A picture of Tony Jelsma

Dr. Tony Jelsma

Professor of Biology

Two things drive me, both personally and professionally. First, I'm curious and always want to learn more and understand better. Second, I want to use my knowledge and skills to help others.

After my doctorate, I worked several years in molecular biology research (cancer and neuroscience). I then moved to teaching positions in small college settings and found new ways to utilize my skills and interests. I still love research and try to get my students as excited as I am about learning more about the natural world.

What excites me about science is not so much what I know, but what I don't know. The joy of learning new things and putting pieces together keeps me motivated as a scientist and educator.

I have been a professor of biology at Dordt University since 2000. I teach a variety of courses, including anatomy, physiology, histology, genetics, and developmental biology. Teaching such a wide range of courses helps me see the bigger picture in biology but still keep up to date on new findings. I push my students hard and use a variety of pedagogical techniques like a flipped classroom and specifications grading.

My goal for my students is that they develop their own independence in learning, so that they don't need me by the time they graduate. I often get comments from alumni that while my courses were hard, they were usually better prepared than their peers from other institutions.

As time permits, I also write about science for a lay audience and present at meetings. I enjoy diving into a new topic and finding ways to communicate complex ideas to others. Science isn't worth much if it isn't communicated, which I also bring home to my students. One of the topics that interests me is the interaction between my faith and my science. While many perceive the two to be in conflict, I find that the two reinforce each other and each can help the other to help me come to a deeper understanding of this world. I have also followed the creation-evolution debate for many years and teach a class in this area.

I am also involved in studying the biology of gender. The transgender phenomenon has dramatically increased in prominence recently and has presented a challenge for the church to respond. I have been studying the development of gender and gender dysphoria, and how we as Christians can approach this complex question.

Here are some articles I have written for In All Things:


In my spare time I keep fit by playing hockey and cycling. I also enjoy playing the organ in my church.