By: Caleb Gingerich
Fifteen Goshen College students participated in research projects this summer through the Maple and Hickory Scholars programs.
The Maple Scholars program is run by GC as an eight-week, hands-on, interdisciplinary research opportunity that encourages students of any discipline to participate. Hickory Scholars is Merry Lea’s equivalent to Maple Scholars.
This summer, junior physics major Samuel Stoner-Eby and junior environmental science major Lisa Nalliah worked with Paul Meyer Reimer, professor of physics, to research contributing factors to the growth of aflatoxin.
“Aflatoxin is a toxin produced by fungus that grows on food such as maize,” Stoner-Eby said. “When consumed by children, [it] can lead to growth-stunting.”
Stoner-Eby was tasked with researching rainfall data from Tanzania to discover any correlation between precipitation and the growth of the toxin. Ultimately, he and Nalliah concluded that the more precipitation, the healthier the plants that host aflatoxin.
One struggle Stoner-Eby encountered was the software used to analyze the data. However, it was also very rewarding for him.
“I enjoyed learning new skills, like operating GIS software,” he said. “There was definitely a learning curve. We spent a lot of time troubleshooting problems.”
Another Maple Scholars student, sophomore math and computer science double major Asa Schiller, worked with Jeanette Shown, associate professor of computing science, to develop technology to help visually impaired students learn how to program. They worked on designing 3D-printed cases for small computers with Braille to teach students how to solve computational problems related to computer programming. The system teaches coding syntax and program formats.
The project was not complete by the end of the Maple Scholars program, but that doesn’t mean that Schiller and Shown have stopped working on it.
“The project remains unfinished, and I will continue to work on it as part of my electronics course this semester,” Schiller said.
Other Maple and Hickory Scholars projects included the following: a musical sculpture by Joel Lara, a senior art major; a study of cow pulmonary arteries by Rediet Delelegne, a senior molecular biology major; an assessment of salamander and turtle populations at Merry Lea by Liam Elias, a senior environmental science major; and a documentary film by Jackson Steinmetz and Court Templeton.
Students who want to learn more about the Maple and Hickory Scholars programs can visit https://www.goshen.edu/academics/maple-scholars/ and https://www.goshen.edu/merrylea/land-and-research/field-research/summer-scholars/.