Group of Maple Scholars

Maple and Hickory Scholars pursue summer research opportunities

By Sadie Brenneman ’25

In Goshen College’s Maple and Hickory Scholars Program, awarded students spend eight weeks focusing on a particular area of research, alongside a professor who serves as both a supervisor and colleague. While participating in the Maple Scholars program, students live together on campus and take turns sharing updates on their research. The Maple and Hickory scholars programs are a unique undergraduate opportunity for our students to do hands-on research alongside their professors in interesting and diverse subject areas across various disciplines.

Neil Detweiler, professor of biology, directs the Maple Scholars program. “[Students] can focus on a project full-time without the distraction of other classes, and take a great deal of ownership over it,” he said.

Research Topic: Elkhart County water

Isabella Ruiz

Isabella Ruiz, a sophomore sustainability studies major from Archbold, Ohio, and Brianne Brenneman are working together to find the connections between public health and environmental justice through research in water quality testing, data analysis and mapping. Based on previous research, Ruiz and Brenneman hypothesize that lower-income neighborhoods and communities of color will be at higher risk for exposure to contaminated drinking water. Depending on the results of the project, there may be opportunities to publish the findings or present the information at a county or city council meeting.

Research Topic: Spanish literature 

Cristóbal Garza González and Adriana Martinez Diaz De Leon

Adriana Martinez Diaz De Leon, a 2022 graduate and psychology major from Goshen and Cristóbal Garza González are selecting several creative works by US Latinx and Latin American writers to develop a six-lesson unit to be taught in Hispanic and Latinx culture and literature courses. Through this project, they are hoping to find connections between current Latinx literary expressions and the experiences of students at Goshen College.

Research Topic: Amish deaths in history 

Dan Eash-Scott, Robert Brenneman and Daniel Stoltzfus

Daniel Stoltzfus, a junior psychology major from Mount Rainier, Maryland, Dan Eash-Scott, a junior history major from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Robert Brenneman are analyzing the death patterns in the Amish community, specifically looking at previous studies of the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 and the COVID-19 pandemic. This project involves conducting a review of the impact of the Spanish Flu Pandemic on religious communities, counting reported deaths in the Amish communities using The Budget, a weekly newspaper commonly read by the Amish and conservative Mennonite community, and conducting a report on the project’s findings.

“Maple Scholars is valuable not only for the experience of focusing on one specific project, simulating a grad school type of environment, but also for the community it builds among the people living and working together,” said Maple Scholar Dan Eash-Scott, a junior history major from Wauwatosa, WI.

Research Topic: bovine physiology 

Julia Hitt

Julia Hitt, a sophomore molecular biology and biochemistry major from Cincinnati, Ohio, and Neil Detweiler are working together to research bovine lung physiology. This project will specifically look at the mechanism by which cow pulmonary arteries constrict in response to decreased intracellular pH. Over the course of the summer, Hitt will conduct up to six experiments per week, eventually gathering enough data to generate one or two statistical comparisons by the end of the summer, based on the different treatment groups used.

Research Topic: mycotoxins in food

Alex Graber-Neufeld

Alex Graber-Neufeld, a junior biology major from Harrisonburg, Virginia, and John Mischler are collaborating on a project involving mycotoxin levels in maize and groundnuts in Tanzania. This project seeks to find the levels of mycotoxins in both the food and the blood and urine samples of individuals eating possible contaminated foods; the effects of mycotoxin levels on the growth of young children and the environmental factors that affect the mycotoxin levels in Tanzania.

Research Topic: Goshen spotlight

Kyle Hufford and Silas Immanuel pose next to a still from their documentary about the city’s difficult past as a sundown town

Silas Immanuel, a sophomore film production major from New Delhi, India, and Kyle Hufford are working on the Goshen Spotlight Documentary project, researching and creating a short-form, single-topic documentary that is both unique to Goshen and uncovered up to this point. The documentary will be between 10 and 15 minutes, allowing for full immersion into the research and creation of the story.

Research Topic: chimes

Elise Jantz and John Buschert

Elise Jantz, a sophomore physics major from North Newton, Kansas, and John Buschert are building a musical ensemble system that allows individuals to create and improvise music on a system of connected instruments. The pair seek to improve on Buschert’s original model by building a completely new system, with several key adjustments to give the player more control over their learning of the system as well as their control of expression.

Hickory Scholars 


Research Topic: interpretive signage 

Leah Kauffman

Leah Kauffman, a 2022 graduate and graphic design major from West Liberty, Ohio, and Jason Martin are working together to develop and install interpretive signs for the education spaces at Merry Lea. Interpretive signs will enhance learning in these spaces by helping visitors and educators identify what is growing and living on the farm, what it is used for and why it’s important. This project involves interviewing stakeholders, gathering information and images for each sign and designing and installing the final product.

Research Topic: endangered Blanding’s Turtle populations

Willow Kenneda

Willow Kenneda, a junior environmental and marine science major from Williamsburg, Ohio, and Kaeli Evans have teamed up to expand Merry Lea’s understanding of the population dynamics of the endangered Blanding’s turtle. Using location tracking, Kenneda seeks to answer several questions, including what habitats the turtles are using, the connections between those habitats, and where the Blanding’s turtle is in relation to other species of turtles. This research will contribute to Merry Lea’s updated turtle population and landscape data.

*Kenneda is also the first Linton Scholar, a summer research stipend awarded to a student with interest and abilities in wetland and herpetology research work.

Research Topic: survey of current adult Lepidopteran biodiversity 

Kristen Oliver

Kristen Oliver, a junior biology major from Sharon, Wisconsin, and Andy Ammons are researching the adult lepidopteran (insect) biodiversity at Merry Lea, to better understand what we have lost and what will be lost in the future due to anthropogenic causes. This research includes developing a photo collection of lepidopterans in various habitats around Merry Lea that may be representative of the broader Northern Indiana landscape. This photo collection will also add to the current research on Lepidopteran adult biodiversity at Merry Lea.