Current Undergraduate Research

Throughout the year, Dordt University students and faculty engage in a variety of undergraduate research projects. The research is supported by the Kielstra Center for Research and Grants, a multidisciplinary research and scholarship incubator that seeks to expand faculty and student perspectives and competencies across disciplines in conjunction with external funding sources.

“Undergraduate research offers students the opportunity to explore interesting questions within their field of study and develop skills to help them address those questions – to extend learning that happens within their class work,” says Angela Kroeze Visser, director of the Kielstra Center for Research and Grants. “Faculty mentors are central to the process of undergraduate research; they provide guidance for the students’ work and propose projects that relate to their own research or scholarly interests. At its best, undergraduate research is a rewarding enterprise for both students and faculty mentors.”

Here is a look at the research opportunities taking place on Dordt’s campus during the 2022-23 Academic Year:

A student participates in class discussions

Raising Awareness of a Genetic Mutation in Persons with a Frisian Background

Mentors: Dr. Tony Jelsma – Biology and Dr. Deb Bomgaars – Nursing
Research Student: Lucy Borkowski

PLN is a genetic mutation found in people of Dutch, particularly Frisian heritage. In the Netherlands, one in 1,200 people from Friesland have been found to carry the mutation. Having the mutation can cause early heart arrhythmias, heart failure, or sudden death. The mutation is present in North America, but identification of carriers has not been emphasized. The purpose of this research is to raise awareness of the mutation by identifying persons who may have the PLN mutation and educating them on how to test for it. The project will involve searching and writing letters to areas where Dutch people have settled, contacting possible PLN carriers, encouraging testing, and maintaining a database of carriers. Qualitative research involving PLN carriers may also be involved.

*This research project is supported in part by the PLN Heart Foundation.

Chemoenzymatic Synthesis of Glycosylated and Sulfated CCR5 NTerminal Peptide Library

Mentor: Dr. Joshua Zhu – Chemistry

Research Students: Anna Rediger, Brooke Van Engen, and Lisa Nicholson

The overall goal of this project is to understand the roles of sulfation and
glycosylation of CCR5 in the molecular recognition processes of immunology. The activity of CCR5 is involved in immunological responses to different diseases such as cancer progression and HIV virus invasion of the host cell. We are using chemistry tools to explore how are the post-translational modifications are participating the processes of disease progressing, hoping to find any possible ways of treating those diseases. This project is a threeyear NIH funded project, so the research activities will be conducted both in summer and academic year. The project is in its early-stage status, in which a lot of biomolecules will be prepared through organic synthesis and biochemistry synthesis so that organic and biochemistry methods will be used for installing the sulfation and glycosylation groups.

*Research information reported in this release was supported by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) of the National Institutes of Health under award number R15GM144930.

The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.