When you study science, technology, engineering, and mathematics at Calvin, you'll embrace an intellectual and spiritual perspective that celebrates both God’s natural and scriptural revelations.

  Summer Research Applications

Student applications are no longer being accepted. Notification of fellowship offers will be made by email by March 20. A list of students who are offered positions will also be posted in the Science Division Office as soon as all decisions are made.

Actuarial Science Actuarial Science
Astronomy Astronomy
Biochemistry Biochemistry
Biology Biology
Chemistry Chemistry
Computer Science Computer Science
Data Science Data Science
Engineering Engineering
Environmental Studies Environmental Studies
Geography Geography
Geology Geology
Health Sciences Health Sciences
Mathematics Mathematics
Mathematics Education Mathematics Education
Neuroscience Neuroscience
Nursing Nursing
Physics Physics
Psychology Psychology
Public Health Public Health
Science Education Science Education
Statistics Statistics

Summer science research at Calvin

Student Fellowships
Research Funding
Past Research

Research opportunities

At Calvin, science comes alive as students partner with faculty to conduct research in biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering, geology/geography/environmental studies, mathematics/statistics, nursing, physics/astronomy and psychology.

Paid research fellowships are available each summer. In 2019:

  • 98 students worked with 36 Calvin professors from nine departments.
  • 58 research projects explored a wide variety of projects. Some examples: studying which mechanisms contribute to some autoimmune diseases, testing techniques to locate songbird nests,determining the effect certain proteins have on cellular activity, studying the malignant transformation of kidney tubule cells, monitoring social media using machine learning, evaluating a drinking water treatment method for Ethiopia, mapping and data analysis on the cleanup of contaminated sites across Michigan, evaluating activities designed to improve reproductive health management. See a complete list of the 2019 summer research projects.
  • Students received a $4100 stipend for 10 weeks of research.
  • 36% of the projects were externally funded by grants from outside Calvin University
  • 41% more were funded by private donors

Poster Fair

As a summer science research fellow at Calvin, you are required to participate in a special research exposition in the fall after your fellowship is completed. For the research poster fair, held in October, you should create a poster that illustrates your research work and be present at the poster fair to explain your research findings to passersby and guests.

View the Poster Fair website


Awards will be made to qualified students who will have completed their first, second or third year of undergraduate study and who are considering a career in the sciences or mathematics.

Preference will be given to those considering a career in research or teaching in those areas and to students who will be enrolled at Calvin in the fall semester.

Award details

Students will receive $4,200 based on up to 400 non-overtime hours (approximately 10 weeks) of research during the summer months, ending by August 28, 2020.


Students must complete certain requirements common to all projects as part of a science summer fellowship. By accepting the research position, students agree to their completion.

2019 Funding for research fellowships

Inquiry-based learning reaches its pinnacle in scientific research. For this reason, Calvin University for many years has encouraged and arranged research opportunities for its students. One of these occurs during the summer when students work with faculty and receive salary support in the form of summer research fellowships. Fellowship funds come from a variety of sources. Some come from generous private donors who know or have experienced the importance of undergraduate research. Other projects are supported by various grants that faculty have obtained. These include grants from National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. Still more funds are provided by Calvin University and by the Alumni Fund. All of these funding sources have the same goal: to enhance and expand inquiry-based learning opportunities for undergraduate students in the sciences.

2019 summer science research projects

During the summer of 2019, 98 students worked on 58 different research projects across the science division. Students were involved in a wide variety of research projects both on and off campus. Projects subjects ranged from proteins to bees to whales to far away stars. Research took pace in campus labs and outdoors. Some students traveled to other states and countries as part of their research and some ‘traveled’ to outer space.

Below is a sampling of 2019 projects:


Kelli Laube, Sage Riley and Drew Van Andel (Professor William Miller, Biology)
Molecular Ecology and Conservation of Two Native Species
Kelli Laube, Sage Riley and Drew Van Andel studied the genomic data of a native Andrena species of bees and their population structure. They also extracted DNA from wild rice plants to identify potential primers that would amplify the DNA.


Katherine Koning and Molly VanderWerp (Professor Laura Westrate, Chemistry)
Investigating the Role of Endoplasmic Reticulum Morphology on Protein Trafficking and Export
Katherine Koning and Molly VanderWerp worked with Professor Westrate to understand the role of ER morphology on the distribution of luminal and membrane ER proteins. They identified the locations of proteins by adding fluorescent tags to the proteins and imaging the cells with a confocal microscope, and will contribute data that mathematicians will use to build a quantitative model.

Computer Science

Joseph Jinn (Professor Keith VanderLinden, Computer Science)
SLO Twitter Data Topic Modeling
Joseph Jinn used Python programming language, the Pandas data analysis library and visualization software, with the aim of creating an initial design for a new Twitter Tweet topic modeling algorithm. This could facilitate a company’s efforts to evaluate its acceptability by its employees, stakeholders, and the general public.


Henos Tadesse (Professor Jeremy VanAntwerp, Engineering)
Biofuels and Biofuel Additives
Henos Tadesse researched the impacts of different biofuel additives and different manufacturing techniques that allow for more efficient use of biofuels in Diesel engines.

Geology/Geography/Environmental Science

Kathryn Mollison and Nathaniel Bos (Professor C. Renee Sparks, Geology and Geography)
Trace Elements of Volcanic Soils and Coffee - Kona
Kathryn Mollison and Nathaniel Bos examined the characteristics of the Kona region and determined the chemical connection between the volcanic rocks, the soil, and the coffee grown there. They analyzed the coffee using X-ray fluorescence.


Yejae Kim and Taylor Smith (Professor Stacy DeRuiter)
Understanding Whale Responses to Military Sonar Operations
Yejae Kim and Taylor Smith worked with Stacy DeRuiter to analyze tag data from fin whales to identify and compare biomechanical strategies in different types of dives by comparing the frequency, amplitude and rate of fluke strokes and glides.


Jackie Amissah-Nunoo and Halle Ciganick (Professor Adejoke Ayoola, Nursing)
HEALTH Camps for Girls
Jackie Amissah-Nunoo and Halle Ciganick led a summer camp for 124 girls ages 9-15 to teach them about their health, encourage them to live healthy lifestyles, introduce them to health care professions, and inspire them to see a college degree as an attainable goal.

Physics & Astronomy

Michaela Blain, Lauren Henderson and Sarah Whitten (Professor Larry Molnar)
Evolution of Contact Binary Stars
Michaela Blain, Lauren Henderson and Sarah Whitten worked with Professor Larry Molnar to develop and test a model of how binary stars spiral together and merge, by using observation, survey analysis and computer modeling.


Nate LeFebre (Professor Peter Meindl)
Moral Heroes and Virtue Formation
Nate LeFebre examined how and why people are inspired by ‘moral exemplars’. Research suggests that exemplars who are portrayed as attainable and relevant will be most motivating. The results of this study suggest further research with other strategies.

2018 summer science research projects

During the summer of 2018, 115 students worked on 74 different research projects across the science division. Students were involved in a wide variety of research projects both on and off campus. Projects ranged from cataloging the flora in Grand Rapids, to analyzing energy use in Honduras, to studying the benefits of a clean water project in Liberia. Research took pace in campus labs and outdoors. Some students traveled to other states and countries as part of their research and some ‘traveled’ to outer space.

Below is a sampling of 2018 projects:


Carolyn Lindemulder and DeAnna Clum (Professor David Warners)
The Emma Cole Project: Reassessing Grand Rapids Flora 117 Years Later
Carolyn Lindemulder and DeAnna Clum compiled a comprehensive inventory of all the native flora growing in the Grand Rapids area and compare it to the findings of botanist Emma Cole almost 120 years ago.


Maame Adwoa Brantuo and Elizabeth Schutt (Professor Herb Fynewever, Chemistry)
Cultural Mismatches Between Students and Professors in the Classroom
Maame Adwoa Brantuo and Elizabeth Schutt worked with Professor Herb Fynewever to develop a tool that examines an instructor’s teaching personality and how they may use that to inform their teaching.

Computer Science

Roy Adams (Professor Keith VanderLinden, Computer Science)
Monitoring Social Media Using Machine Learning
Roy Adams trained computers to label Tweets as for or against a mining company in Australia using auto-coding in hopes that companies can use this technique in the future to inform their marketing approach. Adams worked with Professor Keith VanderLinden in the Computer Science Department.


Noah VerBeek (Professor Matthew Heun, Engineering)
Societal Exergy Analysis: Energy History of Honduras
Noah VerBeek and Professor Matthew Heun analyzed data of Honduran energy use to discover how efficient their energy use is and how that is affecting the country’s economy.

Geology/Geography/Environmental Science

Christina Bohnet (Professor Mark D. Bjelland, Geology and Geography)
Geographies of Brownfield Development in Michigan
Christina Bohnet and Professor Mark Bjelland analyzed the state of Michigan’s redevelopment of brownfields and discovered the potential brownfields carry for the community at large.


Abigail Stratton, Jared Deighton, Matthew Bone (Professors DeRuiter and Pruim)
Clean Water for Liberia—Data Analysis
Abbi Stratton worked with Professors Randall Pruim and Stacy DeRuiter to analyze data from the Clean Water for Liberia project, which aims to provide access to clean water all throughout the country of Liberia. Through their analysis, they were able to discover that since the implementation of the water filters, rates of sickness among youth has decreased significantly.


Alexandra Lyons (Professor Adejoke Ayoola, Nursing)
A Review of Intervention Approaches for Reproductive Health Content
Alexandra Lyons researched ways to educate the population of young women and women of ethnic minorities about preventative care concerning unwanted pregnancies. She and Professor Adejoke Ayoola helped her develop tools and raise awareness on this subject.

Physics & Astronomy

Michaela Blain, Evan Cook and Sarah Whitten (Professor Larry Molnar)
Stages in the Merger of a Contact Binary Star
Evan Cook worked with Professor Larry Molnar for three consecutive summers to investigate binary stars and how these stars merge near the end of their life cycle.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Calvin offer programs in all the major areas of science?

Calvin’s Science Division is large enough to cover most areas of students’ interests. Calvin has departments offering courses in all the major sciences, mathematics, engineering, psychology and health fields:

  • Actuarial Science
  • Biology
  • Biotechnology
  • Chemistry and Biochemistry
  • Computer Science
  • Data Science
  • Geology, Geography and Environmental Studies
  • Engineering
    • Chemical
    • Civil
    • Electrical
    • Mechanical
  • Mathematics
  • Mathematics Education
  • Nursing
  • Physics and Astronomy
  • Psychology
  • Science Education
  • Statistics

In addition, there are a number of specialties and pre-professional programs with various levels of science requirements:

  • Elementary and secondary science teacher education
  • Pre-professional health: pre-dentistry, pre-medicine, pre-occupational and physical therapy, pre-optometry, pre-pharmacy, pre-physician assistant, pre-podiatry and pre-veterinary medicine programs
  • Urban Studies
How does science instruction at Calvin compare to a large university?

The professional quality of Calvin’s faculty ranks with many of the best universities. Yet dedication to teaching and accessibility to students are purposely given priority over research at Calvin University. Professors are in close contact with their students, teaching all classes from first-year through senior level. Smaller class sizes mean more one-on-one contact. At Calvin, both research and teaching are done from a Christ-centered perspective.

Would I get the same opportunities to do research that are available at a larger school?

Probably more. A large number of Calvin’s Science Division faculty are involved in on-going research projects with funding to pay student salaries. For example, each summer as many as 70 to 90 students perform summer research. On the other hand, at large universities graduate students do most of the research and receive most of the salary funds.

Are the facilities modern? Can I get my hands on state-of-the art lab equipment and computers?

In 1999, Calvin University dedicated two new buildings for laboratory science and engineering with space dedicated to faculty and student research and design projects.

Our students work with some of the latest laboratory instrumentation. Through special endowment funds and various matching grants, Calvin University supports the acquisition of up-to-date equipment for research and general laboratory use. Calvin is among the top ten institutions of similar size in receiving funding from external granting agencies.

The Science Division's 4,450 square-foot Integrated Scientific Research Experimental Laboratory (ISRx) was used for the first time in 2011. The large space (photo above, left) houses three chemistry, three biology, and one computer science group. The lab pictured in the photo above, right, is formatted for a virtual reality rig (center ceiling) for biomolecule configuration with space for additional instrumentation. The virtual reality rig will be routinely used by all biology and chemistry groups and foster interactions with an additional computer science research group.

Calvin’s computer facilities are constantly being upgraded and expanded, providing fast access to library and web based information resources in classrooms, labs and residence halls. Many specialized scientific, engineering and mathematical programs are available.

Finally, Calvin has well equipped machine and electronics shops with excellent technicians and laboratory support staff to build apparatus and procure supplies for research and student projects.

Can I get real life experience, in addition to classroom theory?

There are several avenues by which various departments provide direct experience. For example, advanced laboratory courses and senior engineering design projects provide a bridge between school and career. Many science and mathematics students do summer research (for pay) and/or independent student research projects. Industrial internships are a significant part of the engineering and computer science programs. Nursing provides direct experience with patients in hospital and other settings.

I’m interested in being a science teacher. Can I become a certified teacher at Calvin?

Yes, many of Calvin's science division majors are in the education program and graduate with a teaching certificate qualifying them to teach in Michigan and most other states without additional training. These students gain practical experience through tutoring, teacher aiding, and student teaching in various public and private schools and have very high employment success upon graduation.

I have many interests and am not sure about science or which part of science I want to pursue. Does Calvin provide sufficient options and flexibility if I change my mind?

A school as large as Calvin can offer the diversity, breadth and depth which provide the flexibility you want. Yet, Calvin is small enough to provide the personal attention to explore various options. Major programs can often be tailored to fit a particular student’s interest. Double majors and specific emphases can often be arranged to fit a student’s needs. In most cases there is time to explore more than one career track without extending your time at Calvin.

Will my personal faith be respected at Calvin?

While an education at Calvin University will certainly challenge you to examine your faith, you will not be expected to become a "Calvinist." Although Calvin’s faculty members actively practice a faith rooted in Reformed theological traditions, no specific requirements are placed on the faith background of Calvin’s students. The faculty will demonstrate by their lives, actions and in-class discussion that they want you to deepen, enrich and expand your faith. The goal is a world-view of deep intellectual understanding informing and being informed by a robust and active faith. You will see that first rate scientists can also be dedicated Christians without contradiction. Calvin can help you become a person whose faith makes a difference in the world.

Can I get a good job or into a good grad school or professional school after graduating?

Calvin has an excellent regional and national reputation. Our graduates have been admitted into some of the best graduate schools, such as Harvard, MIT and Stanford, and are sought out by employers for jobs in local and major national corporations.

How can I learn more about Calvin University and its math, science and engineering programs?

Visit the department and program web sites listed above or visit the campus. A good way to visit is via our Fridays at Calvin program. Contact the Admissions Office at 1-800-688-0122 for information.


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