Category Archives: Research

Opportunities in Forest Biomaterials Research

Biomaterials Research
Video: Biomaterials Research

According to Mark Rudnicki, a professor of practice in forest biomaterials at Michigan Technological University, Michigan ranks ninth in the nation in acres of forest cover. It’s also home to several forest-related industries, including forestry and logging, wood products manufacturing and paper manufacturing. In 2013, Michigan Tech initiated the development of a broad coalition – with members from Michigan industry, government and academia – to facilitate the cultivation of new ways to use forest biomaterials.

The initiative has evolved into the Michigan Forest Biomaterials Institute (MiFBI) and Rudnicki is its executive director.

Read more and watch the video at Unscripted: Science and Engineering Research, by Stefanie Sidortsova.

The mission of the Michigan Forest Biomaterials Institute (MiFBI) is to enhance quality of life in Michigan by fostering sustainable forests, communities, and economies through innovative and responsible production, use, and recycling of forest biomaterials.

MIFBI invites individuals and corporate entities (businesses, institutions, associations and government agencies) supportive of developing a forest bioeconomy in Michigan to join MIFBI as a Regular or Associate member.


2017 Research Excellence Funding

ResearchThe Vice President for Research Office announced the 2017 REF awards and thanked the volunteer review committees, as well as the deans and department chairs, for their time spent on this important internal research award process.

Infrastructure Enhancement (IE) Grants
Dan Seguin (MSE/IMP)

Research Seed (RS) Grants
Daisuke Minakata (CEE)
Radwin Askari (GMES/EPSSI)

Portage Health Foundation (PHF) Mid-Career (MC)
CK Choi (MEEM)
Megan Frost (Bio Med)
Jeremy Goldman (Bio Med)

Original article by VPR.


Multi-Dimensional Manufacturing is Best Overall Venture

CMU New Venture Competition

Jim Baker, executive director of Innovation and Industry Engagement and co-director of the Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship, and Lorelle Meadows, dean of the Pavlis Honors College, accompanied students Reggie Dillingham (SBE), Sachin Fernandes (ECE), Joseph Ryan (CS and PSY), Cedric Kennedy (SBE), Kyle Ludwig (ECE), Adam Weber (CNSA), Nick Dubiel (ME), Morgan Crocker (STC), Emily Jensen (SBE) and Brandon Talaska (ChE) who competed in the Central Michigan University New Venture Competition. The competition was held March 24, 2017.

Multi-Dimensional Manufacturing, a 3-D printing technology company founded by Nick Dubiel with support from Morgan Crocker and mentored by Jim Baker finished as the Best Overall Venture with a $30,000 cash prize and a year of mentoring from Blue Water Angels in Midland. The team is also a recent graduate of Michigan Tech’s National Science Foundation I-Corps Site Program.


Three Engineering Students Awarded NSF Graduate Research Fellows

NSFThree students from Michigan Tech have received fellowships from the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF-GRFP), one of the oldest and most competitive programs in the nation. In addition, three students received Honorable Mention, in the prestigious program.

Rebekka Guyon, Mary Kate Mitchell and Roger Guillory II were named GRFP Fellows. Violet Thole, materials research, Kelci Mohrman, physics, and Breeanne Spalding, biomedical engineering, received honorable mention.

Mitchell is an undergraduate chemical engineering major from Plymouth, Michigan who will graduate this spring. Her research focuses on the water-energy nexus, specifically developing more energy efficient methods to remove boron during seawater desalination.

“Current reverse osmosis methods are energy intensive so it is valuable to explore alternative options,” says Mitchell who is appreciative of the prestigious distinction. “I am very grateful to receive this fellowship and want to thank my many mentors I’ve had, throughout my career in industry as well as Michigan Tech.” She says the GRFP will be an invaluable asset to her graduate school career.

Guillory is a biomedical engineering major from Houston, Texas, whose research focuses on evaluating degradable metals (zinc based) for cardiovascular-stent applications. He says the GRFP award is a validation of sorts for the research conducted at Michigan Tech.

“This fellowship proves to me that the work we do here in our labs, and at Michigan Tech have a considerable impact outside of our University and respective disciplines.”

Guyon is a geological engineering major from Detroit. Her research is focused on reducing dust emissions from mine tailings by utilizing bacteria already present within the tailings. Dust emissions impact human health, especially among the Native population where research indicates these dustings have doubled the risk of lung cancer and cause higher incidences of respiratory disease.

“I feel fortunate to receive this prestigious honor,” Guyon says. “Additionally, this is a significant recognition of the mentors, faculty and students that I have worked with over the past few years. Michigan Tech has a very strong intellectual community, so I’m fortunate to conduct my research here.”

Pushpalatha Murthy, dean of Michigan Tech’s Graduate School says, “Being a recipient of the Graduate Research Fellowship or Honorable Mention status in this very prestigious competition speaks to the high caliber of our students and the dedication they have for both intellectual pursuits and serving society. The NSF-GRFP is unique in that it emphasizes commitment to both intellectual inquiry and service to society and are looking to support individuals who have the potential to be high achieving scientists and engineers as well as have a broader impact on society. These awards are a well-deserved recognition of the superior accomplishments of our students and the quality and dedication of Michigan Tech faculty, staff and programs. Crafting a winning proposal is a lot of effort and I want to congratulate the students for their accomplishments and thank the dedication and passion of the faculty and staff who helped them. I look forward to great contributions for our students.”

THE NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines who are pursing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited US institutions.

By Mark Wilcox.


ME-EM Nonlinear and Autonomous Systems Lab Live Tour

NAS Lab Tour
Nina Mahmoudian and the NAS Lab Tour

To celebrate National Robotics Week, a team from University Marketing and Communications will host a live lab tour of the Nonlinear and Autonomous Systems Lab

Nina Mahmoudian (MEEM) and Donna Fard (MEEM) will talk about their research followed by students demonstrating robots they designed to better navigate an obstacle course in the lab. Join in from 11:15 a.m. to noon Wednesday (April 12, 2017) on Facebook Live and Twitter.

#mtulive

VIEW THE VIDEO TOUR ON FACEBOOK

VIEW THE VIDEO SCREENSHOTS


Michigan Tech Design Expo is Thursday, April 13, 2017

Design Expo

VIEW THE PHOTO ALBUM

What do a satellite tag anchoring system for humpback whales, a pandemic ventilator for third-world countries, a 793 mpg supermileage vehicle and an innovative, low-cost avalanche beacon have in common?

They’re all student projects on display at Michigan Tech’s 17th annual Design Expo from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Thursday (April 13, 2017) in the Memorial Union Ballroom. The event is free and open to the public.

At the Expo, you’ll have a chance to explore the breadth and depth of undergraduate project work with more than 1,000 students from Michigan Tech’s Enterprise and senior design programs participating.

Projects and posters will be on display throughout the day. A panel of judges comprised of corporate representatives and University faculty and staff will critique the projects. Many of the projects are sponsored by industry.

Design Expo event sponsors include ITC Holdings, Black & Veatch, American Transmission Co, Code Blue, Kimberly-Clark, Miller Electric, as well as Michigan Tech Career Services, the University’s Office of Innovation and Industry Engagement and the Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship.

Michigan Tech’s innovative Enterprise program is open to all majors and facilitates interdisciplinary learning, leadership development, and team-based project work. Diverse teams of first-year through graduate-level students develop products, processes, and services within their market space, with multiyear participation.

Senior Design challenges teams of highly dedicated senior-level students to explore and address real-world design challenges in their final year. The program connects students and industry sponsors through open-ended projects where teams follow the complete design process from ideation to realization.

For more information and a complete schedule of events, visit the Design Expo website.


Sniffing Volcanoes from Space: Simon Carn at the Michigan Tech Research Forum

Simon Carn
Simon Carn

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The Michigan Tech Research Forum was developed to showcase and celebrate the work of Michigan Tech researchers and to strengthen discussions in our community.

It is a privilege and honor to announce Associate Professor Simon Carn (GMES) was selected from nominees across campus as the 2017 Distinguished Lecturer.

Carn will give his lecture at 4 p.m. Thursday (April 6, 2017) in the MUB Ballroom. He will present “Volcanology — Multidisciplinary Science for a Versatile Campus.” The session will feature ample time for mingling over snacks and refreshments before and after the lecture. All are welcome. In addition, on-site, low-cost childcare at the MUB is available for those who need it during the Distinguished Lecture. Learn more online.

John Gierke, chair of the Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences nominated Carn for the award.

According to Gierke, Carn, “was a leading scientist in the application of sensors on the satellites forming what is called the Afternoon Constellation or ‘A-Train’ to Earth observations and specifically to volcanology.

“Simon possesses a unique knack for compiling and presenting information on satellite sensors and volcanic processes in visually appealing ways and for making compelling arguments in support of scientific observations of volcanoes.”

Quoting from the NASA website that features the A-Train, “This coordinated group of satellites … are in a polar orbit, crossing the equator … within seconds to minutes of each other. This allows near-simultaneous observations of a wide variety of parameters to aid the scientific community in advancing our knowledge of Earth-system science and applying this knowledge for the benefit of society.“

Carn joined the faculty of the Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences as an assistant professor in 2008. He came to Michigan Tech from the Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. He holds a PhD in volcanology from the University of Cambridge, UK, a DEA in volcanology and magmatic processes from the Université Blaise Pascal in Clermont-Ferrant, France and a BA in geology from the University of Oxford, UK.

He has received multiple research grants totaling more than $2.8 million from NASA, the National Science Foundation, the National Geographic Society Committee for Research and Exploration, the Royal Society and the European Union.

He has taught, lectured and supervised students since 1994 at Michigan Tech and across the world at the International Volcanological Field School in Russia, Cambridge University, the Philippines Institute of Volcanology and Seismology and at international workshops in France, Italy, Iceland, Indonesia, Singapore and Costa Rica.

Carn has been a member of the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth’s Interior and the American Geophysical Union since 1994. He recently served on a National Academy of Sciences Committee on Improving Understanding of Volcanic Eruptions.

His current research focus is the application of remote sensing data to studies of volcanic degassing, volcanic eruption clouds and anthropogenic pollution. His main focus: SO2, a precursor of sulfate aerosol, which plays an important role in the atmosphere through negative climate forcing and impacts on cloud microphysics.

7 questions with Volcanologist Simon Carn

 

Q: When was the moment you knew volcanology was for you?

A: The first active volcano I encountered was Arenal in Costa Rica during my travels after finishing high school. However, I think the point that I first seriously considered volcanology as a career was during my MS degree in Clermont-Ferrand, France. The first field trip of that course was to Italy to see the spectacular active volcanoes Etna, Stromboli and Vesuvius.

Q: What do you like most about volcanology?
A: Studying volcanoes is undeniably exciting and exotic, and we are lucky to visit some spectacular locations for fieldwork and conferences. New eruptions can occur at any time, so there’s always something new and exciting to study. We are also fortunate in that it is relatively easy to justify studying volcanoes (e.g., to funding agencies), given their potentially significant impacts on climate, the environment and society.

Q: What is the biggest challenge in this field?
A: Accurate prediction of volcanic eruptions is a significant challenge, and will remain so until we can increase the number of global volcanoes that are intensively monitored.

Q: What has changed the most in volcanology over the past decade (or two)?
A: The amount of geophysical data collected from the ground and space has increased exponentially, along with the computational capacity to process the data and construct numerical models of volcanic processes. This has significantly advanced our understanding of the potential impacts of volcanoes.

Q: How do your two specialties—volcanology and teaching—complement each other?
A: I think volcanoes are a very effective tool for recruiting and engaging students, e.g., by using some dramatic eruption footage to pique their interest in the underlying physical processes. There are many different aspects of volcanic activity, ranging from the geological origins of volcanoes to their impacts on the atmosphere, so effective teaching of volcanology requires some expertise in multiple fields of science. Gathering the relevant information is personally very rewarding and frequently opens up new avenues for research.

Q: You studied and worked in England, France and Europe. How did you come to Michigan Tech, and how does it work as a home base?
A: After finishing my PhD in the UK, I worked on the island of Montserrat (West Indies) for several months monitoring the active Soufriere Hills volcano. This got me interested in the use of remote sensing techniques for monitoring volcanic gas emissions. I then moved to the US for a postdoc at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, using satellite data to measure volcanic emissions, and whilst there I started collaborating with the Michigan Tech volcanology group. Michigan Tech has been highly regarded for its volcanology program, and in particular for remote sensing of volcanoes, for many years and so it was an ideal fit for me when I was looking for a faculty position.

Q: I noticed the photo your grandfather took of a smoking Mt. Vesuvius during WWII (at the very bottom on your website. Was he a volcanologist, as well? How did you come across that photo?
A: He wasn’t a volcanologist, though he was a high school science teacher and a conservationist. The photo of Vesuvius was always one of his favorites, from a time when photographs were quite rare, and he often showed it to me in my youth.


Engineering Graduate Students Excel at ACS 2017 Student Research Symposium

ACS Local Student ResearchAmeya Narkar received first prize for his poster presentation at the 2017 Upper Peninsula American Chemical Society Student Research Symposium, which was held Saturday, March 25, 2017, in Marquette.

The title of the poster was “Effect of Addition of Acrylic Acid (AAc) on the Wet Adhesion Properties of Mussel-inspired Hydrogels at Multiple pH Values.” Narkar is a PhD student working in the research lab of Bruce Lee.

Muxue Zhang, a graduate student in environmental engineering, was awarded third place at the symposium.

Zhang, a second-year master’s student, presented on her thesis work about predicting the reverse osmosis (RO) rejection of toxicologically relevant organics for direct potable reuse application in wastewater reclamation processes.

She works with Daisuke Minakata (CEE). Her work is part of a funded water reuse project looking at the intrinsic interactions between a wide variety of organics and RO membrane using computational chemistry tools.

The purpose of the event is to provide a venue for students to present their research in chemistry, chemical engineering and related fields. This symposium is an excellent opportunity for students, faculty and the community at large to learn about the interesting research being conducted in the UP. It was hosted by the ACS Upper Peninsula Local Section on the campus of Northern Michigan University.


Virus Hydrophobicity is a Science360 Top Story

Science360

The Michigan Tech News story “Virus Hydrophobicity Can Help Purify Vaccines” concerning the research of Caryn Heldt made the top story of the online news magazine Science360. Heldt is an associate professor of chemical engineering at Michigan Tech.

The vaccine story, written by Michigan Tech science and technology writer Allison Mills, appeared in Science360 five days after it was published. This multimedia source is edited by the National Science Foundation in order to gather breaking STEM news from scientists, universities, and science and engineering centers.


2017 SURF Awards to Eight Engineering Undergraduates

SURF StudentsThe Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program will fund 20 students from across the University with funds from the office of the Vice President for Research. Previous SURF award recipients have included Goldwater Scholarship and NSF Graduate Research Fellowship recipients. Since 2002, SURF students have co-authored 71 peer-reviewed publications. This year’s recipients, project titles and advisors are listed on the SURF webpage.

Kaylie Butts, Rachel Schlicker and Quelyn Bekkering received Honorable Mention.

By Will Cantrell.

2017 Award Recipients in Engineering Programs

Student Name Student’s Major Advisor/Department Project Title
Jessica Benson Biomedical Engineering Jeremy Goldman / Biomedical Eng. Evaluating Biodegradeable Zinc Stent Materials
James Gooding Chemical Engineering Shiyue Fang / Chemistry Digital History of Historic Mineralogical Instruments at the A.E. Seaman Museum
Amanda Kautzer Biomedical Engineering/Eng. Management Rupak Rajachar / Biomedical Eng. Multi-arm PEG-based Hydrogels for Tendon and Ligament Repair
Darian Reed Civil Engineering Pasi Latula / Civil & Environmental Eng. Evaluation of Methods to Record Head Orientation in Driving Simulator and In-Vehicle Study Environments
Marissa Schorr Geology Chad Deering / Geological & Mining Eng. Filling in the Gaps: Finding the Missing Detrital Zircon Puzzle Pieces to the Magmatic Evolution of the Mt. Princeton Batholith, Colorado
Luke Weidner Geological Engineering Thomas Oommen / Geological and Mining Eng. Validation of a Landslide Susceptibility Model Using Ground Movement Image Correlation in Parwan Province, Afghanistan
Travis Wigstrom Chemical Engineering Shiyue Fang / Chemistry A Novel Carboxylic Acid Protecting Group Deprotectable Under Mild Neural Conditions
Aubrey Woern Mechanical Engineering Joshua Pearce / Materials Science Techno-Economic Analysis of Flexible Filaments Used in 3D Printing vs. Traditional Manufacturing