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Ms. Suzanne J. DeVries-Zimmerman, Dr. Brian Bodenbender and Dr. Edward Hansen, Department of Geological and Environmental Science. Multi-proxy Investigation of Paleoenvironmental Change in Coastal Dune Complexes. Proposal.

This module will supplement the existing GES 203 Historical Geology and the GES 251 Surficial Geology curriculums by teaching Quaternary environmental proxy methodologies and their use in reconstructing conditions in ancient environments and, subsequently, using these proxy data and reconstructions to test research hypotheses on Quaternary paleoenvironmental conditions. Paleoenvironmental indicators, such as testate amoebae, charcoal, pollen, diatoms, sand percentages, and plant macrofossils from lake sediment cores, can be used as proxies for past climatic conditions. In a series of laboratory exercises, students in Historical Geology will use a lake core multi-proxy dataset consisting of sand percentages, stable isotopes, diatoms, plant macrofossils, and pollen from several different lakes to examine whether there is a relationship between changes in sand percentages (dune mobility/stability) and changes in environmental conditions (e.g., change in vegetation community). In Surficial Geology, students will use the dataset more extensively to research additional environmental change hypotheses, such as, is there a relationship between changing pollen percentages of a particular species (hemlock) and changes in the diatom community (lake level, amount of precipitation). This project affords many opportunities for undergraduate students to contribute to and be actively involved in the scientific process as well as learning essential scientific skills needed for paleoenvironmental study. In addition, the multi-proxy database will be expanded as more proxy analyses are completed. Thus, the research scope and potential of this module will expand over time.


Dr. Benjamin Kopek, Department of Biology. Abstract: Virology Lab

In this proposal, I detail plans to fully integrate course-based research into the recently offered Virology course (BIOL 395). In Fall 2014, 22 mostly upperclassmen took Virology and its associated lab. Virology will be offered again in Fall 2015 and expanded to 36 students with two laboratory sections of 18 students each. The course lab in 2014 involved performing basic molecular virology techniques with no research component. For Fall 2015, I am proposing to integrate the learning of molecular virology skills within an authentic research experience. The research will focus on elucidating the role of host-factors involved in virus replication using the model system Flock House virus (FHV). Viruses are obligate parasites and thus rely on host cell factors for many steps in their replication. Understanding the role of various host factors in aiding or inhibiting viral replication may assist development of novel antiviral approaches. The course-based research will give students the opportunity to perform cutting-edge research while learning basic molecular virology concepts and techniques.


Dr. Ryan McFall, Dr. Aaron Best, Dr. Barry Bandstra, Dr. Brent Kreuger and Mr. Alez Galarza, Departments of Computer Science, Biology, Religion, Chemestry and VanWylen Library. Abstract: Programming Foundations with Application Modules. Proposal.

We propose a set of modified and new courses that will enhance student access to (and instruction of) Computational Approaches (CA) across the campus. Through a first-half-semester computer science course, students will gain basic programming skills in Python, a high level language that is both popular and whose use is increasing in many disciplines. Students will then choose from several second-half-semester courses in which they will apply their skills through a research-like experience. In the first two years, supported by this proposal, we intend to offer second-half-semester course modules in Humanities, Religion, Biology, and Chemistry. This foundation will make it easy for faculty from many departments across campus to offer their own CREbased application modules in the future.


Dr. Renata van der Weijden, Dr. Graham Peaslee and Dr. Jonathan Peterson, Department of Geological and Environmental Science. Abstract: GES 220 Research Module. Proposal.

Introduction of a research module concerning water treatment to reduce water toxicity is proposed here as part of the GES 220 Course “laboratory methods in environmental science”. In this research module a number of the regular components that are part of the current format of the course are integrated into a small project. In this project teams of students will be challenged to find a solution for an unknown toxic aqueous stream, test their solution design by assessing the toxicity before and after the treatment. The approach and results will be evaluated and discussed among students as well as an outside expert in the field, to which the Environmental Research Management firm in Holland has committed. The students will learn about and develop the skills that are needed to succeed in the field of environmental consultancy and engineering.




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