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 science research at Calvin
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
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.
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 1, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.