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McGregor Fellows Start Their Assignments
June 6, 2005

Calvin College sophomore Elizabeth Osinga is one of 15 Calvin students who will spend 10 weeks this summer working with a professor on a graduate-level research project.

Osinga, who carries majors in both history and art history, as well as a minor in archaeology, will partner with Bert de Vries, a Calvin professor of history and director of the college's archaeology minor, on a study of Nabataean temple architecture.

The project, "Religion and Society in the Transition from Arabia Petraea to Roman Arabia," will earn Osinga a $3,300 stipend from Calvin’s McGregor Summer Research Fellowships program along with valuable work experience.

The Brookfield, Wis., native is excited about the opportunity.

"It will be a chance for me to work with a professional," she says, "and improve my methods and my writing."

The McGregor program has been a fixture at Calvin since the Detroit-based McGregor Fund gave the college a $100,000 grant in 1999 to fund approximately 10 faculty-student fellowships annually.

His project with Osinga, de Vries says, is a scholarly outgrowth of Petra: Lost City of Stone, the comprehensive exhibition of Nabataean culture visiting Calvin from April 4 through August 15.

The Nabataeans, Arab traders who built the magnificent city of Petra, also established several other cities in the Transjordan, among them Khirbet edh-Dharih and Khirbet et-Tannur.

Osinga and de Vries will be studying temple architecture from these cities - including artifacts in the Petra: Lost City of Stone exhibition - and contemporaneous Roman sites to analyze a "moment" in Nabataean architectural history: the decades of transition, in late first through early second century A.D., when Nabataean autonomy gave way to Roman rule.

The project will culminate in an article, co-authored by de Vries and Osinga, for publication in a scholarly journal.

The article will also serve as an introductory chapter in Religion and Society at Umm el-Jimal, the second volume in de Vries’ publications about his two-decade excavation efforts at Umm el-Jimal, a Nabataean site in northern Jordan.

"This project fits well within the goals of the McGregor Program," says Janel Curry, Calvin dean for research and scholar and director of the McGregor Program. "It involves a student in a full range of research activities, from the development of a bibliography, to analysis of information and data, to writing. Through these activities, students get a taste of what research involves, but also develop skills and experiences that both help them get into graduate school and succeed once they get there. This model transforms the student-faculty relationship into one of becoming colleagues - a relationship which extends far past the time the students graduate from Calvin."

Similar collegial relationships are being forged in the other 14 McGregor faculty-student partnerships where junior Eric Baker will study "The Media in Kenya: Values and Obligations in an Emerging Democracy" with communication arts and sciences professor Mark Fackler; sophomore Karianne Pasma will partner with music professor Charsie Sawyer on "A Classical Song Book for African-American Women Composers for Solo Voice" and junior Samuel De Walle will examine "The Role of Cerebral Hemispheres in Emotions" with psychology professor Paul Moes.