New Degree Program: Natural Resources Management

The Presidents’ Council, State Universities of Michigan has approved Michigan Tech’s new Bachelor of Science degree in Natural Resources Management. The new program will start this fall.

“The value of this new undergraduate degree program in natural resources management is that it is interdisciplinary and thus complements our existing disciplinary programs in natural resources,” said Terry Sharik, dean of the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science. “Thus, rather than focusing on a single renewable resource, such as wood, wildlife, water or recreation, it will integrate across these resource areas and include the ecological, social and economic dimensions of natural resource or ecosystem management. It will complement our other degree programs as the graduates of this new program will be tasked with overseeing teams of specialists to work on complex issues related to natural resources and the environment. Another plus for the new degree program is it is likely to attract students who might not otherwise be attracted to our existing programs.

“We know from national data that such programs tend to attract a higher proportion of females and under-represented minorities than more traditional natural resource programs focused on single resources, and thus our new program should increase the overall diversity of our student body,” Sharik went on to say.

Article by Jennifer Donovan

James B. Pickens Retires

Jim Pickens
Jim, talking fishing at his retirement party.

Professor James B. (Jim) Pickens is retiring from the Michigan Tech School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science after 30 years of teaching,research, and service to the school. Jim wore many hats during his time with the School—teacher, storyteller, graduate program coordinator for the School, University Senator, and developer and manager of our very successful Master of Forestry program.

When asked to reflect on his career, Jim says, “It was a hoot publishing lots of very theoretical mathematics papers, especially in the first 15 years here.” Another highlight: receiving the Hardwood Research Award from the National Hardwood Research Council for his development of a hardwood log-bucker training program for implementation in the eastern US. This award is only given out once a year and may be the only industry-sponsored award in forestry and wood products. Jim says his greatest achievement was not a paper or training program—it was his students. He focuses on how rewarding it was to develop the Master of Forestry program and help 47 students earn master’s degrees in the past 10 years. “I worked them twice as hard and gave them half the credit, and those are both good things,” Jim says, chuckling.

Jim had the fortune of ending his teaching career with a particularly good Forest Resource Management class. “This was a group of phenomenal students who worked hard, thought clearly, and excelled. They are great students who also melded to form a great class; one doesn’t necessarily lead to the other.”

In retirement, Jim looks forward to spending more time with his spouse, dogs, gardens, and orchard. His other goal is to “personally meet every fish in Michigan and . . . Montana.”

Biltmore stick-fishing pole
Biltmore stick-fishing pole, a quirky, but fitting retirement gift from Blair Orr.

Welcoming Mark Rudnicki to new Biomaterials position

The School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science has another new face. Mark Rudnicki has joined our ranks as Professor of Practice, Forest Biomaterials. This position was created in order to coordinate efforts between Michigan Tech and the statewide biomaterials initiative as the Michigan Forest Biomaterials Initiative develops and grows.

Rudnicki comes to us with extensive teaching background and experience in extension and outreach. Mark will be leading our school’s effort to support the developing Michigan Forest Biomaterials Initiative, which, in Mark’s words is “an ambitious endeavor to improve the quality of life for the citizens of Michigan by moving purposefully toward a future that takes responsible yet full advantage of Michigan’s renewable resources”.

New Assistant Professor in Remote Sensing/GIS Spatial Analysis

Isabella Mariotto

Join us in welcoming Dr. Isabella Mariotto to the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science.

Dr. Mariotto has filled the position of Assistant Professor in Remote Sensing/GIS Spatial Analysis. Mariotto’s areas of expertise include, remote sensing and GIS spatial analysis and modeling, hyperspectral remote sensing of vegetation, remote sensing of aboveground Carbon storage, biodiversity, food security, and evapotranspiration from Energy Balance models. Isabella has a Ph.D. in Ecology (Remote Sensing and GIS) from New Mexico State University and completed her postdoctoral scholarship with University of Arizona and the US Geological Survey.


Welcoming Dr. Yvette Dickinson

Yvette Dickinson

Dr. Yvette Dickinson has joined SFRES as Assistant Professor of Silviculture.

Dickinson, who hails from New Zealand, is an avid fly-fisherman, hiker, and amateur naturalist. In 2011, she completed her Ph.D. in Forest Resources at Pennsylvania State University, studying the influence of silvicultural management on forest structure. Dickinson comes to us from Colorado State University, where she completed her post-doctoral work and taught silviculture and forest management.

Isle Royale Wolf-Moose News Article in “Nature”

The monumental Isle Royale Wolf/Moose Study, which has been active for more than fifty years, has been a riveting drama to follow. In recent years, the wolf population has been in decline, raising questions as to the future of the wolf on Isle Royale. Below-average temperatures this winter have created an ice bridge between Isle Royale and the mainland, a fairly-rare and potentially promising event for the wolves of Isle Royale. Read what Michigan Tech’s Rolf Peterson and John Vucetich have to say on the subject in this week’s issue of Nature and don’t miss the link to the editorial at the end of the article.

New Funding – Roth

Amber Roth has received $25,000 of funding from the Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory to coordinate the Midwest Landbird Migration Monitoring Network. For this award, Roth will write and edit the Midwest Landbird Migration Monitoring Network Strategic Plan in collaboration with the US Fish & Wildlife Service and the Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory. Along with the grant, comes Roth’s new title of Midwest Landbird Migration Monitoring Network Coordinator . The strategic plan will lay out a road map for coordinating bird monitoring and research efforts toward objectives of the Midwest Coordinated Bird Monitoring Partnership ( The goal of the plan is to provide guidance for improving usage of data generated by the network of partners across the Midwest to better address priority migration information needs at the regional scale.

Terry Sharik Appointed to Robbins Chair

Dr. Terry Sharik, dean of the School of Forest Resources & Environmental Science, Robbins Chair of Sustainable Resources

Congratulations to Terry Sharik, dean of the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science, on his recent appointment to the Robbins Chair in Sustainable Resources. Sharik has made great progress in bringing together players from all aspects of sustainable resources in Michigan through his efforts with the Michigan Biomaterials Initiative. To learn more about the Michigan Biomaterials Initiative, visit the MTU Biomaterials main page.

The Wildlife Society 2013 Annual Conference

Michigan Tech Students Participating in Quiz Bowl

The Michigan Tech student chapter of The Wildlife Society had an excellent performance in the quiz bowl competition at The Wildlife Society 2013 Annual Conference, coming in fourth out of seventeen teams.  They were very nearly third, and played Humboldt State (2nd place & very tough) which is a success by most participants standards.  They beat Purdue in the 1st round, SUNY Cobleskill in the 2nd, lost to Humbolt in the 3rd, and barely lost to University of Tennessee in the deciding match for 3rd-4th place.