posted November 11, 2013

Research Conference Involves Students & Faculty

Members of the Hope College campus community engaged in student-faculty collaborative research will be participating in the seventh annual West Michigan Regional Undergraduate Science Conference, being held at the Van Andel Research Institute in Grand Rapids on Saturday, Nov. 16.

The event features research poster presentations by the attending undergraduates as well as short research talks by faculty scientists, with a keynote address by Dr. Scott Barolo of the University of Michigan Medical School.  It is underwritten by Aquinas College, Calvin College, Grand Valley State University, Hope and the Van Andel Institute Graduate School.

The 30 Hope students who are attending represent a variety of fields of study, including biochemistry, biology, biomedical engineering, cell and molecular biology, chemistry, computer science, microbiology and physics.  Several who have been involved in collaborative faculty-student research will be among the presenters, sharing their work on topics ranging from “Alleviation of Phantom Limb Pain through Surface Stimulation” to “The effect of different wavelengths of light on development and behavior of grow-out Pekin ducks” to “Electrodeposition and Dealloying of Nickel-Cobalt Thin Films.”

Dr. Virginia McDonough, associate professor of biology and chairperson of the department, will be among the event’s faculty presenters, discussing “How do cells know what they eat?  Molecular recognition of dietary lipids by cells.”

Hope students engage in original, collaborative research with faculty mentors during both the school year and the summer.  Hope has one of the largest summer undergraduate research programs for undergraduate student-faculty research in the nation among non-Ph.D. granting institutions, with some 160 students from Hope as well as from other colleges and universities participating in research full-time for eight to 10 weeks each year.

The college has repeatedly received national recognition for its effective emphasis on teaching through involvement in collaborative research and creative performance.  Among other recent honors, the “Best Colleges” guide published by “U.S. News & World Report” recognizes Hope as one of just 39 institutions of all types, and one of only eight national liberal arts colleges, that provide outstanding undergraduate research/creative project opportunities.  In 2011, the Council on Undergraduate Research chose Hope to present its national Undergraduate Research Week webinar designed to help other colleges and universities.

Established by Jay and Betty Van Andel in 1996, Van Andel Institute is an independent research and educational organization based in Grand Rapids dedicated to preserving, enhancing and expanding the frontiers of medical science, and to achieving excellence in education by probing fundamental issues of education and the learning process.  Van Andel Research Institute (VARI), VAI’s research arm, is dedicated to studying the genetic, cellular and molecular origins of cancer, Parkinson’s and other diseases and working to translate those findings into effective therapies. This is accomplished through the work of more than 200 researchers in on-site laboratories and in collaborative partnerships that span the globe.  More information is available online at vai.org.