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Careers: Alumni

Physics and astronomy alumni

Our newest alumni!

The class of 2016 included 4 physics majors plus one minor. Above: graduate Karl Meinema (Physics minor), Professor Molnar, graduate Nate McReynolds, Professor Smolinski, graduate Jonathan Shomsky, Professor Balili, graduate Chris Spedden, Professor Walhout, adjunct Katie Shomsky, Professor Haarsma and Professor Harper. (Graduate Aaron Abma not pictured.)

Our alumni have gone on to a great variety of careers in science, technology and teaching. Many hold prestigious positions at universities, national laboratories and observatories, and in industry.

2010s | 2000s | 1990s | 1980s | 1970s | 1960s | 1950s

Commencement 2011

Graduated in 2010s

Shaun Alsum ('13) is a Physics graduate student at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

Tim Atallah ('11) is a fifth year PhD candidate in chemical physics at the Columbia University.

Lane (formerly Jennafer) Banister ('10) is getting a masters in Education at Drexel University. He is currently teaching high school physics at the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia. Lane remarks that his masters work in Education has given him a lot of appreciation for the excellent educational philosophy of our Physics department.

Rachel Boerner ('11) is a graduate student in medical physics at East Carolina University.

Kyle Bussis ('13) is at MSU, Wayne State University's school of medicine

Margeaux Carter ('14) is a graduate student at New Mexico Tech, working towards an MS in Hydrology.

Erica Chan ('14) plans to work for a couple years before possibly attending grad school.

Nathan Danks ('11) is employed by Intertek in Grand Rapids, Michigan as an engineer.

Anna DeKievit Boorsma (minor '10) is teaching conceptual physics and chemistry at Holland Christian High School.

Josue Diaz ('14) is a software engineer for Big Data and Security at IBM in the Boston area and working on a Masters in Computer Science at U Mass, Lowell.

Charlotte DuLaney Stahl ('11) was accepted in the UNC-Charlotte Optical Science and Engineering PhD program. She hopes to eventually do research in the field of biomedical optics.

Melissa Haegert Dykhuis ('10) is a PhD candidate at the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, with an anticipated graduation date in August 2015. Her research interests include solar system dynamics of small bodies (asteroids, comets, KBOs), both theoretical modeling and observation.

Nathan Harkema ('13) is a Physics graduate student at the University of Arizona.

Andrew Hess ('13) is a graduate student in Physics at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Evan Jensen ('13) will attend GVSU in the summer and fall of 2013 for minors in Geology and Computer Science. He has been accepted at Western Michigan University for a Master's degree in Geophysics.

Carolyn Johnson ('10) planned to start TRS Alternative Designs, to design and market solar power systems.

Jacob Lampen ('14) plans to attend grad school for a PhD in Physics.

Luke Leisman ('11) is a graduate student in the astronomy PhD program at Cornell.

Rick McWhirter ('15) is a graduate student at San Francisco State University, in the Physics MS program.

Nathan Meyers ('10) is a graduate student at Boston University in the Physics PhD program.

Hannah Pagel ('14) After working on the ChemCam team at Los Alamos National Lab in the summer of 2014, Hannah is in the astronomy PhD program at Indiana University.

Nicolas Schuck ('11) works for Optec, an optics and electronics company in Lowell, MI. He also works on the side at the Grand Rapids Public Museum in the Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium where he helps to produce planetarium shows as well as present shows about science and the universe to the public.

Jonathan Shomsky ('16) entered the Marine Corps and is attending officer candidate school in Quantico, Virginia.

Katie Shomsky ('11) received her Physics Master's degree from Eastern Michigan University and was an adjunct lab instructor at Calvin in the 2015-2016 academic year.

Josiah Sinclair ('13) is a Physics graduate student at the University of Toronto.

Samuel Van Kooten ('14) is a grad student at University of Colorado Boulder in the Astronomy PhD program.

Simon Veldkamp (minor '13) is teaching at West Michigan Aviation Academy. He will be teaching physics, intro engineering and possibly some math.

Tom Wilhelm ('11) is working on a Masters of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and is employed as a Project Engineer at Market Technologies, Inc. in Charlevoix, Michigan.

Christian Woolley ('13) has returned to Calvin to earn a degree in Computer Science.

Graduated in 2000s

Philip Ammar ('04) completed a law degree in 2010 at Case Western Reserve University School of Law following two years in Dushanbe, Tajikistan working with the aid organization Shelter for Life and a year in northern Iraq managing the construction of an aquaduct to supply water to a city of 150,000. Phil is working in patent law for Turocy & Watson in Cleveland. He is willing to talk to current students about careers in law.

Chris Beaumont ('07) is a fifth year Ph.D. student at the University of Hawaii's Institute for Astronomy. Since September 2010,he has been conducting his dissertation at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. In June 2011, he was awarded a Smithsonian Predoctoral Fellowship to continue his study in Boston.

Anthony Bouvette ('05) works for L-3 Communications in their Electromagnetic Interference/Compliance lab in Cincinnati. He is primarily involved with electrical performance testing on the jet engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

Llian Breen ('05) worked for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the NOAA commissioned Corps for two years and is now a student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Kristin Bush Bolkema (minor '05) In 2010 Kristin completed a masters in English education at the University of Illinois. She married Derek Bolkema in June 2012. They live in Lansing, Illinois, and in the fall of 2013 she took over the Physics department at Illiana Christian High School. She still teaches a few English classes as well.

Andrew Butler ('07) is a graduate student in astronomy at Swinburne University in Melbourne, Australia.

Alexis Reynolds Cook ('06) is working at Epic, a medical software company in Wisconsin. She provides technical support to several hospitals across the country for their operating room management product.

Peter Cook ('05) is an assistant professor of physics at the University of Wisconsin-Superior. Peter received his doctorate degree in Experimental Condensed Matter Physics in 2011 from University of Wisconsin-Madison. Peter has received an Applied Research Grant Award from UW System to conduct solar cell research.

Elise Crull ('05, Ph.D. Philosophy of Physics, Notre Dame, '11) Elise spent a year in Jerusalem as a postdoctoral research fellow at Hebrew University, working with the Einstein Papers (which are housed there) and finishing two book projects. This followed a 2 year post-doc at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland where she did full time research, collaborating on a book with a professor there. In the fall of 2014 she will be joining City College CUNY as an assistant professor of philosophy, tenure track. She spoke at Calvin in spring 2010 on "Quantum Decoherence" and in spring 2008 on "Should Christians be Structural Realists?"

J. Clark Cully ('03, Ph.D. Michigan) works for the U.S. Department of Defense on national security policy and arms control & nonproliferation. He previously worked at the Department of Energy on sensors to monitor foreign nuclear programs and detect nuclear smuggling. After graduate work in high energy particle physics at Fermilab (see his 2007 Calvin seminar), he made the transition to Washington in 2008 via a fellowship in science public policy with the National Academy of Sciences, a program he highly recommends to other grad students.

Kristin Datema ('06) teaches Physics and Math at Western Christian High School in Muskegon, Michigan.

James Deterding ('07 minor) teaches physics and math at Chapelgate Christian Academy in Maryland.

Shannon Fogwell Hoogerheide ('05) completed her PhD from Harvard in physics and was awarded a post-doctorate position with the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Maryland. She spoke on campus on April 28, 2011.

Joshua Gabrielse ('03) is a physics teacher at Dunbar High School in the Baltimore City Public School System. See his websites: physics class, robotics team.

Mark Gordon ('03, Ph.D. in Mech. Eng.) is a mechanical engineering
professor at California Baptist University. Mark worked at Innotec for
two years before attending graduate school at the University of
Michigan where he studied the effect of muscle activation level on
steadiness in the Biomechanics Research Lab.

Matt Gritter ('05) is a Software Engineer at IBM in Poughkeepsie, NY.

Jacci Guikema Busch ('01, MDiv, Calvin Seminary 2005) is pastor of McBain Christian Reformed Church in McBain, Michigan (near Cadillac).

Kathy Hoogeboom Pot ('08) received her Ph.D. in physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder in May 2015 and is now a development engineer for Intel in Hillsboro, OR. Her doctoral research made use of tabletop ultrafast coherent x-rays to study thermal and acoustic dynamics in materials at the nanoscale. In addition to receiving several awards for technical presentations about this work, she also created an award-winning short video about this research.

Andrew Jordan ('05, Ph.D.Astronomy, Boston University '10) is now a research scientist at the University of New Hampshire in the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space.He is studying how the Sun's magnetic field affects cosmic rays. To do that, he uses the Cosmic Ray Telescope for the Effects of Radiation (CRaTER) onboard the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), which is a NASA spacecraft currently orbiting the moon.

Armin Karim ('08) graduated from Case Western Reserve University with a PhD in Musicology in 2014 and is now serving as Visiting Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Worship Arts at Concordia University Ann Arbor.

Mason Klein ('02, Ph.D. Physics, Harvard) is doing a post-doc in biophysics. He stopped back for a visit in Spring 2004 and gave a talk on Shaking Sand: Separation, Pattern Formation, and the Gas between the Grains.

Casey Koopmans ('04 minor) teaches high school physics in St. Joseph, MI.

Kristin Kuzera Palacios ('04, MDiv, Calvin Seminary, '10) was called (and ordained) by Holland Heights CRC to continue her education. She has been accepted for a Ph.D. program at Notre Dame in Old Testament Studies. She wrote a 2008 column on young adults and church involvement.

D. Lee Miller ('05, Ph.D. Georgia Tech) is a post-doc in Boulder, Colorado.

Jon Niehof ('00, Ph.D. Astronomy, Boston University '10) is currently a postdoctoral researcher at Los Alamos National Lab. Among other projects he is working on the ECT suite for NASA's Radiation Belt Storm Probe mission, scheduled for launch in 2012.

Ross Norman ('08) is a process engineer at Electro-Optics Technology in Traverse City, Michigan, which develops Faraday rotators, photodetectors, and other high-tech optical equipment.

Jeff Olivero ('07) teaches physics at Liberty High School in Colorado Springs.

David Pastoor ('04) is a systems engineer at Raytheon in Denver, designing ground control systems for satellites.

Michael Scholten ('03) has a masters degree in physics from the University of Maryland, and works at GE Aviation in the Analytics
Group of Vehicle Health and Data Management. The projects are roughly centered around data mining and anomaly detection.

Zachary Smith ('09) is a graduate student at the University of Maryland.

Jessie Taylor ('08) completed a masters in Biblical studies at Notre Dame University. In the fall of 2010 she became a PhD graduate student in the physics department at the University of Pennsylvania.

Sam Terfa ('08 minor) teaches high school science and math at Minnehaha Academy in Minnesota.

Andrew Vache ('05) was a Mission Assurance Engineer at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, working on the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS). Andrew died tragically in the summer of 2016 in a boating accident on Lake Michigan.

Andrew Vanden Heuvel ('04, M.S. U Florida) After earning a masters degree in astronomy, Andrew obtained a high school teaching certificate. He taught high school for several years, involving his students in Calvin collaborations to discover asteroids. Andrew is now engaged in numerous education projects at the state and national level through his work with Michigan Virtual School and USA TODAY Education. Andrew has returned to Calvin to teach in the physics department and develop education and outreach programs. Read about his experience testing Google Glass.

Jake Vander Plas ('03, Ph.D. University of Washington '12) Jake is the director of research in the physical sciences at the University of Washington's eScience institute, an interdisciplinary program focused on data-drive research and discovery across scientific disciplines.

John Vander Weide ('05) has completed a dual Masters degree in Mechanical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the French engineering school Ecole Nationale Supérieure d'Arts et Métiers (ENSAM). He is currently working as an engineer with Areva, a nuclear power and renewable energy company.

Josh Vanderhill ('09) is a graduate student in the PhD program in Physics at the University of Texas, Dallas.

John Van Dyke ('08) is a graduate student in philosophy at the University of Illinois at Chicago, planning to specialize in philosophy of science.

David Van Norstrand ('03) is in the joint MD/PhD graduate program at the Mayo Clinic. In summer 2010 he defended his PhD thesis entitled "The Cardiac Sodium Channel Macromolecular Complex and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome", and will be starting residency in fall of 2012.

Matt Voorman ('05, M.D. University of Southern California '10) completed a General Surgery internship at the University of California. In July of 2011 will be starting a residency in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at Geisinger Medical Center, in Danville, Pennsylvania.

Jess Vriesema ('09) has received a three-year NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship. He is working toward his PhD in lunar and planetary sciences at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona.

Chris Walker ('05) works as a Project Manager in the Design and Integration of Machine Vision Systems and Factory Automation for EPIC Systems, Inc. in St. Louis, Missouri.

David Young ('02 minor) works as an instructional designer for Michigan Virtual School.

Graduated in 1990s

Michael Dekker ('98, Ph.D. Notre Dame) is a professor in the mathematics department of Ferris State University and studies topology.

Jason English ('99) teaches physics at William Fremd High School in Palatine, IL (northwest suburbs of Chicago). He earned National Board Certification in 2005 and a Masters Degree in Physics Education from Roosevelt University the same year. He has also been teaching courses to new physics teachers or teachers teaching out of field at Fermilab during the summer.

Matthew Falk ('97) teaches at West Side Christian Middle School in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Sarah Bowen Fay ('98) teaches high school physics and math at Chicago Christian School.

Christopher Hartemink ('96; Ph.D., Mechanical and Medical Engineering, MIT and Harvard Medical School, 2004) is a research scientist in heart failure at Guidant where he studies biventricular resynchronization therapy. Chris holds a patent for a heart valve prostheses. He completed majors in both physics and engineering at Calvin.

Ben Langdon (minor, Ph.D. Physical Chemistry) is a post-doctoral researcher in the NSF Engineering Research Center for Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) Science and Technology at Colorado State University. He studies table-top ultra-high power EUV lasers. Research on lasers is truly interdisciplinary, at the intersection of chemistry, physics, and electrical engineering.

Geoff Lenters ('93, Ph.D.) studies the astrophysics of x-ray burst sources and is a professor in the Grand Valley State University physics department.

Hugh Nymeyer ('94, Ph.D. biophysics U.C. San Diego) does computational studies of protein folding and membrane-protein interactions. He is assistant professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Florida State University.

Phil Polstra ('90, M.S., Purdue) is Professor of Aviation at University of Dubuque, in Dubuque, IA.

Lewis Reynolds ('93, Ph.D '02) lives in Denver and works in the area of signal processing, specifically aerial spectroscopy for ground surveys.

David Rupke ('98, Ph.D. Astrophysics, Maryland '04) has taken a tenure-track professorship at Rhodes College, a small liberal arts school, in Memphis, TN.

Harold Schnyders ('91, Ph.D.) studies solid state physics and is a professor in the Grand Valley State University physics department.

Bob Steen ('93, Ph.D. in physics Rice University) received his Ph.D. from the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Rice University. He is now a management consultant at Princeton Consultants in New Jersey.

David Steensma ('92, M.D. University of Chicago) is Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. His research area is hematology (studying diseases of the blood, such as leukemia). Before starting at Harvard in 2009, Dave was a professor at the Mayo Clinic.

David Streutker ('97, Ph.D. Physics and Astronomy, Rice University) is a project scientist at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) in Washington D. C., which geospatial intelligence in support of national security.

David Tong ('99) received his Ph.D. in physics at the University of Connecticut in 2010 and has done work at Westminster Seminary.

Angela Van Woerkom Portenga ('98) teaches physics at Providence Christian High School in Fremont, Michigan.

Dwight You ('96) completed his MS at DePaul University. He is the head of production at AqVida GmbH, located in Hamburg Germany. The company focuses on the development, manufacturing registration and sales of oncology drugs.

Dan Zuidema ('99 minor) Dan is an Associate Professor of Chemistry at Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Georgia.

Graduated in 1980s

Marvin Bolt ('84; Ph.D. History and Philosophy of Science, Notre Dame) is a curator at Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum in Chicago. He recently found two telescopes from the 1600s that had been "lost" in museum storerooms (and gave a seminar at Calvin about it).

Howard Bushouse (`80; Ph.D., Astronomy, U. Illinois) is a Scientist and Senior Scientific Programmer at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, MD (science headquarters for the Hubble Space Telescope). His time there is split between research and software development in the Space Telescope Science Data Analysis System (STSDAS) group.

David Cole ('85; Ph.D. Astronomy, University of Chicago) is a scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory working on the Spitzer Space Telescope, studying the universe at infrared wavelengths.

Mike Evele ('88) teaches physics at Grandville High School.

Ron Geerlings ('80) and his wife Sue have served with Christian Reformed World Missions since graduating from Calvin in 1980. For the last several years, Sue has joined Ron as a volunteer in the regional office where he supports and oversees CRWM ministry in West Africa.

Eric Hessels ('84, Ph.D., Physics, Notre Dame) is an Associate Professor in the Department of Physics at York University, doing experimental atomic physics, including studies of anti-hydrogen with Gerry Gabrielse.

Phillip Keegstra ('82) works for the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) doing ocean remote sensing. This is interdisciplinary work, as they try to sense ocean biological processes using atmospheric and water physics and chemistry.

Alison Kuipers ('83) is a senior engineer at Goodrich Avionics.

W. Ted Masselink ('81) is a physics professor at Humboldt University of Berlin.

Pam Naber Knox ('80; M.S., Meteorology, University of Wisconsin) is a University of Georgia climatologist in Bio and Ag Engineering. She served in state climatology offices in Wisconsin and in Georgia for nearly 20 years. Knox is also a Certified Consulting Meteorologist and for the past decade has worked on numerous court cases; in August 2011 she was the subject of a live interview on The Weather
Channel regarding her work in forensic meteorology. Read a transcript of a December 6, 2011, Georgia radio station interview.

Steve Remillard ('88, Ph.D., The College of William and Mary, 1993) is a professor in the Hope College physics department. Steve studies microwave measurement and microwave induced phenomena, such as microwave superconductivity, microwave photonic bandgap structures, and microwave induced discharges in gases. Before his teaching career, he did research at Los Alamos National Lab, the University of Wuppertal (Germany), the Naval Research Lab. He worked in industry for several years doing research and product development, including as Director of Engineering at Illinois Superconductor Corporation.

Jon Seerveld ('83) is an optical engineer, living in Hawaii and working at the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope.

James TenCate ('80; Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering, University of Texas at Austin, 1992) is a geophysicist studying seismo-acoustics at Los Alamos National Laboratory. His group models the non-linear elasticity of rocks, a topic which is clearly important for understanding earthquakes, and has broader applications in other materials (such as damaged solids and compressed powdered metals). Jim is also Technical Editor for The Vintage Triumph, the national magazine of the Vintage Triumph Register, the club for Triumph motorcar enthusiasts.

Tom Van Baak ('80, brother of Prof David Van Baak) collects vintage and atomic clocks (see his website He recently involved his kids in perhaps the first homemade relativity experiment, reported in a letter to Physics Today and an article in Wired Magazine.

Bill Zeilstra ('82) is an avid amateur astronomer. He wrote astronomy-themed devotionals for the June 2001 issue of Today (download the PDF file).

Graduated in 1970s

Tom Ackerman ('70; Ph.D.) is Chief Scientist in the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Program of the Department of Energy, studying global warming and public policy. In 2005, he was on campus to give a lecture in the January series (audio available at that link).

David Cok ('75; Ph.D. Harvard) is Chief Technologist at Eastman Kodak Research Laboratories, studying the science & technology of digital imaging.

Marten den Boer ('73, Ph.D.) was elected provost of DePaul University in Chicago by its board of trustees and became the chief academic officer July 1, 2015. For the past seven years he has served as provost and vice president for academic affairs at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.

Shirley Fleischman ('73, Ph.D) is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Grand Valley State University and was the Carnegie Foundation Michigan Professor of the Year in 1998.

Gerald Gabrielse ('73; Ph.D., Physics, Chicago, 1980) is the 2011 Julius Edgar Lilienfeld Prize recipient. He is the George Vasmer Leverett Professor of Physics at Harvard University. He recently won the George Ledlie Prize for his research on anti-matter and in 2007 was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. His high-precision measurement of the electron magnetic moment was named the 2006 AIP Physics Story of the Year. On a lighter note, one of his papers was used in a February 2007 sketch by comedian Conan O'Brien with guest Jim Carrey (watch it here).

Keith Griffioen ('79; Ph.D., Physics, Stanford 1984) does accelerator experiments on elementary particles and serves as Chair and Professor of Physics at the College of William and Mary. In 2006, he was named a Fellow of the American Physical Society "for definitive experimental studies of the spin structure of the proton and neutron, both in the perturbative, deep-inelastic regime, and in the non-perturbative resonance region." In the fall of 2010 he spoke to the department on the topic "How does the Proton Spin?"

Steve Haan ('73; Ph.D., Physics, Maryland, 1977) studies nuclear fusion as Group Leader at the National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Labs.

Todd Hoeksema ('78, Ph.D.) is a Senior Scientist in the Solar Observatories Group at Stanford. His team designed the Michelson Doppler Imager instrument on the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO). He recently was awarded the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal for his leadership in crafting a 30-year road map for NASA heliophysics research. His work was featured in an April 2012 episode of Nova "Secrets of the Sun." Calvin's alumni magazine Spark profiledTodd and his work in the Winter 2006 issue.

Robert Hollebeek ('70, Ph.D.) is an expert in using supercomputers in physics and medicine. He serves as Director of the National Scalable Cluster Project, Chief Architect for the National Digital Mamography Archive, and Professor of Physics at the University of Pennsylvania.

James Huffman ('79, Ph.D. Michigan State) is Director of Sales and Manufacturing at the Lawrence Semiconductor Research Laboratory.

James Katerberg ('75, PhD, Physics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, '80) works for the Kodak Graphic Communication Group. James has 20 patents in the field of inkjet. James is the intellectual property coordinator for Dayton Ohio based inkjet group.

Harold Reitsema ('72, Ph.D. Astronomy, New Mexico State) leads the Advanced Systems group at Ball Aerospace, which is responsible for developing new mission concepts for NASA, such as Deep Impact and the Kepler mission to discover Earth-like planets around nearby stars. His past work includes building Hubble Space Telescope instruments, the Submillimeter Wave Astronomy Satellite, and the GIOTTO mission to Comet Halley.

Lyle Roelofs ('75, Ph.D., Physics, Maryland) On June 30, 2012, Lyle will become the ninth president of Berea College in Berea, Ky. Founded in 1855 by abolitionist preacher John G. Fee, Berea is a Christian liberal arts college committed to the Appalachian region and to interracial education. Lyle currently serves as Provost and Dean of the Faculty and as professor of physics at Colgate University. Besides teaching, Lyle has held a number of administrataive posts, visiting appointments and research fellowships in his 35-plus years of academic service. His research area is computational condensed matter physics; he spoke on campus in spring 2011.

Stuart Rupke ('71, M.D.) is a physician and assistant program director of a medical residency program at Synergy Medical Education Alliance.

Tom Strikwerda ('71, Ph.D) supervises the Mission Concept and Analysis group at the Applied Physics Lab of John Hopkins University, which worked on the NEAR mission to the asteroid Eros. Read the Fall 2014 Spark alumni profile "Space Protector."

Joe VanAndel ('78, Masters in Computer Science, U.C.Berkeley) works in the Earth Observing Laboratory at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, writing data acquisition and control software for weather radar systems.

James VanDam ('70, Ph.D.) is the research division director of the Office of Fusion Energy Sciences, part of the U.S. Department of Energy. Previously Jim was professor and director at the Institute for Fusion Studies at the University of Texas, Austin.

Hugh Vander Plas ('72, Ph.D. '76 from Stanford in Materials Science) worked at Hewlett Packard for 22 years, filing several patents for devices that include components for high-speed ink-jet printers. He began a second career as the Science Program Director at the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust before his death in 2012.

John Zwart ('77, Ph.D. Michigan State) is a physics professor at Dordt College in Sioux Center Iowa.

Graduated in 1960s

Alvin Compaan ('65; Ph.D., 1971 Chicago) develops technologies for solar power cells as Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and Director of the Center for Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Toledo.

After 19 years, Ryan Doezema ('64; Ph.D., Physics, U. Maryland) recently stepped down as Chair of the University of Oklahoma Department of Physics and Astronomy. "[Doezema] has secured a place in history as one of the most oustanding department chairs ever," said Paul B. Bell Jr., dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University. (more)

Ken Klaasen ('68, M.S. Aerospace Science, University of Michigan) is Supervisor of the Imaging Science Group at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He has been involved in the imaging experiments on many solar system exploration missions including Mariner 10, Viking Orbiter, and the Galileo mission to Jupiter, and most recently coordinated all aspects of scientific mission planning and flight operation for the Deep Impact mission to Comet Tempel 1. Read an interview with Ken about the Stardust-NEXT mission he is currently involved in.

Rick Shoemaker ('66, Ph.D.) is professor and director at the Optical Sciences Center at the University of Arizona. He hosted the Astronomy in the Southwest interim class on the day they visited Tucson in January 2009.

Paul Vanden Bout ('61, Ph.D. U. C. Berkeley) recently completed 18 years as Director of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. He won Calvin's Distinguished Alumni Award in 2003. He was featured in an article in the Sparc alumni magazine.

Matt Vanderhill ('69; Ph.D., Univ of Wisconsin Madison, 1974) is Staff Scientist at MIT Lincoln Laboratory.

Terry Van Kalker ('64) teaches at Grand Rapids Christian High School.

John Van Zytveld ('62, Ph.D. Michigan State) serves as a Senior Program Officer at M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust in Vancouver, Washington, and is a former Calvin Physics professor.

Graduated in 1950s

Alex Dragt ('58; Ph.D. Physics U. C. Berkeley) studies mathematical physics, is a Professor of Physics and former department chair at the University of Maryland, and won Calvin's Distinguished Alumni Award in 1985.

The Honorable Vernon J. Ehlers ( '56; Ph.D. U. C. Berkeley) served as a United States Congressmen, representing western Michigan, from 1993 until 2011. A former Calvin Physics professor, he won Calvin's Distinguished Alumni Award in 1996.

Henk Van Andel ('59, Ph.D.) is past president of The King's University College in Edmonton Alberta.


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Gerald Gabrielse, a physics major and '73 graduate of Calvin College: from Calvin to Harvard University to the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland, you can get there from here! Read more »

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Read the Spring 2014 issue of Scope (.pdf), the Physics and Asronomy alumni newsletter.