Category Archives: Outreach


Houghton High School takes first place in 27th annual bioathlon competition

Houghton high school 1st placeAfter 21 years of competing, Houghton High School ended a drought and took first place in the Department of Biological Science’s 27th annual Bioathlon competition. Calumet High School took second and L.L. Wright High School (Ironwood, Michigan) rounded out third place. This year 15 western and central Upper Peninsula schools competed to display their biology knowledge. Team members did not have any biology beyond the sophomore level. The four problems the four-student teams tackled:

  • dissecting and identifying a list of muscles and other organs found in a pigeon, designed by graduate student Travis Wakeham.
  • identifying different fly genetic traits and explaining how to prepare and read an electrophoresis gel, designed by graduate student Raja Bollepugu.
  • visiting the ski trails to find and identify organisms involved in a food web and explaining how they interact with each other, designed by graduate student Tony Matthys.
  • using medical laboratory science (MLS) techniques to identify a pathogen described in a written scenario, designed by a team of MLS undergraduates Sam Doyle, Shae Thomson, Josh Bowman and Laura Kirwin.

First, second and third place teams were awarded a plaque to display at school and each student on the team was awarded $200 for first place, $100 for second place and $50 for third place. All bioathlon competitors received a certificate of participation and a t-shirt sporting this year’s competition logo.

While students were busy with challenges their teachers participated in a workshop “Ethnobotany: how people use plants” led by academic advisor and botany instructor, Stacy Cotey.  Feedback indicated that the teachers were excited to learn new activities to incorporate into lesson plans.

The Department is pleased to use this outreach activity to demonstrate the exciting disciplines available at Michigan Technological University and to support the university’s mission to emphasis Health, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (H-STEM) education.  We look forward to next year’s competition scheduled for early May 2017.

Funding was provided by MTU Admissions, the Department of Biological Sciences, the Michigan Tech Fund, MTU Alumni Mark Cowan, MD, Robert C. and Kathryn DellAngelo, MD, Olive Kimball, D.Ed., PhD, Nancy Auer, PhD, and Janice Glime, PhD.

More details about the competition can be found on the Bioathlon web page.

The team winning FIRST PLACE was Houghton High School from Houghton, MI.

Team members: Andra Campbell
                               Kieran Storer                  
                               Won Young Choi
                               Ann Desrochers
Instructor:  Lauri Davis

The team winning SECOND PLACE was Calumet High School from Calumet, MI.
Team members: Chelsea Pittsley
                               Gunnar Lindemann
                               Brandon Fraki
                               Joseph Roy
Instructor:  Jennifer Peters            

The team winning the THIRD PLACE was L.L.Wright High School from Ironwood, MI.
Team members: Zane Ozello
                               Ian Hughes
                               Kinley Lyons
                               Nick Niemi  
Instructor: Cheryl Jacisin          

 


High school visit program a great success

HS visit pictureIt’s the best turnout in recent history for our high school visit program. Biological Sciences is proud to announce seven schools—about 180 students and their teachers—came to our spring semester event to help connect students to Michigan Tech. This year two schools attended for the first time in our program’s 25-plus-year history: Copper Country Christian School and Nah Tah Wahsh PSA (Hannahville Indian School),  joining the returning Superior Central (Eben Junction), Dollar Bay, Hancock, and Ontonagon High Schools. Houghton High School was also here to participate in a cooperative joint program between Biological Sciences and Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology. Unfortunately, after several attempts to reschedule, Marquette High School was unable to make it due to winter weather.

In the morning, students were greeted by our chair, Dr. Shekhar Joshi. They heard the story of how Dr. Thomas Werner became a biologist and got career advice from Dr. Amy Marcarelli, Brigitte Morin and the advisor for Pre-health, Stacy Cotey. They also attended their first college-level lecture in anatomy and physiology.  At lunch break they were introduced to the wonderful selection of food at Wadsworth Hall’s cafeteria. In the afternoon, after a quick stop to pose by the Husky Statue, they reinforced that morning’s lecture using the human anatomy and physiology  laboratory equipment to measure various parameters of their respiratory, cardiac, muscle and urinary systems and then learned how to do blood typing in the Medical Laboratory Science lab.

We are excited to participate in Michigan Tech’s mission to attract motivated students, including high school-aged girls, into the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields. In a broader sense the day of activities and pep talks by a diverse team of faculty, staff, and college students motivated high schoolers to think more deeply about attending college. And it hopefully encouraged a specific focus on degrees in biological sciences, medical laboratory sciences, or one of our many other life-science-related majors on campus.

 


Biology and KIP host Houghton High School

Houghton VisitFriday 15 April,

The Department of Biological Sciences and the Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology hosted a joint visit for Houghton High School’s Anatomy and Physiology classes.  The teacher, Alex Geborkoff, accompanied 35 students who spent a day on the Michigan Tech campus learning about health careers from Pre-med advisor Stacy Cotey and faculty member Steven Elmer, attending a college lecture in Anatomy and Physiology, experiencing lunch at Wadsworth Hall Dormitory and taking part in many hands-on lab activities.  Some of the lab activities in KIP included learning about the influence of stress on blood pressure in Dr. Jason Carter’s lab and conducting an experiment comparing concentric versus eccentric muscle groups in Dr. Steven Elmer’s lab.  In Biological Sciences students learned how to measure aortic blood pressure in Dr. John Durocher’s lab and being led through a dissection by Travis Wakeham in the anatomy and physiology teaching lab.

News coverage of the visit included TV6 news.

 

 


Biology Week March 28-April 1

Biology Week flyerSponsored by Phi Sigma Biological Honors Society

Biology Week March 28-April 1

Monday – MEDLIFE presents MEDTALK 2016 – Come hear from health professionals and students of MEDLIFE from their mobile clinic to Riobamba, Ecuador over spring break.  7pm in Fisher 101

Tuesday – Research presentations – If you’re interested in biology related research, come hear about what others students have been working on!  You could be next!  6pm in Fisher 131

Wednesday – Jeopardy Night – Join us in a fun-filled night of biology related questions with fellow students to test your knowledge and your competitive nature. 7pm in Dow 642

Thursday – Move Night: Concussion – During an autopsy of a NFL player Mike Webster, a finding similar to Alzheimer’s disease is discovered, published and made aware to others.  6pm in Fisher 101.

Friday – Book/Plant/Bake Sale – Biology books, plant seeds and fresh baked treats!  Need we say more? 10am – 3 pm in Fisher Hall

 


Dr. Kerfoot attends Torch Lake Watershed Project Public Meeting

kerfootDr. Kerfoot was one of many Michigan Technological University faculty and staff to present at the recent Torch Lake Watershed Project Public Meeting

An account of the meeting can be found in the 9 February 2016 blog post from Keweenaw Now

LAKE LINDEN —

What do you know about the Torch Lake Watershed, the Torch Lake Superfund and stamp sand, the Torch Lake Area of Concern, PCBs and fish advisories, ongoing research and remediation of contaminated sites in the area? The Torch Lake Watershed Project public meeting is one way to learn about these issues and to become involved in a community effort to plan the future of this area.

More at Keweenaw Now

http://keweenawnow.blogspot.com/2016/02/torch-lake-watershed-project-public.html



Michigan Tech Experts Weigh in on Mine Remediation

See the original Michigan Tech Article here

Released: 13-Aug-2015 1:05 PM EDT 
Source Newsroom: Michigan Technological University

Mine waste is dangerous to human and environmental health. The recent mine waste spill in Colorado is a stark reminder of that, but while details on the event may be sparse, the science behind remediation is not. Rupali Datta, an associate professor of biology at Michigan Tech, delves into how the heavy metals found in mine waste affect biological systems. She focuses on biochemistry and genetics to understand how metals are taken up by plants and animals–and how those metals are detoxed.

“The impacts from acid mine drainage affect the aquatic ecosystem mainly due to very low pH and high levels of bioavailable heavy metals,” Datta says, “Which can severely affect the biological community structure.”

Datta collaborates with Dibs Sarkar, a professor of environmental geochemistry in Montclair State University, New Jersey who is also an adjunct professor at Michigan Tech. They work on an abandoned coal mine site in Southern Illinois, testing the effectiveness of a “green” technology that they have developed to combat acid mine drainage problems in impacted water and soils. Sarkar says the spill is not a unique situation and could have been prevented.

“This was a totally avoidable situation,” he says. “It shouldn’t have happened with proper oversight, which unfortunately, is the case with many mine sites that produce acid mine drainage.”

Acid mine drainage is a routine problem in surface coal mines and metal mines, but are mostly not properly managed and the sites are abandoned. This current spill, which is from the Gold King Mine into the Animas River outside Durango, Colorado is getting media attention because of its scale, which is so vast that it would be difficult to fully gauge its impact on the environment right away. Long term impacts of the spill on the Animus River basin will need to be studied carefully. Datta and Sarkar do say the Environmental Protection Agency has taken quick steps to tackle the situation.

“However, their treatment process is generating a huge amount of solid waste in the form of contaminated sediments that they have to deal with down the road, and I hope, they will look for “green” methods instead of just dumping them in landfills,” Sarkar says.

Datta and Sarkar are available for comment on the Colorado spill to better put the event in the context of remediation science and long-term impacts of heavy metals.You can reach Rupali Datta at rupdatta@mtu.edu, office: 906-487-1783 and Dibs Sarkar atdsarkar1@mtu.edu, office: 973-655-7273



Calumet High School Places First in Bioathlon

Calumet 1st place smallby Jenn Donovan

A team of high school students from Calumet High School took top honors in Michigan Tech’s annual Bioathlon, a biology competition held Wednesday.

A team from West Iron County High School placed second and a team from A.D. Johnston HIgh School in Bessemer was third.

The Bioathlon’s goal is to stimulate interest in biology and in problem-solving among high school students. Teams from 15 Upper Peninsula high schools participated. Each team consisted of four students who have not taken biology classes beyond the traditional sophomore general biology course.

The teams tackled the same four problems: dissection of a dogfish shark; biochemical effects on enzymes; field identification; and a medical laboratory science challenge.

A workshop on animal migration was offered for the teachers who accompanied the students to the competition.

Undergraduate and graduate students and biology faculty participated in designing the problems and supervising the competition.

Funding for the Bioathlon was provided by Michigan Tech Admissions, the Department of Biological Sciences, the Michigan Tech Fund and alumni Mark Cowan, Robert and Kathryn DellAngelo, Olive Kimball, Nancy Auer and Janice Glime.

More information on Bioathlon is available here.