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Hastings-Tolsma Awarded a Fulbright Scholar Grant

South African indigenous plants may hold clue to initiating labor

Marie Hastings-Tolsma, PhD, CNM, FACNM, RN, associate professor at the University of Colorado College of Nursing, has been awarded a Fulbright Scholar grant to lecture and conduct research at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa during the 2012-2013 academic year. The grant was recently announced by the United States Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.

Hastings-Tolsma will conduct research which examines the indigenous plants commonly consumed by women in South Africa related to pregnancy and birth, particularly those used to initiate labor and to accelerate labor progress by midwives and traditional birth attendants. She will then compare the compounds in those herbs to compounds found in herbs commonly used by U.S. women. Findings have the potential to help researchers understand what triggers the onset of labor, a process that remains elusive. Such knowledge could contribute to the development of interventions that could either halt preterm labor or initiate labor at term. She has recently investigated the mechanism of action of red raspberry leaf tea on parturition when used during pregnancy.

Hastings-Tolsma teaches in the nurse midwifery and doctoral nursing programs, as well as practices in the faculty nurse midwifery full-scope practice. Her research examines nurse midwifery outcomes and, in particular, alternative therapies used in cervical ripening. Last year, Hastings-Tolsma was inducted as a Fellow in the American College of Nurse Midwives.

Roderick Nairn, PhD, Provost for the University of Colorado Denver|Anschutz Medical Campus said that Hasting-Tolsma’s work is representative of all Fulbright scholars and the university benefits greatly from their efforts. "Their work abroad has allowed them to return to our university to influence the internationalization of the curriculum.” said Nairn. Additionally, they serve as role models, encouraging students to study abroad and engage in international careers and their colleagues to pursue international research and teaching. Their efforts are an enduring contribution to the university's reputation as a globally engaged institution."

Hastings-Tolsma is one of approximately 1,100 U.S. faculty and professionals who will travel abroad through the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program in 2012-2013.

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The primary source of funding for the Fulbright Program is an annual appropriate made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations and foundations in foreign countries and in the United States also provide direct and indirect support. Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their field. The Program operates in more than 155 countries worldwide.​