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April 17, 2002

Two More Goldwaters
Abie Gosselink and professor David Koetje

For the second year in a row, two Calvin students have been awarded prestigious Goldwater Scholarships. Junior Abbie Gosselink and sophomore Brad Veldkamp are among the 309 recipients selected from a field of over 1,000 applicants nationwide. Those 309 honorees include just eight from schools in the state of Michigan as Calvin and Michigan State University both had a pair of recipients and the University of Michigan had a quartet.

Calvin's science and mathematics departments can now boast nine Goldwater scholars over the 14 years the award has been offered (three in 1991, one each in 1993 and 1994 and two each in 2001 and 2002). Goldwater Scholars have very impressive academic qualifications that have garnered the attention of prestigious post-graduate fellowship programs. Recent Goldwater Scholars have been awarded 44 Rhodes Scholarships (six of the 32 awarded in the United States in 2002), 39 Marshall Awards and numerous other distinguished fellowships.

The $7,500 scholarships are administered by the Goldwater Foundation, established in honor of Senator Barry Goldwater for his 56 years as a soldier and statesman, including 30 years in the U.S. Senate. The Foundation's purpose is to provide a continuing source of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians, and engineers by awarding scholarships to college students who intend to pursue careers in these fields. The scholarship is open to upcoming juniors and seniors. Since Veldkamp will only be a junior next year, he'll receive grants for both his remaining years at Calvin.

After being nominated by their college's faculty, students must complete a rigorous application, including a 600-word essay describing how they would set up a hypothetical research project. These nominees are "highly qualified people, not only in terms of GPA but also research experience," says Calvin biology professor Richard Nyhof, who handles Goldwater applications at Calvin.

Gosselink is a native of Cincinnati with a major in biology and a career goal to earn a Ph.D. and then work and conduct research in the field of plant ecology in natural ecosystems as well as in the laboratory. Veldkamp is from Hudsonville with a major in chemistry and a minor in physics and possibly third world development studies. His career goals include earning a Ph.D. in chemistry, conducting research and developing clean, renewable and environmentally friendly sources of energy, especially in developing countries.

Last summer Gosselink earned a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship from the American Society of Plant Biologists to work with biology professor David Koetje researching the stress response of soybeans to the volatile plant hormone methyl jasmonate.. She has also received the Karsten Memorial Scholarship through Calvin's biology department.

"I think that it's amazing how much there is out there that we know about the natural world and yet how much there is yet to be discovered. I like being a part of figuring things out," says Gosselink, who in addition to her academic work has participated in Dance Guild and Biology Club and been a Big Sister in the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program. Gosselink's love of nature and the outdoors will take her to Belize for a semester next year. "It will be a great way to get hands-on experience in an amazing ecosystem," she says.

Veldkamp's research experience includes exploring the surface features of microchips with an electron probe microscope during interim his freshman year and working full time last summer with professor Darla McCarthy researching bacteria that neutralize PCP (a common pesticide).

Veldkamp, who is currently studying in Honduras with Calvin's third world development program, hopes to spend a year or two between graduating from Calvin and enrolling in graduate school volunteering abroad with an organization like the Peace Corps or CRWRC. He has been a member of Calvin's chess club since his freshman year and next year he will be its secretary. This past fall he volunteered on Saturday mornings at Baxter Community Center and next year he'll continue this community activism while living at Penniel House, part of Calvin's Project Neighborhood efforts.

"What I enjoy most about studying in my field is that I get to learn about God's creation. I never cease to be amazed by the intricacy and complexity of it all. To even understand how just a tiny part of it works is very rewarding," says Veldkamp. "Whenever I begin to doubt my faith in God, I take a walk in the woods."

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Contact Phil de Haan
616-957-6475 (v)
616-957-7069 (f)