Glime Receives Hattori Prize for Bryology Masterwork

The International Association of Bryologists has awarded its Hattori Prize to Janice Glime, professor emerita of biological sciences at Michigan Technological University, for her online encyclopedia, “Bryophyte Ecology.”

The Hattori Prize recognizes the best paper or series of papers published by a member of the association within the previous two years.

Glime has completed two volumes on this group of diminutive plants that includes mosses, liverworts and hornworts: “Physiological Ecology” and “Bryological Interaction.” A portion of the third (“Methods”) is available online, and she has at least two more volumes pending.

“Bryophyte Ecology” is read worldwide both as a text and reference. While scientifically rigorous, it is written in a conversational style. “I hope to make bryology more accessible to students who have no mentor in the field and to stimulate interest among ecologists, naturalists and educators,” Glime said. “A book such as this is dependent on scientists in many fields, all over the world.”

Glime originally conceived of “Bryophyte Ecology” as a textbook, back in the 1990s. But as bryology advanced by leaps and bounds, she was never able to finish so much as a chapter. Then the Internet came into its own, and the project shifted. In 2007, she began uploading chapters to www.bryoecol.mtu.edu. Her masterwork has two major advantages over a print edition: it offers unlimited color photography, and mistakes are easy to fix, thanks to friendly input from her fellow bryologists and other experts.

Perhaps the most enthusiastic responses, however, have come from bryologists from as far flung as China and Bulgaria, who have thanked her profusely for making such a vast trove of knowledge available.

“Dr. Glime, I think you are one of the most generous and collegial scientists I have (not!) met,” wrote a Canadian bryologist. “You are really an inspiration . . . All my students are thrilled with your online book, and I am, simply, in awe. Thank you.”

It couldn’t be done without a lot of help, Glime stresses. “The Internet and Google have made possible what could not have been done 20 years ago,” she said. “Some of the researchers and photographers have gone the second mile to help me find images and literature. Some have taken pictures for me. Some have offered to review a chapter when it was completed—especially some of the zoologists. And some have even done fieldwork to enhance the information in a particular area. Many have sent me unsolicited pictures and references. I couldn’t have found a better retirement project.”

Glime retired in 2008 after 35 years on the Michigan Tech faculty. She received the University’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 1994 and in 2009 was given the Distinguished Service Award for her longtime dedication to the University Senate and to student success.

by Marcia Goodrich, magazine editor
Published in Tech Today


Onder Receives Distinguished Teaching Award

Success is all in the planning–just ask the 2013 Distinguished Teaching Award recipients.

For assistant professor of genetics and developmental biology Thomas Werner, who won the award in the assistant professor/professor of practice/lecturer category, each semester starts an entire year in advance. “People think I’m crazy to start planning my courses so early, but I like to check all of the material to ensure that it’s accurate,” he said. “I spend about twelve hours preparing for each fifty-minute lecture.”

Nilufer Onder, associate professor of computer science, won the award in the professor/associate professor category. She also tries to plan her courses far in advance.

“I always look at the semester as a whole so I can avoid surprises and navigate the busy points more easily. It’s a matter of looking for patterns and trying to evenly distribute the workload for students,” she said.

Onder came to Michigan Tech in 1999, after receiving her PhD from the University of Pittsburgh in the same year. The former Middle East Technical University systems programmer teaches Formal Models of Computation and Artificial Intelligence courses, and advises the Women in Computer Science and Upsilon Pi Epsilon computing sciences honor society.

Students in her Formal Models class wrote, “Dr. Onder really cares about her students. She frequently asks for student input during class to make sure we truly understand what she is trying to teach us”; “She promotes online and offline learning and gives every student great opportunities to succeed. You can tell she truly puts her heart into the course and wants everyone to succeed”; “She is far and away the best teacher I’ve had in my five years at Tech. She consistently goes above and beyond.”

What earns her such acclaim? “I always try to be accessible,” she said. “Sometimes that means acting like I have all the time in the world even when I’m rushing.” She also makes a great effort to challenge students without overwhelming them. “People need to get stuck in order to learn, so I try to avoid spoon-feeding students the answers. That being said, I always make it clear that I’m there to help them through any problems.”

Onder’s favorite part about teaching is working with so many dynamic and motivated students. “Our motto here at Michigan Tech is create the future, and I get to teach the people who are going to do that,” she said. “Everything relies on computers, and it’s my job to enable my students to produce the most reliable, secure, and quality software that they can.”

“My students are a motivated and diverse group of people,” Onder added. “They all want to contribute to society in one way or another. It’s my job as a teacher to help them do that.”

by Travis Gendron, student intern
Published in Tech Today – full article


Retirement Celebration for Susan Martin

The Department of Social Sciences is happy to invite friends and colleagues to a party that celebrates the career of Susan Rapalje Martin, who will retire at the end of May.

Our celebration will be held in the second floor of the Academic Office Building Annex from 4 to 6 p.m. on Friday, May 3. Join us to congratulate Susan and mix with friends over hors d’oeuvres and beverages.


Ahlborn named Outstanding CEE Faculty of the Year

Tess Ahlborn, associate professor of civil engineering, was awarded the 2013 Howard E. Hill award for Outstanding Faculty of the Year in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. The award, which recognizes excellence and passion for teaching, was established in 1994 and is determined annually by the CEE students. Ahlborn teaches in the area of structural engineering, specifically concrete building and bridge design, and uses Dillman Hall (a reinforced concrete building) as a living classroom.


Sarah Green Named Jefferson Science Fellow

Sarah Green, chair of the Department of Chemistry, has been named a Jefferson Science Fellow by the US Department of State. She will spend a year in Washington, DC, and in countries around the world, working with the State Department or the US Agency for International Development (USAID) on projects to integrate science and public policy.

Jefferson Science Fellows are selected not only for their excellence in science, but also for their abilities as communicators, their interest in global cultures and their concern about science policy-making.

“I congratulate Sarah for being nationally recognized as a Jefferson Science Fellow,” said Provost Max Seel. “She is eminently qualified and deserving. She has been passionately engaged in advancing science to serve society.”

The policy-making experience that the fellowship provides will benefit not only Green, but Michigan Tech as well, Seel went on to say. “We firmly believe that building strength and expertise of our faculty and students in the public policy area is of strategic importance and needs to become commensurate with our strength in engineering and science,” he said.

To read more, see Green.

by Jenn Donovan, public relations director



Michigan Tech Prof Named Woman of the Year by Transportation Group

Tess Ahlborn of Michigan Tech has been named Woman of the Year by the Michigan chapter of WTS, an international organization dedicated to the professional advancement of women in transportation.

Ahlborn, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, will be accepting the award and giving the keynote speech at the awards ceremony, set for March 14 in Hartland.

Also being honored is Michigan Tech’s Transportation Enterprise, which uses industry-sponsored projects as a framework for student learning. The program is receiving the Innovative Transportation Solutions Award, in part for its students’ efforts to expand transit services in the Houghton/Hancock region.

In addition, two Michigan Tech civil engineering undergraduates, Sarah Reed of De Tour Village and Ellen Nightingale of Stevensville, will be awarded scholarships.

The full story is available here:

Woman of the Year

Published in Tech Today


Retirement Party for Martha Sloan Dec. 17

Martha Sloan, professor and former associate chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, is retiring after 43 years at Michigan Tech. A celebration in her honor will be held from 4 to 6 p.m., Monday, Dec. 17, in EERC 515, the fifth-floor social area. The University community is invited.

Sloan came to Michigan Tech in 1969, after completing her doctorate at Stanford University and spending two years with Lockheed Missiles and Space Company in Palo Alto, Calif. At the time, that made her Tech’s first and only female electrical engineering faculty member.

Twenty-four years later, Sloan broke ground again when she became the first woman to be elected president of IEEE. The experience opened unusual doors, including one at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue: she was introduced to President Bill Clinton in the White House and played with Socks, the First Cat. “In many ways, Socks was more fun,” she recalled.

In 2012, she received Michigan Tech’s Distinguished Service Award for her efforts in the University Senate (where she served as president), her department, the College of Engineering and, overall, the University. As well, Sloan was saluted for mentoring female faculty and students and her “unflinching advocacy of women at all levels.”

She is a Fellow in IEEE, the Association for Computing Machinery and the Society of Women Engineers. Sloan is also a founding member of the IEEE Women in Engineering Affinity Group, the first student chapter in the nation; and of WISE (Women in Science and Engineering), which aims to increase the number of female faculty in the STEM disciplines at Michigan Tech.

One of her colleague’s remarked upon the “zest for life” evidenced in Sloan’s work. She will likely exhibit the same quality in her retirement: initial plans include cruising to Antarctica and then earning a master’s degree in military history.

by Marcia Goodrich, magazine editor
Published in Tech Today


Hoffman to Discuss Behavioral Economics, Academic Advancement for Women, and More

Elizabeth Hoffman, an expert in experimental and behavioral economics, will meet with several faculty and student groups at Michigan Tech, Monday and Tuesday, December 3 and 4.

Hoffman, currently professor of economics at Iowa State, will be giving four separate presentations over the two days. Her forty-plus years in academia have included stints as a university president and executive vice president and provost, and she will address different aspects of her research and experience.

At her University-wide keynote Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. in the Memorial Union Ballroom A2, she’ll address “The Evolution of Experimental and Behavioral Economics.” This event is open to the public.

“Starting in the 1950s, a small number of experimental economists challenged the economics orthodoxy of the day by studying markets in an experimental laboratory setting,” Hoffman says. “This early work helped shape our understanding of how markets work.”

Before the 1987 stock market crash, Hoffman says most economists believed that bubbles and crashes wouldn’t happen because sophisticated traders would not allow prices to deviate from intrinsic value. The 1987 crash burst that thought bubble, and more recently, behavioral economists have shown that the beliefs of unsophisticated traders can actually drive up prices, well over their intrinsic values, witness the housing bubble that burst recently.

“With my coauthor Vernon Smith [2002 Nobel Prize winner], we also looked at two-person bargaining games that feature cooperation and competition. The results revealed, among other traits, that observation leads to more fairness, equity and equality,” she says.

Hoffman will have lunch with female faculty members at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday and discuss the status of women in academia. Acknowledging that there remains underrepresentation of women in many fields, she will discuss the importance of family-friendly programs, especially as they pertain to the child-bearing years of female graduate students, postdocs and faculty.  At the luncheon, she shared data about women in academia and pointed out that even though there is improvement, numbers continue to be low especially in many STEM fields. She showed data that led to many questions about the effect of having children on women in academic careers.

“While provost at Iowa State, I was able to raise the numbers of female and minority senior administrators from 20 to 60 percent,” she says. “And I was able to do so with the best people for the positions by eliminating unintended bias and ensuring that every employment pool was highly diverse.”

With the Senate Finance Committee, she will discuss “Responsibility-centered Budgeting in Higher Education.” At Iowa State, it featured decentralized budgeting with deans responsible for space and faculty benefits, including start-up costs, among other budget issues.

“Our results were dramatically positive,” she says “Even though we started it in July 2008 in the midst of the recession and lost 25 percent of our state budget, we grew our incoming student numbers by almost one quarter.” With the Senate Finance Committee at 2 p.m. Monday, she also plans to discuss faculty accountability, a subject she addressed recently in an article on the Inside Higher Ed website.

At 9:35 a.m. Tuesday, she’ll visit a class, EC4640 Natural Resource Economics, and discuss “Property Rights and the Coase Theorem.” Hoffman is an expert on the Coase Theorem, named after 1991 Nobel Prize in Economics winner Ronald Coase. It is an important basis for most modern economic analyses of government regulation.

Hoffman’s visit is part of the Visiting Women and Minority Lecturer/Scholar Series. This event is funded by the Michigan Tech President’s Office and a grant to the Office for Institutional Diversity for the State of Michigan’s King-Chavez-Parks Initiative.

by Dennis Walikainen, senior editor
Published in Tech Today


Michigan Tech Wins National Award for Diversity

Michigan Tech has won a national award for its diversity initiatives. INSIGHT into Diversity, the oldest and largest magazine about diversity on college and university campuses, announced its first annual Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) award today.

The award cites Michigan Tech for “its outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion for the year 2012.” The December 2012 issue of INSIGHTS into Diversity highlights Michigan Tech.

In addition to Michigan Tech, three other Michigan colleges and universities received HEED awards. They are Michigan State and Ferris State Universities and Delta College. Nationwide, the magazine recognized 48 institutions.

For the full story, see Diversity Award.

To see the December issue of INSIGHT into Diversity, announcing the national award winners go to INSIGHT.

For more information on Michigan Tech’s diversity initiatives, contact Chris Anderson, special assistant to the president for diversity, csanders@mtu.edu, 906-487-2474.

by Jennifer Donovan, public relations director
Published in Tech Today