Archives—April 2013


New Team Member Offering More at the Midwest Grape & Wine Industry Institute

Dr. Stephanie Groves (left) is our newest team member at the Midwest Grape and Wine Industry Institute. A West Michigan native, she graduated fromMichigan Technological University with a Ph.D in Biological Sciences – Microbiology. Her doctorate research was focused on the optimization of yeast strains and fermentation conditions for the production of fuel ethanol from woody biomass. She also received her BS and MS from Michigan Tech in Microbiology.Her areas of specialty are industrial microbiology, bioprocess engineering, and fermentation science. In addition, she has work in the brewing industry as a QA/QC manager. Some projects she will be working on at the institute are defining the relationship between sensory analysis data and the chemical composition of wine and optimizing the fermentation of acidic musts. She will also be working on a program to offer the area wineries microbiology testing services.

Read more here.


Save a Spawning Site for Coaster Brook Trout

Restoration of Coaster Brook Trout and Their Endangered River

Dr. Huckins’ Superior Ideas web page

Why This Project Is Important

Lake Superior coaster brook trout are at risk. By restoring the spawning site of the coaster brook trout, we will have a better chance of saving this unique migratory fish, and we can train the next generation of scientists and educators to have a better understanding of aquatic ecology and watershed dynamics.

Project Description

Coaster brook trout were once common throughout Lake Superior basin tributaries and near shore waters, but the populations were wiped out due to over-fishing and habitat degradation. The Salmon Trout River, in Marquette, Mich., hosts the last known remnant breeding population of coasters in the area.
Our team has been conducting long-term research on the status and ecology of this population since 2000. Based on annual assessments of coasters using stationary fish-counting weirs and visual counts of fish at spawning sites, the population appears to consist of only a few hundred adults that ascend the river each fall to spawn.
Over the last decade, the Salmon Trout River has become degraded by land use and roads in the watershed causing erosion. Sand now covers the small section of stream-bottom cobbles where the majority of coasters once spawned, making the existing small population even more at risk of dying out.
As sand continues to cover the cobbles and gravels where the coasters spawn, it also changes ecosystem dynamics; we have been examining these effects as the sands accumulate in the river so that we can also study the beneficial effects of removing the sands.
In an attempt to save the main spawning site, we received funding to install a sediment collector (which traps sand as it moves downstream) in August 2012. So far, it has produced excellent results, trapping sediments moving downstream. But the sediment build-up downstream of the collector still poses a big problem. This coming summer, we hope to remove sand from the spawning site downstream of the sediment collector. Once we have cleared the sand that covers the spawning site, the collector will be able to keep the site clean on its own, allowing coaster brook trout populations a better chance of recovery. Now, we need your help to fund the restoration of this critical river habitat and its iconic coaster

Dr. Huckins’ Superior Ideas web page


ESC/BRC Student Research Poster Forum Winners Announced

Congratulation on the great showing and wins

from the Dept. of Biological Sciences!


ESC/BRC Student Research Poster Forum Winners Announced

The Ecosystem Science Center and the Biotechnology Research Center announce award recipients of the Ninth Annual ESC/BRC Student Research Forum, held March 27, 2013.
For the graduate students, two Grand Prize Awards, six Merit Awards were presented. They were selected from among the 59 posters and abstracts submitted by graduate students conducting research related to ecology, the environment and biotechnology at Michigan Tech.
Each center also awarded a Grand Prize to an undergraduate researcher in a separate division of 17 undergraduate student submissions this year.
Posters will continue to be on display in the atrium of the Forestry building through April 12th.
Graduate Research:
$500 Grand Prizes

Biotechnology Research Center
Ramkumar Mohan (Biological Sciences) for “miR-483, a Novel MicroRNA Expressed in Pancreatic Beta Cells but not in Alpha Cells”, Advisor: Xiaoqing Tang lab.
Ecosystem Science Center
Adam Coble (SFRES) for “Comparison  of Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum) Leaf Morphology in a Closed-canopy and Canopy Gap”, Adviser: Molly Cavaleri
$100 Merit Awards

Biotechnology Research Center

Komal K. Bollepogu Raja (Biological Sciences) for ” The Role of Toolkit Genes in the Evolution of Complex Wing, Thorax, and Abdominal Color Patterns in Drosophila guttifera “, Advisor: Thomas Werner

Maria Tafur (Chemical Engineering) for “Reduction of Porcine Parvovirus Infectivity in the Presence of Protecting Osmolytes “, Advisor: Caryn Heldt
Ecosystem Science Center

Brian Danhoff (Biological Sciences) for “Manistee River Tributaries as Potential Arctic Grayling Habitat”, Advisor: Casey Huckins

Anthony Matthys (Biological Sciences) for “Estimating Physical Habitat Characteristics and Fish Habitat Preference within Streams: A Tool for Restoration Monitoring”, Advisor: Casey Huckins

James Olson (Biological Sciences) for “Evaluating the Impact of Culvert Designs on Hydrologic Connectivity and Nutrient Uptake in Northern Wisconsin Streams”, Advisor: Amy Marcarelli

Julie Padilla (Civil & Environ. Eng) for “An Evaluation of the Proposed MDEQ Water Quality Standard for Copper in the Upper Peninsula Using Two Multimetric Approaches “, Advisor: Noel Urban
Undergraduate Research:
$150 Grand Prizes

Biotechnology Research Center

Morgan Owen-Cruise (Biomed Engineering) for “Synthesis and Characterization of Dopamine and Nitrodopamine Modified Poly(ethylene glycol)”, Advisor: Bruce Lee
Ecosystem Science Center

Jade Oritz (Biological Sciences) for “Sand Accumulation in the Salmon Trout River Changes Gross Primary Production and Respiration Rates by Biofilms”, Advisor: Amy Marcarelli

Undergrad Merit

Keegan Yates (Biomed Engineering)for ” Divalent Ion Removal Improves Stability and Mechanical Properties of Gelatin Hydrogel “, Advisors: Megan Frost and Feng Zhao
Thank you to the participants, the judges, and all who helped with another successful ESC/BRC Student Research Forum.