Research projects by two Hope College students have been chosen for presentation during the annual national “Posters on the Hill” event organized by the Council on Undergraduate Research and scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, April 28-29.
Senior Eric Greve, who is a chemistry major from Park Ridge, Ill., and junior Allyson Hoffman, who is a classical studies and English dual major and Mellon Scholars Program participant from Marshall, have each had work selected for the event.
It is the fifth year in a row that one or more Hope students have had research chosen, and the third consecutive year that a participant in the college’s Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Scholars Program has had work selected. Annually through the years, only 60-80 undergraduates nationwide have had work selected.
The “Posters on the Hill” event will be held on Capitol Hill in the Rayburn Office Building from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., with other activities for the students earlier in the day, including participation in a Young Professional Panel with members of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Each student will present his or her research, displayed on posters, to the members of Congress, congressional staff members, federal government officials and others in attendance.
Greve’s research involved detecting flame retardants in automotive seating and considering their potential environmental impact. He conducted the work during the summer of 2013 with Dr. Graham Peaslee of the Hope faculty and a team of other students in collaboration with the Ann Arbor Michigan Ecology Center and the Green Science Policy Institute in Berkeley, Calif.
Working in the college’s Ion Beam Analysis Laboratory, the Hope group used Particle-Induced X-Ray Emission (PIXE) spectroscopy for the rapid detection of halogenated flame retardants in polyurethane foam seating collected from automobiles in junkyards. To determine the accuracy of PIXE’s presence and absence detection, they compared the results with X-ray Fluorescence (XRF) spectroscopy tests of the same material by the Michigan Ecology Center. They also performed depth studies using scanning electron microscopy and energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy to show that flame retardants can leach from their original treated materials into untreated automobile components and eventually into the atmosphere.
Hoffman’s research, an independent project conducted through her participation in the Mellon Scholars Program, is a case study of high school Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition courses and first-year composition courses at two- and four-year colleges. She examined the course goals, school goals and assignments for each type of classroom, finding that the high school courses teach literary-based writing skills while the college courses emphasize writing skills applicable to a variety of academic writing. Correspondingly, while students who earn a sufficient score on AP exams can often receive college credit or an exemption from first-year composition courses, she concludes that they would still benefit from a college-level writing course.
Reflecting the Mellon Scholars Program’s emphasis on the use of emerging and digital technologies in scholarship, she developed a website that shares her research, exploringap.com.
Greve will pursue a doctorate in chemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison next year. In addition to participating in research, his activities at the college have included off-campus study through the Oak Ridge Science Semester; the Phelps Scholars Program; and the Symphonette and Symphony Orchestra. He is the son of Jeffrey and Susan Greve of Park Ridge, and a 2010 graduate of Maine South High School.
Hoffman hopes to pursue an MFA in fiction and a doctorate in rhetoric and composition after Hope to become a better writer and teach at the college level. In addition to the Mellon Scholars Program, her activities at the college have included serving as co-editor of “Opus,” Hope College’s literary magazine; co-president of the college’s chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, the English Honors Society; a writing assistant at the Klooster Center for Excellence in Writing; a teaching assistant for an English 113 course; and a DJ for WTHS, the college’s student-run FM radio station.
Founded in 1978, CUR is a national organization of individual and institutional members representing more than 900 colleges and universities. CUR and its affiliated colleges, universities, and individuals share a focus on providing undergraduate research opportunities for faculty and students at all institutions serving undergraduate students. CUR believes that faculty members enhance their teaching and contribution to society by remaining active in research and by involving undergraduates in research.
The three-year “Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Scholars Program” at Hope, which students join as sophomores, involves select students in the arts and humanities in coursework and research in areas of scholarly interest with faculty mentors from a variety of academic disciplines, with a particular emphasis on teaching the students how to use new and emerging digital technologies in pursuing and sharing their work.