Students Present at the 2017 Undergraduate Research Symposium

Several undergraduate students working in biology research laboratories presented at Michigan Tech’s 2017 Undergraduate Research Symposium this year. The event highlights the amazing cutting-edge research being conducted on our campus by some of our best and brightest undergraduate students!

Michelle Kelly URS 2017

Michelle Kelly from Amy Marcarelli’s laboratory challenged the assumption that variation of biological nitrogen transformation rates within streams are small. Her findings suggest that these rates can actually significantly vary and may not be estimated by a single study site per reach. Michelle’s research was funded by a Research Experience for Undergraduates through the National Science Foundation.


Hannah Marti URS 2017Hannah Marti from John Durocher’s laboratory explored the potential health benefits of acute mindfulness meditation. In her pilot study, she observed a reduction in anxiety, heart rate, and aortic pulse pressure after the one introductory hour of mindfulness mediation. Hannah’s research was funded through the Undergraduate Research Internship Program sponsored by the Portage Health Foundation. Hannah earned an honorable mention for her presentation!


Jacob Schoenborn URS 2017

Jacob Schoenborn from Xiaoqing Tang’s laboratory studied mice to understand the influence of blueberries on the function of pancreatic beta cells, which regulate the amount of glucose in the blood. His results suggest that the bioactive substances in blueberries can improve beta cell sensitivity. Jacob’s research was funded through the Undergraduate Research Internship Program sponsored by the Portage Health Foundation. Jacob earned an honorable mention for his presentation!


David Trine URS 2017David Trine from Thomas Werner’s laboratory reviewed the abdominal pigment pattern of Drosophila guttifera by through five toolkit genes. His findings will help to understand the evolutionary process of color patterns on animals and also may lead to future cancer research. David’s research was funded through a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship.


Thomas Werner: The Butterfly Effect

Thomas Werner 201701120031Thomas Werner knew he wanted to be a butterfly biologist from a very young age when he found chasing butterflies to be a preferable diversion to missing his friends and helping his parents harvest their garden plot.

His Journey from East Berlin to the Keweenaw has been a metamorphosis. His work with fruit flies is giving researchers an avenue to explore for cancer screening, prevention, and treatment.

“I love the precision and detail work of making a clean, crisp image.”

Explore more what Werner has to say about his research in Michigan Tech’s Research Magazine article, “The Butterfly Effect”.


Michigan Space Grant Consortium Award Recipients Announced

K NevorskiBiology student Kevin Nevorski received $5,000 in funding through the Michigan Space Grant Consortium (MSGC), sponsored by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for the 2017-18 funding cycle. Nevorski worked with Amy Marcarelli on this project, “Nitrogen in Space: An Examination of How Nitrogen Cycle Processes are Related in Streams and How Those Processes are Influenced at Multiple Special Scales”. Kevin earned his MS and BS from Central Michigan University before joining the Marcarelli lab in 2016 as a PhD student as part of the NSF CAREER project.

NASA implemented the National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program in 1989 to provide funding for research, education and public outreach in space-related science and technology. The program has 52 university-based consortia in the United States and Puerto Rico.

As an affiliate of the Michigan Consortium, Michigan Tech has been an active participant in MSGC for approximately 20 years. MSGC funding is administered through Michigan Tech’s Pavlis Honors College.

For more information, contact Paige Hackney in the Pavlis Honors College at 7-4371 or visit the MSGC website.

Morin finalist Distinguished Teaching Awards

image77518-persThe William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning seeks input for its annual Distinguished Teaching Awards, which recognize outstanding contributions to the instructional mission of the University.

Based on more than 50,000 student ratings of instruction responses, ten finalists have been identified for the 2017 awards. The selection committee is soliciting comments from students, staff, faculty and alumni to aid in deliberation.

Brigitte Morin is a finalist in the Assistant Professor/Lecturer/Professor of Practice Category

Emily Matthys ’13 ’16 receives national scholarship

Emily Matthys API AwardEmily Matthys recently received a national scholarship through the American Proficiency Institute (API) to help offset the cost of tuition while in her clinical practicum at the Marshfield Clinic.

According to the Medical Laboratory Observer:

“An appreciation for scientific advancements flows strongly among the winners of the 2016 American Proficiency Institute (API) scholarships. Five students enrolled in medical laboratory science programs across the United States won the awards to further their education.

“Now in our ninth year of awarding API Scholarships, I continue to be impressed with the caliber of students entering the medical laboratory science profession,” said Daniel C. Edson, President of API. “This year, a number of the scholarship winners are non-traditional students. They began their studies and careers in other fields, but found the clinical laboratory enticing enough to switch course.”

Ms. Matthys, who began her career as a field biologist, discovered the laboratory is where she excelled. “I think one of the most urgent issues clinical laboratory professionals will face is the spread of multi-drug resistant microorganisms,” she noted. “It will be rewarding to help identify and diagnose these infections to help inform treatment.”

Emily received her BS degree in Biology from Northern Michigan University and came to Michigan Technological University for a MS degree under Dr. Nancy Auer studying fisheries biology. After earning her MS degree, she took a position at Finlandia University teaching microbiology and it was there that she discovered medical microbiology and knew she wanted to pursue a third degree, in Medical Laboratory Science (MLS) at Michigan Tech. She graduated our program in December of 2015, and started her clinical practicum at the Marshfield Clinic in the summer of 2016.

Karyn Fay, the director of our MLS program, noted that “Emily was a very positive role model for younger students while at Michigan Tech and this award is well earned!” “Emily comes to the practicum with a wealth of experience,” said Julie Seehafer, Ph.D., director of Laboratory Education at Marshfield Clinic. “With her technical knowledge and her leadership skills, she is likely to make an immediate contribution.”

We are very proud of Emily, and wish her the best as she completes her clinical practicum and enters the field of Medical Lab Science!

Applications for summer 2017 Portage Health Foundation Graduate Assistantships

Screen Shot 2017-01-16 at 8.39.25 AMApplications for summer 2017 Portage Health Foundation Graduate Assistantships are being accepted and are due no later than 4 p.m. Feb. 14 to Debra Charlesworth in the Graduate School. Instructions on the application and evaluation process are online.

Students are eligible if all of the following criteria are met:

  • Must be a PhD student participating in health-related research that is aligned with the PHF’s mission
  • Must be eligible for or in Research Mode at the time of application
  • It must be two years after starting the graduate program at the time of application
  • Must not have previously received a PHF Graduate Assistantship

Priority will be given to students originally from Houghton, Keweenaw, Baraga or Ontonagon counties. Non-resident students and international students are encouraged to apply if their health research is applicable to health needs and job shortages of our local community (obesity research, rural health, medical informatics, drug delivery and lab testing, physical therapy, etc.).

These assistantships are available through the generosity of the Portage Health Foundation. They are intended to recognize outstanding PhD talent in health-oriented research areas. Applicants should be catalysts for promoting and improving the overall health of residents in Houghton, Keweenaw, Baraga and Ontonagon counties through one of the following:

  • Health research and technology development
  • Health education or preventive and wellness initiatives
  • Rural healthcare access, informatics and assessment of care

Students who receive full support through a PHF Graduate Assistantship may not accept any other employment. For example, students cannot be fully supported by a PHF Graduate Assistantship and accept support as a GTA or GRA.

Tony Wilkinson ’80 named Director NY State Fish and Wildlife


The New York State Department of Conservation (DEC) announced that Anthony (Tony) Wilkinson, Biological Sciences MS 1980, has been appointed to lead its Division of Fish and Wildlife:

Anthony (Tony) Wilkinson has been appointed to head up the agency’s four Fish and Wildlife bureaus and more than 350 employees whose missions are to conserve, improve and protect New York’s natural resources.

“Tony Wilkinson brings a deep awareness of the issues that affect our state’s environment and our natural resources, and his decades of experience will fit in perfectly with the hundreds of colleagues here who share his passion,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos.

Most recently Wilkinson was the Director for The Nature Conservancy’s Eastern NY Program, where he developed and implemented conservation plans for various habitats and species, including migratory fish in the Hudson River Estuary. He previously served as the Director of Operations for the national Natural Heritage Program, and has worked as a biologist and a zoologist for state agencies in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Indiana.

Wilkinson has an undergraduate degree in Fisheries and Wildlife from Michigan State University and a master’s degree in Biological Science from Michigan Technological University. He grew up in southern Pennsylvania and spent much of his youth hunting, fishing and hiking with his father. He is married with two older children and lives in Saratoga County.

“I’m thrilled to be part of the DEC team and look forward to working with the sportsmen and women of New York and our fish and wildlife staff on the sound management of our precious wildlife and fisheries resources,” Wilkinson said.

Congratulations, Tony!

New Faculty joins Biology this semester

Today, we take a look at and welcome faculty who have started with the Fall Semester.

Xiaohu Tang joins Michigan Tech’s Department of Biological Sciences as an assistant professor. Tang earned his PhD from the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel. Prior to coming to Tech, Tang worked as a research scholar in the Center for Genomic and Computational Biology at Duke University’s School of Medicine.