Bethel College Summer Science Institute

    You are invited to annual Science Institute on the Bethel College campus, May 31- June 5, 2020. The institute offers opportunities to participate in research investigations in several science-related fields, including biology, psychology, chemistry, engineering, and mathematics. You will be able to study fascinating and challenging topics that high school courses typically do not cover. The institute will focus on learning how to do research through close interaction with faculty. Readings will provide background for laboratory and field study. Two Bethel professors recently published an article describing the experience and benefits of the Summer Science Institute.

    Research Groups

    Students will select among four research groups for the mornings sessions and four research groups for the afternoon session. Up to 12 students can be accommodated in each area. Thus, early registration is desirable to ensure enrollment in your preferred areas.
    • Probability: Know Your Odds — led by Paul Regier (alumnus, master's in electrical and computer engineering, Ph.D. candidate in mathematics at the University of Oklahoma)
    • Nutritional Chemistry — led by Kathryn Layman, Ph.D. (Bethel associate professor of chemistry)
    • Personality, Digit Ratio, and Risk-Taking — led by Rachel Messer, Ph.D. (Bethel assistant professor of psychology)
    • Molecular Genetics — led by Francisca Méndez-Harclerode, Ph.D. (Bethel professor of biology)
    • Engineering Design: Step by Step — led by Blake Johnson (alumnus, Ph.D. in atmospheric, oceanic and space sciences, University of Michigan)
    • Exploring Enzymes — led by Jeremy Mitchell-Koch, Ph.D. (Bethel associate professor of chemistry)
    • Understanding and Measuring Attitudes — led by Brad Celestin, Ph.D. (Bethel assistant professor of psychology)
    • Understanding and Modeling Climate Change — led by Dwight Krehbiel, Ph.D. (Bethel professor emeritus of psychology) and Jon Piper, Ph.D. (Bethel professor of biology)
     More information about the groups is listed on the application.

    What to expect

    Students will arrive on campus Sun., May 31, at 3 p.m. for registration, moving into rooms and an opening session. Events for the remainder of the week are as shown below:
    • Monday- Thursday
      • Breakfast at 7:30 a.m.
      • Morning research group meetings, 8:30 a.m. until noon with a refreshment break mid-morning
      • Lunch at noon
      • Afternoon research group meetings, 1:30 - 5:00 p.m. with a break mid-afternoon
      • Dinner at 5:30 p.m.
      • Evening: various entertainment, usually led by student assistants, though we do have some other special activities planned as well.
    • Friday
      • Morning: preparation of presentations
      • Lunch at noon
      • Institute will conclude with student presentations Friday afternoon, June 5, ending around 4:30 p.m.
    Registration includes lodging in a Bethel residence hall, meals in the Bethel cafeteria, readings, a T-shirt and one hour of college credit. Each student is sponsored through a $500 donation from a Bethel science or mathematics graduate. You’ll have a chance to communicate with these sponsors to learn about their careers in science, mathematics, medicine and related fields.


    Have you ever wanted to photograph stars, galaxies and the moon through a large telescope? Now's your chance. This special opportunity offers you hands-on experience taking astronomical photographs through a large telescope. You'll get basic training in image processing and learn how scientific cameras work as well as learn some basics in astronomy.

    These activities will be offered during several evenings beginning at 7 p.m. Activities will be led by Martin Ratcliffe, astronomer with Sky-Skan Inc. and faculty member in the Cohen Honors Department at Wichita State University.


    The institute is open to students entering grades 10-12, and if space is available, to 2020 high school graduates.


    The application process consists of completing the application form, below, and obtaining a letter of recommendation from a science or mathematics teacher who has worked with the student. The letter should be e-mailed to Dwight Krehbiel ( Applications and recommendations must be received by May 15, 2020, in order to be considered.


    We will select applicants based on their application, recommendations, strengths in science and mathematics, benefits they would be expected to receive, and interest in Bethel’s programs in science and mathematics. Preference will be given to students who have just completed the sophomore or junior year of high school. Enrollment is limited to 48 students.


    Students who are accepted will be notified by e-mail on or about May 1, 2020. Accepted students must confirm their intention to attend by e-mail and by submitting the registration fee of $50 by May 15, 2020 (fee waivers are available for those who are unable to pay; e-mail to request a waiver). Students who do not confirm their intentions to attend will be dropped from the roster to accommodate others since enrollment is limited, as noted above.


    Dwight Krehbiel, Ph.D. ( is the director of Bethel's Summer Science Institute.


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    About Bethel

    As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.