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Outside the Classroom: Summer 2011 Student Research

Research on the Beach!

Summer research students work on topics related to faculty areas of research. For Summer 2011, three students worked on 2 different research projects focusing on Lake Michigan coastal dunes.

Dune Features Inventory

Faculty: Deanna van Dijk
Funded by: Calvin College Science Division

Geography major Kyle Whalley researched the coastal dunes of western Michigan using the Dune Features Inventory (DFI).  The Dune Features Inventory is a systematic approach geared towards the Kyle Whalley working the dunescollection and retrieval of data through the means of a checklist.  It is used to define the characteristics of dune environments through measurements, surveying and observation, and covers various topics ranging from dune size and vegetation to human management and impacts. The research project focused primarily on the human impacts and management that take place on coastal dunes within Ottawa and Muskegon County.  The overall purpose of this project was to obtain valuable information on the activity of dunes along the western Michigan coastline. Data collected in the field has been recorded and is being analyzed for future studies. Assessment of each dune will occur every few years in order to evaluate dune activity through stability, growth or erosion processes. Data collection from dune fieldwork will help create two scale models to assist in classifying dunes for future research. The two scales are to show human impacts on and the management of Michigan’s dunes.
(Kyle will be presenting the Dune Features Inventory research at the National AAG Conference held in New York during the spring of 2012.)

First-Year Experience in Earth Sciences (FYRES): Dunes

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

Merideth Beukelman, an Integrated Science major with an Earth/SpaceMerideth Beukelman at Hoffmaster State Park Science minor, and Vashan Wright, geology and physics major with a business minor, researched the effects of inquiry-based learning and peer mentoring on undergraduate first-year and upper-level students. This research plays a critical part in the development of the FYRES: Dunes (First-Year Research in Earth Sciences) curriculum, a new course as of Fall 2011 for incoming freshman. Merideth and Vashan will Vashan Wright recording data at the beachuse their results to devise the various strategies that the course will use to create the best research experience for both first-year and upper-level students. They will be presenting their findings at professional conferences during the 2011-2012 academic year.


What's Happening Now?

Summer research has finished!

Along with a $3,700 stipend for 10 weeks of research, each student gains experience in research methods and process in the context of a vibrant GEO Department research community.