Langston Publishes Article on Current Administration’s Efforts to “dismantle environmental law”

Nancy Langston
Nancy Langston

Places, a journal of public scholarship on the built environment, published an article by Nancy Langston (SS) analyzing the Trump administration’s efforts to “dismantle environmental law” and other similar political action, particularly in the Midwest. She writes “far-right politicians in the Midwest have been running their states as experimental laboratories where they refine efforts to undermine science and democracy.” Langston also discusses what can be done about this.


Congratulations to SS Faculty–Research Excellence Fund (REF) Awards Announced

The 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)
Raymond Shaw (Bio Sci/EPSSI)
Kent Cyr (VPA)
Amy Marcarelli (SS/GLRC)

Portage Health Foundation (PHF) Infrastructure Enhancement (IE) Grants
Steve Elmer (KIP/LSTI)

Scholarship and Creativity Grants (SCG)
Emanuel Oliveira (SBE)
Josh Loar (VPA)
Joel Neves (VPA)
Richelle Winkler (SS/GLRC)
Sarah Scarlet (SS)
Sarah Bell (HU)
Carlos Amador (HU)
Mark Rouleau (SS)

Research Seed (RS) Grants
Daisuke Minakata (CEE)
Radwin Askari (GME/EPSSI)
Erika Hersch-Green (Bio Sci/ESC)
Kelly Steelman (CLS)
Don Lafreniere (SS/GLRC)
Kathryn Perrine (Chem)
Curtis Edson (SFRES)

Portage Health Foundation (PHF) Research Seed (RS) Grants
Momoko Tajiri (Chem)
Xiaohu Xia (Chem)
Kevin Trewartha (CLS)
Kelly Kamm (KIP)

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


Congratulations Erin Pischke and Will Lytle – Student Leadership Awards

Will Lytle
Will Lytle
Erin Pischke
Erin Pischke

The 23rd Annual Student Leadership Awards were held Friday in the Memorial Union Ballroom.

President’s Award for Leadership was presented to Stuart Liburd, Jr., while Tyler Leverton was given the Provost’s Award for Scholarship.

The Vice President’s for Student Affairs Award for Service was won by Erin Richie.

The other individual and organization award winners were:

  • Exceptional Community Service Project – “Kemin Fena, Your Story, Our Story”
  • Exceptional Enthusiasm as a Student Leader – Martine Loevaas
  • Exceptional Leadership in Student Governance – William Lytle
  • Exceptional Program of the Year – Language Program, International Club
  • Most Improved Student Organization – Leaders in Continuous Improvement
  • Rising Star of the Year – Natalie McGrath
  • Student Employee of the Year – Eric Smith
  • Student Organization of the Year – Huskies Pep Band
  • Student Organization Advisor of the Year –  Michael Christianson (VPA)
  • Clair M. Donovan Award- Bradley Turner
  • Outstanding Future Alumni Award- Mackenzy Shega-Fox
  • Sorority Woman of the Year – Julie Karl
  • Fraternity Man of the Year – Joe Hurford
  • Sorority of the Year – Alpha Gamma Delta
  • Fraternity of the Year – Sigma Tau Gamma
  • Exceptional Graduate Student Leader – Erin Pischke
  • Exceptional Graduate Student Scholar – Wei Wei
  • Exceptional Graduate Mentor – Jessie Knowlton
  • Exceptional Staff Member– Jill Fisher
  • Percy Julian – Jimmie Cannon, Jr.


Walton Co-Editor and Chapter Author in New Book on the Connection Between Practitioners and Scholars of Natural Philosophy and Science

Steve Walton
Steve Walton

Steve Walton co-edited and authored a chapter in the book “Mathematical Practitioners and the Transformation of Natural Knowledge in Early Modern Europe” published by Springer.

Abstract:  “The book argues that we can only understand transformations of nature studies in the Scientific Revolution if we take seriously the interaction between practitioners (those who know by doing) and scholars (those who know by thinking). These are not in opposition, however. Theory and practice are end points on a continuum, with some participants interested only in the practical, others only in the theoretical, and most in the murky intellectual and material world in between. It is this borderland where influence, appropriation, and collaboration have the potential to lead to new methods, new subjects of enquiry, and new social structures of natural philosophy and science.”


Winkler- MTU/UNH Research Finds Migration Making Most American Counties More Diverse

Richelle Winkler
Richelle Winkler

Richelle Winkler co-authored a research brief, Moving to Diversity, with Kenneth Johnson from the University of New Hamphire.  Using new data and techniques, they find that net migration between counties increased racial diversity in each of the last two decades.  The full report can be found here: https://carsey.unh.edu/publication/moving-diversity.


Anthropology Student participates in Undergrad Research Symposium

imedImageJoe Iwanicki – Anthropology – Social Sciences
Iwanicki’s research, The Archaeology of Trade: A Study of a Twentieth Century Logging Camp, was presented at Michigan Tech’s 2017 Undergraduate Research Symposium this past week. With the assistance of LouAnn Wurst, Iwanicki looked at archaeological data from a 1900’s lumber camp in the Munising Michigan area called Coalwood. The data consists of artifacts that allow for investigation of trade and commodity flows. The archaeological record is combined with GIS to map and recreate the trade networks of the past, something rarely explored by archaeologists.

The Undergraduate Research Symposium highlights the amazing cutting-edge research being conducted on Michigan Tech’s campus by some of our best and brightest undergraduate students.

The students showcasing their work today have spent a significant portion of the past year working alongside Michigan Tech faculty and graduate students to explore, discover and create new knowledge. They’ve spent long hours in the lab or out in the field designing experiments, gathering data, creating new models and testing hypotheses. They’ve applied their classroom knowledge in new and sometimes unexpected ways, and developed new skills that will propel them forward in their careers.



Langston and Gupta Radio Interview on DAPL Wins Best Feature Programming Award

Best Feature Programming Award.
Best Feature Programming Award.

A radio interview featuring Latika Gupta (SBE) and Nancy Langston (SS) won the Michigan Association of Broadcasting Award for Best Feature Programming. The Copper Country Today Segment discussed the Dakota Access Pipeline Controversy and initially aired on Dec. 18, 2016.

Gupta had provided her expertise as an energy economist and Langston had focused on sovereignty and environmental justice issues. The entire interview can be found on the Copper Country Today website.


Deans’ Teaching Showcase: Don Lafreniere

Bruce Seely and Don Lafreniere
Bruce Seely and Don Lafreniere

This week, the Deans’ Teaching Showcase returns to the College of Sciences and Arts, where Dean Bruce Seely has selected Don Lafreniere, an assistant professor in the Social Sciences Department.

Seely says that he nominated Lafreniere partly to highlight the area in which he is teaching — geographic information systems (GIS).

According to Seely, “Much of Don’s teaching helps students grasp the importance of geography generally and geospatial thinking specifically. This is what he cares about, and his enthusiasm and energy show in every discussion on this topic.”

But Seely says his primary reason for recognizing Lafreniere in this year’s Teaching Showcase comes back to his approach to student learning.

“In all my classes,” Lafreniere notes, “I strive to provide an environment in which students are comfortable questioning themselves and each other while facing the discomfort of challenging their accepted viewpoints. In small classes, I arrange the students in a circle, allowing for more intimate discussions and debates. I sit with my students, asking provocative questions and telling stories that push them to question their assumptions and inquire about how things are interconnected.”

Seely was intrigued by Lafreniere’s way of introducing the topic of homelessness. After assembling in the classroom, he told students to take off their coats and “follow me outside on a February morning. We stand in the snow, shivering, as I briefly outline the origins of homelessness in cities. We return to the warmth of the classroom to watch a short documentary in which homeless people share their experiences, then conclude with a discussion of the complexities of this social issue.”

This approach surely makes homelessness a more real situation to college students. For similar reasons, Lafreniere creates field experiences in every class, such as sending students to local grocery stores to “investigate the origins of fresh produce and to record all the manufacturers of a category of products, such as soup or cereal.”

This information informs a required report on how changes in the global food system are observed locally.

Lafreniere’s classroom effort also recognizes that “today’s university students live technologically-saturated lives.” Therefore he “embraces the use of technology to engage them.”

Lafreniere uses both Mentimeter and Poll Everywhere, two response systems that allows students to answer questions via their laptops or cellphones. The results are displayed in real-time on a PowerPoint slide and help gauge student comprehension.

Frequently Lafreniere brings online digital exhibits into courses. For example, he “illustrated the process of socially-constructed places with PhilaPlace, an interactive archive which allows residents of Philadelphia to map their own stories of places in their neighborhood.”

While Lafreniere spends much of his time helping students master the computer-based technology of GIS, he presents that tool as only a technique for continuing to question themselves about the natural and built environment that surrounds them.  His enthusiasm for that task is why he is part of this year’s Deans Teaching Showcase.

Lafreniere will be recognized at an end-of-term luncheon with 11 other showcase members, and is now eligible for one of three new teaching awards to be given by the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning this summer recognizing introductory or large-class teaching, innovative or outside-the-classroom  teaching methods, or work in curriculum and assessment.