posted July 25, 2007

Luncheon Celebrates Summer Research Program

A luncheon on campus highlighted the prevalence and importance of undergraduate research at Hope.

On Friday, July 13, the Natural and Applied Sciences Division hosted its second annual Celebration of Undergraduate Research Luncheon (CURL), held at the Haworth Inn and Conference Center.

More than 265 people attended, including 183 students who are pursuing research projects with 51 Hope professors and six faculty members who are visiting from other institutions. President James Bultman, Provost James Boelkins, several members of the Board of Trustees, civic and political leaders, leaders from local school districts, as well as friends and donors to the college also attended.

Dr. Moses Lee, who is dean for the natural and applied sciences division and professor of chemistry, offered a welcome and gave an overview of the research program. Building on more than half a century of "learning through research" as a teaching philosophy, the college educates students by giving them opportunities to create new knowledge through productive and original research. Hope College, he noted, now enjoys the status of having one of the largest summer undergraduate research programs among predominantly undergraduate institutions (PUIs) in the nation. Producing more than two peer-reviewed publications per faculty member last year, Lee said, Hope professors publish four-times more than the average of faculty at other PUIs nationwide.

The overall cost for operating the research program, he noted, is approximately $1.5 million, including more than $1.2 million for the summer program (which pays for students' salaries, supplies, travel and small equipment) and about $0.3 million during the school year. Even though the college and donors support various parts of the program, Lee explained that the bulk of the resources come through competitive research grants from external sources such as the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Department of Homeland Security, private foundations and corporations.

Of the 183 students participating in research this summer, 150 are HopeCollege students, 21 are students from colleges and universities across the country, and 12 are students from local high schools.

In his concluding remarks, Lee introduced the division's theme for the 2007-08 academic year: "let's keep growing," following last year's theme of "setting new records."

Dr. A. Paul Schaap, who is a 1967 Hope graduate and Ph.D. scientist, gave the event's keynote address, and attributed the success of his academic career to his formative years at Hope. Upon graduation, Schaap received a Ph.D. from Harvard University before taking a faculty position in chemistry at Wayne State University, where he developed a novel class of chemiluminescent compounds called dioxetanes. This technology allowed him to form Lumigen, Inc., which was recently acquired by Beckman Coulter Inc. Schaap is actively involved in the life of the college, and the A. Paul Schaap Science Center was named in his honor last year in recognition of a leadership gift that he and his wife Carol gave to Hope.

Following the keynote address, there were 10 student presentations. Students spoke from the Natural and Applied Sciences departments (biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering, geology and environmental sciences, mathematics, nursing, and physics) as well as from the education and psychology departments.

The titles of all of the event's presentations were:

Original Research: The Excitement of Discovery, Photochemistry and Chemiluminescence, by Dr. A. Paul Schaap;

Electron-Deficient Photochromes to Gate PICT, Christine L. Bodden, chemistry;

RBS Analysis as a Technique for Electropolymer Thickness Determination, Dan Tobert, physics;

Concrete Thoughts on Fiber-Reinforced Polymer Composites, Lisa Kallemeyn, engineering;

A Better Way of Estimating the Prevalence of AIDS, Dirk Van Bruggen, mathematics;

Volunteer Computer Games: Using Casual Games to implement a Distributed Algorithm, Evan Peck, computer science;

Forging Connections: Biology, Geology and Beyond, Austin Dreyer, geology and environmental sciences;

The Role of System xc- in Parkinson's Disease, Matthew C. Wixson, biology;

Improving Drinking Water and Community Health in Developing Countries, Katie Matre, Jami Rubin, nursing, Katie Oxendine, education;

Effects of the Immigration Debate on Latino Adolescents, Jonathan Sprik, psychology;

The Work of HHMI Education Scholars, Billy Statema, science education.