The Hope College Alumni Association will present Young Alumni Awards on Thursday, March 3, to two graduates who have received national recognition for research that they have conducted as they have pursued their careers in the sciences.
The association is recognizing Dr. Emilie Dykstra Goris of Holland, a 2008 graduate who is an assistant professor of nursing at Hope; and Dr. Jonathan Moerdyk of New Alexandria, Pennsylvania, a 2009 graduate who is an assistant professor of chemistry at Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. The awards will be presented during a dinner at the college’s Haworth Inn and Conference Center at 6 p.m.
The Young Alumni Award was established to honor the talents and contributions that young alumni have made to their professions, their communities and to the college, and was first presented in 2007. Criteria include having been a member of the Alumni Association for 15 or fewer years; notable prominence through professional endeavor, research, volunteerism, and/or involvement with the local or global community or the college; and demonstrating significant initiative by starting innovative service projects, research, businesses or other original enterprises.
Dykstra Goris has been a member of the Hope faculty since 2012. Her teaching and research interests include critical care nursing/acute care of the adult, neuropsychiatric symptoms in Alzheimer’s disease and genetics.
In 2014, she was one of only 25 applicants nationwide chosen to attend that year’s National Institute of Nursing Research Summer Genetics Institute at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. In 2015, she received the Outstanding Dissertation Award from the Physiology, Behavior, Genomics & Society Research Section of the Midwest Nursing Research Society. Other recognition and support of her work through the years includes the prestigious John A. Hartford Foundation Building Academic Geriatric Nursing Capacity (BAGNC) Predoctoral Scholarship Award for 2011-13, received while she was pursuing her doctorate in nursing at Michigan State University, and a current grant from the Kenneth H. Campbell Foundation for Neurologic Research. She has authored or co-authored multiple articles published in scholarly journals and has made several presentations during professional conferences regarding her research.
Dykstra Goris majored in nursing at Hope, where she participated in collaborative faculty-student research mentored by former faculty member Dr. Susan Dunn. Her activities as a student also included the Hope Student Nurses Association, student-organized Dance Marathon fund-raiser on behalf of Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, Gospel Choir and Nykerk Cup competition. Among other honors she received as a student, she was named to the college’s chapters of the Sigma Xi science honorary and Phi Beta Kappa.
Prior to returning as a member of the faculty, she was a registered nurse with the Surgical Intensive Care Unit at Spectrum Health Hospitals in Grand Rapids. She also served as an alumna member of the Hope College Nursing Advisory Council and returned to campus as an invited speaker.
Among other community involvement, she is a member of Pillar Church in Holland. She and her husband, Don, have a young son at home.
Moerdyk, a member of the Seton Hill University faculty since 2014, has received multiple honors for his groundbreaking research, conducted while pursuing his doctorate at the University of Texas at Austin, developing diamidocarbenes, a new class of carbon-based compounds aimed at mimicking select properties of metals.
In 2013, he was part of a select group of young researchers from 78 countries invited to participate in the Nobel Laureate Meeting in Lindau, Germany, an opportunity for the newest generation of scientists to mingle with Nobel Prize winners and discuss their work and ideas. He was subsequently named to two “30 Under 30” lists as an outstanding young scientist: by Scientific American in 2013, and by Forbes in 2015. In addition, his doctoral research was highlighted in Chemical and Engineering News in 2012, the same year that he was also named a William Powers Jr. Graduate Fellow.
Moerdyk also received major national recognition as a student a Hope, where as a chemistry major he conducted research with Dr. Jason Gillmore. In 2008 he was presented one of only 321 Goldwater Scholarships awarded nationwide, and in 2009 he received Honorable Mention in the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship program—recognition that he also received in 2010.
In addition to research, his activities at the college included varsity baseball, intramural sports and InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. He was also named to the college’s chapters of Mortar Board, the Sigma Xi science honorary and Phi Beta Kappa.
His wife, Kathryn, is a 2008 Hope graduate. His community activities include science demonstrations for high school and middle school students, Habitat for Humanity and a mission trip to Haiti through Newlonsburg Presbyterian Church. He had an opportunity to connect with current Hope research students this past summer, speaking informally with them while attending the Great Lakes/Central Regional American Chemical Society meeting.
Both Dykstra Goris and Moerdyk will also present workshops hosted by the Alumni Association and the college’s Career Development Center for students as they consider their lives after graduation. Dykstra Goris will present “What Am I Going to Do Now? Goals and Decisions in an Uncertain Time” on Wednesday, March 2, and Moerdyk will present “Photochromes, Carbenes and Defining Success: A Young Chemist’s Perspective” on Thursday, March 3.