John L. Tjostem completed 35 years of service to Luther College upon his retirement in the Spring of 2000. Presenting the microbial world to Luther students was Dr. Tjostem's passion. He taught the first offering of microbiology in the Fall of 1963 and taught it for 35 years. He also taught cell biology, immunology, histology, human anatomy, physiology, zoology and an epidemiology seminar. Past "Micro" students fondly recall the annual St. Microbe's microbiological brunch. Dr. Tjostem was consistently a member of the team-taught Principles of Biology course and was a dedicated health career advisor. He coordinated Luther's Medical Technology and Cytotechnology Programs beginning in 1969.
Dr. Tjostem's research interests included algae cell cycle studies, the study of toxoplasmosis and Lyme disease, and water quality of Northeast Iowa wells. Many students were involved in his investigative research. His published research results have had a positive impact on well water quality in northeastern Iowa and he is consulted regularly on this important environmental issue. He also presented his research at a variety of scientific meetings and for area organizations.
While teaching at Luther College, Dr. Tjostem actively served the Decorah community. He is a past member of the Northeast Iowa Health Planning Council and the executive board of the Iowa Ground Water Association. He participates on the Winneshiek County Board of Health's Environmental Concerns Committee and is also serving on the board of directors for the Aase Haugen Homes, Inc. As a member of Decorah Lutheran Church, he has served on the church council, the Luce Bergeson Fund committee, the 1998 Capital Campaign Steering Committee and the adult study program. During Nordic Fest, Dr. Tjostem coordinated the Troll tours and the Lion's Club Troll's Trolly (Pokey Pete). He is also a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity.
Dr. Tjostem grew up on a farm near Veblen in northeast South Dakota. Following his high school graduation, he studied auto mechanics at Wahpeton, North Dakota School of Science. His B.A. degree was granted by Concordia College, Moorhead, MN and he then taught high school science in Newfolden, MN (1959-60). He received his M.S. degree from North Dakota State University in Fargo in 1962. After teaching at Luther College for three years, Dr. Tjostem returned to North Dakota State and received his Ph.D. in 1968. He taught biology at Concordia College in Moorhead during the 1967-68 academic year. He has been a member of the Luther Biology department since the fall of 1968. Dr. Tjostem is married to Karen (Voxland) Tjostem; they are parents of three children, Paul ('85), David ('86) and Ann (Tjostem) Kephart ('90). They proudly claim three Kephart grandchildren. On retirement the Tjostems have remained in Decorah. They look forward to spending more time at their cabins in Minnesota, yet keeping active with Luther and community events.