided about what to major in, we help you decide.

  • High Quality Academics

    In the Core Program, you will be inspired to debate, analyze, and solve problems. Discussion of culture and society, the modern world, and Christian Humanism are just a few highlights of the Program. New perspectives will be gained, your worldview will expand, and you will graduate from SJC as a well rounded, highly marketable person.

  • Visiting Chinese Students


    You get more deeply involved at SJC, so you get more meaningful experiences that prepare you for career and life. LaMichelle Sanders ’14, for example, has spent two summers helping Chinese study abroad students adapt to life in the U.S. and at SJC. If you want to start a club or activity that doesn’t exist, we encourage you to start one. At SJC, prepare yourself for what you want to do in life.

  • Hoop House student workers

    Real-life Skills

    Because of the skills you develop by having the Core Program interact with your major for four years in addition to internships, job shadowing, and service learning, you get hands-on experience in preparation for your career or graduate school. Students Hanna Kane ’14, Emily Baird ’15, and Alyssa Guarnaccia ’14 collect food in the SJC hoophouse to be distributed on campus. You will also get four years of analytical, writing, and speaking skills that will serve you well for the rest of your life.

  • Images of Students

    Start Your Major Freshman Year

    Get a jump start on your career and have your resume ready to go at graduation.  

  • Images of Students


    Small colleges offer you personal attention; SJC professors do more for you—they serve as mentors.

  • Images of Students

    High Quality Academics

    The Core Program is all about you and your role in the world.


  • Images of Students


    You get more deeply involved at SJC, so you get more meaningful experiences that prepare you for career and life.

  • Images of Students

    Real-life Skills

    Get real-life experience and become an excellent communicator.