Category Archives: Awards and Accolades

Ye Sun Wins CAREER Award

An innovative idea to replace wearable health monitoring devices with embroidered electronics garners attention from the National Science Foundation.

Health monitoring devices—FitBit or Garmin accelerometer watches, apps on cell phones, heart monitors—are becoming ubiquitous, but they have their drawbacks. In some climates, these devices can rub irritatingly against skin. Some are heavy and bulky. So imagine if embroidery on clothing could replace these devices altogether.

Ye Sun, an assistant professor in Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics, has received an NSF CAREER Award, which recognizes outstanding achievement by early career faculty. The research and development grant is for Sun’s project “System-on-Cloth: A Cloud Manufacturing Framework for Embroidered Wearable Electronics.”

Sun’s project is funded for $500,000 for five years.

Flexible electronics to improve well-being monitoring

Well-being management includes daily monitoring of health signals, including heart rate, brain waves and muscle signals, and the list of monitorable signals is growing.

By using conductive thread and passive electronics—tiny semiconductors, resistors and capacitors—Sun’s lab is able to design flexible embroidery to turn logos into wearable electronics.

“For now, when we have wearable devices there are different problems—they can cause skin irritation and some people can’t wear these devices 24 hours a day, but sometimes such long-term monitoring is necessary,” Sun says. “In the future, all electronics can be flexible and won’t affect people’s lives.”

Sun’s lab can embroider on just about anything flexible, whether cloth, foam or other materials. The lab provides coding for the electronics and stitch generation to embroiderers. The stitches themselves become the electronic circuit.

Building manufacturing networks and combining art and engineering

But the funding isn’t just for improving embroidered electronics, it’s also to build a manufacturing network and cloud-based website where stitch generation orders can be made.

“In the future, a person can upload the embroidery design to generate the stitches or download certain stitches,” she says.

Sun is working with professional embroidering companies to create prototypes by downloading stitch schematics from a cloud-based website. She says any embroidery company has the potential to manufacture embroidered health monitors.

She also hopes flexible, wearable electronics will interest a new generation of engineers by appealing to their artistic sides—this type of embroidery circuit weaves together craft and functional design.

“I believe the embroidered wearable electronics can be a new direction for wearable electronics,” Sun says. “To make this successful, we need the technical electronics and the manufacturing to translate the design to make it happen.”

By Kelley Christensen, Tech Today, July 18, 2018


Family Tradition: Morin Named Distinguished Teacher

Brigitte Morin’s parents are educators, so it is not surprising that she became a teacher herself. In fact, she’s become a very good one.

Morin knew she wanted to teach since she was a kid. It was in her blood she says. “Both my parents were educators—my mother was a first-grade teacher and my father taught high school English and French.” Morin is the recipient of Michigan Technological University’s 2018 Distinguished Teaching Award in the Assistant Professor/Lecturer/Professor of Practice category.

Morin, a 2006 Michigan Tech alumna with a biology major and a Spanish minor, started her career teaching high school biology and horticulture in Huntley, Illinois. During her six-year tenure there, her courses expanded to include anatomy, physiology and AP biology. In 2011, she earned a master’s in biological sciences with a focus on biology education from Northern Illinois University. “I was fortunate because this program was designed specifically for high school teachers and allowed us to take many content and pedagogy courses around our busy schedules,” Morin says. “My research examined whether or not the incorporation of scientific literature in the classroom motivated students to read more outside of school. Spoiler alert–it did not.”

Great to be back home

After six years in the suburbs, Morin says she was “ready to come home.” In 2012, she was offered a temporary position in Tech’s biological sciences department, teaching a handful of medical lab sciences and general biology courses. After the retirement of Medical Laboratory Science (MLS) Director Alice Solden in 2013, Morin became a lecturer in the department. Since then, she has taught a wide variety of courses including medical terminology, human anatomy and physiology II, human nutrition, current health issues, basic medical lab techniques, clinical immunology and serology and medical parasitology.

Morin, who was recently promoted to senior lecturer, developed a new course, the Biology of Movement and Meditation, which she says teaches students, “not only the science behind meditation and yoga, but also techniques they can use to help them survive the crazy college years.”

Morin teaches several hundred students each semester and almost all of them rave about her teaching. At the top of their list is her enthusiasm. As Bruce Seely, former dean of the College of Sciences and Arts says, “Brigitte’s infectious enthusiasm is apparent to everyone who knows her and there is no surprise she has received this recognition. She clearly loves teaching—and her students know it.”

Her use of humor and clarity are also common themes, but her willingness to challenge students, while at the same time showing compassion, is especially praised. In one student’s words, “I couldn’t have asked for a better teacher than Brigitte. She realizes the importance of good grades, but she looks deeper than that. She challenges us, but makes it manageable. She cares about our well-being, not just our scores. She makes an impact.”

Large class? No problem.

Chandreshekar Joshi, chair of biological sciences, carries high praise for Morin, indicating her teaching is not only excellent, but has also helped spread best practices within the department. Joshi says, “Brigitte does an excellent job engaging students, but what impresses me most is her successful effort of flipping a huge classroom with more than 100 students. Brigitte is teaching us how to successfully implement active learning. It is a pure delight to see how easily she does a Herculean job.”

Morin’s unbridled love for both teaching and Michigan Tech is apparent. She says “At Michigan Tech, I’m spoiled. I’ve got fantastic students, a supportive department and a University that values teaching and what I do. Being here has fueled my passion for education and for connecting with students. Never once has my commitment to teaching waivered. Every once in awhile, I think, ‘Should I get a PhD? Move into research?,’ and my answer never changes. No, my place is in the classroom with my students. That’s where I find the most joy and excitement each and every day.”

Morin will receive a $2,500 monetary award and a plaque at an awards dinner sponsored by the president’s office in the fall. Richelle Winkler, an associate professor in Michigan Tech’s social sciences department is the recipient of the 2018 Distinguished Teaching Award in the Associate Professor/Professor category.

By Michael Meyer

Published in Tech Today, July 10, 2018


Richelle Winkler Wins Distinguished Teaching Award

With the goal of understanding and promoting community sustainability, Richelle Winkler introduces her students to new ways of thinking about society and how they fit within it.

Winkler, associate professor of sociology and demography, in the Department of Social Sciences, is the recipient of Michigan Technological University’s 2018 Distinguished Teaching Award in the Associate Professor/Professor category. Winkler teaches large, general-education Introduction to Sociology sections each year, and smaller courses that cater to social science students, graduate students or transdisciplinary students.

Winkler received her PhD in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2010. Prior to joining the Michigan Tech faculty, she worked as an applied researcher at the University of Wisconsin’s Applied Population Laboratory where she served as associate scientist and associate director. She was selected to give the inaugural Michigan Tech Research Forum Distinguished Lecture in 2016, and presented with the University’s Distinguished Service Award in 2017. Also in 2017, the Rural Sociological Society (RSS) presented her their Excellence in Instruction Award. In addition to RSS, Winkler is active in the Population Association of America and the International Association for Society and Natural Resources, for which she co-hosted the International Symposium for Society and Resource Management (ISSRM) on the Michigan Tech campus in summer 2016.

Winkler says her primary professional goal is to “understand and promote rural community sustainability.” Her teaching, research and service work all address this goal. She says she loves teaching at an introductory level where she is “able to get to know students from across campus and introduce them to new ways of thinking about society and how they fit within it.” She especially challenges students in these classes to consider their personal role in participating in a democratic society and how they can serve their communities and contribute to positive social change. Winkler serves as a Safe Place Ally and “strives to make her teaching as inclusive as possible.”

Former College of Sciences and Arts Dean Bruce Seely, sees Winkler’s integration of teaching and research as an ideal match for Michigan Tech. Seely says, “Richelle further amplifies the commitment to teaching that is a core value of the college. She is one of the many faculty who chose Michigan Tech precisely because she can pursue both teaching and scholarly endeavors. This balance is vital here. It’s a clear signal that of the value attached to both of these core faculty responsibilities. I’m proud of her.”

Perhaps what is most unique about Winkler’s teaching is her smaller classes take a community-engaged scholarship approach, integrating teaching, research and service. She engages students in working directly with community partners to address practical problems, foster rural community sustainability and promote empowerment of disenfranchised communities. As she sees it, this integrated approach pays big dividends: “Students learn how to apply knowledge, how to work in professional teams and how to make a difference in their community. “

Social Sciences Chair Hugh Gorman, agrees that Winkler’s incorporation of research and practice into her classroom dramatically increases relevance for students. He elaborates, “Richelle excels at turning the classroom into an opportunity for students to research questions of direct interest to the larger community. Whether the issue is related to establishing better recycling programs, exploring possibilities for community-scale solar power, or examining how neighboring municipalities can share services, Richelle helps her students transform theory into practice and move from abstract exercises to research that matters.”

Winkler’s students certainly confirm the value of these connected activities, but also give her high marks in the more conventional aspects of teaching, such as timely feedback and clarity. As one student puts it, “Dr. Winkler set clear goals and provided timely, high-quality and valuable feedback on assignments. On my papers and homework assignments, she would always make thoughtful and introspective comments and notes that demonstrated to me that she was doing more than just grading. I felt that she was truly making an effort to understand the points that I was attempting to make and then engaging in dialogue with me.”

Winkler will receive a $2,500 monetary award and a plaque at an awards dinner sponsored by the President’s office in the fall. Brigitte Morin, senior lecturer in Michigan Tech’s biological sciences department, is the recipient of the 2018 Distinguished Teaching Award in the Assistant Professor/Lecturer/Professor of Practice category.

By Michael Meyer

Published in Tech Today, July 9, 2018


Valoree Gagnon is the 2018 University Diversity Award Recipient

Valoree Gagnon, School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science instructor and research assistant professor of social sciences at Michigan Technological University, was selected as the 2018 University Diversity Award recipient.

The Award recognizes the accomplishments and commitments of a Michigan Tech faculty or staff member who promotes diversity and inclusion through recruitment and retention efforts, teaching, research, multicultural programming, cultural competency, community outreach activities and other initiatives.

Lorelle Meadows, dean of Pavlis Honors College and diversity council co-chair, was on the award review subcommittee that considered nominees’ applications. Meadows noted Gagnon was one of seven qualified faculty and staff nominees from across the University who are doing impressive things on campus to promote diversity.

Meadows said the committee selected Gagnon because “her work covers such a breadth of constituencies and interests on campus that I think that’s why she stood out to us. She’s an instructor in this area so she contributes her perspective in her teaching so she’s touching students. She contributes through external partnerships that she works to build between the University and groups that are off campus. Specifically, she works with our local tribal communities, and she also has an interest in research and scholarship in this area, so she was very well rounded in terms of the way she contributes to the University.”

Meadows also said Gagnon’s “contributions to diversity on campus were strongly evident in the letters of recommendation and the nomination that was presented to us.”

One of Gagnon’s nominees, Melissa Baird, assistant professor of social sciences wrote: “in communities, on grants, in the classroom–she enhances our institutional excellence and broadens and strengthens the University’s mission to increase and support diversity. Since 2008, she has worked to connect Keweenaw Bay Indian community members to the Michigan Tech community.

“Whether through classes or community presentations, multi-agency interdisciplinary grants (e.g., NIH and NSF), or in meetings, she seeks opportunities to facilitate tribal and academic partnerships. And,” Baird continued, “she does this in a way that models what collaborative and engaged research practices look like. She demonstrates that these relationships take time, trust and humility. She knows that each community has something to learn and share, and that these collaborations will ultimately promote productive, long-term connections.”

A standout among many

When Gagnon learned she was selected for the award, she “was overwhelmed. ‘I have so many people I need to nominate over the next several years’–that’s what I thought. Because of what I do, I see and know other people are doing similar kinds of things in very quiet and invisible ways. And I wouldn’t be able to do this without them.”

She followed up by saying, “I didn’t even know there was an award.” The award is fairly new. Gagnon is only the fourth recipient since it was established and first conferred in 2014.

Gagnon said, “the first person I will nominate is Miguel Levy, professor of physics, for what he has done for Indigenous People’s Day Campaign.” She noted Levy among the many who play a part in the work she does on and off campus. Gagnon acts as a liaison connecting people and campaigns for increasing diversity and being inclusive on campus.

“Without these people,” Gagnon said, “it wouldn’t be possible for me to do the kinds of things that I am able to do here–that’s students and faculty and also a lot of community members here in Houghton and Baraga counties and different students and teachers from secondary schools, too. So I’m just fortunate to be uniquely positioned, connected to all these people and ideas.”

Valoree Gagnon has been at Michigan Tech for 13 years. She came to campus as an undergraduate.

“To me diversity is more than a to-do list. It’s not just about inviting guest speakers that are diverse or having events to celebrate the inclusion of diverse peoples. It’s more about how we integrate those lessons into just being who we are. You want others to know, this is the way it is at Michigan Tech. This is what you can expect from our community. Daily.”Valoree Gagnon

In reflecting on the University’s efforts at promoting diversity and inclusion she says, “I can see the changes over the last several years. I can see the growth. It’s not perfect, but it’s growing and strengthening, and I think Michigan Tech should be really proud of that. But of course, there’s always room for growth and that’ll take each of us promoting diversity and inclusion in our everyday encounters. I really believe it is no longer a question of ‘should we’ but now a statement of ‘we must.’” Through teaching, research and service, Gagnon is enacting excellence in diversity and inclusion on Michigan Tech’s campus and in the broader Copper Country region.

Gagnon will receive a $2,500 award and be honored during the Faculty Awards Dinner in September.

Written by Mariana Grohowski, posted to Tech Today, June 14, 2018

 


Victoria Sage Receives Award from Michigan Transportation Asset Management Council

Victoria Sage, technical writer in the Center for Technology & Training (CTT), is the recipient of the 2018 Carmine Palombo Individual Award from the Michigan Transportation Asset Management Council (TAMC). In addition to her duties as a technical writer at the CTT, Sage is editor of the Michigan Local Technical Assistance Program’s The Bridge newsletter.

In announcing the award, the TAMC notes “Vicki’s work in these roles has been a great service to the TAMC in that many of Vicki’s efforts advance the strategies of the TAMC Work Program through key training and educational initiatives for professionals at local transportation agencies. Vicki has also provided leadership and advocacy of asset management principles as well as communicating relevant programs of the TAMC and transportation agencies across Michigan in helping develop stories in The Bridge.”

One of the driving factors in Sage’s nomination for this award was her role in development of the TAMC Bridge Asset Management Workshop. Using innovative features of common desktop software, she transformed the TAMC training into a focused workshop to quickly and easily create a bridge asset management plan for students attending the training.

“Vicki had a vision to improve the creation of bridge asset management plans, and she developed an innovative way to use everyday tools to help the workshop attendees,” says TAMC Bridge Committee Chair Beckie Curtis. “This innovation has been a game changer in terms of what can be accomplished in the training workshops and making it even easier for people to have a document that they can then use to organize treatments in a way that is financially manageable.”

Transportation asset management is a process of managing public assets, such as roads and bridges, based on the long-range condition of the entire transportation system. TAMC, created in 2002 by the Michigan Legislature, promotes the concept that the transportation system is unified, rather than separated by jurisdictional ownership. Its mission is to recommend an asset management strategy to the State Transportation Commission and the Michigan Legislature for all of Michigan’s roads and bridges.

[This article appeared in Tech Today, May 30, 2018]


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



Richelle Winkler Wins Distinguished Service Award

From Tech Today, June 1, 2017 by Mark Wilcox

Richelle Winkler’s efforts to better her community have been recognized by Michigan Tech.

Richelle Winkler, an associate professor in the Department of Social Sciences, is the recipient of the 2017 Faculty Distinguished Service Award.

The award is intended to complement the Distinguished Teaching and the Distinguished Research Awards already established at the University. It recognizes service to the University community that has significantly improved the quality of some aspect of campus life.

University Provost Jacqueline Huntoon says, “The faculty Distinguished Service Award Committee maintains very high standards and are only willing to make awards to individuals whose actions are particularly meritorious. Dr. Winkler exemplifies the characteristics that the award is intended to honor. She is an outstanding scholar whose efforts benefit the University and our community.”

Active in the Community

Winkler was recognized for her work with the Houghton Energy Efficiency Team (HEET), Main Street Calumet, the International Association for Society and Natural Resources, Copper Country Recycling Initiative, Keweenaw Land Trust and the new Keweenaw Climate Community. These activities have helped unify Michigan Tech and the local community as they work toward solutions to environmental sustainability problems.

A nominator for the award describes Winkler as “a catalyst in the community through her leadership and coordination of activities that connect members of the campus and local community in ways that also benefit her students.”

“I am thrilled and honored to receive this award.”Richelle Winkler

Over the past five years Winkler has partnered with Main Street Calumet on three projects with the aim of empowering community members to better understand opportunities and challenges for community development and to envision strategies for future improvement.

She was one of the founders of HEET and was on the organizing team that submitted Houghton County’s entry into the Georgetown University Energy Prize competition.

About receiving the faculty service award, Winkler says: “I am thrilled and honored to receive this award. Being recognized for supporting community-based efforts and building campus-community partnerships says a lot about Michigan Tech-s commitment to civic engagement in our local community and supporting sustainable community development. I have been only one of many partners on all of these projects. Dozens of community members, students, and other faculty and staff equally deserve recognition as they continue to energize our work.”

Winker will receive a cash prize of $2,500 and will be honored at a dinner this fall.