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.

  Sign up for the 2019 poster fair

The 2019 poster fair is coming! Visit the Poster Fair page to see the schedule and sign up to participate.

Sign up for the poster fair

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Summer science research at Calvin

Opportunities
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 2018:

  • 93 students worked with 48 Calvin professors from eight departments.
  • 57 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 2018 summer research projects.
  • Students received a $4100 stipend for 10 weeks of research.
  • 44% of the projects were externally funded by grants from outside Calvin University
  • 37% 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

Eligibility

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 $4,100 based on up to 400 non-overtime hours (approximately 10 weeks) of research during the summer months, ending by September 3, 2019.

Requirements

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.

2018 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.

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:

Biology

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.

Chemistry

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.

Engineering

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.

Math

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.

Nursing

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.

2017 summer science research projects

During the summer of 2017, 95 students worked on 64 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 creating 3-D models of fossils to studying invasive plant species to researching how to combat antibiotic resistance. One researcher studied the structure of lipids and another studied fossil wood specimens in Idaho. Research took place 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 2017 projects:

Biology

Ezmeralda Gonzales and Mariah Krikke assisted in developing tools to teach children about cancer. They were supervised by Professor Amy Wilstermann.

Chemistry and biochemistry

32 students participated in summer research with 13 Chemistry faculty members. Anna Essenburg, Hyeong Gyu Jan, Michael Moentmann and Matthew Vander Wal all worked with Professor Michael Barbachyn on designing and synthesizing antibacterial agents that may be effective on multidrug-resistant bacteria.

Computer science

Jordan Doorlag worked with Professor Victor Norman testing a tool designed to help middle-school students transition to a computer science language used in high schools. See the poster he prepared for the Science Division Summer Research Poster Fair.

Engineering

Preston Ji studied the oxidation state of film layers in water pipes used to heat buildings. He was supervised by Steve Pohler, teaching staff in the Engineering Department.

Geology, geography and environmental studies

Matthew Wierenga worked with Professor Ralph Stearley. He travelled to Idaho for photography and analysis of wood fossil specimens. Read the summary Matthew wrote about his work.

Mathematics and statistics

High-resolution movement sensors can be attached to animals to observe their behavior, but there is a need for easy-to-use software tools to analyze and interpret the resulting, often complex, data. David Sweeney and Ye Joo Oh, supervised by Professor Stacy De Ruiter, helped develop and apply these tools. They were able to travel to St. Andrew's, Scotland to attend a workshop with participants representing 7 countries. See the poster they created for the Science Division Summer Research Poster Fair.

Physics and astronomy

Alex Van Kooten and Professor Jason Smolinski studied globular star clusters in the Milky Way to obtain data that may continue to shed light on the evolutionary history of individual clusters and the population of Milky Way globular clusters as a whole.

Calvin University Clean Water Institute

11 students, supervised by 8 professors from the Biology, Chemistry & Biochemistry, Engineering, Geology, Geography & Environmental Studies, Mathematics & Statistics and Psychology departments, worked on projects involving different aspects of supplying clean water in the countries of Liberia, Jordan and Ecuador. Students traveled to Jordan and Ecuador for on site research. Students on campus studied the use of sand filters in Liberia, as well as statistical analysis of data and geospatial investigation. Read their summaries and see the posters they created describing their projects.

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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