Category Archives: News

Tayloria Adams—Taking Dielectrophoresis to the Next Level

Tayloria Adams
“I am the first black woman to receive a PhD in chemical engineering at Michigan Tech. I hope this will encourage others!” —Tayloria Adams ‘11 ‘14

Last year the National Science Foundation awarded Michigan Tech alumna Tayloria Adams a prestigious Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Biology. Adams earned her Master’s and PhD in Chemical Engineering here at Michigan Tech, graduating with nine scholarships, fellowships and awards, three peer-reviewed journal publications, a book chapter, and a patent—No. WO2015051372-A1, to be exact. Her doctoral research examined the dielectric behavior of human mesenchymal stem cells, for the purpose of cell sorting in microfluidic devices.

How did you come to Michigan Tech? 

While on the hunt for a graduate school I was drawn to Michigan for two reasons: my mother lived in Detroit for a while before I was born, and affirmative action was started in the state. I applied to Michigan Tech and scheduled a visit. The environment was very welcoming, which got me hooked! Meeting Dr. Adrienne Minerick during the last year of my master’s degree was icing on the cake. My first interactions with her were in the classroom as I took her Advanced Reactive Systems course. I enjoyed her teaching style. She put a lot of effort into giving meaningful lectures and keeping students engaged. I looked into her research and I was very interested in dielectrophoresis, especially its use in studying red blood cells. The rest is history!

“I am passionate about three things: healthcare-related research, minority student success in STEM, and social justice. These areas are my calling.”

– Tayloria Adams

What was the most challenging aspect of your studies?

Research. There is a huge learning curve when entering a new research field. Learning how to design experiments effectively and accepting that there is no such thing as a perfect experiment are both great challenges. Something will always go wrong, but working through it to still collect the necessary data is what builds character and improves research skills.

What have you done since graduation?

I worked in the Michigan Tech Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) for one year after graduation, as the outreach coordinator. That year gave me the opportunity to grow as a mentor and advocate for underrepresented minority students. I am now conducting postdoctoral research in the Department of Neurology at the University of California, Irvine, in Lisa Flanagan’s lab, studying neural stem and progenitor cells (NSPCs) and their therapeutic potential. NSPCs are desirable because they form the three cell types of the central nervous system, astrocytes, neurons, and oligodendrocytes. However, one challenge is that NSPCs are grown as heterogeneous mixtures and we have little information regarding, which cells are best for neural repair. I’m using dielectrophoresis, an electrokinetic separation technique, as a method to target and enrich specific cells NSPCs. My goal is to effectively sort and characterize them.

You worked hard to educate and engage diverse people about the challenges facing underrepresented students at Michigan Tech. How would you describe the difference you made?

Working at Michigan Tech’s CDI provided me an outlet to engage in important conversations and be a part of the work. CDI was also very supportive of my research. I was able to practice research presentations in the center, use the space as a writing sanctuary when I was completing my dissertation, and almost all of the staff was present at my dissertation defense, which was immensely important to me. One of the best parts of my graduate education is that my daughter Aiyanna experienced college life at the undergraduate and graduate level before reaching college age. She’s learned about important campus resources such as CDI, and I am confident that this exposure has played a part in preparing her for college. As a parent this is something I am very proud of and would consider a success. My greatest frustration was the decline I saw in the number of African American students enrolled at Michigan Tech during my time there. A second frustration is the representation in faculty members. Michigan Tech is a great institution but these are areas where growth would make a huge impact on the community. I would say the difference I’ve made so far is showing what’s possible; but there is much more work to be done.

To learn more about Dr. Adams’s research, visit tayloriaadams.com.



eCYBERMISSION Team Thanks Michigan Tech for Support

eCYBERMISSION Winners 2017
The Whiz Kids stand with Army personnel to accept the winner’s trophy for 2017.

BREAKING NEWS—WE WIN!!!

The Whiz Kids presented their work at the eCYBERMISSION National Competition on Thursday, June 29, 2017, and learned that they had won the 8th grade competition on Friday, June 30.

Lake Linden-Hubbell “Whiz Kids” Win National Competition

Three eighth grade students at Lake Linden-Hubbell Middle School not only won a national championship, but may have helped create a solution to a local issue.

Although winning was great, Whiz Kid Gabe Poirier said that wasn’t the only benefit of completing the project.

“I think that one of the greatest parts was the realization that people like us that live in such a small area can do something bigger to benefit a lot of people,” said Whiz Kid Gabe Poirier.

Advisor Gretchen Hein said the trio plans to continue their work with stamp sands next year.

Read more at Keweenaw Report. View the Facebook video.


The Whiz Kids (Siona Beaudoin, Beau Hakala and Gabriel Poirier), an 8th grade eCYBERMISSION Team from Lake Linden-Hubbell High School greatly appreciated the support they received from Michigan Tech over the past year.

From October through June, they were advised by Gretchen Hein (CoE), faculty in engineering fundamentals, and Ryan Knoll, fourth-year chemical engineering student.

eCYBERMISSION is sponsored by the Army Educational Outreach Program (AEOP) and is for sixth through ninth grade teams. This is our second year participating in this competition.

This year we competed at nationals, whereas last year we made it to regionals. Since we made it to the national level, we went to Washington D.C. this week.

As part of the week-long activities, we participated in STEM workshops, visited the National Inventors Hall of Fame, went on a tour of the Capitol building, participated in activities with the Army and presented our project for judging purposes.

From 1:30-4 p.m. today (June 29, 2017), you can vote for our team to receive the People’s Choice Award. The link to vote is here. You can also view our presentation, along with the other teams and the Awards Luncheon here. We’d like to win this award for our school and community.

eCYBERMISSION’s goal is for student teams to research and develop a process that will benefit their community. Because we live in the Copper Country, we wanted to focus on something related to that industry. Our elementary school, playground and football field were constructed on top of stamp sands which are materials that are left over from stamping the copper out of the mine rock. Also, many of our grandparents worked in the area mines. When we went to areas containing stamp sands, we noticed that few plants were growing on them. Then we visited places where the stamp sands had been remediated by placing 6″ – 12″ topsoil on top of the stamp sands and then planting various plants.

We wanted to see how plants would grow in different mixtures of stamp sand and topsoil, and how soil stressors would affect that growth. To test this, we completed two experiment.

For our first experiment, we planted four types of plants (Red Fescue, Red Clover, Alfalfa, and Trefoil) in five different quantities of stamp sand and topsoil. Our results showed that Alfalfa and Red Fescue had adequate plant growth in 100% stamp sand, with Red Fescue being the best.

In our second experiment, we tested different stressors with the plant types selected from the first experiment, which were Fescue and Alfalfa. These plants proved to grow the best in 100 percent stamp sand. The stressors were wind, wheel tracks,l and high water table.

Participating in eCYBERMISSION the past two years has been an enjoyable learning experience for us, and we will be able to apply what we have learned in our future endeavors. We were recently interviewed on the Keweenaw Report that can be read here.

When we competed at the regional competition, we came to Michigan Tech where Jeff Toorongian from the Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning set up and ensured our virtual presentation worked with the eCYBERMISSION software.

When we made it to the national competition, we learned that only one adviser would be funded to travel with us. We were so happy when Chemical Engineering, Engineering Fundamentals and the Parent Fund supported Ryan’s travel. Ryan makes our team better. He has spent the school year and his summer working with us. He came to the regional competition even though it was his finals week.

In addition to funding Ryan’s travel, Engineering Fundamentals and the College of Engineering supported the poster printing costs. If they had not, our display would have just been print-outs. Instead, we learned how to make a Powerpoint poster and they funded the printing.

We are very thankful that the Parent Fund, Chemical Engineering, Engineering Fundamentals and the College of Engineering supported our project and helped to make us a successful team.

By Gretchen Hein.

ecybermission


Students Needed for AutoDrive Design Job

AutoDriveThe Electrical, Computer Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Mechanics Departments will hold a community forum at 5 p.m. this Thursday (June 29, 2017) in EERC 100 concerning the AutoDrive Autonomous Vehicle competition.

Michigan Tech is one of eight schools selected to participate in this three year competition. In this forum, we will discuss the high level details concerning the first year of the competition and ways the greater campus community can get involved.

The competition team is also currently looking for motivated students with engineering and software design experience to assist the team on critical design activities during the month of July. Several paid positions are available to exceptionally well-qualified students.

By Jeremy Bos.


New Graduate Certificate Automotive Systems and Controls

Automotive Systems and Controls
Graduate Certificate in Automotive Systems and Controls

The Graduate Certificate in Automotive Systems and Controls (ASC) is an interdisciplinary certificate with courses from the Departments of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics and Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Students completing this certificate will develop competencies in controls, systems engineering, and systems integration, encompassing multiple aspects of mechanical and electrical engineering with a primary focus on automotive applications.

What are the advantages of a Graduate Certificate in Automotive Systems and Controls from Michigan Tech? Our program is different, because we go beyond powertrains to look at total vehicle systems, from chassis to human interface.

Learn More

Apply Now


Accelerated healing—Understanding physical and chemical cues in tissue repair

Rajachar Research

Rupak Rajachar
Rupak Rajachar
Biomedical Engineering

Made of fibrous connective tissue, tendons attach muscles to bones in the body, transferring force when muscles contract. But tendons are especially prone to tearing. Achilles tendinitis, one of the most common and painful sports injuries, can take months to heal, and injury often recurs.

Rupak Rajachar is developing a minimally-invasive, injectable hydrogel that can greatly reduce the time it takes for tendon fibers to heal, and heal well.

“To cells in the body, a wound must seem as if a bomb has gone off,” says Rajachar. His novel hydrogel formulation allows tendon tissue to recover organization by restoring the initial cues cells need in order to function. “No wound can go from injured to healed overnight,” he adds. “There is a process.”

Rajachar and his research team seek to better understand that process, looking at both normal and injured tissue to study cell behavior, both in vitro and in vivo with mouse models. The hydrogel they have created combines the synthetic—polyethylene glycol (PEG), and the natural—fibrinogen.

“Cells recognize and like to attach to fibrinogen,” Rajachar explains. “It’s part of the natural wound healing process. It breaks down into products known to calm inflammation in a wound, as well as products that are known to promote new vessel formation. When it comes to healing, routine is better; the familiar is better.”

“To cells in the body, a wound must seem as if a bomb has gone off.”

– Rupak Rajachar

The team’s base hydrogel has the capacity to be a therapeutic carrier, too. One formulation delivers low levels of nitric oxide (NO) to cells, a substance that improves wound healing, particularly in tendons. Rajachar combines NO and other active molecules and cells with the hydrogel, testing numerous formulations. “We add them, then image the gel to see if cells are thriving. The process takes place at room temperature, mixed on a lab bench.”

Hydrogel
SEM image of the fibrinogen-based hydrogel

Two commonly prescribed, simple therapies—range of motion exercises that provide mechanical stimulation, and local application of cold/heat—activate NO in the hydrogel, boosting its effectiveness.

“Even a single injection of the PEG-fibrinogen-NO hydrogel could accelerate healing in tendon fibers,” says Rajachar. “ Tendon tissues have a simple healing process that’s easier to access with biomaterials,” he adds. Healing skin, bone, heart, and neural tissue is far more complex. Next up: Rajachar plans to test variations of his hydrogel on skin wounds.



ABET Spotlights Leonard Bohmann

Leonard Bohmann at Design Expo
Leonard Bohmann at Design Expo

Leonard Bohmann is keenly aware that good engineering goes beyond solid bridges or state-of-the art buildings. For the ABET Expert, who has been a Program Evaluator (PEV) since 2005, excellent engineering is designing with a purpose and involves gathering input from the community, using local resources and evaluating the impact on the environment. And it is this vision that moves him to constantly reshape and enhance his university’s engineering programs.

As an associate dean for academic affairs at Michigan Technological University (Michigan Tech) and member of the ABET’s Engineering Accreditation Commission since 2016, Bohmann aims to use perspectives he has gathered from trips around the world to give his students a well-rounded educational experience, preparing them to build a better world.
Read more at the ABET newsletter, by Josie Hopkins.


Silicon Solar Cell Research in the Journal of Optics

Journal of OpticsAlumni Chenlong Zhang (MSE), Jephias Gwamuri (MSE) and electrical and computer engineering students Sandra Cvetanovic and Mehdi Sadatgol coauthored an article with Durdu Guney (ECE) and Joshua Pearce (MSE/ECE), Enhancement of hydrogenated amorphous silicon solar cells with front-surface hexagonal plasmonic arrays from nanoscale lithography, in the Journal of Optics.

doi.org/10.1088/2040-8986/aa7291


2017 Staff Service Award Recognition

The annual Staff Council Service Recognition Luncheon will be held at noon Wednesday, June 14, in the MUB Ballroom. President Glenn Mroz and Staff Council Chair, Jenn Biekkola will present awards for five-year increments of service to more than 150 staff members. Recent staff retirees will also be recognized.

A big “THANK YOU” for your service and commitment to Michigan Tech to the following staff members in the College of Engineering who will be honored for reaching a 5 year anniversary date this fiscal year.

First Name Last Name Service Years Department
Christopher Gilbertson 5 Civil & Environmental Engineering
John Kiefer 10 Civil & Environmental Engineering
Rashelle Sandell 20 Civil & Environmental Engineering
Joan Becker 20 Electrical and Computer Engineering
Robert Barron 30 Geological & Mining Eng & Sciences
Paul Fraley 5 Materials Science and Engineering
Thomas Wood 5 Materials Science and Engineering
Allison Hein 25 Materials Science and Engineering
Nancy Barr 10 Mechanical Engrg-Engrg Mechanics
Jeremy Worm 10 Mechanical Engrg-Engrg Mechanics

Read more at the Staff Council Blog.

Chris Gilbertson
Chris Gilbertson
John Kiefer
John Kiefer
Shelle Sandell
Shelle Sandell
Joan Becker
Joan Becker

Robert Barron
Robert Barron
Paul Fraley
Paul Fraley

Thomas Wood
Thomas Wood
Allison Hein
Allison Hein
Nancy Barr
Nancy Barr
Jeremy Worm
Jeremy Worm