The First-Year Research in Earth Sciences (FYRES) project provides research experiences to first-year students in a course setting and to more-experienced students as paid internships for Earth sciences majors. Both groups of students learn about science by doing science, and their research results contribute valuable knowledge to managers, scientists and members of the public interested in Michigan coastal dunes.

Learn more about

People who have participated in FYRES.

Research results from FYRES projects.

Current and upcoming activities.

Quick Facts
  • 160

    first-year students have participated in the FYRES course since 2011

  • 44

    paid research projects have been undertaken by geoscience majors participating in FYRES, including 41 FYRES research mentor positions

  • 29

    FYRES research reports have been given to dune managers

Learn more about FYRES

The FYRES Project gratefully acknowledges the following funding sources which have enabled FYRES project activities by

  • Funding the creation and implementation of FYRES: the National Science Foundation.
  • Funding public outreach activities of FYRES: the Michigan Space Grant Consortium.
  • Sustaining the FYRES project after the early years: Calvin College and the Calvin College Department of Geology, Geography and Environmental Studies.

(For further information on funding, see grant details below.)

The FYRES project further acknowledges the following people and organizations who have supported FYRES by

  • Granting permission to do research in Hoffmaster State Park: the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
  • Providing information about Hoffmaster State Park environments and activities: Elizabeth Brockwell-Tillman (Park Naturalist), Patrick Whalen (Park Supervisor) and many other park personnel.
  • Granting permission to do research in various Ottawa County Parks: the Ottawa County Parks and Recreation Commission.
  • Providing information about Ottawa County Parks environments and activities: Melanie Manion (Natural Resources Manager) and many other park personnel.
  • Granting permission to do research on several conservancy properties: the Land Conservancy of West Michigan.
  • Providing information about Land Conservancy dune environments and management activities: Jacqueline Bilello and Justin Heslinga (Stewardship Coordinators).
  • Granting permission to do research on several preserve dunes: the Kitchel-Linquist Dune Preserve Board.
Timing Activity, Event or Milestone
May 2009 Dr. Deanna van Dijk submits proposal to National Science Foundation to create the First-Year Research in Earth Sciences (FYRES): Dunes project.
August 2009 Dr. van Dijk is notified that proposal will be funded by the National Science Foundation for three years.
September 2010 National Science Foundation CCLI Grant #0942344 begins. The three-year grant is eventually extended to be funded over 4 years, ending in August 2014.
Summer 2010 FYRES project begins with Dr. van Dijk and 3 research students (Merideth Beukelman, Kyle Whalley and Vanshan Wright) developing the structure and materials for the FYRES course and FYRES research mentor program.
Academic Year 2010–2011 Proposals are submitted to appropriate committees at Calvin College for approvals to create and implement the FYRES course as part of the Department of Geology, Geography and Environmental Studies course offerings.
March–August 2011 First students apply and are registered into the course. First FYRES research mentors are hired and trained. Summer research students continue to work on details of FYRES materials.
September 2011 First FYRES class meets with 13 students, 5 research mentors and 1 coordinator.
December 2011 FYRES students give first dune research presentations upon completion of 3 team research projects.
March 2012 FYRES research mentors present results at Michigan Academy of Science, Arts, and Letters meeting.
May 2012 FYRES research mentors complete the first research reports to start the FYRES Research Report series with Reports 1-3.
Academic Year 2012–2013 Second year of FYRES implementation with 23 students, 6 research mentors and 1 coordinator. FYRES completes 6 research projects, including conference presentations and reports.
May 2013–April 2018 Dr. van Dijk receives her first Michigan Space Grant Consortium Public Outreach Grant for the FYRES project in 2013. The one-year grant was the first of a sequence of grants from the Michigan Space Grant Consortium, including:
  • May 2013-April 2014
  • May 2014-April 2015
  • May 2015-April 2016
  • May 2016-April 2017
  • May 2017-April 2018
Academic Year 2013–2014 Third year of FYRES implementation with 20 students, 4 research mentors and 1 coordinator. FYRES completes 4 research projects, including conference presentations and reports.
May 2014 Dr. Deanna van Dijk receives the Calvin College Innovative Teaching Award for the FYRES project:  In recognition of significant, creative teaching innovations and strategies that promote effective and deeper learning.
Academic Year 2014–2015

Fourth year of FYRES implementation with 25 students, 6 research mentors and 1 coordinator. FYRES completes 6 research projects, including conference presentations and reports.

The first FYRES students are part of the 2015 Calvin College graduating class.

Academic Year 2015–2016 Fifth year of FYRES implementation with 22 students, 6 research mentors, and 1 coordinator. FYRES completes 6 research projects, including conference presentations and reports.
20 April 2016 Dr. Deanna van Dijk receives an mParks Community Service Award: In recognition of her commitment to understanding the sand dunes, the knowledge she has transferred to her students, and the assistance she has provided to the staff at P.J. Hoffmaster State Park and the Gillette Sand Dune Visitor Center.
Academic Year 2016–2017 Sixth year of FYRES implementation with 27 students, 6 research mentors, and 1 coordinator.  FYRES completes 6 research projects, including conference presentations and reports.