Associate professor of biology
First year teaching at Luther: 2000
Research commitment: Wrote four major grants in her first three years at Luther resulting in more than $500,000 in equipment and research funding, including a scanning laser confocal microscope.
Office decoupage: Her kids' artwork, Time magazine's remembrance of Johnny Cash, and research headlines from around the world.
Jodi's dealings in biology range from microbial biofilms (the layer formed when bacteria attach to and grow on surfaces) to agriculture (she and her husband operate a small farm). In fact, one reason she came to Luther was that very combination of learning and lifestyle.
"When I first walked into Luther's biology department, I could see myself teaching, doing research, and interacting with the students and faculty here," Jodi explains, adding that the move required her to abandon postdoctoral grant money at the University of Iowa. "The community also had a vibrant rural identity, which meant my husband and I could incorporate the rural life we grew up with."
Jodi's ongoing research documents how a marine bacterium, Vibrio parahaemolyticus, develops into a visibly thick biofilm. In addition, she studies the effects of calcium on this organism.
"This isn't just 'Joe Microbe,'" Jodi explains. "It produces a robust, macroscopic biofilm in the lab that we can analyze and test fairly easily and quickly. Using this species as a model, we hope to gain knowledge about biofilms and their relationship to calcium, which could potentially impact processes in the environment, human health, and industry," she says.
In addition to teaching microbiology, immunology, human biology, and general biology, Jodi facilitates research with about four students each semester. These students typically spend at least a summer or a second semester on the same project.
"The goal is for students to reach a level of independence in research, where they're not only performing and analyzing their own experiments but deciding how they should proceed," Jodi says. "It rewards students with a good work ethic, a creative mind, and passion for unanswered questions--and helps them decide if research is something they truly enjoy."
Co-authoring grants and preparing presentations for national conferences also teaches students to eloquently express the purpose and results of scientific inquiry, Jodi adds. "Science, it seems, is actually half discovery and half communication of that discovery," she says. "I'm grateful for the time advisors spent sharing that with me, and I hope to do the same."