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Outside the Classroom: Summer 2013 Student Research

Merideth Beukelmen: Evaluating the FYRES Project

Faculty: Deanna van Dijk (GEO)
Funded by: National Science Foundation

Says Merideth:

"I spent this summer working in the Geology, Geography, and Environmental Studies department doing research with Professors Deanna van Dijk and Crystal Bruxvoort. Two summers ago, I worked on developing the curriculum for a new course here at Calvin known as the “First-Year Research in Earth Sciences: Dunes course, or just simply “FYRES: Dunes.” The FYRES course includes content specifically about dunes, but also allows the first-year students to engage in undergraduate research alongside upper-level research mentors. The second year of this course finished in the fall 2012 semester. A couple of the goals of this course include learning content about dunes, and also learning how to conduct good scientific investigations. The goal of my research this summer was to see if engaging students in a scientific research course would allow them to improve in their ability to apply scientific research skills and knowledge in a unique context."


Linden Brinks: North Beach Dune: the effects of management on an active parabolic dune

Faculty: Deanna van DIjk (GEO)
Funded by: Integrated Science Research Institute (ISRI-HHMI)

Says Linden:

"This summer I have had the opportunity to work with Professor Deanna van Dijk in the Geology, Geography, and Environmental Studies Department. I have been studying the management techniques placed on North Beach Dune in Ottawa County near North Beach Park. The dune was threatening to move over a nearby road, thus cutting off over 300 homes from road access to the rest of the state. Therefore Ottawa County took steps towards stabilizing the dune. This included placing several different types of management techniques on the dune. My research this summer was to determine if those management techniques have been successful in stabilizing the dune."


Lucas Vander Bilt and James Karsten: Investigation of the Syndicate Park Dune Area

Faculty: Deanna van DIjk (GEO)
Funded by: Van Buren County

Says Lucas:

"In the summer of 2013 I was able to work with Professor Deanna van Dijk to do research on an unmanaged dune area on the SE shore of Lake Michigan. The dune was mostly owned by Van Buren Country and was completely unmanaged, which led to large amounts of negative human impacts. The dune area surface had become destabilized and was threatening to bury multiple inhabited homes. I was able to spend multiple days in the field collecting data that helped me gain knowledge of many research methods. I used the data that I had collected to write a research report that was given to Van Buren County which included management recommendations to help stabilize the dune surface."


Chengbi Liu and Bill SooHoo: GIS and Remote Sensing of Plaster Creek Watershed

Faculty: Jason VanHorn (GEO)
Funding: Plaster Creek Stewards

Says Bill:

"Plaster Creek Watershed is one of the most polluted watersheds in West Michigan. As such, there are many significant problems that need to be rectified, including sediment loading and the unacceptable amount of E. coli. These precarious issues need to be addressed by both researchers and the community at large. We attempted to accomplish this task in two ways: by determining the placement of four new water monitoring stations and building an online application that engages the community about the problems facing the Plaster Creek Watershed and how they can help."