Zhi “Gerry” Tian Named IEEE Fellow

Professor Zhi “Gerry” Tian (ECE) has been named a Fellow of IEEE for her contributions to ultra-wideband wireless communications and localization.

Tian’s research interests lie in digital and wireless communications, wireless sensor networks and signal processing. She has published more than 130 journal and conference papers and several book chapters.

Tian is currently on leave with the National Science Foundation, where she is serving as a program director in the Division of Electrical, Communications and Cyber System of the Engineering Directorate.

Tian has served IEEE as chair of the 2007 Symposium Technical Program Committee for the International Conference on Communications and the Globecom Conference in 2011. She is a member of the IEEE Signal Processing for Communications and Networking Technical Committee and has served as associate editor for IEEE Transactions on Wireless Communications and IEEE Transaction on Signal Processing. She received a National Science Foundation Early Career Development (CAREER) Award in 2003.

IEEE fellows are chosen for extraordinary accomplishment in their field.

IEEE, the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers, with more than 400,000 members, is the world’s largest professional association dedicated to advancing technological innovation and excellence.


Ada Lovelace Day Event Details

Ada Lovelace Day was started in the UK three years ago to celebrate the achievements of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). Ada Lovelace herself wrote one of the first computer programs, and her legacy serves as a reminder that most STEM fields would not be where they are today without the insights of many (often overlooked) women. The goal of this annual celebration is to demonstrate to women and girls why their efforts are so critical to the advancement of STEM disciplines.

2012 marks the first annual Ada Lovelace Day celebrated at Michigan Tech. We have two main events planned (both are FREE and open to the public):

Tuesday, October 17th, 7pm to 8:30pm in Fisher 139:

Professor Martha Sloan (Electrical and Computer Engineering) and Tech alumnae Mary Long and Dr. Michelle Jarvie Eggart will discuss their motivations and aspirations as women working in STEM.

Speaker biographies:

Professor Martha Sloan: Martha Sloan received a BS in Electrical Engineering with great distinction, an MS in Electrical Engineering, and a PhD in Education from Stanford University. After two years of working at Lockheed Missiles and Space Company, in Palo Alto, California, Sloan joined the faculty of Michigan Tech, where she is now a professor of electrical and computer engineering and associate chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Sloan is the author of three textbooks and more than sixty papers. She is a fellow of the ACM, the IEEE, and SWE and has received numerous awards, including the SWE Distinguished Engineering Educator Award, an IEEE Centennial Medal, the Richard E. Merwin Award, and the ASEE Outstanding Young Electrical Engineering Educator Award. She has been active in engineering professional societies, having served as treasurer, vice president, and president of the IEEE Computer Society, IEEE, and AAES. She served for nine years on the board of trustees of SWE.

Mary Long: Mary Long is an engineer/project manager at Black & Veatch, with a strong background in Program and Construction Management. Her education includes BS and MS degrees in Environmental Engineering and BS in Business Administration as well, all from MTU; and she is a licensed Professional Engineer in Ohio. Her work has mainly focused on wastewater and wet weather treatment projects until recently changing from the Water Division of B&V to Telecom to serve as the Decommissioning Market Manager for Sprint’s Network Vision Program.

Dr. Michelle Jarvie Eggart: Dr. Michelle Jarvie Eggart is an environmental engineer/project manager at Barr engineering and adjunct faculty at University of Maryland University College. She works primarily on sustainability and environmental compliance issues surrounding water and wastewater for mining and other industrial clients. She received her Ph.D, in environmental engineering from Michigan Tech and is a registered professional engineer in the states of Oregon and Michigan.

Wednesday, October 18th, 8pm to 9:30pm in Fisher 135:

A screening of the documentary “The Gender Chip Project”, with a following panel discussion. Members of the panel include Mary Long, Professor Laura Brown (Computer Science), Graduate Student Kaitlyn Bunker (Electrical Engineering), Professor Sarah Green (Chemistry), Professor Nina Mahmoudian (Mechanical Engineering), and Professor Patty Sotirin (Humanities).

Panelist biographies:

Mary Long (see above)

Professor Laura Brown: Dr. Brown received her Ph.D. in Biomedical Informatics from Vanderbilt University in 2009. Her research interests include: Algorithms for learning the structure of Bayesian networks; Local causal discovery methods for identification of parents and children or Markov Blankets; and Methods for variable selection on high-dimensional data sets.

Kaitlyn Bunker: Ms. Bunker is working on her Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering; she received her M.S. in Electrical Engineering in 2012, and received an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship in 2010. She has intern experience with Commonwealth Associates, Inc., and General Motors Powertrain. She is currently the President of the Society for Women Engineers at Michigan Tech.

Professor Sarah Green: Dr. Green received her Ph.D. from MIT. Her research interests include: Origin and fate of DOC in terrestrial, lake, and marine environments; methods for detection of free radicals, photochemical transformations of natural and anthropogenic organic compounds in the environment; oxidative degradation reactions; response of aquatic systems to climate change; effects of electrostatic charge and ionic strength on fast reaction kinetics; behavior of metal contaminated sediments in the Lake Superior basin; fluorescence-based analytical methods; integration of biological, geological, physical, and chemical data for understanding global cycles.

Professor Nina Mahmoudian: Dr. Mahmoudian’s general research interests lie in the area of dynamics, stability, and control of nonlinear systems. Specifically, she is interested in dynamic modeling, motion planning, and developing cooperative control algorithms to autonomous vehicles. Design and control of autonomous vehicles based on the principles used by nature is another area of interest.  She works on developing analytical and computational tools for the cooperative control of a network of autonomous vehicles in complex environment using nonlinear control and stochastic analysis. The application will be for air, ground, and sea autonomous vehicles.

Professor Patty Sotirin: Professor Sotirin’s research involves critical-interpretive approaches to issues of culture, relationality, and gender. Her work draws on discursive theories of communication, critical management studies, cultural studies, feminist theories and qualitative methodologies. She is Editor of Women and Language and co-author with Laura Ellingson of Aunting: Cultural Practices that Sustain Family and Community Life.

Professor Audrey Mayer (almayer[at]mtu.edu) can be reached for questions and further information. Hope to see you there!


Gender Bias Established Through Rigorous Research

This is a very interesting article that backs up what Valian said in “Why So Slow.”  The methods of this Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences paper are particularly rigorous.

http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2012/09/14/1211286109

To quote the paper:

“Our results revealed that both male and female faculty judged a female student to be less competent and less worthy of being hired than an identical male student, and also offered her a smaller starting salary and less career mentoring.”

Thank you Audrey Mayer for bringing this to our attention.


Ada Lovelace Day – Recognizing Women Scientists

In recognition of Ada Lovelace Day (October 16, 2012), we are gathering information on women scientists to display on campus.

The lists below will be updated as materials are received. If you are creating a slide, please use the template. An example for Lynn Margulis is also available. Please e-mail Debra Charlesworth if you have a scientist to add to the list, or have created a slide for a scientist.

Waiting for a slide

Slide received

  • Lynn Margulis
  • Marie Curie
  • Caroline Herschel (astronomer)
  • Mary Anning (paleontologist)
  • Barbara McClintock
  • Rosalind Franklin
  • Sally Ride

Additional Resources

Lise Meitner (famous theoretical physicist, explained nuclear
fission, for which Otto Hahn was awarded the noble prize - he would
have to share it with Lise Meitner in this day and age, one would hope
at least - see also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lise_Meitner)

- Emmy Noether (famous mathematician, known for her groundbreaking
contributions to abstract algebra and theoretical physics. In physics,
Noether's theorem explains the fundamental connection between symmetry
and conservation laws, see also
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emmy_Noether_)

- Chien-Shiung Wu (aka "Madame Wu", famous experimental particle
physicist, worked on parity violation, also worked on the Manhattan
project, see also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chien-Shiung_Wu)

- Maria Goeppert-Meyer (shared the Nobel Prize for Physics with J.
Hans D. Jensen and Eugene Paul Wigner. "...for their discoveries
concerning nuclear shell structure" in 1963, see also
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maria_Goeppert-Mayer)

- Angela Merkel (chancellor of Germany since 2005, named the most
powerful woman by several magazines in recent years including Forbes
and Times, received her PhD in physics in 1978 from the University of
Leipzig I think for her thesis on quantum chemistry, and worked as a
scientist in Leipzig until the wall went down, see also
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angela_Merkel)

Minerick Honored with Williams Award

Adrienne Minerick, an associate professor of chemical engineering, is the recipient of the 2012 Fredrick D. Williams Instructional Innovation Award. The award recognizes faculty who have developed or adapted new and innovative approaches to instruction.

A longtime member of the chemistry faculty, Williams is remembered by his colleagues and students for his innovative and creative instruction in the large-enrollment, first-year chemistry sections. He was also director Michigan Tech Center for Teaching Excellence.

Nominators cited Minerick’s numerous innovations in just two years of teaching at Michigan Tech. One example is a combined undergraduate and graduate class, with differing expectations for students.

According to one nominator, such forward thinking has allowed her “to re-energize our core graduate program courses, widely incorporate desktop experiment modules (DEMos) from her NSF CAREER Award and contribute to biosafety in our labs and instruction.”

In one example, Minerick challenges her chemical engineering students to think beyond the traditional model of scaling up chemical processes to the manufacturing plant level. She invites students to consider scaling down operations to lab-on-chip devices that can contain whole chemical processes and analysis within one square inch.

Minerick’s efforts have been acknowledged off campus too. She has used Jell-O to make castings of microfluidic channels for diffusion and transport observation, a model that makes science more fun for K-12 students, and her innovative methods have appeared in American Society for Engineering Education proceedings articles and in the Journal of Chemical Engineering Education.

She has also received the Ray W. Fahien Award, chemical engineering’s most prestigious education award.

Minerick’s primary area of research is electrokinetics with a focus on medical microdevices, blood cell dynamics and point-of-care diagnostics.

Minerick received master’s and PhD degrees in chemical and biomolecular engineering from the University of Notre Dame in 2003 and a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Michigan Tech in 1998.

Posted in Tech Today
by Dennis Walikainen, senior editor


Wanted: Information about “The Women of Tech” for Alumni Reunion

A special event to celebrate the Women of Michigan Tech will be hosted by the Alumni Association and the Presidential Council of Alumnae during this summer’s Alumni Reunion, August 2-4.

A presentation highlighting the achievements of our alumnae is being compiled, and any facts that members of the campus community have about this group would be welcomed.

These facts could include information about the first female graduates and undergrad students in degree programs, origins of female-oriented campus organizations, females in leadership roles, etc. Any information regarding alumnae who have noteworthy “firsts” in industry would be helpful as well.

Information can be sent to alumni@mtu.edu or by calling Alumni Relations at 487-2400. Details about Reunion can be found at Reunion.

submitted by Alumni Relations to Tech Today

Wanted: Information about “The Women of Tech” for Alumni Reunion
submitted by Alumni Relations

A special event to celebrate the Women of Michigan Tech will be hosted by the Alumni Association and the Presidential Council of Alumnae during this summer’s Alumni Reunion, August 2-4.

A presentation highlighting the achievements of our alumnae is being compiled, and any facts that members of the campus community have about this group would be welcomed.

These facts could include information about the first female graduates and undergrad students in degree programs, origins of female-oriented campus organizations, females in leadership roles, etc. Any information regarding alumnae who have noteworthy “firsts” in industry would be helpful as well.

Information can be sent to alumni@mtu.edu or by calling Alumni Relations at 487-2400. Details about Reunion can be found at Reunion.


Two Tech Students Appointed to SWE Board

Graduate student Katie Bunker (ECE) has been appointed collegiate director of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). She will serve on the national SWE Board of Directors this year. Alicia Walby, an undergraduate majoring in mechanical engineering, has been appointed SWE’s regional collegiate representative for this region. Regional collegiate representatives act as liaisons between the region governor, the board of directors and the students in the region.

Published in Tech Today


Martha Sloan Receives Distinguished Service Award

Martha Sloan, professor and associate chair of the electrical and computer engineering department, has received the 2012 Distinguished Service Award. She has been at Michigan Tech since 1969.

Sloan was cited for service and leadership in the University Senate, her department, the College of Engineering and, overall, the University.

Colleagues single her out for bringing international stature to Michigan Tech via work in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), where she served as president, the first woman to do so. “She represents Michigan Tech to the world,” says Associate Professor Mark Johnson, of the School of Technology.

As well, Sloan was saluted for mentoring female faculty and students. She evidenced “undying support and encouragement of mentoring before it was vogue,” according to Professor Dana Johnson, of the School of Business and Economics. She says that Sloan is selfless and dedicated to “furthering careers other than her own.”

Mark Johnson adds, “I don’t think she realizes what an impact she has on so many faculty because she sincerely wants everyone to excel and do well.”

Sloan has many professional affiliations, and she is a member of Tech’s Women in Engineering program; a founding member of the IEEE Women in Engineering Affinity Group, the first student chapter in the nation; a founding member of WISE (Women in Science and Engineering), which aims to increase the number of women faculty in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines at Michigan Tech; and chair of the ECE Promotion and Tenure Committee. Beyond her official duties, she hosts get-acquainted socials at her home.

Professor Pushpa Murthy, chemistry, sums up Sloan’s character: “principled, bold and persistent.” Her mentoring, she adds, has been a source of “unflagging” support for women faculty and “unflinching” advocacy of women at all levels.” Murthy says Sloan’s work is marked by “compassion, understanding and zest for life.”

Sloan’s reach has extended beyond her discipline. People from six departments and two schools endorsed her nomination for this award. Linda Ott says Sloan was instrumental in establishing the computer science program at Michigan Tech.

Professor Emerita Janice Glime, biological sciences, addressed Sloan’s service on the Senate, where she gave a voice for faculty and staff in University governance. Glime says Sloan builds consensus and is a calming presence in discussion and dialogue. “She has gained the trust and respect of faculty and has a reputation for being supportive, not just sympathetic.” She provides a service to which all faculty and staff should aspire, Glime says: “thorough, compassionate, reasoned, nonconfrontational, timely, and innovative.” Her Senate duties have involved her as a sounding board for issues of “diversity, inequity and academic integrity.”

Associate Professor Faith Morrison describes Sloan as “a world-renowned faculty member” who provides mentoring, leadership and a voice to women faculty, researchers, and graduate students in STEM fields. Her service and leadership, Morrison adds, have been “essential and long-standing.” Because of her, Morrison adds, the presence of female faculty in the College of Engineering has “grown and flourished.”

She concludes, “For the entire 22 years of my tenure at Michigan Tech, Martha Sloan has never shied away from a colleague in need.”

by John Gagnon, promotional writer
Published in Tech Today


Retirement Gathering May 31 for Peg Gale

The faculty and staff of the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science invite the campus community to a retirement gathering for Dean Peg Gale at the Keweenaw Brewing Company on Thursday, May 31, from 4 to7 p.m. Congratulations to Dean Gale on her retirement after over 30 years with Michigan Tech as a student, researcher, professor and dean. Refreshments will be provided.

Published in Tech Today


Bi, Yapici Honored for Research to Reveal Cells’ Inner Workings

Lanrong Bi and Nazmiye Yapici are shining new light on the hidden processes within cells. For their groundbreaking research, Bi, an assistant professor of chemistry, and PhD candidate Yapici have received the Bhakta Rath Research Award.

The Rath Award recognizes research by faculty and doctoral students to meet the nation’s needs and contribute to emerging technologies.

Inside our cells are processes that make or break us. They are tied to tiny organelles, such as mitochondria, nuclei and lysosomes. To get a glimpse of those organelles, technologists infuse tissue samples with special dyes and observe them under powerful fluorescent microscopes.

When the dyes work, you can see a glowing image of the organelle. That image may someday be able to tell you if a cell is about to become cancerous or the patient is coming down with Alzheimer’s disease. Until now, however, those dyes had certain limitations.

Working together, Bi and Yapici have developed fluorescent dyes with powerful new properties: they work in acidic conditions, and they can trace hydroxyl radicals (also known as free radicals), very unstable molecules that are associated with a whole range of pathologies, from heart disease to AIDS.

“It’s difficult to monitor a cell’s interior pH, because if a cell goes acidic, the commercial dye breaks down,” said Bi. “But we have developed two dyes that become fluorescent under acidic conditions, which would make it much easier to monitor cells in a diseased state.”

This property makes these dyes especially useful in imaging lysosomes, which serve as the cell’s waste disposal system and have an interior pH of about 4.5. And there’s a good reason to look at lysosomes. “Their morphology changes as cells become cancerous,” Bi said. “This could be used for very early diagnosis, when it’s difficult to tell if a cell is cancerous or not.”

Using a different type of fluorescent dye, Bi and Yapici have also been able to verify the presence of free radicals in mitochondria–organelles that generate most of the cell’s energy–within colon cancer cells. “We do more than label mitochondria,” said Bi. “We are focusing on detecting oxidative stress, which is characteristic of many pathologies, including Parkinson’s, stroke and cancer.”

The fluorescent dyes could be used for quick, safe, inexpensive diagnostic tests, Bi said. “Just put a cell sample on a slide, add the dye, and wait 30 minutes for it to go to the specific organelles,” she said. Then look at it under a microscope.

“These novel fluorescent probes will have great potential for biomedical applications,” said James Russo of Columbia University in supporting their nomination for the Rath Award. “This project is especially exciting because the new compounds already show a dramatic improvement over a probe that is currently on the market.”

Yapici has been key to this research, Bi said. “She is an absolutely outstanding student,” she said. “She works very hard; to demonstrate one fluorescent dye, she will test it under 2,000 experimental conditions. And we will meet at two or three o’clock in the morning to do our work, because not many people are working on the fluorescent microscope at that time.”

Yapici has also been a willing collaborator, working with colleagues at Columbia and Northwestern universities on recent papers as well as with faculty in other departments at Michigan Tech.

Bi expressed her appreciation to her department chair, Professor Sarah Green. “A paper Sarah wrote back in 1990 in this area inspired me,” she said. “She is a pioneer in this field.” And she also thanked Bruce Seely, dean of sciences and arts, for his assistance, saying, “He gives pre-tenure faculty a great deal of support.”

As recipients of the Rath Award, Bi and Yapici will split a cash prize of $2,000.

by Marcia Goodrich, magazine editor
Published in Tech Today