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Biology News

  • Read the latest news from the Biology Department.
    It's HOT out of the Autoclave!Hot out of the Autoclave
  • Restoring Our Local Watershed through Research, Education, and Restoration
    Congratulations to Gail Heffner (Community Engagement), Dave Warners (Biology), Mike Ryskamp (Plaster Creek Stewards), and the grants office (especially Beth Dykstra) on their grant from the MI Department of Environmental Quality for over $1.1 million for Plaster Creek Watershed Restoration. This two-year grant will begin in March 2015 and involve significant research opportunities for students, educational outreach to diverse community audiences, and three large on-the-ground restoration projects located throughout the watershed. One particularly exciting aspect of this grant is a neighborhood restoration focus in the Alger Heights neighborhood in partnership with Alger Park CRC: two demonstration rain gardens will be installed at the church, and 20 residential rain gardens will be installed in the neighborhood to help capture storm water, reducing erosion and bacterial contamination to Plaster Creek.

  • Professor John Wertz is one of five recipients receiving a National Science Foundation grant, which is for five years and in total is $1,997,046 ($479,794 of which is coming to John) is done in collaboration with individuals at George Washington University (Scott Powell), Drexel University (Jacob Russell), and the Field Museum (Corrie Moreau). It is a “Dimensions” of biology grant, which seeks to integrate individuals from different fields of biology at different institutions to answer big scientific questions. The title of the grant is “Dimensions: Identifying how the ecological and evolutionary interactions between host and symbiont shape holobiont biodiversity.”

    As John explains, "In a nutshell, we propose to utilize the turtle ants (genus Cephalotes) to study how symbiotic gut bacteria shape, and are shaped by, the diversification of animals. The turtle ants are a cool group to use to do this, since they are one of the few ant genera that have a diverse and heritable community of symbiotic microbes in their guts. Further, the turtle ants themselves are diverse, encompassing 117 different species, and are found in diverse environments and have different feeding habits. Hence, by doing some state-of-the-art genomics, metagenomics and microbial functional assays, we can tease apart how the microbial component of the system has shaped the diversification of turtle ants, as well as how the diversification of turtle ants has shaped the microbial component."

  • Calvin College biology professor Darren Proppe and a team of Calvin students spent the summer investigating the effects of human noise on songbirds. Read more in the rapidian »
  • Mayor George Heartwell issued a special Earth Day Proclamation at a recent City Commission meeting and recognized in particular Calvin College for its leadership and work in the area of sustainability and creation care. Gail Heffner, Dave Warners, and Owen Selles (a graduating senior) received the Proclamation on behalf of Calvin. After receiving the proclamation Gail voiced appreciation for this recognition and Mayor Heartwell's commitment to sustainability, affirming the work Grand Rapids is doing and expressing our gratitude for the many community partners with whom Calvin has been able to work on many important sustainability initiatives. Congratulations to the Calvin community for this recognition.
  • Calvin is recognized as a Tree Campus USA.
  • See an interview with Darren Proppe about his research that was on BBC World News »
  • Here is a BBC story as well.
  • Watch video of the Galapagos-Amazonia interim.
  • David Koetje and Randall Van Dragt have been awarded a $4000 GLISTEN grant to facilitate Biology 250 work on Plaster Creek and Bear Creek in 2013-2014. Restoration and Monitoring of Plaster Creek and Bear Creek: Community-Based Learning and Research Involving the West Michigan GLISTEN Cluster.
  • Congratulations to Gail Heffner, Nate Haan, and Dave Warners, and the Plaster Creek Stewards Project!  They recently received a $375,662 grant from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to address pollution sources in the Plaster Creek Watershed - the watershed in which many of us live and work.  In addition to involving Calvin students and faculty, local churches, and residents, this project includes several community partners: West Michigan Environmental Action Council, Kent Conservation District, the Kent County Drain Commission, and the Center for Environmental Study. Some of the activities they will pursue together include providing stormwater education to township officials upstream; educating upstream residents, farmers, and K-12 teachers about their connection to the watershed, and restoring 4 sites by planting rain gardens and native vegetation to manage stormwater runoff. This project has generated significant learning and scholarship as well as improving living quality for all of us. This grant is the result of many years of effort and hard work to increase interest, awareness, and stewardship within the Plaster Creek watershed. Thank you to the grants team, and to all those involved in Plaster Creek work.  Congratulations - and there is more work ahead!
  • The Barry M. Goldwater Fellowship is the highest national award given to undergraduate science, math, and engineering students. Each year, we as an institution are allowed to nominate four students to be considered. The winners were announced March 28, and once again Calvin has done extremely well with two of our nominees being honored. Both Ryan Martinie (biochemistry/biology) and Anna Plantinga (Biology) were chosen as 2012 Goldwater Fellows. If you see either Ryan or Anna, please be sure to congratulate them on this most exceptional achievement. In the last 4 years, our 16 Calvin nominees have been awarded 10 Goldwater Fellowships and 4 honorable mentions - an excellent record of achievement!
  • Congratulations to Yaw Bediako (Timothy) who successfully defended his doctoral dissertation at Northwestern University Wednesday, 2/15/2012. Heis now an assistant professor and we can call him Dr. Bediako!
  • The National Science Foundation awarded a grant of $199,990 to Calvin College for support of the project entitled "Leveraging Laboratory Activities to Achieve Educational Reform," is under the direction of David Koetje, Amy Wilstermann, Herbert Fynewever, Randall Van Dragt, Randall Pruim.         
  • Biology porfessor Anding Shen received a $300,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health for her HIV research.
  • See a video and read all about the research project on Great Lakes waterbirds that Keith Grasman and three biology students are doing this summer.
  • Congratulations to Nate Haan (lead author on the grant), Dave Warners and Gail Heffner for Plaster Creek Stewards getting a $58,500 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grant.  
    Read more about it>
  • Two Biology majors were presented with Calvin College's highest honors for men’s and women’s athletics for 2011.
  • David Warners and Nate Haan secured two grants totaling $11,845.00 to support the purchase of a new greenhouse to increase our capacity for propagating native plants. The greenhouse will be constructed near the Lake Drive Greenhouse hopefully sometime this spring.
    • Environmental Resources Management (ERM) Foundation for $2000.00
    • Perrigo Company Foundation for $9845.00
  • David Warners has been awarded a Calvin Alumni Association faculty research grant of $2,000 for Reconciliation Ecology and Plaster Creek.
  • Calvin College has been chosen by Business Review West Michigan to receive the 2010 Green Award for Greatest Green Initiative for the college's multiple initiatives involving sustainability, including weaving sustainability into courses, establishing a community garden, and creating the Calvin Energy Recovery Fund.
  • Amanda Hoffmeyer who graduated with a biology degree in 2010 landed an internship with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been assessing wildlife on the Florida coast after the world’s largest oil-spill disaster in history.
    Read more »
  • Biology majors Ben Konynenbelt, Susan Bardolph, Dan Mlnarik and Leah Koetje presented their research on the health of the cornea at the annual meeting of the most prominent ophthalmology and basic vision research meeting in the world: the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO), held this Spring in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Konynenbelt, a senior, is the recipient of the West Michigan Optometric Scholarship. 2010 graduates Bardolph, Mlnarik, and Koetje will be attending the College of Human Medicine at Michigan State University; the Illinois College of Optometry and the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, respectively. ~posted 6/24/2010
  • Read about the biology department's new chairperson, Arlene Hoogewerf.
  • Lori Keen, the lab services manager for the biology department, has been honored as the ninth winner of the William Spoelhof Lifetime Achievement Award.
  • Professor Peter Tigchelaar was chosen by the senior class as Professor of the Year.
  • Read about the research our students did during the summer.
  • Read a story about biology professor Dave Warners, last year's recipient of the Presidential Award for Exemplary Teaching.

Research seminars

Attend weekly biology seminars. All seminars are free and open to the public. Seminars are located in Science Building 010 and take place at 1:30 p.m. on Fridays.

Ecosystem Preserve Events

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