A current Hope College student and five recent graduates have received recognition through the prestigious Graduate Research Fellowship Program of the National Science Foundation (NSF) this year.

Senior Jacob VanderRoest of South Haven has received honorable mention.

Kathleen Muloma, a 2019 graduate, has received a fellowship.  Alumni receiving honorable mention are 2019 graduate Brandon Derstine, 2017 graduate Megan Elizabeth Edwards, 2019 graduate Ford Fishman and 2019 graduate Ashley Trojniak.

Hope students or graduates have received fellowships or honorable mention through the program every year for more than a quarter century.  The NSF awarded 2,074 of the fellowships nationwide this year, and recognized another 1,783 applicants with honorable mention.  The awards are for graduate students pursuing a research-based master’s or doctoral degree in a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) field. 

This is the second year in a row that VanderRoest, who is majoring in chemistry, has received national recognition for excellence in the sciences.  Last spring, he received a highly competitive scholarship from the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation, one of only 396 awarded. Next year, he will be continuing his studies in the chemistry Ph.D. program at Colorado State University as the next step in his career aimed towards environmental sustainability.

During his freshman and sophomore years, VanderRoest conducted research in the laboratory of Dr. Jonathan Peterson, who is interim dean for natural and applied sciences and the Lavern '39 and Betty DePree '41 Van Kley Professor of Geology and Environmental Science.  The project analyzed the presence of heavy metals in global drinking water sources and examined particle settling via spectroscopic methods.

Since the summer following his sophomore year, he has been working in the laboratory of Dr. Jeffrey Johnson, professor of chemistry.  The team has been investigating rhodium-catalyzed carbon-carbon bond activation with the goal of new reaction development.

In 2018, VanderRoest presented his research conducted with Peterson during the annual national meeting of the Geological Society of America.  In 2019, he presented his research conducted with Johnson during the Midstates Undergraduate Research Symposium at the University of Chicago, the Undergraduate Research Appreciation and Networking Event at the University of Michigan, and the 46th National Organic Chemistry Symposium at Indiana University.  He noted that he is grateful to Dr. Peterson; Dr. Johnson; Professor Traci Smith, assistant professor of chemistry instruction; Michelle Gibbs, director of the college’s Office of Sustainability; and his parents for their support throughout his college career.

In addition to participating in research, he is a co-president of Hope Advocates for Sustainability, a Hope student organization that strives to implement environmentally-friendly changes on campus. Through this position, he has worked closely with Hope Dining Services to promote eco-friendly, plant-based diets. Outside of academics, he hosts a radio show on WTHS, the college’s student-run FM radio station, and enjoys trail running, listening to post-punk music, learning guitar and skateboarding at Smallenburg skatepark.  He is a 2017 graduate of Saugatuck High School.

Kathleen Muloma is currently resting and enjoying the Bay Area in preparation for graduate school, and will be beginning a Ph.D. in physical chemistry at UC Berkeley. The others are currently pursuing their graduate studies: Brandon Derstine in chemistry at Stanford University; Megan Elizabeth Edwards in social psychology at the University of Missouri-Columba; Ford Fishman in ecology at Indiana University; and Ashley Trojniak in chemistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.