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Outside the Classroom: Summer 2010 Student Research


Catie Phillabaum: First-Year Research Experience in Earth Sciences (FYRES): Dunes – Curriculum Development

Faculty: Deanna van Dijk (GEO) and Crystal Bruxvoort (Science Ed.)
Funded by: National Science Foundation grant

Catie Phillabaum
Geology Major Catie Phillabaum (Indianapolis, IN) started the planning for the First-Year Research in Earth Sciences (FYRES): Dunes course which will be offered in Fall 2011. This course will be open to first-year first-semester students led by Dr. van Dijk and six upper-level student research mentors. This summer Catie investigated similar course models, designed a course to maximize learning potential for students and prepared facilitation techniques for mentors in a research setting.

Abbie Belford and Seth Kenbeek: Geospatial Coastal Dune Movement Detection

Faculty: Jason VanHorn (GEO) and Deanna van Dijk (GEO)
Funded by: Integrated Science Research Institute (ISRI) at Calvin College

Abbie Belford and Seth KenbeekInterdisciplinary/Pre-architecture major Abbie Belford (Batavia, IL) and Geography/ Geology/Economics major Seth Kenbeek (Uxbridge, MA) shared an ISRI summer-research 2010 grant investigating dune movement and activity using remote sensing techniques on historic aerial photographs. Abbie and Seth also examined GPS data and LIDAR data to compare with more recent aerial photos. They focused on North Beach Park dune in Spring Lake, MI and the dunes in Hoffmaster State Park in Norton Shores, MI.

Emma DeVries: Geographic Dimensions of Spanish Terrorism: Context, Methods, and Analysis

Faculty: Jason VanHorn (GEO)
Funded by: McGregor Undergraduate Research Program

Emma DeVriesEnvironmental Studies/ Geography and Spanish major Emma DeVries (Grand Rapids, MI) worked with Jason VanHorn to create a complete dataset of terrorism in Madrid, Spain from 1968-2009. Drawing on her Spanish fluency, Emma collected spatial information from historic archives of Spanish newspapers, determining the exact location of each incident (latitude and longitude). With the completed dataset, Emma and Dr. VanHorn used Geographic Information System approaches to spatially analyze incidents to better understand the geography of terrorism in Spain in an effort prevent future attacks.

Michael Swierenga: Plaster Creek Environmental Assessment Project

Faculty:  Ralph Stearley (GEO) and Randy VanDragt (Biology)
Funding:  Integrated Science Research Institute (ISRI)

Michael Swierenga
Geology major/biology minor Michael Swierenga conducted research on Plaster Creek during the summer and fall of 2010.  Michael’s work involved creating inventories of biota found at specific sites along Plaster Creek, as well as making geomorphologic assessments of those sites, concentrating especially on areas degraded by anthropogenic forces.  His biological and geomorphologic data will be compared to sporadic studies conducted over the past 35 years, including the last survey conducted by the Michigan DNRE, in 2001.  A final report will be generated that will seek to create goals for river restoration which will build on prior assessments reflected in the current Plaster Creek Watershed Management Plan.