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Calvin Honored By The Scientist
November 4, 2005

Calvin College has been named one of the Best Places to Work in Academia by The Scientist, a magazine for the life sciences now in its 20th year.

This is the third annual survey by The Scientist and is based on responses from more than 2,600 academics around the world. Based on those survey results the magazine named 15 top places to work in the U.S. and 15 best international workplaces for scientists.

The top U.S. institution for 2005 is Clemson University, located in Clemson, South Carolina. Internationally, Israel's Weizmann Institute of Science earned top honors.

"What makes the results of this survey so valuable is that professionals are providing unfiltered insight into their workplace," says Richard Gallagher, publisher of The Scientist. "Our participants feel free to express their true opinions about their employers, and that's what’s so significant."

The more than 2,600 academics who responded to this year's survey rated relationships with their peers, a sense of accomplishment in their work and access to research resources as the ingredients that make for a great workplace.

Longtime Calvin biology professor David DeHeer says Calvin brings together motivated, hard-working students and top teachers in the contemporary, up-to-date facilities that scientists need for education and research.

"There is a real satisfaction that comes from working with young people as they discover their gifts and grow as young scientists," says DeHeer, "and that is a significant part of what makes Calvin a dynamic workplace."

Indeed science education at Calvin is based on the idea that students learn science best by participating in research. Also, the majority of Calvin science faculty have on-going, mostly externally funded research programs, partly because they provide continual opportunities for mentoring student researchers and a wealth of examples for classroom use.

In addition at any given time about a dozen Calvin students work part-time in Van Andel Research Institute (VARI) labs where a variety of Calvin faculty also have on-going research collaborations.

DeHeer has an on-going project with physicians in the Spectrum Health Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplant Unit where he is exploring the ability of stem cells from bone marrow and cord blood to extend the survival of bone marrow transplants.

"This research," says DeHeer, "employs three Calvin students part time and one Spectrum Health technician who works mostly at Calvin."

This year's survey by The Scientist also suggests a correlation between job satisfaction among academic scientists and the size of the city in which their institution is located: of the top 15 universities in the United States, nine are located in cities with a population of less than 200,000 and six are in cities of less than 50,000. Seven schools are in metropolitan areas where the overall cost of living index is below the national average.

More than 40,000 survey invitations were e-mailed to readers of The Scientist and registrants on The Scientist web site who identified themselves as tenured or tenure-track life scientists working at non-commercial research institutions in the United States, Canada, Western Europe or Israel. Respondents were asked to assess their working conditions and environments by indicating their level of agreement with 41 criteria in eight different areas. The magazine received 2,603 valid responses representing 135 individual institutions. Overall, The Scientist evaluated the 91 US institutions and 44 non-US institutions that had five or more responses.

Among other institutions in the top 15 in the U.S. are the University of Florida, Vanderbilt University, the University of Wisconsin - Madison, Cornell University, Purdue University and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.