Westminster Welcomes Five New Faculty Members

As the Fall 2019 semester begins, Westminster College is happy to introduce five new faculty members: Drs. Joshua Holzer, Matt Howell, Jeremy Reed, Lauren Strawsine, and Zoia Kopeikin. Read about their fields of study, unique backgrounds, and wide range of interests below, and join us in welcoming them to our community!

Dr. Joshua Holzer
My name is Dr. Joshua Holzer. I have a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Missouri-Columbia, an M.A. in teaching from the University of Southern California, an M.A. in international policy studies from the Monterey Institute of International Studies, and a B.A. in Asian studies from the University of Denver. I also studied Mandarin Chinese at the Defense Language Institute, trained as an intelligence analyst at Goodfellow Air Force Base, and worked at the National Security Agency.

I am originally from Jefferson City, MO, and enjoy spending time outside, hiking and backpacking. When inside, I enjoy strategy board games such as Carcassonne, strategy card games such as Magic, and science fiction.

Dr. Matt Howell
My name is Dr. Matt Howell. I completed my undergraduate degree in biology at Columbia College in Columbia, MO, followed by a Ph.D. in biology at the University of Missouri-Columbia. While I enjoy all science, I’m most interested in the microbial world. I’ve spent the past few years studying different growth mechanisms in bacteria and hope to continue this research at Westminster College.

My wife, Lauren, and I live in Columbia with our dog, Millie, and cat, Greg. I’m a huge sports fan and love to talk about the Blues, the Cardinals, and all things football. I’m already in love with the campus here at Westminster and can’t wait to get started!

Dr. Jeremy Reed
My name is Dr. Jeremy Reed. I’m originally from Michigan and finished my Ph.D. this year in English and creative writing at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, where I was the assistant to U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo, the first indigenous person with that title. While there, I was the editor-in-chief of the nationally distributed literary journal Grist: A Journal of the Literary Arts. I co-founded two reading series and worked as managing editor of the forthcoming When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through: A Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry. In addition, some of my poems and essays are published or forthcoming in Still: The Journal, the Western Humanities Review, the Valparaiso Poetry Review, and elsewhere, including the anthology Mountains Piled Upon Mountains: Appalachian Nature Writing in the Anthropocene.

I earned an M.A. in English from the University of Montana in Missoula in 2014 and a B.A. in English, Spanish, and humanities in 2012 from Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, IN. I enjoy writing and teaching about historical contexts and their effects, and I like to examine how we learn to tell the stories of who we are and how we can reimagine them to foster the kinds of communities that can help us learn and grow. In addition to teaching and writing, I edit poetry collections for an independent press, Sundress Publications, and I enjoy hiking and traveling. I’m thrilled to join the Westminster community, to help students edit Janus, and to grow the literary community in Fulton, bringing writers to campus to share their work and meet Westminster’s students.

Dr. Lauren Strawsine
My name is Dr. Lauren Strawsine. I moved down to Missouri this past summer with my husband, Luke, and dog, Roxie (a Corgi-Blue Heeler mix), from Grand Rapids, MI. I am very excited to be part of the team at Westminster and look forward to meeting everyone.

In 2008, I earned a bachelor’s of science degree in chemistry from Michigan State University. The following year I worked in industry as an analytical chemist for KIK Custom Products. Because of my desire to research, I went back to school to earn a Ph.D. in analytical chemistry from Indiana University in 2015. During the following year, I completed post-doctoral research at the University of Texas-Austin; I then went on to do a visiting professorship at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, MI.

My favorite chemistry class is when I bring in balloons to demonstrate electron geometry and molecular shape. My teaching Interests include general chemistry, analytical chemistry, the history and philosophy of science, and the chemistry of everyday life. My favorite dessert is ice cream, and my hobbies include Latin dance, swimming, hiking, yoga, and reading.

Dr. Zoia Kopeikin
My name is Dr. Zoia Kopeikin. I grew up in Moscow, Russia, and received an M.S. in physics and astronomy from Moscow State University. After living for four years in Japan and two years in Germany, I moved to the United States in 2000 and earned a Ph.D. in biophysics from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

After six years of doing research in biophysics at MU, I started teaching physics, astronomy, and mathematics, first at MU and then at Columbia College in Columbia, MO. Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with family and friends, traveling, hiking, and reading. 

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Sarah Rummel Backer

Sarah Rummel Backer is a Media and Content Strategist at Westminster College in Fulton, MO. A 1992 graduate of the College, Sarah has more than 20 years of experience in marketing and strategic communication in the areas of higher education, medicine, agriculture, and the private business sector.