Students join faculty in on-campus summer research

Over a hundred Calvin students and dozens of faculty participated in on-campus research this past summer. Largely falling within the science division or as part of McGregor Undergraduate Research Program, research ranged widely in topic and department, from 3-D modeling of fossils to study of chlorine in drinking water in Ecuador to the philosophy of disability and virtue.

Biology professor Ryan Bebej worked with senior Aaron Pemberton to develop a way to create 3-D models of fossils using an emerging technology called photogrammetry. This method allows researchers to inexpensively model the structures in order to study similarities, stresses and strains as well as model movement.

Senior Issac Jaques, working under Geography professor Renee Sparks, joined a Calvin team in the La Union region of Honduras to create a hydrologic map database in order to trace the flow of water in the region. Jaques worked to collect geological data, test water quality, research the piping system in the city of Chimizal and develop a standard survey for the community developer Aldea Development.

Kaitlyn Eekhoff, senior, served as a McGregor Fellow in her work with professor Kevin Timpe of the philosophy department. Her work included editing multiple publications, including Timpe’s current research into the topic of disability and virtue. Her daily tasks consisted of photocopying, updating online resources and reading and editing papers.

Eekhoff saw the project as “very applicable to everyday life,” stating, “It might not be the disability that brings unhappiness but our construction of disability that brings unhappiness.”

Janneke Cole, senior, worked as a McGregor Fellow for education professor Ron Sjoerdsma to develop curricula for schools in Liberia. One of her primary responsibilities included writing multiple literature reviews about everything from subject content to class discipline to be used by teachers.

Cole sees the research as part of the culmination of her Calvin career, saying, “This summer really helped me articulate what I believe about the importance of education, who people are, who children are, why we educate.”

Science division research receives funding from diverse sources including donors (37 percent overall), external grants (45 percent) and internal funding through Calvin departments (18 percent). Chemistry professor David Benson said that, for many instructors, summer research is an continuation of their work during the school year. “It’s still just a passion for teaching,” he said.

The McGregor program, for research in humanities, arts and social sciences, was originally funded through the Detroit-based McGregor Fund in 1999 and now is donor-funded.