Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics are presented from a Christ-centered perspective. As a student, you are guided in the growth of your own intellectual and spiritual perspective that is true to both God’s natural and scriptural revelations.


2019 Summer research application forms are now available. Student applications must be submitted by February 18 at 5:00 pm EST.

2019 Summer Research Projects

2019 Student Application Form

Actuarial Science Actuarial Science
Astronomy Astronomy
Biochemsitry 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 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 College
  • 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


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.


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 College 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 College 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.

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:


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.


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 College 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.

2016 summer science research projects

During the summer of 2016, 88 students worked on 55 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 cancer research to a water supply design for gardens to studying hind limb form and function in early cetaceans to studying the orbital eccentricity of a specific binary star. Research took place in campus labs and outdoors. Some students traveled to other states as part of their research and some “traveled” to outer space.

Below is a sampling of 2016 projects:


Matthew Schepers studied how ant gut bacteria contributed to ant evolution. He was supervised by Professor John Wertz.

Chemistry and Biochemistry

27 students participated in summer research with 12 Chemistry faculty members. Allie Bogner and Cambrynne Rietberg studied the ubiquitination of Ras, a protein in which small changes cause more than one third of all human cancers, and how it can lead to an understanding of ways to treat Ras-driven cancers. Professor Rachael Baker was their supervisor.

Computer Science

Chris Dilley and Patrick Crain worked with Professor Joel Adams to develop a graphics library that would help educators teach computer science students about parallel programming. See the poster he prepared for the Science Division Summer Research Poster Fair.


Tube bundles are used in the chemical industry as either heat exchangers or flow strighteners. Matthew Boelens studied the effects that different types of tube bundles have on the flow of air through a section of pipe. He was supervised by Professor Aubrey Sykes. Read the summary of Matthew's work.

Geology, geography and environmental studies

Daniel Blakemore and Nathaniel Bos worked with Professor Renee Sparks to analyze 11 copper samples (some from Calvin's own Dice Mineralogical Museum) to identify metal relationships within them. See the poster they prepared for the Science Division Summer Research Poster Fair.

Mathematics and statistics

Joyce Park and Sarah Strikwerda worked with Professor Hyunyi Jung to analyze data collected from 5 universities to determine what methods were most helpful to preservice teachers to learn about algebra and algebra teaching. See the poster they prepared for the Science Division Summer Research Poster Fair.


Josie Granner, Marianna Perez and Elise Veurink, supervised by Professor Adejoke Ayoola, participated in research begun 2 years ago concerning the promotion of preconception and reproductive knowledge. This program is now wrapping up and the students visited homes, conducted surveys and analyzed data as to birth control methods, pregnancy recognition and program drop out rate. Read the summary Josie wrote about her research.

Physics and astronomy

Jacob Hartman and Professor Ryan Balili conducted their research at the University of Pittsburgh. They conducted optical experiments at liquid helium temperature on semiconductor microcavities to measure the strong coupling of light with semiconductor excitations.

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 College. 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 College 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 College 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 College 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 College 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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