May 5, 2023

Dordt University to hold undergraduate summer research on campus

This summer, Dordt University will provide a number of undergraduate research opportunities. These experiences include curriculum development for a study trip to Israel, a look at anxiety in undergraduate college students, investigation of meteorological effects on air pollution transport in India, and more.

This summer, Dordt University will provide a number of undergraduate research opportunities. These experiences include curriculum development for a study trip to Israel, a look at anxiety in undergraduate college students, investigation of meteorological effects on air pollution transport in India, and more.

These research endeavors are sponsored by the Kielstra Center for Research and Grants.

“The Kielstra Center supports the Dordt University summer undergraduate student research program, working with faculty mentors to provide opportunities for students to conduct research and report on their work,” explains Angela Kroeze Visser, director of the Kielstra Center. “Each year, faculty members propose projects that are appropriately scoped for an undergraduate research student with faculty mentorship. During the spring semester, students apply for open positions, faculty mentors select student researchers, and the Kielstra Center works to arrange student contracts and housing.”

Here is a look at the research that will take plan at Dordt University this summer:

“Encountering the Land” Curriculum Development

Mentor: Dr. Gayle Doornbos – Theology

Research Student: Joya Schreurs

This project involves researching and developing the curriculum for a study trip to Israel for Dordt students. This will include the development of a syllabus and schedule for the trip as well as doing biblical exegesis and geographical research related to trip locations.

Chemoenzymatic Synthesis of Glycosylated and Sulfated CCR5 NTerminal Peptide Library

Mentor: Dr. Joshua Zhu

Research Students: Abraham Hall, Marika Van Slageren, Noah Mulder

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 the post-translational modifications are participating in the processes of disease progressing, hoping to find any possible ways of treating those diseases. This project is a three-year 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.

Determining the nonperturbative contributions to the light hybrid baryon correlation function from the gluon condensate at next-to-leading order

Mentor: Dr. Jason Ho – Physics

Research Students: Kyler Sander and Elias Obbink

Quantum Chromodynamics (QCD) is the theory of strong interaction within the Standard Model of particle physics, describing subatomic particles that make up most of the visible matter that we interact with daily. Quarks and gluons are subatomic particles that interact through the strong interaction to form hadrons: bound states of quarks and gluons described within QCD. These subatomic particles can form both conventional hadronic structures (e.g., protons and neutrons) as well as exotic hadronic structure (e.g., four-quark states or five-quark states). One possible exotic structure is called a hybrid baryon—three quarks (or antiquarks) combined with an explicit valence gluon. Experiments such as CLAS12 at Jefferson Lab in Virginia are currently searching for evidence of particles carrying this structure. QCD sum-rules (QCDSRs) is an established methodology for calculating properties of hadrons, both conventional and exotic. We are looking to calculate the mass spectrum of light hybrid baryon systems in a QCDSR framework. The existing literature on hybrid baryons is sparse and inconclusive, with conflicting correlators and unclear predictions. This work would begin the process of mapping out the QCD sum rule predictions for hybrid baryons, anticipating the possibility of future experimental programs focused on hybrid baryons. Students involved in this project would focus on calculating a portion of the expressions needed to model the light hybrid baryon, benchmarking against known results in the scientific literature. They will learn some basic tensor algebra, linear algebra, and Mathematica in its application to quantum field theory. They will explore Feynman diagrams and learn how to interpret them. In addition, the student will learn basic concepts in particle physics and QCD, exploring the creational structure of the universe at the smallest scales science can currently describe with precision.

Anxiety in Undergraduate College Students

Mentor: Leah Mouw – Social Work

Research Student: Lucy Borkowski

Stress and anxiety are prevalent on colleges campuses. This study seeks to find the primary causes for the increasing levels of stress and anxiety. A survey will be sent in January 2023 to all full-time Dordt University students. This data will be used to assess the needs of students on Dordt's campus. Our summer work will be analyzing and interpreting this data.

Investigating Meteorological Effects on Air Pollution Transport in India

Mentor: Dr. Jonathan Gingrich – Engineering

Research Student: David Lukens

Using a dataset of daily 1 km x 1 km particulate matter in throughout India in conjunction with a meteorological model (Hysplit) we will investigate the effects of meteorological wind patterns on air pollution to determine what proportion of the air pollution experienced in cities is due to local sources versus regional sources. Some computer coding knowledge (RStudio especially, though python is helpful too) is recommended, but can be taught in the semester prior.

Kendei Empowerment Microfinance Program Evaluation

Mentor: Jesse Veenstra – Business, Accounting, and Economics

Research Student: Daniel Draaistra

Kendei Empowerment Foundation (KEF) has provided microfinance loans to Liberia enterprises for the past 17 years. It started as a Liberian church; donors funded this now qazi-religions organization to provide micro0loans, and NGOs have supported it. In 2021, a team from One Body One Hope (OBOH) connected with Kendei through Partners Worldwide with a desire to offer microloans to church members of the Abide in the Vine Discipleship Church (AVDC) in Liberia. OBOH has a long relationship with AVDC. Kendei agreed to provide microfinancing services to individuals in Liberia with funding from OBOH. I have worked with Kendei since 2021 and visited them in person in early 2023 to learn more about their operation. A unique feature of the microfinance process between Kendei and AVDC loan recipients is the role of the pastor in the process.

Listening Strategies in Family Therapy

Mentors: Dr. Bruce Kuiper – Communication

Research Student: Heather Van Engen

We will explore best-practice strategies for families seeking to foster best communication skills, especially in the area of listening. Through primary interviews and secondary research, the project will culminate in a substantial report, complete with recommendations on improving listening in family situations. In addition, there would be a final presentation to be given either during the summer scholarship series or at another later date during the following fall semester.

Research in Political and Educational Philosophy

Mentors: Donald Roth – Criminal Justice

Research Student: Anna Herman

This student-led project will help with some directed research toward chapters of the books that I am working on. Depending on the student and status of the project, the student may also help with some editorial work or feedback on chapters in progress.

About Dordt University

As an institution of higher education committed to the Reformed Christian perspective, Dordt University equips students, faculty, alumni, and the broader community to work toward Christ-centered renewal in all aspects of contemporary life. Located in Sioux Center, Iowa, Dordt is a comprehensive university named to the best college lists by U.S. News and World Report, The Wall Street Journal, Times Higher Education,, Washington Monthly, and Princeton Review.

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