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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.

Andrew Burton – Distinguished Teaching Award Candidate


Associate Professor Andrew Burton

Weigh in on Candidates for the Distinguished Teaching Awards – The Center for Teaching, Learning and Faculty Development  seeks input for its annual Distinguished Teaching Awards, which recognize outstanding contribution to the instructional mission of the University.

Based on over 50,000 student ratings, ten finalists have been identified for the 2012 awards. The selection committee is soliciting comments from students, staff, faculty and alumni to aid in its deliberation.

Associate Professor Andrew Burton from the School is a finalists for the Associate Professor/Professor Category.

Comments on the nominees are due by Monday, March 30, and should be sent to CTLFD at Faculty Award.

The process for determining the recipients from this list of finalists also involves additional surveying of their classes. The selection committee makes the final determination. The recipients will be announced in the fall.

Amber Roth receives award for Strategic Conservation

Amber Roth was one of 12 nominees who were selected as the 2011 winners int he Notable Projects/Team Achievement category by the U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. Amber was recognized for her work with Golden-winged Warbler Conservation in the Upper Midwest. Her work has contributed to landscape scale conservation not only in the Upper Midwest, but beyond. The project involves diverse agencies and institutions working together to achieve science-based conservation objectives and strategies.

Audrey Mayer – Junior Faculty Enhancement Award

Audrey Mayer
Assistant Professor Audrey Mayer

Assistant Professor Audrey Mayer was recently awarded a Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award from Oak Ridge Associated Universities. Audrey will be working with Dr. Virginia Dale at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Professor Mark Rouleau of the Social Sciences department, on a computer simulation modeling project titled “Regional-scale impacts of bioenergy and carbon sequestration policies for nonindustrial private forests in Michigan and Tennessee.”

Research Excellence Fund Awards Announced

The Vice President for Research has announced this year’s recipients of the Research Excellence Fund Awards, which total $502,378 among 27 people.

Recipients from the School from the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science nd their respective award categories are:

Mentoring Grants Oliver Gailing

Research Seed Grants – Michael Falkowski  and Oliver Gailing

Infrastructure Enhancement Grants Andrew Burton, “Improving Michigan Tech’s Ability to Quantify Stable Isotopes of Water”

Forty-six proposals, totaling $1.2 million, were submitted. “We thank all of the members of the review committee for their important role in this process,” said David Reed, Vice President for Research.

Shekhar Joshi Wins 2011 Research Award

Chandrashekhar Joshi is 2011 Michigan Tech Research Award winner.

April, 2011—Chandrashekhar Joshi, a professor of plant molecular biology in Michigan Tech’s School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science, has been named the winner of the University’s 2011 Research Award.

The annual Research Award recognizes a Michigan Tech faculty member for outstanding achievement in research. The award is based on the impact that the researcher has made toward advancing knowledge or the state of scholarship in his or her field, as evidenced by either a sustained productive scholarly endeavor or a single noteworthy breakthrough.

Joshi’s research focuses on understanding how trees make cellulose. “We have been unraveling the process of cellulose synthesis in trees for over a decade now,” he said. “We hope that one day sustainable, renewable and improved bioenergy and other useful products will result from our research.”

SFRES Dean Peg Gale called Joshi “an excellent scientist, mentor, teacher and scholar. His research is groundbreaking, and he passes his knowledge on to others so that they might someday be greater than him.  Shekhar has increased the reputation and visibility of Michigan Tech for quality research through his efforts. He certainly deserves this prestigious award.”

Among those recommending Joshi for the award was Stephen P. DiFazio, an associate professor of biology at West Virginia University. “His work is of fundamental importance in the burgeoning biofuels field, and his expertise is widely respected in the scientific community and beyond,” DiFazio said.

Joshi has contributed to three patents and received more than $6.5 million in research funding over the past three decades, said Professor Laigeng Li of the Institute of Plant Physiology and Ecology, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences.  “Just as noteworthy as his sustained productivity in the laboratory are his contributions to foster the advancement of knowledge among students from the undergraduate to postgraduate levels,” Li added.

Joshi said: “I am truly humbled and touched by my selection for one of the most prestigious awards at Michigan Tech,” Joshi said. “Michigan Tech is the place where dreams of building a better future really come true.  I am grateful to Dean Peg Gale, my students, associates and colleagues at Michigan Tech, and friends and family around the world for inspiration, trust and support over the years.”

Vucetich and Bump receive Excellence Award

Associate Professor John Vucetich and Assistant Professor Joseph Bump, members of the Conservation Ethics Group (CEG), were recently awarded the 2011 Michigan State University  Phi Kappa Phi Excellence Award in Interdisciplinary Scholarship . The award specified the highly unique collaboration between the social and ecological sciences with ethics, the large amount of community engagement, and the highly productive research and publication record of CEG members as especially impressive and the main reasons for the award.

ESC/BRC Student Research Forum Winners Announced

The Ecosystem Science Center and the Biotechnology Research Center announce award recipients of the Seventh Annual ESC/BRC Student Research Forum, held March 25.

For the graduate students, two Grand Prize Awards, six Merit Awards and two Honorable Mention Awards were presented. They were selected from among the 42 posters and abstracts submitted by graduate students conducting research related to ecology, the environment and biotechnology at Michigan Tech. New this year was a separate undergraduate research division with 9 submissions. For the undergraduate students, each center awarded a grand prize winner.

Posters will continue to be on display in the atrium of the Noblet Building, School of Forest Resources, Michigan Tech Campus through April 8

Graduate Research$500 Grand Prizes
Ecosystem Science Center:

  • Mickey Jarvi (SFRES) for “Sugar Maple Root Respiration Shows No Short-Term Acclimation to Soil Warming,” advisor: Andrew Burton

Biotechnology Research Center:

  • Katherine Snyder (BME) for “Development of a Novel Vapor Deposited Silica Sol Particles for Use as a Bioactive Materials System,” advisor: Rupak Rajachar

$100 Merit Awards
Ecosystem Science Center:

  • Rita Koch (SFRES) for “Insect and Disease Response to Prescribed Burning, Harvesting and Wildfire in Red Pine Forests,” advisors: Linda Nagel and Andrew Storer.
  • Meagan L. Harless (Biological Sciences) for “Sublethal Effects of Road Salt (NaCl) Exposure on the Survival and Growth of Larval Wood Frogs (Lithobates sylvatica),” advisor: Casey Huckins.
  • Laura Kangas (SFRES) for “Microtopography in Created Northern White Cedar (Thuja occidentalis L.) Wetlands,” advisor: Rodney Chimner

Biotechnology Research Center

  • Yiru Chen (SFRES) for “Auxin Efflux Carrier Pta PIN9 Regulates Wood Formation and Gravitropic Response in Poplar,” advisor: Victor Busov
  • Surendar Reddy Dhadi (Biological Sciences) for “Functional Analysis of Bidirectional Promoters in Rice,” advisor: Ramakrishna Wusirika
  • Xiaochu Ding (Chemistry) for “Efficient One-Pot Synthesis and Loading of Self-Assembled Amphiphilic Chitosan Nanoparticles for Low-Leaching Wood Preservation,” advisor: Patricia Heiden

$50 Honorable Mention Awards: Ecosystem Science Center

  • Marcella Campione (SFRES) for “Herbaceous Community Compositional Changes in a Northern Hardwood Forest,” advisor: Linda Nagel
  • Karl Romanowicz (SFRES) for “Plant Species Composition in Northern Peatland Ecosystems may have Significant Effects on Carbon Cycling,” advisor: Erik Lilleskov

Undergraduate Research: $150 Grand Prize Awards
Ecosystem Science Center

  • Alisha Autio (SFRES) for “The Effects of Canopy Height on Leaf Mass per Area in Eucalyptus Spp,” advisor: Molly Cavaleri

Biotechnology Research Center

  • Hal Holmes (BME) for “Magnetoelastic Materials as a Means to Control and Monitor Cellular Adhesion,” advisor: Rupak Rajachar

Organizers thank participants, the judges and all who helped with another successful ESC/BRC Student Research Forum.