Student Research Award

In Fall 2015, News by Erika Buiter


“I learned so much,” says Van Tol. “I enjoyed the labs I did freshman year, but there is just not enough time to learn everything about the particular projects or studies you do over the course of the semester. With this experience, I got to build on skills I learned in my first-year biology classes and go beyond them.”

Van Tol also enjoyed getting to know her fellow student researchers. In the lab, during breaks, and over lunch, students swapped research stories and struggles. About 35 students participated in research on Dordt’s campus this summer.

At the end of the summer, the Summer Undergraduate Research Committee selected Van Tol to receive the Delmar Vander Zee Research Fellowship award.

“The fellowship is intended to encourage undergraduate research and is awarded for summer research in the biological sciences conducted on Dordt’s campus under the direction of Dordt faculty,” says Emeritus Professor Delmar Vander Zee.

The Delmar Vander Zee Research Fellowship award was established in recognition of Vander Zee’s 40 years of service and his leadership in developing Dordt’s student research program.

“These research opportunities open up the real world of discovery, critical thinking, experimental design, teamwork, planning, and follow-up,” says Vander Zee. Undergraduate research opportunities are beneficial for students pursuing graduate work and employment.

“It was difficult to choose from among the many excellent students who participated in research this summer,” says Eppinga. Funding limitations required the committee to turn down some remarkable students. “Tairin worked excellently in the lab, performing beyond our expectations and pushing the project ahead,” says Eppinga.

Van Tol is the second student to receive the award. Last year’s recipient, Anya Kalsbeek, was recognized for her research of CUX1 under Dr. Tony Jelsma.

“I think it is awesome that Dr. Vander Zee is willing to continue to help Dordt students learn about and grow in their understanding of science,” says Van Tol. “I am grateful because it allowed me to work in the lab this summer and have an amazing experience not only working toward a goal, but also getting to see God’s hand in the arena of microbiology. This program helped me to be not only a better scientist, but a better Christian scientist, and I am sure it has and will help other Dordt students do the same.”

Currently, the Delmar Vander Zee Research Fellowship is the only program of its kind that Dordt offers.

“I fully appreciate the foresight donors had when funding this fellowship of how important research is to a student’s education,” says Eppinga. “Summer research has the capacity to transform students. I look forward to a day when this opportunity is available to students across disciplines.”

“It is encouraging that there are people who want Dordt students to gain experience in science and who are willing to help make it happen,” says Van Tol. “As long as there is life on this planet, there will be a need for biological research that allows us to better understand life and possibly improve it for all of creation. It just goes to show that meaningful research doesn’t have to be done at large institutions, but can be done right here on the campus of Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa.”