BUCKHANNON, West Virginia – Caleb Gibson, Assistant Professor of Chemistry at West Virginia Wesleyan College,  is a  recipient of the Appalachian College Association’s Faculty Summer Research Fellowship.

The association will furnish during the 2022 Summer Term financial support to member institutions’ faculty for post-doctoral research or pre-doctoral degree completion. 

Gibson will conduct research on the antioxidants present in pure maple syrup from different species of maple trees throughout the maple syrup season. Antioxidants are one of the predominant reasons that maple syrup has become a popular alternative sweetener; therefore, the goal of his research will be to investigate what kinds of syrup have the highest abundance of antioxidants and establish what variables lead to such differences. 

His decision to explore this topic is due to his interest in comparing how the large-scale syrup making operations in the northeast predominantly use sap from sugar maple, whilst the red maple tree is more widely distributed and many of the smaller-scale Appalachian syrup producers, who use sap from red maples to prepare syrup.

“One of the most exciting prospects is the chance to better understand the differences in composition of syrups made from red maple and syrups made from sugar maple,” Gibson added. “If we succeed in finding significant differences, then it may serve to highlight the uniqueness of small-scale Appalachian maple syrup.”

“I am very grateful for the opportunity, as it allows me to devote extra resources to this fascinating research project,” Gibson said.

Gibson is hopeful that it will present an opportunity to get students involved in scientific research.

“I am recruiting WVWC students to work with me on this summer project, and looking forward to their involvement,” he added.

As part of the fellowship program, Gibson will write a report on the findings, but he is also exploring opportunities to take this research to a conference for a presentation.



West Virginia Wesleyan College (WVWC) is a private, four-year residential liberal arts college in Buckhannon, West Virginia. A tradition of excellence for more than 130 years, West Virginia Wesleyan is home to 14 Fulbright Scholars. The Princeton Review ranked Wesleyan one of its 2022 Best Colleges in the Southeastern Region of the United States. U.S. News & World Report’s 2022 Best College Rankings designated Wesleyan a “Top 20” Best Value – Regional Universities (South) and one of the “Top 75” Regional Universities (South). WVWC offers students more than 40 majors and 40 minors; graduate programs in athletic training, business administration, creative writing, and nursing; 22 NCAA Division II athletic programs; multiple performing arts groups; and more than 70 organizations. Founded in 1890, the College is closely affiliated with the United Methodist Church and abides by the Wesley doctrine that emphasizes service to others. For more information, visit wvwc.edu.