New Assistant to the Provost for Academic Equity and Inclusion

by Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

After a University-wide search, Audrey Mayer (SFRES) was selected for and has accepted the position as assistant to the Provost for Academic Equity and Inclusion. Mayer’s role in this position began Monday. While serving as assistant to the provost, she will continue in her position as associate professor of ecology and environmental policy.

In her new position, Mayer will work with various councils and groups to provide leadership for campus-wide diversity-enhancement efforts and oversee the University’s response to the Climate Study (conducted earlier this academic year). She will also serve as Michigan Tech’s representative for external groups such as the American Public and Land Grant Universities (APLU), the Michigan Associate of State Universities (MASU) and King-Chavez-Parks (KCP).

Provost Jackie Huntoon says, “I am very happy to have Dr. Mayer join the provost’s office team. She has been involved with efforts related to equity and inclusion for many years, and I have come to rely upon her because of her ability to provide me with helpful just-in-time advice. Dr. Mayer will also represent Michigan Tech on some important diversity-related groups and initiatives at the state level.”


New Dean for School of Technology

Michigan Tech announces that Adrienne Minerick (ChE) has been hired to serve as dean for the School of Technology. She will begin serving on July 1 and replaces retiring dean, Jim Frendewey.

Minerick is currently associate dean for research and innovation in the College of Engineering, assistant to the provost for faculty development, and a professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Michigan Tech.

Minerick joined the University in 2010. She holds three degrees in chemical engineering; one from Michigan Tech and two from the University of Notre Dame.

Submitted by Office of the Provost & Vice President for Academic Affairs, published May 15, 2018 in Tech Today


Callahan Named Michigan Tech’s Next Engineering Dean

By Stefanie Sidortsova, published May 14, 2018 in Tech Today

Janet Callahan will become dean of Michigan Technological University’s College of Engineering on July 1, 2018.

Callahan comes to Michigan Tech from Boise State University, where she is chair and professor of the Micron School of Materials Science and Engineering. Callahan replaces retiring dean Wayne Pennington.

“We are pleased to welcome Dr. Callahan to the University,” says Jacqueline Huntoon, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “Her record of scholarship, leadership and innovation makes her well suited to lead the College of Engineering as it continues to move forward.”

“Each dean selected in the history of a college has the opportunity to help shape that college’s future,” says Callahan. “I look forward to working with faculty, staff and the administration at Michigan Tech to assure an exceptional quality educational experience for students, and to further enhance the research trajectory of the college and university.”

Mining academic leadership and an entrepreneurial spirit

Callahan brings to the University more than 20 years’ experience in higher education. Her career began in 1992 at the Georgia Institute of Technology as an assistant and then associate professor of materials science and engineering. She was awarded a National Science Foundation CAREER award in 1996, through which her student, Eden Hunt, patented a new method for creating nanoparticles in sapphire and other oxides using reactive metals.

In 1998, Callahan co-founded a medical device start-up with new intellectual property and took a hiatus from teaching to serve for two years as the company’s director of research. Pulled by her interest in the future of engineering, she returned to her faculty position at Georgia Tech in 2001.

In 2004, Callahan joined Boise State University to help launch its new undergraduate program in materials science and engineering and was then appointed the founding associate dean of Boise State’s College of Engineering. Callahan remained in this position from 2005-2016 before serving the Micron School of Materials Science and Engineering as chair.

Callahan played an integral role in securing $40 million in funding from Micron Technology to establish Boise State’s undergraduate and graduate programs in materials science and engineering and to support the Micron Center for Materials Research. She also brought in more than $2.5 million dollars in external funding for academically talented STEM majors and facilitated the establishment of the Boise Center for Materials Characterization.

Callahan holds a PhD in Materials Science, an MS in Metallurgy, and a BS in Chemical Engineering, all from the University of Connecticut at Storrs, where she is a member of the Academy of Distinguished Engineers.

A foundation in materials

Callahan describes herself as an engineer at heart who remains fascinated by metallurgy and ore, collecting rocks rich in copper, iron and more from her outdoor excursions.

“It takes a massive amount of energy to extract metal out of rock,” Callahan explains. “When we don’t recycle metal, it creates a new cost to our world—to re-create metal from its metal oxide. Because of this, I’m passionate about explaining how important it is that we place each aluminum can, for example, into the right recycling stream.”

When she learned of Michigan Tech’s search for its next dean of engineering, her interest in materials science, combined with the strong national and international reputation of the University’s alumni, led her to apply for the position.

“I felt a visceral connection to the foundational roots of Michigan Tech and to the Keweenaw,” Callahan says. “The native copper here is not oxidized – it’s metal. This means it was cut out of the earth in slabs and shipped on rail. The copper found here supplied most of the copper needs of the country for decades.”

She noted that her interest in the leadership position was also based on Michigan Tech’s reputation in the 21st century as a vital supplier of talented engineers with an international reputation of creativity, work ethic and accomplishment.

Develop leaders, emphasize collaboration, foster excellence

While Callahan is a materials scientist, her research interests extend into STEM education, student retention, STEM teaching and learning, and self-efficacy. Her interest in student life and the non-academic side of higher education led her to live on campus in the Engineering Residential College as part of Boise State’s Faculty in Residence program. Between 2010 and 2012, Callahan lived with her family in a two-bedroom apartment on the third floor, overlooking the Boise River.

At the time, the Engineering Residence College was a co-ed living-learning community, home to first-year engineering students from all engineering majors. Callahan met with the resident students every week and worked with a program assistant to develop student leadership. This resulted in community-focused projects, including an accessible ramp built for a community botanical garden, sage and bitterbrush planted in an area damaged by a wildfire, and a framed Habitat for Humanity house. Callahan remains in touch with the students.

Callahan, who will be the first woman to serve as dean of the College of Engineering, looks forward to developing strong connections with the students, staff and faculty at Michigan Tech, and advancing research that crosses disciplines. “Innovation happens when materials are discovered, new applications of existing materials are found, and theories from one field are applied to another,” she says. “Deans must foster interdisciplinary research and innovation as core principles and find ways to encourage faculty, staff and students to learn, be creative and collaborate.”

“What the students do here, what our talented faculty focus their efforts on, is vital to our nation,” she says. “We need to tell that story.”

 

 


Heldt Grant

Caryn Heldt (ChE) is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $300,000 research and development grant from the National Science Foundation. The project is titled “Driving Forces in Aqueous Two-Phase Systems for Vaccine Development.” This is a three-year project totaling $300,000.


Tech in 10: Q&A with Nina Mahmoudian

by Allison Mills, Tech Today, April 10, 2018

Michigan Tech’s thought leaders glimpse into the University’s future. Nina Mahmoudian, Lou and Herbert Wacker associate professor in mobile systems of mechanical engineering, reflects on where the field is heading over the next decade.

Q: What is happening today that will change mechanical engineering education and research 10 years from now?

The pieces that make an intelligent system are becoming more accessible and affordable. These components are going to change the face of education and research, especially in robotics. Users are getting younger and getting more hands-on learning opportunities—they’re watching YouTube videos, reading articles, taking online courses. They’re doing a lot of self-learning and teaching themselves programming on their own; kids often come to us with more background because they’re interested. It’s a new way of learning and there are so many opportunities, so we need to take it seriously.

Read the full story at mtu.edu/news.


Coleman-Kaiser Participates in Lean Community of Practice Activities

by Associate Vice President for Administration

Theresa Coleman-Kaiser, senior associate vice president for administration, traveled to Grand Rapids March 16 for a quarterly meeting of the board of directors of the Michigan Lean Consortium (MLC). In her role as board vice president, Coleman-Kaiser coordinated a presentation by Cheryl Ronk, president of the Michigan Society of Association Executives, on best practices for governing boards.

On Jan. 31, Coleman-Kaiser was invited to participate in a live online event presented by Lean Frontiers Direct. This event brought together a group of thought leaders and practitioners who each presented 40-minute webinars on themes from the Shingo Award-winning book “The Toyota Way to Service Excellence” and featured co-authors Jeff Liker and Karyn Ross. Coleman-Kaiser presented “Case Study: My Journey Developing Coaches for Leadership Excellence.” Her session was framed around her personal journey of developing leaders as coaches of continually developing teams. A practical framework was offered as a starting point for developing your own coaching practice. This online session is available for viewing by anyone at Michigan Tech through the end of April. Contact Brenda Randell for login instructions.

Coleman-Kaiser was also recently interviewed by MLC founder Debra Levantrosser as a guest on the Michigan Business Network podcast The Leaning Edge. In this six-minute interview, Coleman-Kaiser talked about her practice of coaching people to achieve their own vision of Leadership Excellence.


Langston Honored by American Society of Environmental Historians

On March 17, Nancy Langston (SS) was awarded the American Society of Environmental Historian’s (ASEH) highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award for 2018. President Graeme Wynn recognized her service to the profession at the annual awards ceremony.  In presenting the award, Wynn cited Langston’s long, varied and vital service to the organization. “Nancy has earned many honors and distinctions, but this award recognizes service to ASEH specifically'” Wynn said.

Langston has been active in the leadership of ASEH for more than 15 years, serving as president from 2007 to 2009, vice president for two years before that and on the Executive Committee from 2003 to 2007.

She edited the journal from 2011 to 2014, and was instrumental in moving the journal to Oxford University Press and establishing the journal web page. She helped negotiate the contract with Oxford, which strengthened ASEH’s financial position.

In addition, she chaired the Outreach Committee (2005-2007) and continues to volunteer for ASEH committees and activities, including the society’s efforts to find and transition to a new executive director.

Langston has contributed significantly to a number of ASEH conferences, chairing the Program Committee for the Victoria conference in 2004 and the Local Arrangements Committee for Madison in 2012. In numerous lectures and editorials, she has drawn academic and public attention to the field of environmental history as a whole.


Hein Honored at National Science Teachers Association

Gretchen Hein (EF), was honored at the National Science Teachers Association National Conference for her advising of the 2017 eigth-grade eCYBERMISSION National Winning Team. eCYBERMISSION is a “is a web-based science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) competition for students in grades six through nine that promotes self-discovery and enables all students to recognize the real-life applications of STEM” according to their website. The Lake Linden-Hubbell High School team was comprised of Siona Beaudoin, Beau Hakala and Gabriel Poirier, along with guidance from Ryan Knoll, a student in Chemical Engineering. Hein is advising the ninth-grade eCYBERMISSION team and they have submitted their mission folder for review and evaluation.


Mahmoudian Named Lou and Herbert Wacker Associate Professor

Nina Mahmoudian, an associate professor in Michigan Technological University’s Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics has been named the first Lou and Herbert Wacker Associate Professor in Autonomous Mobile Systems.

The selection was made by Michigan Tech and donors, who wish to remain anonymous. One of the donors is a Michigan Tech mechanical engineering alumni and the endowment is named in honor of their parents, Lou and Herbert Wacker.

This is an endowed professorship through a cash gift of $1,000,000.

William Predebon, chair of ME-EM, says the endowment of a professorship is an important recognition of faculty who are rising stars or at the top of their fields. “Endowed professorships are critical for the retention of our outstanding faculty or to attract a national research scholar. Today more than ever, faculty are being courted by other universities and an endowed professorship is a means to retain them.”

Predebon says, “The donors are humble and do not want to be in the spotlight.” He says when they met, the donor explained they were thinking of a donation and through discussion were persuaded to do an endowed professorship. “What sealed the deal was Nina’s research and the donor put it, ‘it was the gliding underwater robots and the mass of robots joining together to do their thing that reeled me in.’ We will be forever grateful for the generosity of the donors.”

Predebon says not only is the endowed professorship important to Michigan Tech, the appointment of Mahmoudian is appropriate. “Dr. Mahmoudian is a rising star and already a leader in her research in autonomous mobile systems. She is driven and a highly motivated scholar and teacher. Her enthusiasm in the classroom and in her research is infectious and compelling in such a way that students gravitate to her.”

Mahmoudian says she is thankful and humbled by the endowed professorship. “I am grateful for the generosity of the donors and the fact they gave back to the place they graduated, and honored their parents. I also appreciate the efforts that Dr. Predebon put to attract their attention to my work. I am honored that they found my research on underwater autonomy and coordination of unmanned systems interesting and worthy of investment.”

Mahmoudian says the endowment will have a lasting impact in the growth of autonomous systems and robotics research. It will provide her with additional resources to establish strong national and international research collaboration in autonomous long-term operations. “Undergraduate and graduate students will be involved in this research and will receive interdisciplinary education, innovation, technology translation and outreach experiences,” she added. Thinking long term, Mahmoudian says the endowment will help transform how science studies are conducted utilizing autonomous systems specifically under water.

Predebon added the generous gift is a reflection of confidence in both Mahmoudian and Michigan Tech. “The endowed professor in autonomous mobile systems is a visible recognition to the public that Michigan Tech, through Nina Mahmoudian, has a leadership position in this field and will foster continued research growth in this area.”

Story by Mark Wilcox, Tech Today, February 16, 2018


Environmental Engineering PhD Transition Mentoring Seminar

CEE 5992 Seminar

Date: January 22, Monday

Time: 3:05 pm – 3:55 pm

Location: GLRC 0202

Presenter and Affiliation:  Prof. Eric Seagren, Michigan Technological University

 

Presentation Title:  “A Pilot Program for Female Ph.D. and Postdoc Mentoring Teams at TUM and Michigan Tech”

 

Abstract:

The overall goal of this co-operative work between Prof. Eric Seagren (Michigan Tech) and Prof. Jörg Drewes (Technical University of Munich (TUM), Germany) is to study and implement mentoring interventions focused on a critical transition point for women in the STEM pipeline, the transition from the Ph.D. to a faculty, or other high-level, position. Specifically, the collaboration has been focused on developing a pilot program for mentoring female environmental engineering PhDs/Postdocs using a group-based mentoring approach. The goal is to provide the mentee with a diversity of opinions to meet the various needs of the Ph.D. student or postdoc. The teams consist of the mentee, the mentee’s advisor, a female faculty/research staff member from the mentee’s department, and possibly another faculty member who understands the personal and social background of the mentee. Working together, individual mentoring plans are developed by the committee. The critical professional guidance provided by postdoctoral mentoring plans has been shown to be a key indicator of a successful postdoctoral outcome, and can increase the independence, productivity, and satisfaction of postdocs. Several key components are incorporated in development of the mentoring plans: (1) self-assessment, (2) relevant activities, (3) regular meetings, and (4) periodic evaluations. During the spring and fall of 2017, pilot mentoring teams were formed by Profs. Seagren and Drewes for a trial cohort of female Ph.D. students and post-docs at Michigan Tech and TUM. The methods and results of this pilot program will be shared with Profs. Drewes’ and Seagren’s colleagues, and opportunities will be provided for the German and U.S. mentees to interact and share experiences, opportunities, and challenges.