July 08, 2016 | News and Stories Staff

Lauren Manck and fellow lab member Kiefer Forsch collect water samples for iron analysis from Andvord Bay, a fjord ecosystem along the West Antarctic Peninsula. Photo credit: Maria Stenzel

This summer, we are following Calvin students, the Class of 2016 and a number of Calvin alums as they continue their journeys around the corner and across the globe. Lauren Manck is pursuing her PhD in marine chemistry at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California. She's studying the effects of microbial activity on the cycling of iron in the marine environment. And she's heading to places like the West Antarctic Peninsula to conduct research.

  • Name: Lauren Manck
  • Class: 2012
  • Hometown: Fort Wayne, Indiana
  • Major(s): Chemistry
  • Next step: Professor and researcher in higher ed 

What’s one thing that surprised you at Calvin?

I was (pleasantly) surprised by the wholeness of my education at Calvin. The mission was not just to make you a better student or to fill your head with new knowledge or even to prepare you for a successful career. Of course all those things happened as well, but I felt the real mission was to make you a more wholehearted person who was living an intentional life. The faculty wanted you to take what you were learning and think about how it could impact your life, to always be discerning, and they were really dedicated to helping students toward this mission.

What’s one thing you would want to tell someone starting his or her journey at Calvin?

Always stay open to new opportunities and possibilities. Your path at Calvin may be wildly different than anything you plan for or expect, but that is part of what makes it an incredible journey. If you embrace that attitude, along with the opportunities at Calvin that allow you to continue to grow and stretch yourself out of your comfort zone, I think you will find your Calvin experience to be an extremely fulfilling one.

What are you most passionate about? How do you see that passion manifesting itself in this next step you are taking?

My passion lies in learning about the beautiful world that we live in, understanding how it is operating on a molecular level, and helping to relay that understanding and appreciation to others. In graduate school I have had the amazing privilege to be able to live this out on a daily basis through my research in the lab as well as during my experiences in the field. Living and working at sea for weeks at a time in a number of special environments has been an especially unique experience that has given me the opportunity to appreciate this world from a new perspective and continue to follow and cultivate my passion for studying it.

How did you discover that passion?

I think it really has been a lifelong process that began with strong influences from my parents and grandparents while growing up with roots in Indiana agriculture. The knowledge, respect, and appreciation they had for the natural world definitely left an impression on me from a young age, and my parents made a point of getting my sisters and me out to experience it firsthand. However, it took me a while to see this passion was something I could incorporate into my studies and eventual career. My time at Calvin was hugely influential in this process, and since then, it has only grown with the help of teachers and mentors along the way that have encouraged me and opened up incredible opportunities.

What’s one class that had a profound impact on your journey?

General Chemistry 103 with Professor Doug Vander Griend my very first semester at Calvin certainly ended up being one of the most influential classes on my journey at Calvin and beyond. It was in this class that (in large part due to the enthusiasm Professor Vander Griend showed in his teaching) I found my passion for chemistry and studying the intricacies of the molecular world around us. This quickly led to spending two years conducting research in Professor Vander Griend’s lab where I discovered my passion for learning through hands-on experience in the lab and opened up so many new opportunities that have brought me to where I am today. Definitely my love for chemistry and research, my decision to pursue graduate studies, and my goals for my future career all started with that class.

Where does your passion intersect with a real need in the world?

Now perhaps more than ever is a critical time to train scientists who can not only understand the effects of our rapidly changing environment but who are also able to effectively communicate these changes and their consequences to others. We are called to be stewards of this world, and for me that means following my passion to learn more about the way it works and inspiring others to do the same so that we can continue to care for and preserve it for generations to come.

A successful path

The success of Calvin grads goes beyond job titles, salaries, graduate degrees and employers as they pursue God's call on their lives. Still, the results are clear: Calvin grads get good jobs at places like Google, Pixar, National Geographic and Boeing, earn higher mid-career salaries than grads from other private colleges in Michigan (according to Payscale.com) and attend some of the best graduate schools in the country. Explore their stories.

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