Category Archives: News

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


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”.


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 http://www.nature.com/news/iconic-island-study-on-its-last-legs-1.14697 and don’t miss the link to the editorial at the end of the article.


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.


Visit from Yunnan Delegation

Signing the Memorandum of Understanding

A delegation from the Yunnan Academy of Forestry, Yunnan, China, visited the Michigan Tech School of Forest Resources & Environmental Science (SFRES) on October 10th-12th in a combined effort between Michigan Tech and the Yunnan Academy of Forestry to promote academic ties and international cooperation. SFRES professors and scientists presented to the delegation on topics varying from invasion ecology to wetland restoration to genetic mapping. The group from the Yunnan Academy of Forestry was also given the opportunity to visit local restoration sites, such as the Torch Lake Stamp Sands Restoration Site. During the three day visit, members of SFRES and the Yunnan Academy drafted a Memorandum of Understanding to recognize areas in which the two institutions may work together into the future. The two schools aim to work in conjunction in exploring mutually beneficial collaborative research projects as well as exploring the feasibility of initiatives, such as student and faculty exchanges, to promote cross-cultural learning.


Orr receives Silver Medal Award

Professor Blair Orr, Michigan Technological University
Blair Orr

Professor Blair Orr (SFRES) has been awarded the Silver Medal Award by Michigan Tech’s Board of Control in recognition of his efforts to establish and grow the University’s Peace Corps Master’s International (PCMI) program. Orr is the second faculty member ever to receive the Board’s rarely awarded Silver Medal, which recognizes outstanding personal accomplishments of Michigan Tech alumni or friends of the university.

Tech’s PCMI program now is the largest in the nation and has held that distinction for seven years. Since Orr launched the program in forestry in 1995, PCMI at Michigan Tech has expanded to eight graduate programs in departments across campus.

Orr’s areas of expertise include forestry in developing nations, forest economics, and land use in the Upper Peninsula. Congratulations, Blair!


2012 Alumni Brunch and Awards Ceremony

On Saturday, August 4, we welcomed alumni back to campus at our Alumni Brunch and recognized outstanding alumni for 2012.

Faculty members Robert Froese and Dana Richter chat with Keith ('74) and Laska Creagh

SFRES alumni

Faculty members Jim Pickens and Blair Orr visit with 2012 Outstanding Alumnus Award Recipient Jake Hayrynen and his family

Award winners, 2012

Outstanding Young Alumnus – Brandon Bal (’07)

Brandon Bal, 2012 Outstanding Young Alumnus Award RecipientBrandon  graduated in 2007 with a B.S. in Forestry. While at Tech, he was a member of the Forestry Club for three years, serving as chair his senior year.

After graduation, Brandon began his career as a Forester for Forest Resource Services in Gaylord, Michigan. Brandon carried out American Tree Farm System Inspections, wrote forest management plans, and performed forest inventories in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

Returning to the Upper Peninsula in 2008, Brandon started with American Forest Management as a Technical (GIS) Forester. He moved into a leadership position after only two years, becoming an area manager. While working full time, he also earned a post baccalaureate certificate in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) from Penn State University (2011).

Brandon continues his forestry education and development of leadership skills by continuing to be a member in the Society of American Foresters. He also voluntarily serves as the Western UP District Chair of the American Tree Farm System.

Outstanding Alumnus – Jacob Hayrynen (’81)

Jacob Hayrynen, 2012 Outstanding Alumnus Award RecipientJake Hayrynen graduated in 1981 with a bachelor’s degree in Forestry. Throughout his career of more than 30 years, he has been successful in developing collaborative and mutually beneficial business relationships with customers, suppliers, and key constituents, drawing on his wide range of experience in forestry, operations management, land certification, management, and leadership to drive strategic and long term growth initiatives.

Jake is currently the Forest Products Manager at J.M. Longyear, LLC, (employed 1983-present), which manages more than 164,000 acres of company-owned forestlands in Michigan and Ontario, Canada. Beginning in 2001, he led efforts to acquire, manage, and operate 90,000 acres of forest lands in Ontario, Canada, and has been instrumental in growing the company owned land portfolio in the United States and Canada from 48,000 acres to 164,000 acres. He also led the development and significant growth of the company’s stumpage and log procurement program, along with Longyear’s marketing and sales program. He is also involved with the Company’s strategic growth in various downstream forest products business opportunities, the most recent being J.M. Longyear’s acquisition of ½ interest in the Northern Hardwoods sawmill in South Range, Michigan.

Jake is a member of the SFRES Advisory Board and was an instrumental member of the School’s dean search committee. In 2009 he also served on the Board of Advisors for SITTM Technologies Inc., Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. His professional memberships include the Society of American Foresters and the Michigan Forest Products Council (MFPC). Jake has been a member of the MFPC’s Forest Policy committee since its inception. He is also a member of the Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association and the Lake States Lumber Association.

Honor Academy Inductee – Keith Creagh (’74)

Keith Creagh, 2012 Honor Academy InducteeKeith graduated from Michigan Tech in 1974 with a Bachelor’s degree in Forestry. As the Director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, he brings a vast amount of experience and love of the outdoors to the position, as well as a robust background in policy development, strategic planning and relationship building.
Prior to his appointment July 9, 2012, by Governor Rick Snyder, Keith had been serving as director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) since Jan. 1, 2011.

Complementing his public service, he worked as director of Industry Affairs for the Neogen Corporation, a company that develops and provides food and animal safety solutions to the agri-food industry. In that capacity he established and maintained relationships with the scientific community and regulatory agencies at the state and federal level, international product registrations, and manufacturing operations at Neogen’s Wisconsin manufacturing plant.

Keith’s service with state government began in 1974 and has included a wide range of positions with MDARD during his tenure, including land use deputy director with the Departments of Natural Resources and MDARD, where he coordinated a multi-agency implementation plan in response to the recommendations from the Governor-appointed Michigan Land Use Leadership Council. He has provided leadership for the Farm Bill and conservation programs, which brought together conservation organizations, state and federal agencies, and local conservation districts to establish conservation practices in the state. Working through the ranks, Keith’s assignments provided him experience with invasive and exotic species, conservation easements and environmental stewardship. His background also includes working closely with stakeholder groups, federal agencies, the state legislature and U.S. Congress.

Honor Academy Inductee – Bill Botti (’64)

Bill Botti, 2012 Honor Academy InducteeAfter beginning his college education in New York, Bill came to Michigan Tech to earn a degree in forest management, graduating in 1964.

Bill had a 26-year career with the Michigan DNR, retiring after directing the state forest timber management program.

His second career was as president of Clinton Trail Tree Farm, a forestry consulting and Christmas tree business. “We started the Christmas trees as an investment for the kids’ college expenses. Our kids and grandchildren help; that makes the fall season fun,” said Bill.

Bill currently serves as chair of the Michigan DNR Forest Management Advisory Committee. He is also the executive director of the Michigan Forest Association (MFA), where he has been a member since 1971 and a board member for over 25 years. Other positions he has held with the MFA include president, publications chair, and columnist, artist and author for Michigan Forests magazine.

Bill has been a member of the Society of American Foresters (SAF) since 1978 and has authored several publications on forest history. His list of accomplishments also includes:

  • Forestry conservationist of the year 2009 (Michigan United Cons. Clubs)
  • Retired Forester of the Year 2002 (Michigan SAF)
  • Friend of the Living Forest 1995 (Michigan Forest Resource Alliance)
  • Distinguished Service Award 1992 (Michigan Forest Association)

Bill’s community service includes the Eaton Rapids Medical Center and the Chamber of Commerce. He participates in the Lions Club, United Methodist Church and Boy Scouts. Bill married Alice in 1963. They “honeymooned” in Hancock. They have three children and seven grandchildren, but no luck persuading any to go to Tech!

“Michigan Tech was just what I was looking for,” Bill explains. “The practical emphasis and northern location were perfect. We were encouraged to address our (forestry) instructors by their first names. Many lasting friendships and memories were forged at Tech.”

Group photo

Thank you to all who attended to help us recognize these fellow alumni.



New Funding – Falkowski

Assistant Professor Michael Falkowski

Assistant Professor Michael Falkowski has several new projects that have recently been funded.

Fuel Consumption and Carbon cycling in northern peatland ecosystems: Understanding vulnerability to burning, fuel consumption, and emissions via remote sensing of fuel moisture and radiative energy.
Program: NASA Terrestrial Ecology
PI: Michael Falkowski
Michigan Tech  CoPIs: Evan Kane, Eugene Levin
MTRI CoPIs: Mary Ellen Miller, Nancy French, and Laura Bourgeau-Chavez|
Collaborating Institutions: Rochester Institute of Technology; University of Idaho; Florida Atlantic University
Amount: ~$650,000

Enhancing Tools and Geospatial Data to Support Operational Forest Management > and Regional Forest Planning in the Face of Climate Change
Program: NASA New Investigator Program in Earth Science
Title: Enhancing Tools and Geospatial Data to Support Operational Forest Management and Regional Forest Planning in the Face of Climate Change
PI: Michael Falkowski
Michigan Tech CoPIs: Linda Nagel; Robert Froese
Collaborating Institutions: US Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station; Portland State University; University of Idaho
Amount: ~$350,000

Remote sensing of conifer and mesquite encroachment into lesser prairie-chicken habitats
Agency: Natural Resource Conservation Service
PI: Michael Falkowski
Michigan Tech CoPIs: Joseph Bump
Amount $95,000


Promotion and tenure announced

Congratulations to the following faculty who were recently approved for promotion and tenure by Michigan Tech’s Board of Control :

Andy Burton, promoted to Professor with tenure
Rod Chimner, promoted to Associate Professor with tenure
Oliver Gailing, promoted to Associate Professor with tenure
Audrey Mayer, promoted to Associate Professor with tenure
Chris Webster, promoted to Professor (already tenured)