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Discovery on the open sea

Lauren Manck has spent 130 days out at sea, living and working on a research vessel. Her adventures have taken her from the Great Lakes to Hawaii and from Spain to Antarctica.

Lauren Manck has always loved science. But, as she approached her final years of high school, she thought that meant one thing: the pursuit of a medical degree.

“It was the only career I had been exposed to in the sciences.”

An open mind, and no shortage of opportunity, led Lauren through Calvin and into the open sea. Today, she’s finishing up her grad work at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. There, her research focuses on marine ecosystems and the effects of microbial activity on the cycling of iron.

Lauren’s a world traveler, with her journey starting in Chemistry 103.

“It helped me realize I was much more interested in chemistry than a medical career.”

And doing summer research anchored that realization.

“I just loved research and the opportunity to be working in the lab and discovering new things for the first time.”

At Calvin, Lauren worked directly with professors as an undergraduate. This hands-on experience gave her an advantage over her peers who had gone to larger institutions.

“Research teaches you how to fail and how to keep going even when things don’t work out the first time as you expected,” said Lauren. “Learning to take ownership of your own project and work through critical thinking and problem-solving skills was a huge benefit for me at Calvin.”

While at Calvin, Lauren published papers, earned prestigious fellowships to study overseas, and learned to present her research in an understandable way.

And she learned how to do her work in way that valued collaboration over competition in a way that served the common good and not her own interests.

“I remember in the chemistry department, it wasn’t just a goal to create a good student or a knowledgeable student, they really emphasized taking what you were learning in any context and trying to create a very wholehearted, discerning person, a person ready to go out into the world to make change.”

So that’s what Lauren’s doing. And as she continues her adventures around the world, she uses a “guide” from her time at Calvin.

“Professor Vander Griend developed a researcher’s prayer that applies to the work you are doing in the lab and helps you focus on why you are doing what you’re doing. That’s something I still have — and something I still think about a lot.”


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