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Gifts are Having a Major Impact on Research Students Like Hollister Swanson

Hollister Swanson, ’15, was able to do sophisticated research on bacteria that affect human health for his senior year at Grand Valley State University thanks to the generosity of donors.  He is so grateful to have received the necessary funds to do hands-on research at the Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences in Grand Rapids. “The gifts donors have contributed have helped me find my passion and what to do with my future,” he says. He has also gained technical skills and laboratory experience that will help him throughout his future career.

A double major in chemistry and biomedical science, Hollister is also a Student Summer Scholar (S3) and the recipient of the 2013 MaryBeth Koeze Endowed Fellowship. The fellowship, dedicated to the memory of Dr. Thomas Henry Koeze, is awarded to undergraduate students pursuing a degree in physical or life sciences who have also been accepted into the S3 program. Students like Hollister also receive support from the Grand Valley Fund and the University Endowment, which support GVSU research programs.

Learning from experienced professors in a real lab environment is a unique opportunity for students. Hollister received personalized attention from professors in the laboratory, gained hands-on training in his field, and contributed to the important research being done on antibiotic resistance. “Grand Valley is the best possible school I could have gone to,” Hollister says.

Currently, Hollister is a Science Success Center manager and research assistant working alongside other science students and faculty. They are trying to uncover solutions to antibiotic resistance in harmful bacteria, some of which can cause terminal illness in humans. “As a result of this project,” Hollister says, “we hope to be able to design drugs that will save more lives of people who are being infected by these detrimental pathogens.”

The support that GVSU research programs are receiving from donors who give to university endowments and the Grand Valley Fund help students like Hollister pursue a satisfying career path, one that gives back to the community. “When I got the MaryBeth Koeze Endowed Fellowship, it made me realize how central I want research to be in the rest of my career,” he says. “Having student research programs is important for the university and the community.”