Department of Biological Sciences

Posts under the ‘News’ category

Biological Sciences Announces Medical Laboratory Science Scholarship winners

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Karyn Fay, Director, Medical Laboratory Science Program in the Department of Biological Sciences, is pleased to announce the 2014 Medical Laboratory Sciences Scholarships.

This year’s scholarship winners are:

Jack Holland Endowed Scholarship: Larissa Kramer

Medical Technology “Tech Is” Award Scholarship: Luke Dalton

Soldan 4+1 Annual Scholarship: Brook Bedore

Congratulations to the recipients and many thanks to all who applied.

A brief description of the scholarships is as follows:

The Jack Holland Endowed Scholarship, established in honor of Dr. Jack Holland, Professor of Medical Technology (1966–1988), is awarded to an outstanding first-year medical technology/medical lab sciences student, based on professional attitude, communication skills, and academic grade point. Former students, upon Dr. Holland’s retirement, originally set up the endowment.

The Medical Technology “Tech Is” Award Scholarship was originally funded by three monetary awards received by the Society of Medical Technologists for first-place awards in the “Tech Is” student competition (1981, 1983, and 1986). The “Tech Is” program no longer exists, however the endowment provides a small scholarship to a junior-class student based on participation in the Society of Medical Laboratory Scientists (formerly Society of Medical Technologists), extracurricular activities, grade point, and faculty interviews.

The Soldan 4+1 Annual Scholarship will be awarded to a qualified senior Medical Laboratory Science student who is beginning their last semester at Michigan Tech.  They must be able to document acceptance into an accredited “+1″ practicum and be enrolled in one of the following concentrations.

4+1 Medical Laboratory Science

4+1 Cytotechnology

4+1 Histotechnology

More information on these and other Departmental scholarships are available on our Department’s giving page

Tenth Annual ESC/BRC Research Forum Awards Announced

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

The Ecosystem Science Center and the Biotechnology Research Center announce award recipients of the Tenth Annual ESC/BRC Student Research Forum held March 19.  60 posters presented

Graduate Research

$100 Merit Awards

Biotechnology Research Center
Yiping Mao (Bio Sci) for “Overexpression of microRNA-30d increases insulin biosynthesis and protects against high-fat diet induced glucose intolerances,” Advisor Xiaoqing Tang.

Ecosystem Science Center
Cameron Goble (Bio Sci) for “Assessment of Fish Communities in Tributary Streams of the Big Manistee,” Advisor: Nancy Auer.

Other award  Department’s award winners are highlighted in “Tech Today.”

Participants Needed for a Research Study

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

If you have made plans to exercise more, diet or lose weight in 2014 you may want to consider joining a 12-week research study. Please see the attached flyer to determine if you qualify. Those that qualify may receive free consultation from a Registered Dietician or personal training from a National Strength and Conditioning Association certified professional. You could also receive a free 12-week pass to the SDC Fitness Center as part of this study. Please contact John Durocher at if you are interested.

approved flyer M1088 Durocher

Morton Harwood – 1st place winner in the oral presentations for the 2014 Graduate Research Colloquium

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

Oral Presentation Award Winner: Morton Harwood from the Department of Biological Sciences was awarded the first place presentation award at the 2014 MTU Graduate Research Colloquium.

“The Acute Cardiovascular Responses to Marathon and Ultra-marathon Competition”

Morty is a Ph.D. student in Dr. John Durocher’s laboratory.

Komal Raja, Biological Sciences, 2nd Place Posters, Graduate Research Colloquium 2014

Friday, February 28th, 2014

Komal Raja, Biological Sciences, 2nd Place Posters, Graduate Research Colloquium 2014

Komal Raja, Biological Sciences,

Title: The Role of Toolkit Genes in the Evolution of Complex Wing, Thorax and Abdominal Color Patterns of Drosophila Guttifera –

Graduate Research Colloquium 2014 at Michigan Technological University

Original picture (courtesy of Emil Groth) and more winners at the Graduate Research Colloquium 2014 page.

Komal works in Dr.Werner’s lab and more about their research can be found in Dr. Werner’s lab page.

Follow Undergraduate Kelley Littlefield as she takes a semester to study abroad

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

I made it to San Ramon, Costa Rica! Finally. I took a group flight with about 40 other students.  We were supposed to arrive in San Ramon at 8:30pm last night, but unfortunately there were plenty of delays so we arrived in San Ramon at 4am this morning.  It was a really long day of sitting in the airport, but I made some new friends so it wasn’t too bad. Just really tiring!

See the rest of this post and her new ones at:

Her blog site.

Ken Kraft Passes away

Monday, January 20th, 2014

Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences Ken Kraft passed away on Jan. 12 at his Chassell Township home.

Kraft’s research was in invertebrate ecology, particularly in aquatic environments, and some of his work was used by the Army Corps of Engineers and Cleveland-Cliffs (now Cliffs Resources) in their environmental studies.

“He was well respected in his fields of study—entomology and aquatic environmental studies,” said Professor Emeritus Bob Keen. “He was also a mentor to a number of graduate students, including some who went on to attain PhDs and did very well.”

Professor Emerita Janice Glime recalled him as a “rather gentle, quiet person. You could always count on him. He was in his office from 9 to 5, when he wasn’t in class. His lab and library were adjacent to his office, and he was always there.”

“He was a very soft spoken gentleman who had a great smile,” said long-time staff member Pat Asselin. “He was a pleasure to know and work with.”

Kraft’s career at Michigan Tech actually began in forestry, where he was taught zoology, and he joined the biological sciences department when it was formed in 1962. He eventually rejoined the forestry faculty before retiring.

“He was the nicest guy I knew,” said Professor Emeritus Jim Spain, also of biological sciences. “We did work together on Lake Superior. We once took a boat and a student to Rabbit Island to find a heron rookery. Well, we searched all over and couldn’t find it. We went back to the boat to discover that we had parked it right underneath the rookery!”

Kraft was instrumental in setting up Tech’s first research program on Lake Superior through his connections with faculty at Minnesota-Duluth.

Spain also credited Kraft with creating the “rock pasty”—pebbles surrounded by a cloth—that was lowered into the lake and became a home for invertebrates that they were studying. “We published that one,” Spain said.

Spain said Kraft also led a seminar where he had everyone, including the faculty, read “Silent Spring” by Rachel Carson. “We grew our enrollment exponentially at the time, because of the environmental movement,” Spain said.

Kraft was one of the founders of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Houghton, according to fellow church member Harriet King.

“He served as president, did our newsletters, and always brought fresh eggs from his farm,” King remembered. “He would have church and community members out to his farm to see the orchards, gardens, and chickens.”

Kraft received his PhD in Entomology and Botany from the University of Minnesota. He taught at Minnesota, Moorhead State and Bemidji State before coming to Tech. He retired in 1996 after 34 years of service.

Kraft was preceded in death by his wife, Susie, in 2009 and is survived by two daughters, Jennifer Turner and Karen Miller, and grandchildren, Jessica Turner and Alexander and Andrew Miller. The O’Neill-Dennis Funeral Home in Hancock is in charge of arrangements. A summer memorial service is planned.

Original article published in Tech Today

Great Lake Fishery Commission – Lake Superior Technical Committee Lake Superior Research Presentations

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

Great Lake Fishery Commission – Lake Superior Technical Committee

Lake Superior Research Presentations

Great Lakes Research Center – Michigan Technological University

7 January 2014

1:00 Opening Tom Pratt and Guy Meadows
1:15 Marine Engineering Activities at the GLRC Guy Meadows
1:30 Remotely Operated & Autonomous Vehicle Support Jamey Anderson
1:45 Buffalo Reef Spawning and Stamp Sands Charles Kerfoot
2:00 Sand in Lake Superior Tributaries: Ecology and Restoration Casey Huckins
2:15 Ecosystem responses to Restoration Activities in Lake Superior Tributaries Amy Marcarelli
2:30 Optics and Remote Sensing of Lake Superior Colleen Mouw
2:45 Phytoplankton Productivity  and Optical Characteristics – Interlake Comparison Gary Fahnenstiel
3:00 Hydrodynamic Modeling of Lake Superior for Decision Support Penfgfei Xue
3:15 Nutrient-Phytoplankton-Modeling of Lake Superior for Decision Support Marcel Dijkstra
3:30 Bioenergetic Modeling of Lake Superior for Decision Support Nancy Auer
3:45 Multidisciplinary Social Science Research Related to Lake Superior Fisheries Pat Martin
4:00 Carbon Cycling and Restoration Efforts in the Coastal Wetlands of Lake Superior Rod Chimner
4:15 Engaging K12 Students, Teachers and the Community in Lake Superior Stewardship Joan Chadde
4:30 Closing Guy Meadows and Tom Pratt
4:45 GLRC Tour Guy Meadows, Mike Abbott and Marty Auer
5:30 Dinner and Discussion Guy Meadows and Marty Auer

Graduate students awarded BRC travel grants

Friday, November 8th, 2013

The Biotechnology Research Center announces its Fall 2013 Travel Grants. Recipients from Biological Sciences include:

* Faten Dhawi Almuhanna (Bio Sci) International Plant and Animal Genome XXII Meeting (poster)

* Ramkumar Mohan (Bio Sci) The Midwest Islet Club Meeting (poster)

* Aparupa Sengupta (Bio Sci) Society for Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology (podium)

Awards for other departments are in Tech Today.

Can Fruit Fly Pigmentation Patterns Help Cure Cancer?

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

Superior Ideas Crowd Funding

Why This Project Is Important

Every year, more than 7 million people die from cancer worldwide. Our ultimate goal is to help developing gene-therapeutic drugs that can stop tumors from growing. This novel work will utilize fruit fly pigmentation patterns, which develop under the control of the same genes that cause cancer in humans. We chose the fruit flies as a model because they grow fast in large numbers and are amenable to a wide variety of genetic approaches.

Project Description

Cancer is caused by genes that were originally “good” genes that have turned “bad”. Every organism needs these genes to develop from an egg into an adult, but when they mutate, they cause tumor development and growth. Fruit flies and humans share these genes and consequently also the cancer-causing genes. We will use fruit flies to study how cancer genes communicate with each other to form tumors. We previously discovered that one of the most notorious cancer genes (Wnt-1) in humans, which is involved in 70% of all human tumors, “paints” the black spots on the wings of the fruit fly Drosophila guttifera (see picture 2). Thus, wherever the cancer-causing gene is active, a black melanin spot will form on the wing, very similar to skin cancer that appears as black melanin spots on the human skin (Xeroderma pigmentosum). In this project, we will use black pigment spots on fruit fly bodies as a model to reveal how cancer gene communication networks function. The short-term goal of this study is to identify new genes that assist the already known cancer genes in the formation of tumors. This knowledge will set the stage for the long-term goal, which is to develop drugs that can switch the cancer genes off or block the the communication between themselves.

The objective of this proposal is to test what genes lead to the body pigment pattern of the spotted fruit fly Drosophila guttifera. We have very good reasons to believe that at least three independently acting cancer gene pathways are contributing to separate parts of the abdominal color pattern, making this fly a really exciting organism to study multiple cancer developmental pathways in parallel. Our research questions are:

1) What cancer genes are involved in the formation of pigment in this fruit fly species?
2) How do the genes interact with each other (and how can we interrupt their interactions)?
3) Where are the switches that turn these cancer genes on and off?

- See more at:

Department of Biological Sciences

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Houghton, MI 49931

Ph. 906-487-2025
Fax: 906-487-3167

Michigan Technological University

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Houghton, Michigan 49931-1295

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