Dr. Cynthia A. Pfeifer-Hill
Professor of Biology
B.S. Biochemistry, Penn State University, 1985
Ph.D. Veterinary Physiology & Pharmacology, Purdue University, 1990
Post doctoral studies:
New Mexico State University, 1991
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Center for Clinical Pharmacology, 1992-95
Dr. Cynthia Pfeifer-Hill has been teaching at Northwestern in the Natural Science Department since 1995, and has worn many hats since first starting here. She's served as an Interim Dean for the School of Natural Science, Math and Computer Science, and also served as chair of the Department of Natural Science until 2010.
Pfeifer-Hill said the reason she chose to come to Northwestern and teach was because she was attracted to the small town and university system.
"I myself am a product of large schools whose main campuses had more than 40,000 students," she said. "I like the opportunity to interact one-on-one with students and really get to know them! The Northwestern job opening had all of the courses I love to teach and have expertise and background in (anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology, immunology, biochemistry, cell and molecular biology).
"I really feel that because of its small size, we can offer students a more rigorous degree program than can be offered at larger institutions. This is because faculty can work with the students directly and not through teacher assistants. A small school like Northwestern is also involved with many community outreach programs that students can get involved with (i.e. science fair, Heartland BEST Robotics, Project HOPE, Upward Bound, etc.)."
What keeps Pfeifer-Hill excited about teaching is hearing back from students who have succeeded in their chosen careers.
"When I hear how a student was inspired by classes or that it 'opened their eyes' to new insights or ideas, that is powerful to me," she said.
Pfeifer-Hill has received a couple of teaching awards here at Northwestern, including the John Sheffield Teach of the Year Award in 1999 and the John Barton Distinguished Teaching and Service Award in 2007.
Outside of teaching, Pfeifer-Hill is an advocate for health care and annual checkups after a recent bout with breast cancer in 2009. She also loves reading, garage sales, animals, and photography - especially of dramatic clouds or landscapes. She also loves “feel good” movies and documentaries.
Some of her other "Favorite" things include:
Color: Deep Blue
Type of Music: All kinds (everything except rap)
Music Artist: Martina McBride, Shania Twain, Josh Grobin
Book: The Outlander Series
Food: Seafood, but I really have not run across anything I don’t like!
Movie: The Pursuit of Happyness, Dances with Wolves, Mama Mia, Apollo 13
TV Show: NCIS, ER, History Channel
Favorite Sport to Watch: Football
Q: “Being a Ranger” can mean different things to different people, regardless of whether you are an alum or not. What does being a Ranger mean to you?
A: Being a Ranger means being proud of Northwestern, and that is easy to do!
Q: If you had a chance to tell a prospective student why they should choose Northwestern, what would you say? What would be your compelling speech?
A: Northwestern can offer everything that a large institution can with the addition of individual and personal interaction with faculty. Faculty and staff really care about the students at here, and I feel this is one of the main things that sets Northwestern apart from larger institutions. A student can get “lost” or “fall between the cracks” more easily at larger institutions.
Q: What is your favorite thing about Northwestern?
A: It’s hard to list just one thing, but I think it is the great students, fellow colleagues and administrators, supportive community and comfortable and safe small college town environment.
Q: What makes Northwestern unique from any other university you may have taught at or even attended?
A: Northwestern is the smallest of the regional universities, and its small size is an advantage and a plus. The student can get involved with so many more things than at a large institution. Also, if a student needs help with classes, the instructor is easy to reach at any time! My door is always open!