NWC to award 251 diplomas May 14

Northwestern College will award 251 diplomas during commencement ceremonies Saturday, May 14. Twenty-one students will receive Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees, while the rest of the graduating seniors will be granted Bachelor of Arts degrees.

Ceremonies will begin at 10 a.m. in the DeWitt Physical Fitness Center of the Rowenhorst Student Center. Dr. Elizabeth Heeg-Truesdell, assistant professor of biology at Northwestern, will address the graduates in a speech entitled “The Great Experiment.” The college’s baccalaureate service is scheduled for 8 p.m. Friday, May 13, in Christ Chapel.

Heeg-Truesdell is the 2010 recipient of Northwestern’s annual Teaching Excellence Award. She was nominated for the honor by students, who praised her ability to get them excited about science. Letters to the selection committee cited the rigor of her classes, her willingness to treat students as colleagues, and her guidance as they grapple with the ethical issues raised in her field.

Heeg-Truesdell often involves students in her research. Currently she’s conducting a clinical research project with Northwestern’s Future Physicians Club in which students are investigating bacterial infections highly resistant to antibiotics. Other research has led to presentations to the Iowa Academy of Sciences, the Iowa Physiology Society, and the National Association of Biology Teachers. She is also published in the journals Birth Defects Research, Current Biology and Developmental Biology.

Heeg-Truesdell is in her fifth year as a member of the biology department faculty. A graduate of Northwestern College, she was hired by her alma mater after earning a doctorate in biochemistry and molecular and cell biology from Northwestern University, where she won the Teaching Assistant of the Year Award in 2003.