Northwestern faculty awarded grants for summer scholarship

Dr. Thomas Holm directing a choirDr. Thomas Holm, director of the A cappella Choir, will prepare Taiwanese choral works for American choral directors this summer with assistance from the Northwestern College Scholarship Grants program.

Ten Northwestern College professors will conduct research and pursue further study this summer with funding from the Northwestern College Scholarship Grants program. The awards, ranging from $1,150 to $5,000, are designed to encourage the production of scholarship work for publication and distribution beyond Northwestern’s campus.

Four science faculty will collaborate with students on their research projects.

Chemistry professor Dr. Dave Arnett is a double award winner. One grant will fund efforts to design and make a biosensor for use in class. Will Bauer, a sophomore from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, who is majoring in both chemistry and biology–genetics, molecular biology and cellular biology, will serve as Arnett’s student research assistant on this project. The other grant will support continued research into fluorescence correlation spectroscopy. Arnett is studying whether that process can be used to measure and better understand the growth and activity of heat-shock proteins and their building blocks. Aimee Hulstein, a sophomore from Sioux Center majoring in biology–health professions and minoring in chemistry, will serve as Arnett’s second student research assistant.

Drs. Laurie Furlong and Todd Tracy, biology, will continue their research into the impact the invasive European buckthorn and eastern red cedar have on local forests and grassland ecosystems. Their student research assistants will be Gideon Fynaardt, a junior biology–health professions major from Alton, Iowa; Anneka Sterk, a sophomore psychology major from Belle Plaine, Minnesota; Alaena Trevino, a senior biology–health professions major from Williamsburg, Iowa; and April Van Tol, a junior biology–ecological science major from Rock Valley, Iowa.

Dr. Zack Varpness, chemistry, will lay the groundwork to examine the probiotic Flourish, produced by Entegro Health, a Sioux Center company. The research will give his student assistant, Lane Mulder, the opportunity to learn culturing techniques, mass spectroscopy, experimental design, and proper lab notetaking. Mulder is a senior from Sioux Center majoring in biology–health professions.

Another six Northwestern professors round out the list of award winners.

Dr. Laird Edman, psychology, will continue his study of current research and theory related to the cognitive science of religion. Edman is specifically interested in what types of religious rituals are most common to religious groups that thrive across at least three generations. He plans to write a book on the topic for Christian leaders and the church.

Drs. Thomas Holm and Juyeon Kang will create music with funding from their grants. Holm, who directs Northwestern’s A cappella Choir, will travel to Taiwan to prepare Taiwanese choral works for American choral directors. Kang, who teaches piano at Northwestern, will prepare and record a solo piano album titled “Joyful Praise,” a sequel to her two previous piano CDs.

Dr. Cambria Kaltwasser, a faculty member in the college’s biblical and theological studies department, will continue work on a book about Karl Barth, titled “Responding to Grace: The Covenantal Shape of Human Agency in the Theology of Karl Barth.”

In the education department, Dr. Lila Sybesma plans to study—particularly from a Christian perspective—the contributing factors to what has been called “the psychology of optimal experience.”

And finally, Dr. Sara Sybesma Tolsma, biology, will sequence the genomes of 24 novel bacteriophages discovered by Northwestern students through the college’s partnership in the international SEA-PHAGES research program.