February 25, 2019 | Connor Bechler

Two female students stand by and do work at a lab table.
Each summer, more than 100 students work with upwards of 50 professors carrying out science, humanities, and social science research on campus.

Calvin is one of only 13 higher education institutions nationwide to be awarded a Beckman Scholars Program in 2019. The prestigious and exclusive award is given out by the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, recognizing institutions that excel at providing undergraduate research opportunities for students.

Calvin has received the award twice before, in 2008 and 2014, with a total of eight Calvin students previously being selected as Beckman Scholars. The 2019 award provides Calvin $104,000 to fund four students in carrying out specialized, long-term research in chemistry or biology over the next three years.

Building on a solid foundation

“This type of award is something that we are hoping can contribute to our overall research culture,” said Douglas Vander Griend, faculty coordinator for the award and chemistry department chair. “We’ll be doing a number of things with the professors that will be involved and with our overall program to move everything a few steps towards what Beckman promotes.”

These steps will include encouraging professors and students to pursue longer-term research projects, orienting students towards more intensive pre-research planning, reaching out earlier to first and second-year students about research opportunities, and providing times over the summer for long-term faculty to share best practices with new faculty.

Vander Griend notes that the Beckman Scholars Program uniquely aligns with Calvin’s priorities.

“We have a strong history of doing research with undergraduates, which means we not only have the people, but we also have the products—the grants and the publications—and the administrative support,” said Vander Griend. “It’s a major part of what makes us what we are at Calvin—almost all of our professors here in chemistry, biochemistry, and biology are involved in undergraduate research.”

Creating momentum

Each summer, more than 100 students work with upwards of 50 professors carrying out science, humanities, and social science research on campus. “When you’ve got so many students here every summer, it’s its own society and it builds momentum,” said Vander Griend. “There’s a lot going on, and a lot of collaborations come out of that between professors.”

Calvin students and faculty have received a multitude of awards and grants for undergraduate research. Since 2009, 18 Calvin students have been recognized as Barry Goldwater Scholars and 14 have been named Honorable Mentions. Student and faculty research at Calvin generates over 125 publications annually, and more than 230 chemistry students have co-authored research publications with faculty.

2019 Beckman Scholars Program Awardees

Calvin College
Clemson University
Colgate University
Georgia Institute of Technology
Penn State University
San Francisco State University
Santa Clara University
UCLA
University of Chicago
University of Connecticut
University of Kansas Center for Research, Inc.
University of Virginia
Whitman College

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