Biology professor awarded Northwestern College Endowed Professorship

Dr. Sara Sybesma Tolsma, professor of biology at Northwestern College, has been appointed to the Northwestern College Endowed Professorship.

The professorship provides annual funds to support the recipient’s scholarly work. The funds can be used for summer research, the purchase of materials, travel to pursue research, or assistance to student researchers.

Criteria for the appointment includes being a committed Christian with a distinguished record as an outstanding teacher; earning recognition for scholarly and leadership contributions to his or her discipline; providing exemplary service to his or her academic department, Northwestern and the larger community; and demonstrating a commitment to the college’s mission.

A member of Northwestern’s faculty since 1995, Tolsma received the college’s Teaching Excellence Award in 2015. Her research efforts in cancer genetics and cell biology have been widely published in scientific journals and have earned a number of awards.

She has been involved in several symposia on bioethical issues surrounding genetic technologies, such as stem cells, cloning and genetic testing. Her current research has included a study of mayfly genetic variations in northwest Iowa watersheds and the anti-proliferative effects of plant extracts on human tumor cells in vitro.

The co-editor of Perspectives: A Journal of Reformed Thought, Tolsma has also written a cell and molecular genetics textbook for non-science majors, as well as an adult Sunday school curriculum on genetic technologies. She holds memberships with the Iowa Academy of Science, the American Science Affiliation and the International Society of Nursing Genetics.

A graduate of Northwestern College, Tolsma holds a doctoral degree in microbiology, immunology and virology from Northwestern University.

Tolsma’s five-year appointment will begin this fall.