Students spend summers researching at Calvin

File photo.
File photo.

Every summer, big questions are being asked and explored through Calvin’s summer research program.

Students and faculty are combining efforts to do scientific research that will both benefit the world and prepare students for careers in the sciences. The program offers an opportunity for undergraduate students to conduct original research under the guidance of experienced professors.

Check out what these students worked on this past summer:

Junior Caleb Uitvlugt researches molecules for Alzheimer’s cure

Senior Lauren Walker studies children adopted from overseas

Junior Hannah Pagel studies asteroid collisions

Chemistry Professor Carolyn Anderson engages in organic chemistry research with students. Her team focuses on the synthesis of a molecule called N-alkyl pyridones.

Anderson finds satisfaction in her role as the summer collaboration of professors and students.

“One of my favorite parts of my job is working with students over the summer,” said Anderson.

Anderson said her students are key to the entire project. Because the experiments have never been done before, students gather the data, consider the problems and brainstorm solutions.

“My research program would not exist if it were not for my research students,” she said.

Anderson said research gives a chance for students to learn while making progress toward research goals. She believes research is the best way to know if a career of research is what a student wants.

Anderson also enjoys seeing students become invested in the research.

“It is fun to see them take ownership of their projects and really come to enjoy being in the lab,” said Anderson.

Anthony Meyer, a student who has done summer research for two years, appreciates the opportunity for hands-on exploration and discovery of new things that are not typical to a classroom learning setting.

“Research is definitely different from learning in the classroom because you are given a question that no one has answered before, and you get to pull together all of your previous experience to answer it,” said Meyer. “It is exciting to know that you are doing something new as opposed to just answering questions from a book.”

Furthermore, students can get satisfaction from doing research in areas that they are interested in.

Senior Lauren Walker, who assisted research with Professors Emily Helder and Marjorie Gunnoe on the development of internationally adopted kids, said she loved her role of working with the kids they were studying.

“It’s also interesting to hear the stories of each family because each situation is so unique,” Walker said.

There are research options in many areas including biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering, geology, mathematics, statistics, nursing, physics and psychology.

Research is also conducted in many ways. Research is done both in labs and outside. Some researchers work on campus and others go to different states.

Researchers are paid for their work and they also receive funds to support any costs that may be involved in the researching process.

The financial support for the research comes from a variety of sources. Some is from private donors or Calvin College and Calvin alumni associations. Other forms are grants faculty members have received from institutions such as National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.

The research program has grown since its beginning in 1997. Originally there were 15 projects, 18 researchers and 10 professors involved. Now, there are 53 projects, 91 students and 38 professors conducting research.

The science division summer poster fair will be Friday, Oct. 19 where past research will be showcased. The fair will have posters illustrating over 100 students’ research. It will display research in eight different departments and some off-campus research.

Student researchers will be available near their posters to explain their research in more depth and offer more information. This is a great way to learn more about the Calvin summer research program.

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