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A Necessary Element

The Chemistry & Biochemistry Department offers an element most colleges can't. Calvin's very own periodic shirt. Check out ESSENTIALS for all the latest in t-shirt and sweatshirt offerings!

Chemistry Department Seminar Schedule

Join us every Thursday, during the academic year, in the Calvin College Science Building, Room 110 at 11:30a.m.-12:20p.m., for our Weekly Seminar Series. The public is encouraged and welcomed to attend.

Summer Research 2013

Summer 2013, 29 undergraduate students worked alongside 11 faculty members for 10 weeks of full-time summer research. Students participate in a wide variety of projects throughout various chemistry and biochemistry labs. Take a closer look at our summer research projects with a detailed description »

Prof. Larry Louters lab is one of a handful of labs in the world that is looking carefully at GLUT1 and diabetes. This summer the professor and four student researchers are studying how a dietary supplement works on diabetes. Research Story»

Chemistry & Biochemistry Department Travel to Princeton University

Calvin College Chemistry & Biochemistry Department was well represented at the 42nd American Chemical Society (ACS) National Organic Synthesis Symposium at Princeton University. Prof. Anderson and students Nathan Romero, Gillian Morris, Ian Robertson, and
Keun Ah Ryu (pictured left to right) attended the June event. Seminars were given by top organic chemists as well as poster sessions containing more than 380 scientific posters. Most importantly, the students were able to meet graduate students, post-doctoral researchers, and faculty from around the country and world. Full coverage of this year's Symposium on Organic Chemistry posted in
Chemical & Engineering News

Project SEED 2011 Summer High School Research Internship

The students have come to DeVries Hall from local high schools—City High, The Potter’s House, Ottawa Hills and Hudsonville— to learn how to do science research. They’re part of Project SEED 2011, an eight-week program sponsored by the American Chemical Society and the Integrated Science Research Institute. SEED (not an acronym) offers paid research opportunities to students who wouldn’t typically have those opportunities. Full story »

Calvin Biochemistry Students Vote for their Favorite Protein

Professor Eric Arnoys’ biochemistry II class has selected their favorite protein: Hemagglutinin,
a deadly killer. “This was pretty fun,” said senior Ian Robertson, the researcher and promoter of Hemagglutinin. “I enjoyed it. Congratulations to Ian and his protein hemagglutinin, the inaugural winners of the Jane Richardson Cup for Protein of the Year! The Winning Protein story »

Calvin's 2011 Goldwater Scholars

2010 camp
Lauren Manck, Ryan Martinie, Brandon Burkhart and Nate Romero--all four Calvin students have gone into scientific research alongside Calvin chemistry and biochemistry professors. And this month three of them--Romero, Burkhart and Manck--were named 2011 Goldwater Scholars. Martinie, a sophomore, earned a Goldwater honorable mention.

Calvin is one of only two schools nationwide to receive recognition for all four nominated students in three successive years; 2009, 2010, and 2011. Read More »

"Sight, Sound & Smell" Interim Course Ends with Cooking Competition

At a computer lab in Calvin's chemistry department, students stared at computer screens, mesmerized by collections of online optical illusions. Suddenly, in a far corner of the room, two students, Mark Williamson and Tim VanderZouwen, burst into laughter. "You didn't see the gorilla?" asked Williamson, head cocked, eyes wide open, looking at VanderZouwen in disbelief. "Dude, how could you not see the gorilla?" "I don't know," replied VanderZouwen, shaking his head, a big smile splitting his face. "I don't know. I saw the curtain change color, but I never saw the gorilla." Nearby Calvin chemistry professors Eric Arnoys and Kumar Sinniah exchanged a look and smiled. It was day three of their Interim class titled "Sight, Sound & Smell," and the optical illusions were intended to get students thinking about ways in which the sense of sight works -- or does not work. Full Story »

Summer Chemistry Camps Introduce Science to over 100 students

2010 campWho kidnapped Beethoven? Our week-long chemistry camp prepared middle school students to solve this mystery by using a variety of chemical experiments including acid/base reactions, metal reactivity and chromatography to analyze the evidence. Over 100 students attended one of our five summer chemistry camp sessions this June, including a girls-only session. Learn more about our chemistry camp or check out the Grand Rapids Press article on our girls-only camp.

Project Seed Grant Award through ACS
Funds High School Students for Summer Research 2011

project seed students Calvin offered the largest Project SEED high school research program in summer of 2011 as they served one-third of the participants in the state of Michigan. Participants must meet financial eligibility requirements. High school students will be supervised by Calvin College faculty-mentors with first-year students receiving a fellowship award of $2,500 and second-year students receiving $3,000 for 8 weeks of full-time work. Learn more »

Chemistry Student Named Prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Fellow

Cheri AckermanCheri Ackerman is the latest Calvin student to earn a Goldwater Scholarship from the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program. Goldwater scholars are awarded up to $7,500 for each of two successive years to help with tuition, fees, books and room and board. Sophomore chemistry major Lauren Elizabeth Manck received a Goldwater Honorable Mention this year, as well as Junior biology and Spanish major Jacob John Baker, and senior mathematics and computer science major Ethan Van Andel. It is a distinct honor for a student to be named a Goldwater Scholar or to receive an Honorable Mention recognition,” said biology professor Rich Nyhof. “These awards represent recognition in a field of top-achieving students from across the country … Out of a field of 1,111 nominees, 278 were named Goldwater Scholars and 180 received Honorable Mention." (In 2008–09, Calvin boasted a record five Goldwater Scholars on campus.) Learn more»

Professor Doug Vander Griend Researches "Molecular Tinker Toys"

Inorganic chemistry professor Douglas Vander GriendCalvin inorganic chemistry professor Douglas Vander Griend makes shapes with molecules. “I often refer to my work as ‘molecular Tinkertoys,’” he said. Vander Griend works with elements from all across the periodic table, studying how molecules interact to form small structures. “The pieces are so small you can’t actually put them together,” he said. “You just have to allow them to assemble together.”

Vander Griend researches thermochromic systems; systems that change color according to temperature. His research in that area is helping Pleotint LLC, a company based in South Olive, Michigan, to develop windows that tint in response to direct sunlight.

Learn more

Nate Romero named 2010-2011 Beckman Scholar

nate romeroNate Romero was selected as our department's 2010-2011 Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation Scholar. He joins Cheri Ackerman and Alexandra Cok, who were selected as our department's Beckman Scholars in 2009. Each scholar will make a research proposal, work independently to complete the research project and, eventually, publish the results in a peer-reviewed journal. The culmination of the project for each scholar is a special summer gathering in California where the Beckman Scholars will make presentations of their work.

Students Face the Heat at the Chili Cook-Off and Habanero Eating Contest

2010 chili cook-offThe 8th Annual Chemistry Department Chili
Cook-off can definitely be described as a heated evening! With over 100 students, along with faculty, spouses and a handful of little ones, it was a night of delicious food and fun! The night produced Professor Doug VanderGriend as the Chili Cook-off Winner! His claim as victor of the notorious Chili Bowl! 23 students braved the heat by eating a Habanero pepper, becoming official members of the Habenero Club! Learn more »

Professor Roger DeKock receives Calvin's first Student-Faculty Research Award

roger dekockCalvin selected Roger DeKock as its first recipient of the Student-Faculty Research Award, which recognizes a Calvin faculty member with an outstanding record of working with student collaborators in his professional research and scholarship. During his career, DeKock has supervised and mentored over 40 students in his research lab and has had over 30 papers published with student co-authors. Throughout his tenure at Calvin, DeKock has inspired several students to pursue research careers in chemistry.

"Cooking with Chemistry" Interim Course Ends with Cooking Competition

cooking championsStudents in our "Cooking with Chemistry" interim course explored the science behind basic cooking techniques and discovered how chemical properties change through the process of cooking breads, eggs, meats and sauces. At the end of the course, students displayed their mastery of these concepts to a panel of judges at a Top Chef Calvin competition.

Learn more »

"Fluorescence and Applications" Interim Photo Spotlight

glowA student in the "Fluorescence and Applications" interim course experiments with different colors of glowing liquid in a lab session. The course, taught by professor Mark Muyskens, explored the wide use of fluorescent materials in chemistry, biology, geology, physics, medicine, engineering and technology.



Research Student Susanna Lynch Wins Prestigious McKnight Award

susanna lynchCongratulations to biochemistry major Susanna Lynch for being selected as the winner of the 2009 Frank and Sarah McKnight Prize competition. Susanna presented her research work in the area of biophysics and computational biology in Texas in November and was awarded the top $2,000 cash prize. Susanna was selected from a group of very accomplished research students from a number of universities across the country. Learn more »


Beckman Scholars Travel to Washington D.C.

beckman scholarsOur three Beckman scholars, Cheri Ackerman, Alexandra Cok, and Sarah Tasker recently traveled with Professor Ron Blankespoor to Washington D.C. to learn more about science policy. They met with an AAAS Fellow at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, as well as Congressman Vern Ehlers and one of his senior staff members, a recent Ph.D. in polymer chemistry. Through these meetings, Ackerman noted that she learned “the importance of having well-educated scientists involved directly in the legislative process, as well as having expertise about the two most pressing science policy issues that Congress is considering right now: health care reform and energy.” Cheri commented that “this trip helped me to realize the importance of making scientific information accessible to voters and politicians and promoting the advancement of science in the broader community.” Learn more »

Summer Research Poster Fair

research poster fairDuring the summer of 2009 over 80 students and 40 professors from Calvin's Science Division were involved in a wide variety of research projects, including 31 students in the Chemistry Department. This research was showcased at the annual Science Division Summer Research Poster Fair in October.

Students Volunteer at National Chemistry Week

national chemistry weekIn October a group of our chemistry and biochemistry majors volunteered for the American Chemical Society's National Chemistry Week at Lakes Mall in Muskegon. Our students introduced several chemical concepts to children and adults through several hands-on experiments.

Professors Recently Awarded Grants for over $3,000,000

Our department recently received local news coverage due to the number of grants we have been awarded.

  • National Science Foundation awarded a $951,150 grant to the Biology, Chemistry and Biochemistry Departments. Professors David Benson, David DeHeer, Randall Pruim, Chad Tatko and Matthew Walhout will collaborate on this ARI-R2 Integrated Science Research Experimental Laboratory. Read more about researching across disciplines.

  • Professor Kumar Sinniah was awarded NSF-RUI, "Single Molecule and Bulk Calorimetric Measurements of Insulin Binding Interactions with G-Quadruplex DNA" for $211,907

  • Professors Kumar Sinniah, David Benson and Amy Wilstermann were awarded a $208,645 grant from the National Science Foundation for the project "Acquisition of Biophysical Instruments for Interdisciplinary Faculty and Student Research"

  • Kumar Sinniah received a $44,915 grant award from the National Institutes of Health Senior Research Fellowship for his project “Biophysical Analysis of Folic Acid-Folate Binding Protein Interaction”.

  • Professors David Benson and Chad Tatko and professors John Wertz, Amy Wilstermann, and Randy DeJong from the biology department received an NSF Major Research Instrumentation grant of $270,000 for a highly sophisticated piece of scientific instrumentation, MALDI-TOF mass spectrometer.

  • Professor Larry Louters was awarded a grant from the National Institutes of Health for $223,050 to further his research on The Mechanism for the Acute Activation of GLUT1.

  • Calvin professor of geography Deanna van Dijk and professor of chemistry Crystal Bruxvoort have received a National Science Foundation grant of $185,003 for "First-Year Research in Earth Sciences (FYRES): Dunes."

  • The National Institutes of Health awarded a $55,077 grant to Kumar Sinniah for his project "Biophysical Analysis of Enzyme Inhibitor Interactions".

  • Professors Chad Tatko, Amy Wilstermann, David E. Benson and Eric J. Arnoys received a $487,470 National Science Foundation Grant to fund the Acquisition of a 500 MHz NMR Spectrometer to Enhance Faculty and Student Research.

  • Professor Carolyn Anderson was awarded a $170,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to support her project Synthesis of N-Alkyl Pyridones: Mechanism, Methodology and Application to Organic Materials

  • Professor Doug Vander Griend was recently awarded a $126,000 grant from the National Science Foundation for his work with undergraduate researchers on building with"'molecular tinker toys". In addition to supramolecular structures and nanomachines, this money will fund research into thermochromic materials. Such materials change color with temperature and have application in windows that tint in direct sunlight.

  • Professor Doug Vander Griend received a $65,000 grant from the American Chemical Society to support his work "In Situ Thermodynamic Characterization of Supramolecular Assembly Processes that Lead to Discrete Nanosize Structures."

Professor Carolyn Anderson Faculty Profile

carolyn andersonDespite being accustomed to larger secular universities before coming to Calvin, Anderson has been very impressed both by the camaraderie of her department and the diligence of her students.

"I have grown a lot in my faith and am figuring out how to express that and how to work in that ...,” said Anderson. “My students work hard, they are diligent, and they are getting a ton done. They are just really impressive, so it has been a lot of fun.”

Learn more about what led Professor Carolyn Anderson to Calvin College.