Category: Awards and Accolades

Karen Colbert Named 2021 Diversity Scholar for RStudio Virtual Conference

Ms. Karen Colbert , a PhD student in Computational Sciences and Engineering and a graduate research assistant for ADVANCE at Michigan Tech has been selected as a Diversity Scholar for the 2021 RStudio Virtual Conference. 

Ms. Colbert is one of 70 Diversity Scholars selected from around the globe, all of them focused on building skills for teaching and sharing. Ms. Colbert notes that her role as a Diversity Scholar will focus on ways she can use RStudio to help “bridge equity for Native faculty and faculty who serve Tribal communities.” 

A plethora of teaching and user workshops and resources are available through the RStudio network.  Following completion of the Virtual Conference, Ms. Colbert will participate in two online workshops and become part of an enhanced network of scholars and resources, available both before and after the conference.

Ms. Colbert says that a large barrier facing tribal colleges is accessibility and sustainability with regard to costly technology, such as licenses, equipment, and support. Since RStudio is open source and has vast capabilities to perform tasks ranging from web design to reporting to statistical analyses and assessments, Ms. Colbert hopes that learning how to “teach” R will enable her to host workshops for faculty.  She says it may also help her design an interactive course to help those who may be intimidated by programming, and ultimately create a platform to introduce tribal colleges to the data visualization, supercomputing, and cloud computing communities.

 In addition to the equity gaps facing Native faculty, Ms. Colbert  also acknowledged that there are many equity gaps for faculty at all ranks and across institutions, including MIchigan Tech. 

This is where Ms. Colbert’s  connection to ADVANCE at Michigan Tech–and its mission to enhance equity in STEM faculty–comes into play. She hopes that her research, her experiences as a Diversity Scholar, and her position as a graduate research assistant with ADVANCE, will allow her to pursue opportunities to bring resources to all faculty members. 

Further, she will endeavor  to assist faculty in demonstrating “their best work to the world in the most professional way, whether it’s for teaching undergraduates or within our own research.” 

Ms. Colbert believes this goal starts with making tools and resources accessible to everyone. Her ultimate aim is to develop unique R packages as a part of the solution.

Ms. Colbert holds a bachelor of science in electrical engineering and a master of science in Data Science, both from Michigan Tech. She also serves as lead math faculty at Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College, Baraga. Mich., in addition to pursuing her PhD and conducting research. 

ADVANCE is an NSF-funded initiative dedicated to improving faculty career success, retention, diversity, equity, and inclusion. To learn more about our mission, programming efforts, and to check out our growing collection of resources, contact us at advance-mtu@mtu.edu and visit our website at mtu.edu/advance.

Karen Colbert. 2021 Diversity Scholar, RStudio Global Conference

Tech Team Wins NASA’s BIG Idea Challenge

The post below has been reposted from the Jan. 13, 2021 edition of Tech Today.
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A team from Michigan Tech has captured the top prize in the finals of NASA’s BIG Idea Challenge. BIG stands for Breakthrough, Innovative and Game-changing.

The Michigan Tech team was one of eight finalists in the competition. Teams were challenged to present their innovative concepts addressing near-term technology capability requirements to support NASA’s exploration objectives for permanently shadowed regions (PSRs) in and near the moon’s polar regions. This intense competition will be judged by a panel of NASA and industry experts.

The MTU team’s winning project is Tethered permanently shadowed Region EXplorer (T-REX). Paul van Susante (ME-EM) is the faculty advisor/Principal Investigator on the project and graduate student Marcello Guadagno, is the student lead.


Prompt Names Barr Associate Editor for STEM

The story below originated in Tech Today on Jan. 12, 2020

Nancy Barr (ME-EM), has been appointed associate editor for STEM for Prompt: A Journal of Academic Writing Assignments. Prompt is a biannual refereed online journal that publishes academic writing assignments accompanied by reflective essays.

It publishes assignments directed at both undergraduate and graduate students from all academic disciplines. Prompt is an open-access journal, with all articles freely available to all readers. For information about submission, contact Barr or click on this link.


Darnisha Slade Selected to the Michigan Community Service Commission

Darnishia L. Slade (PHC) has been appointed to a three-year term to the Michigan Community Service Commission, representing fellow experts in the delivery of human, educational, environmental or public safety services to communities and individuals.

The Michigan Community Service Commission strives to build a culture of service by providing vision and resources to strengthen communities through volunteerism. The Commission develops a three-year comprehensive national and community service plan for the state that shall be updated annually, oversees and submits the state’s applications to the Corporation for National and Community Service and other public and private funding sources, establishes policies and procedures for the use of federal funds, and develops initiatives to promote community service in coordination with existing programs.

“I am honored to receive this appointment from Governor Whitmer!” said Slade. “I am ready to roll my sleeves up and do the work of continuing to make Michigan one of the nation’s leading state service commissions and a model state for volunteerism. I believe that through volunteerism lives are enriched, cultural understanding is exchanged, and lasting partnerships are established.”

Lorelle Meadows, dean of the Pavlis Honors College, says “Dar is an excellent individual to serve the State of Michigan in this way. She has the depth of knowledge, experience, and passion to make an impact on community service outcomes so important to our state at this time.”

Slade is an instructor, advisor, and the manager of global engagement programs for Pavlis Honors College. She is a member of the IDEA Hub Leadership Team and an organization advisor for the Society of Intellectual Sisters and Canterbury House.

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This story was originally published by Pavlis Honors College in the December 1 edition of Tech Today.


Megan Frost Elected to National AKA Board of Directors

Megan Frost, Professor and Chair of the Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology, has been elected to the Board of Directors of the American Kinesiology Association (AKA).

Alan Smith, president of AKA, said her selection “from a stellar pool of candidates, is a reflection of the confidence of Kinesiology leaders in [her] capacity to advance our unified field of study.”

Her three-year term of office will begin in January 2021.

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This story was originally published in the December 1 edition of Tech Today.


Baird Elected President of ACHS

ADVANCE at Michigan Tech would like to extend their congratulations to Melissa Baird (SS) for being elected president of the Associate of Critical Heritage Studies (ACHS). See the story which was published by Social Sciences in the October 29 edition of Tech Today below.
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Baird Elected President of ACHS

by Social Sciences


Melissa Baird (SS), associate professor of anthropology, has been elected president of the Association of Critical Heritage Studies (ACHS) at its biennial conference (virtual) in London in August.

ACHS is an international association for the study of heritage and serves more than 1,600 members in more than 100 countries. The Association includes chapters across the globe, as well as professional and early-career networks. ACHS publishes a quarterly newsletter, provides awards and hosts a biennial conference to bring together people in the interdisciplinary field of heritage studies.

Baird will serve as the ACHS President until the end of its 2022 conference in Santiago, Chile.


New Funding for Michigan Tech Faculty

ADVANCE at Michigan Tech would like to extend their congratulations to Timothy Havens (CS) and Xin Xi (GMES) for their new funding See the stories which were published by Sponsored Programs in the September 3 edition of Tech Today below.

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Timothy Havens (CS) is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $243,169 research and development grant from the US Dept of Defense – Navy – Office of Naval Research.

The project is entitled, “DURIP: Acoustic-Sensing System and High-Throughput Computing for Environment and Threat Monitoring in Naval Environments Using Machine Learning.”

Andrew Barnard (ME-EM/GLRC), Shankara Gowtham (ECE) and Guy Meadows (GLRC) are Co-PI’s on this one-year project.

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Xin Xi (GMES) is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $149,998 research and development grant from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

The project is entitled, “Mapping and Modeling Desertification and its Impact on Anthropogenic Dust and Health-Related External Costs in Central Asia. Shan Zhou (SS) is a Co-PI on this potential three-year project.


Trista Vick-Majors Named to 2 National Boards

ADVANCE at Michigan Tech would like to extend their congratulations to Trista Vick-Majors (BioSci), for being named to the National Academies of Sciences Committee on Planetary Protection and the U.S. Ice Drilling Program Science Advisory Board. See the story which was published by in the August 6 edition of Tech Today below.
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Trista Vick-Majors (BioSci) was appointed to the National Academies of Sciences Committee on Planetary Protection. The CoPP will monitor progress implementing the planetary protection guidelines associated with priority programs and missions identified in the National Academies’ planetary science decadal surveys. The CoPP will serve as a source of advice on measures undertaken to protect the biological and environmental integrity of extraterrestrial bodies and to preserve the integrity of Earth’s biosphere.

Additionally, Vick-Majors was appointed to the U.S. Ice Drilling Program Science Advisory Board. The IDP convenes the Science Advisory Board for the purpose of forming and updating a Long Range Science Plan that addresses multiple aspects of ice core and other ice science and associated technology.


New Funding for Michigan Tech Faculty!

ADVANCE at Michigan Tech would like to extend their congratulations to Pengfei Xue (CEE/GLRC), Michelle Jarvie-Eggard (EF/RISE) and Bruce Lee (BioMed/HRI) for their new funding! See the story which was published by Sponsored Programs in the August 5 edition of Tech Today below.

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Pengfei Xue (CEE/GLRC) is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $50,781 research and development co-op/joint agreement-cost from Argonne National Laboratory.

The project is “Pengfei Xue Joint Appointment Argonne National Labs.” This is a two-year project.

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Michelle Jarvie-Eggart (EF/RISE) is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $199,633 research and development grant from the National Science Foundation.

The project is entitled, “Research Initiation: Factors Motivating Engineering Faculty to Adopt and Teach New Engineering Technologies.” Shari Stockero (CLS/RISE) is the Co-PI on this two-year project.

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Bruce Lee (BioMed/HRI) is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $80,586 research and development grant from the National Science Foundation.

The project is entitled, “Biomimetic Redox Chemistry for Antiviral Application.” Caryn Heldt (ChE/HRI) is the Co-PI on this three year project.



New Funding For Michigan Tech Faculty!

ADVANCE at Michigan Tech would like to extend their congratulations to Andrew Burton (CFRES) and Daniel Dowden (CEE) for their new funding! See the story which was published by Sponsored Programs in the August 4 edition of Tech Today below.

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Andrew Burton (CFRES) is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $327,067 research and development grant from the National Science Foundation, Major Research Instrumentation Program.

The project is entitled, “MRI: Acquisition of an Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometer for using stable isotopes to study complex ecological systems.” Molly Cavaleri (CFRES), Fengling Liu (CFRES), Sigrid Resh (CFRES) and Jared Wolfe (CFRES) are Co-PI’s on this two-year project.

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Daniel Dowden (CEE) is the principal investigator on a project that has received $204,514 research and development grant from the National Science Foundation.

The project is entitled, “NHERI Tailwood 10-Story Test Building Shake-Table Payload Research Project: Low-Damage Uplift Friction Damper for Seismically Resilient Mass-Timber Buildings.” This is a two year project.