Deanna van Dijk

Deanna van Dijk


Professor van Dijk spent her university years in Ancaster and Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario. She graduated from Redeemer College in 1991 with a BCS in math and a geography minor. She then went on to earn her MA and PhD in geography from the University of Waterloo in 1993 and 1998. During university she enjoyed significant field experiences in Presqu'ile Provincial Park (on the north shore of Lake Ontario).


Professor van Dijk was born in Oxford, England, but her family moved when she was young, and her first memories are of Sioux Center, Iowa (U.S.), where her family lived for 13 years while her father taught at Dordt College. In 1982, her family moved back to Canada, while her father taught at Redeemer College in Hamilton, Ontario. Her favorite vacation spots include the Canadian Rockies, Atlantic Canada and the Bruce Peninsula.

Professional experience

In 1998, she had a short (but memorable) stay in Sackville, New Brunswick for a post-doc in a salt marshon the Bay of Fundy. In 1999, she moved to Grand Rapids to join the GEO department at Calvin College.

Academic interests

Current teaching

  • Earth Systems (GEOG/GEOL 120)
  • Introductory Meteorology (GEOG/IDIS 191)
  • Geomorphology (GEOG/GEOL 311)
  • Environmental Geology (GEOL 312)
  • Coastal Geomorphology (GEOG/GEOL 322)

Research interests

A few of my passions...

  • Dunes: Any dune is fascinating, but Lake Michigan has some spectacular dunes.
  • Coasts: These are some of the most dynamic environments on earth.
  • Winter/cold regions: Too many people miss out on wonderful things because they avoid the cold.
  • Fieldwork: To really understand geomorphology, you need to spend time with the landforms and processes.
  • Teaching: Geography is a great discipline and it’s a privilege to be able to share.
  • Fieldtrips: What better way is there to experience geography?
  • (Undergraduate) Student research: Students have the hands-on opportunity to learn and contribute to advancing knowledge.
  • Canada: Spectacular landscapes. Wonderful people. (...and real winters, hockey, short elections, consistent metric use, Tim Hortons, poutine ...) What's not to like?

Research and scholarship

Graduate studies and post-doctorate research: I spent part of each year on the north shore of Lake Ontario studying the processes which make winter winds a dominant agent of landform change on the Presqu'ile Beach and coastal dunes.

2000-present (Calvin College years):
Long-term study: Along with Calvin students, I am measuring rates of sediment transport by wind and coastal dune change at a Lake Michigan field site in P.J. Hoffmaster State Park.

Other projects include:

  • Collaboration with Hope College studies of an active dune near Holland, MI
  • Summer studies (with students) of several Ottawa County dunes to provide information for specific management questions
  • Studies (with students) to develop a method for creating a Dune Features Inventory for West Michigan dunes.


Refereed Publications (selected)
*indicates undergraduate student

  • Hansen, E., S. DeVries-Zimmerman, D. van Dijk and B. Yurk (2009). "Patterns of windflow and aeolian deposition on a parabolic dune on the southeastern shore of Lake Michigan." Geomorphology 105: 147-157.
  • Hansen, E.C., A.F. Arbogast, D. van Dijk and B. Yurk (2006). "Growth and migration of parabolic dunes along the southeastern coast of Lake Michigan." Journal of Coastal Research SI 39 (Proceedings of the 8th International Coastal Symposium): 209-214.
  • van Dijk, D. and D.R. Vink* (2005).  “Visiting a Great Lakes sand dune:  The example of Mt. Pisgah in Holland, Michigan”.  The Great Lakes Geographer 12(2): 45-63.
  • van Dijk, D. (2004). "Contemporary geomorphic processes and change on Lake Michigan coastal dunes: An example from Hoffmaster State Park, Michigan." Michigan Academician 35(4): 425-453.
  • van Dijk, D. and J. Law (2003). "The rate of grain release by pore-ice sublimation in cold-aeolian environments." Geografiska Annaler 85A(1): 99-113.

Recent conference papers and posters
*indicates undergraduate student

  • van Dijk, D. (2009). "Lake Michigan foredune evolution and short-term variations in lake level, weather and vegetation." 52nd Conference on Great Lakes Research. International Association for Great Lakes Research. University of Toledo (Toledo, OH), 20 May 2009.
  • Beauchamp*, J., F. Van Baak* and D. van Dijk (2009). "Creating a Dune Features Inventory (DFI) for Michigan coastal dunes." Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers (Las Vegas, NV), 22-27 March 2009; poster.
  • van Dijk, D. (2009). "Undergraduate research is building an understanding of Lake Michigan coastal dunes." Annual meeting of the Association of American Geographers (Las Vegas, NV), 22-27 March 2009; illustrated paper.
  • Pettinga*, L.A. and D. van Dijk (2008). "Contemporary geomorphology of a large parabolic dune on the east shore of Lake Michigan, USA." Annual meeting of the Geological Society of America (Houston, TX), 5-9 October 2008; poster.
  • Schmitkons*, J.P., B. Geurink*, J.E. VanHorn and D. van Dijk (2008). "Using a Geographic Information System to map patterns of change in a Lake Michigan coastal dune system." Annual meeting of the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts and Letters. Western Michigan University (Kalamazoo, MI), 7 March 2008.

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