Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Goshen College Maple Scholars stay busy with summer academic research and exploration


GOSHEN, Ind. – From art with old house paints to studying red blood cell membranes to researching Mennonite poetry, students have again been active this summer in independent research through the Goshen College’s Maple Scholars program.

Maple Scholars is an eight-week program that gives students the opportunity to participate in independent research alongside Goshen College faculty of various disciplines. Each scholar is paired with a faculty member who works with and supervises the individual to help carry out their work.

The 2006 Maple Scholars:

Solomon Fenton-Miller (Sr., Marcellus, Mich.), a music major, spent his summer cataloging traditional African church music with Professor of Music Deb Brubaker and Professor Emerita of Music Mary Oyer. This included editing and copying Oyer’s large library of live recordings from cassette tapes to CDs, as well as organizing handwritten data onto computer files for future on-campus researchers.

Jocie Fong (Sr., Phoenix, Ariz.) and Luke Kreider (Jr., Harrisonburg, Va.) looked into theories of revenge, forgiveness and justice, and how people respond to injustice and methods of vindication. They worked with Professor of Bible, Religion and Philosophy Paul Keim and Associate Professor of Peace, Justice and Conflict Studies Joe Liechty. Fong is a double major with peace, justice and conflict studies and Spanish. Kreider is a double major in peace, justice and conflict studies and Bible and religion.

David Glick (Jr., Goshen), a physics major, and Jonathan Nafziger (Soph., Goshen), a physics and art double major, worked with Professor of Physics John Ross Buschert investigating the vibrations in handbells. They used computer modeling of the vibrations – holographic interferometry – as measurement, and tried several ways of modifying the handbell to try to produce the best sound, from adding magnets, to computer simulations of thinning the bell walls, which had positive results. “It’s exciting, and gives confidence to computer models,” said Glick.

Dawit Kebede (Sr., Ethiopia) researched the correlation between ethnic peace and inter-ethnic civic institutions, and then applied them to the history of interactions between Christians and Muslims in Ethiopia. Kebede’s faculty adviser was Associate Professor of History Jan Bender Shetler. Kebede is a double major in peace, justice and conflict studies and sociology/anthropology.

Laura Landis (Sr., Orrville, Ohio) and Andy Yoder (Soph., Sugarcreek, Ohio) spent their summer with Professor of Biology James Miller looking at the effect of phloretin on water and glycerol transport in avian erythrocytes, or red blood cells. They tested avian species blood using a spectrometer interfaced to a computer. Landis is a molecular biology major and Yoder is a biology major.

Nick Loewen (Goshen), a 2006 graduate, explored various ideas about abstract painting with limited resources, namely using old house paints and various textured surfaces. “Limitations force the artist to be resourceful, which is in itself a form of creativity,” Loewen said. Loewen, an English and art double major, worked alongside Professor of Art John Blosser.

David Martinez (Soph., Goshen) and Brian Schlabach (Jr., West Liberty, Ohio), both communication majors, looked into the news consumption of local high school students, with additional focus on local variables such as immigration and availability of the media. The two filmed interviews with several students and made a brief documentary based on their interviews and research. Associate Professor of Communication Duane Stoltzfus advised their work.

Jonathan Mast (Soph., Millersburg, Ohio) and Kathryn Stutzman (Jr., Goshen) spent their summer at Goshen College’s Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center, exploring ornithology through a program called Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship, or MAPS. They learned how to identify each bird caught, record data and band each bird to study bird populations and distribution at Merry Lea. Mast also investigated garlic mustard, an invasive species to North America, and its effect on songbirds. They worked alongside Dave Miller, Merry Lea’s program director and assistant professor of biology, along with volunteer coordinator and environmental educational instructor, Lisa Zinn. Mast is a physics major and Stutzman is a biology major.

Irene Ngun (Soph., Plano, Texas) and Sarah Thiessen (Sr., Austin, Texas) researched with Professor of Biology Stan Grove searching for a gene in a yeast genome that undergoes mutation in order to transport potassium across a cell membrane. Using a microarray technique, they combined a normal and a mutated yeast to look for differences in each gene. “This technique can be used to look for tumors, as genes act different ways for each type of cancer,” said Thiessen. She is a molecular biology and chemistry double major and Ngun is a molecular biology major.

Sarah Roth (Sr., Goshen) looked into Mennonite poetry and what it means to be a Mennonite poet, as a research assistant to Ann Hostetler, professor of English. She focused particularly on Anna Ruth Ediger Baehr, a poet of the early 20th century who began writing when she was in her late 60s. Roth also organized and categorized Baehr’s papers and journals in the Mennonite Church USA Archives building. Roth is a history and English double major.

Travis Weaver (Sr., Denver, Pa.) and Ben Yoder (Sr., Lancaster, Pa.) spent their summer with Professor of Physics Carl Helrich, researching the interaction between ion channels in cell membranes and nystatin in cholesterol. They looked onto the fusion of vesicles as a step in nerve transmission, which was marked by using Monte Carlo computer simulations. “It’s another step in trying to figure out how a cell works,” said Weaver. Weaver and Yoder are both physics majors. They also worked with a faculty member and student from Bethel College in Mishawaka, Ind. – Erwin Sucipto, assistant professor of physics, and student Hannah Prewat.

Maple Scholars was initially introduced in 1998 for students in the sciences – biology, chemistry, physics – but has expanded to include students doing research in other disciplines such as art, communication and environmental studies. For students interested in graduate school, the opportunities for longer-term research and potential publication is an excellent experience and résumé builder.

While many universities sponsor research projects, involving undergraduates in original research on a small liberal arts campus is unique and pays off for students seeking further education, as Goshen ranks in the top sixth among U.S. colleges for graduates who go on to earn doctoral degrees.

 – By Megan Blank '07

Editors: For more information about this release, to arrange an interview or request a photo, contact Goshen College News Bureau Director Jodi H. Beyeler at (574) 535-7572 or




Goshen College, established in 1894, is a four-year residential Christian liberal arts college rooted in the Anabaptist-Mennonite tradition. The college’s Christ-centered core values – passionate learning, global citizenship, compassionate peacemaking and servant-leadership – prepare students as leaders for the church and world. Recognized for its unique Study-Service Term program, Goshen has earned citations of excellence in Barron’s Best Buys in Education, “Colleges of Distinction,” “Making a Difference College Guide” and U.S.News & World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges” edition, which named Goshen a “least debt college.” Visit


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