If hands-on learning, outdoor experiences and Lake Michigan coastal dunes interest you, then consider joining the FYRES program as a first-year student or upper-level research student.

Each year, FYRES has room for 24 first-year students in the fall course. You do not need to major in science or have previous research experience to participate. You should be interested in learning, appreciate the outdoors and be willing to work towards goals. If your goals including either getting science core credit in an innovative, hands-on course or exploring your interests in an Earth- or environment-focused major, then apply for FYRES Fall 2020. The application process remains open during summer 2020 until the course is full.

Each year, FYRES needs 6 upper-level students with Earth science majors and research experience to participate as research mentors. If you meet the qualifications and are interested in a research experience with mentoring and leadership opportunities, then apply for a FYRES Research Mentor position for the 2020–2021 academic year. The application process is open.

Application Information


Fall 2020 Class - Apply Now
There are some spots left in the course. Applications are being reviewed as they come in.

FYRES Research Mentors for 2020 - Apply Now

Applications will continue to be accepted and reviewed until all positions are filled.

FYRES Coordinator for 2020 - Apply Now

The application process is open. 

There are still some spots left in the class for Fall 2020!  If you are interested, you are encouraged to apply at your earliest convenience. Until the class fills up, applications are being reviewed in the order in which they are received. (The time-stamp on the student application reserves your possible spot in the course until the recommendation is received and your complete application can be reviewed.)

To apply to be part of the FYRES class:

  • Submit an online application
  • You should select and contact a person who can provide a recommendation for you (see below).
  • Applications will be considered in the order in which they are received until the course is full.
  • You will be emailed with information about your status in the application process. When the course fills up, we do accept a few students to a waiting list in case some spots reopen near the end of the summer.


  • Please ask an appropriate person to complete the online recommendation for you.
  • The person should be someone who knows your work, such as a high school teacher or guidance counselor. The person does not have to be a science teacher.The person can be a group leader, such as a youth group leader, choir or theater director or a team coach. The goal of the recommendation is to have someone who has seen you in a learning or working situation provide some comments.
  • Provide the person you are asking with the link to the online recommendation form.
  • If the timing of your request is close to the May deadline or during the summer when timing is important, be assured that the timestamp on the submitted student application reserves your spot for application consideration. Therefore, you do not need to ask someone to complete a recommendation with very little notice. A reasonable target is for recommendation completion within a week of your application. If it looks like the recommendation will take longer than that, please email Deanna van Dijk at dvandijk@calvin.edu to let her know.
  • During the summer, if you are having trouble getting in contact with the initial person you would like to provide the recommendation, then consider whether there is another person you can ask. (It is fine to make a change from what you listed on your application.)
  • You will be informed by email about the status of the recommendation for you.

Questions at any stage of the application process:  Email Deanna van Dijk at dvandijk@calvin.edu

Are you interested in being part of the FYRES project as a FYRES Research Mentor?

FYRES Research Mentors are paid academic-year undergraduate research students. FYRES Research Mentors work 10 hours per week in the fall semester, working closely with first-year students to teach them research methods and guide their fieldwork on Lake Michigan coastal dunes. In the spring semester, Mentors continue working on the research project (5-7 hours per week) towards a conference presentation and final report.

Necessary Skills, Abilities and Qualifications

To be eligible to become a FYRES Research Mentor, a student must

  • be a Calvin University geosciences major: geography, geology, environmental studies or environmental science.
  • have completed GEO 252 Geomorphology or GEO 181 FYRES (or both).
  • have prior research experience. Completion of the research project in GEO 252 Geomorphology or GEO 181 FYRES with a grade of B or better counts as research experience.
  • demonstrate academic ability with an overall GPA of 2.8 or above.
  • demonstrate potential for research and mentoring less-experienced students.
  • be available for the scheduled FYRES activities in the fall semester.
  • In Fall 2020, FYRES Research Mentors must be available for the weekly lab period on Thursday afternoons (1:30-6:30pm) and several GEO 181 class periods.

If you are interested in applying, but do not meet one of the eligibility requirements, either talk to Deanna van Dijk or provide an explanation in your application about why you should be considered for a position without meeting that requirement.

Application Process: Interviews and Notification

To apply for the position of FYRES Research Mentor, complete the online application form and provide a current (unofficial) transcript to Deanna van Dijk. 

After applications are received and reviewed, candidates who meet the eligibility requirements are invited to a short interview with Deanna van Dijk. The interviews are opportunities to further highlight/explore candidate qualifications and fit with the FYRES Research Mentor program.

Applicants will be notified by email about their application status.

Questions at any stage of the application process:  Email Deanna van Dijk at dvandijk@calvin.edu

Are you interested in being part of the FYRES project as the FYRES Coordinator?

The FYRES Coordinator is a student who coordinates activities, outreach and data collection for the First-Year Research in Earth Sciences program during the academic year.  Responsibilities include providing logistical support, assisting with data collection and storage, maintaining the FYRES website, distributing research results, and recruiting students.  See the position description for more information.

Necessary Skills, Abilities and Qualifications

The ideal FYRES Coordinator:

  • has prior experience with the FYRES program, such as experience as a FYRES student or FYRES Research Mentor.
  • must be in good academic standing with an overall GPA of 2.8 or above.
  • must be able to communicate effectively.
  • must be organized and detail-oriented, with an ability to follow directions for implementing required tasks.
  • must be courteous, prompt, dependable, honest and able to maintain confidentiality.

Application Process

To apply for the position of FYRES Coordinator, submit the following

  • your resume
  • a copy of your transcript
  • a cover letter describing your interest in the position as well as your relevant skills, abilities and qualifications

to Deanna van Dijk at one of the places below

  • email to dvandijk@calvin.edu
  • place paper copies in the mailbox at North Hall 079 (an envelope is recommended for confidentiality)
  • mail to Deanna van Dijk, Department of Geology, Geography and Environmental Studies, Calvin University, 3201 Burton St. SE, Grand Rapids, MI, 49546.

Questions at any stage of the application process:  Email Deanna van Dijk at dvandijk@calvin.edu


Email Professor Deanna van Dijk at dvandijk@calvin.edu.

Sign up for email notifications for:

  • A reminder when the application process for FYRES 2020 is underway (the 2019 course is underway and no longer accepting applications).
  • A reminder when the deadline for applications for FYRES 2020 is getting close.
  • Notification when new FYRES research results are posted on the website.
  • Notification when FYRES has upcoming events, such as research presentations in December.

Our goal is to send you the emails you want, and we will not use your email address to send you emails you did not ask for.

To sign up for email notification, fill out this form which asks for your email address and the type(s) of information you want.