Top profs

Piet Koene Piet Koene, Spanish, has been named the Iowa Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. In addition to teaching translation and interpretation at Northwestern, he is a nationally certified medical interpreter and state-certified court interpreter.

Jeff Barker Theatre professor Jeff Barker, another Northwestern professor who has been an Iowa Professor of the Year, believes that if theatre artists are going to change the world, they need to start by writing scripts. So he’s established a focus on playwriting that's unusual for a college our size. Barker invites students to be part of the process as he writes his own award-winning plays. He challenges and encourages them as they bring their own stories to Northwestern’s stage. In addition to writing more than 50 plays, he's the author of The Storytelling Church and Sioux Center Sudan.

Yun Shin Yun Shin, art, won an Iowa Arts Council fellowship to create art for a one-woman show at the A.I.R. Gallery in New York City. She has also exhibited throughout the United States, including Chicago, Los Angeles, Austin, Des Moines and northwest Iowa. 

Jason LiefDr. Jason Lief, youth ministry,  is one of three religion professors who have recently published books. Lief published his second book, on Christianity and heavy metal music, in 2017. Dr. John Vonder Bruegge examined first-century Galilee in the writings of Josephus, Luke and John through the lens of modern spatial theory. And Dr. John Hubers told the story of the Rev. Pliny Fisk, the first American missionary to the Middle East.

Sara Tolsma Dr. Sara Tolsma, biology, and her colleagues are involving their students in SEA-PHAGES research sponsored by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. We're 1 of only 2 Iowa colleges doing this ground-breaking research, which enables students to name their newly-discovered bacteriophages—a dream come true for any scientist!

Laird Edman Dr. Laird Edman, psychology, is one of just 25 professors selected to participate in a series of research seminars on science and religion at England’s Oxford University. He and his department colleagues also conduct research with students—and then join those students in presenting their findings at annual conferences of the Association for Psychological Science.

Juyeon Kang Music professor and pianist Juyeon Kang has played at Carnegie Hall, presented concerts in 15 countries, and had performances aired on National Public Radio. She has recorded two CDs.

Ralph Davis Dr. Ralph Davis, biology, spent 20 years as a research scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison before joining Northwestern’s faculty. Since then, he’s received more than $750,000 from the National Institutes of Health. The NIH grants fund roundworm neurobiology research he’s conducting with students that could help combat parasites in developing countries.

Jim Mead Dr. Jim Mead, religion, is the author of the college and seminary textbook Biblical Theology: Issues, Methods and Themes.

Dave Arnett Dr. Dave Arnett, chemistry, won a $121,825 grant from the National Science Foundation to conduct research with students on nitric oxide synthase enzymes.

Sam MartinDr. Sam Martin, English, is the winner of the 2017 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story contest. His story, “Syringe-Fed Ferrets,” was selected from more than 1,400 submissions. He is also the author of a collection of short stories titled This Ramshackle Tabernacle and a novel titled A Blessed Snarl, along with many other pieces of short fiction and creative nonfiction. He's currently working on a second novel, a mystery set in Newfoundland.

Jennifer FeenstraDr. Jennifer Feenstra, psychology, is a Fulbright Scholar who involves her students in her research on volunteerism. Her research has been published in the  Journal of College Student DevelopmentTeaching of PsychologyJournal of Psychology and Christianity, and the  Journal of Education and Christian Belief, and she has made presentations at the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology and the American Psychological Association annual convention.

Tim Huffman Dr. Tim Huffman, math, is the entrepreneurial developer of ADAPT, which is used by the actuarial exam prep company Coaching Actuaries. Northwestern students have free use of ADAPT; on average, NWC students have passed 2 actuarial exams by the time they graduate, and their overall pass rate is 90%, compared with national pass rates of around 50%.

Elizabeth Heeg Dr. Elizabeth Heeg, biology, worked with Dr. Huffman to develop AdaptPrep's MCAT software, which is also available to NWC students. Students who took the MCAT in 2017 scored in the 77th percentile (compared to a national average in the 50th percentile).