Scott Jones

  • Graduation Year: 2012
  • Hometown: Elk River, Minnesota
  • Major: Biology

I am a Board of Regents fellow at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (ULL), pursuing a doctoral degree in Evolutionary and Environmental Biology. I am in the Coastal Plant Ecology Lab under Dr. Mark Hester. Our lab focuses largely on barrier islands and salt marshes of the coastal zone, with black mangrove (Avicennia germinans) and smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) garnering specific study. My dissertation investigates how marsh platform elevation interacts with climate changes to influence S. alterniflora dynamics. Louisiana’s coastal marshes are experiencing some of the highest rates of relative sea-level rise due to geologic subsidence, eustatic sea-level rise, and myriad other factors. Like all other habitats, the marshes are also experiencing increased levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. If we can better understand how coastal salt marsh responds to these climate changes, we can better manage these marshes for continual health. This is important because coastal marshes offer many ecosystem services such as storm surge protection, wildlife and fisheries habitat, and nutrient absorption. I’ve been blessed to work with some amazing scientists at ULL and at the USGS National Wetlands Research Center (NWRC). These collaborations have led to exciting projects, from surveying barrier islands to searching for marsh dieback via helicopter. My current work is in the NWRC’s CO2 greenhouse facility where we are investigating the effects of CO2 concentration, marsh elevation, and hydrologic stress on S. alterniflora. This work should have strong implications for coastal management and restoration, and will extend our knowledge of a ubiquitous North American salt marsh dominant. Calvin College prepared me well for the rigor of graduate school classwork and equipped me to independently and critically think—crucial skills for being successful outside of the classroom in the research environment. Doing summer research with Dave Warners and Randy Van Dragt has been absolutely invaluable and I draw often on those experiences; they (and basically everyone in the biology department) also taught me what an advisor should be like and how to be a good scientist by example. Calvin and the professors therein also showed me what it means to live intentionally in a place to build community, something that has helped Kelly and I shape our lives down here in Cajun Country.

Patience Gallagher

  • Graduation Year: 2009
  • Hometown: Coshocton, OH
  • Major: Biology

After graduating from Calvin in 2009, I moved to Boston, MA to work at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). There, I joined the Psychiatric and Neurodevelopmental Genetics Unit in order to study the genetic bases of psychiatric disorders, as well as the genetic determinants of individual responsiveness to treatment. As the project manager of the lab, I oversaw the genetics and bioinformatics work performed on over 100 studies devoted to this end. After working in research at MGH for four years, I was accepted into medical school at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and began the program in 2013. I am now in my second year, and so grateful to be on the path to becoming a physician. My time at Calvin, and the Biology department specifically, prepared me well for both research and medicine. Not only did the coursework provide me with the fundamental knowledge base required for these arenas, but, more importantly, the curriculum's emphasis on developing critical thinking and writing skills has been paramount! Whether it's understanding a new lab technology, grappling with the firehose of information in medical school, or drafting scientific publications, I am thankful to Calvin for equipping me with the skills required to tackle new challenges and the encouragement from several faculty mentors to do meaningful, stimulating work.

Anna Plantinga

  • Graduation Year: 2013
  • Hometown: Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • Majors: Mathematics and Biology

Anna Plantiga Anna Plantinga '13 was recognized for her excellent undergraduate research at Calvin with the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship. After being accepted to PhD programs at places like Harvard and University of Washington, she chose to combine her love of biology and mathematics in a biostatistics program at UW. Read more about Anna receiving the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship. After graduating from Calvin with majors in biology and mathematics, Anna entered the PhD program in Biostatistics at the University of Washington. Besides learning statistical theory, Anna has been studying questions such as how to predict health outcomes from electronic health records and how accurately we can determine which parts of a person's genome were originally European, African, or Native American. The first-hand research experience Anna had at Calvin, both in labs and during the summer, taught me how to ask good questions and design tests to answer them; my coursework gave me a solid biological and mathematical background.

Jeremiah Reenders

  • Graduation Year: 2013
  • Hometown: Grand Haven, Michigan
  • Major: Biology

Since graduating with a degree in Biology, I have had a lot of exciting experiences. I was a pre-med student in the biology program at Calvin, but I took a year off before taking the plunge into medical school. During my gap year, I learned important aspects of medicine by working as an assistant for a physician. I also travelled to Morocco with a group of surgeons for a medical mission trip, which was an incredibly humbling opportunity. I began medical school at Michigan State University this fall and it has been quite the adventure. Although challenging, I feel very fulfilled in preparing for a career in medicine. My experience in the Biology department was invaluable in preparing me for medical school. It laid the foundations that my med school courses are building on and I was blessed to have mentors that drew out my interest in science and service. I’m so grateful for the lifelong friends and great memories I made through doing research, being a lab assistant, studying abroad, and in all of my courses. They are things I carry with me as I continue studying medicine and seeking out God's plan.

Jillian Roos

  • Graduation Year: 2012
  • Hometown: Muskegon, Michigan
  • Major: Biology

After graduating from Calvin, Jillian earned her Master of Public Health degree in Global Health Systems and Development from Tulane University. She has a specific interest in impact evaluation, data analysis and epidemiology. She has worked in Uganda and Louisiana, and is currently working at The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in Geneva, Switzerland assessing the impact of national disease programs in high-impact countries. I had never even heard of Public Health until a few of my Calvin biology professors noticed my passion (however small it may have been at the time) and encouraged me to look into it. They were right! Public Health is all about putting others before yourself--improving overall health through knowledge, access and equality.

Lauren Bylsma

  • Graduation Year: 2011
  • Hometown: Brookfield, Wisconsin
  • Major: Biology

After I graduated from Calvin, I went to the University of Michigan for a Masters in Public Health. I studied Epidemiology and International Health and worked on a prospective cohort study evaluating the effects of air pollution on pre-term birth in Mexico City. I am currently an Epidemiologist at a research consulting firm in Ann Arbor called EpidStat Institute, where I work in the fields of occupational health, environmental health, and nutritional epidemiology. My experience in the biology department at Calvin provided me with a solid background and rigorous training for my further education and current work as well as a Christian perspective on the many challenges we face in public health today. It greatly shaped my career focus and prepared me for work in this field.

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