Category Archives: Awards and Accolades

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.

 


Susan Liebau Wins 2017 Diversity Award

Posted by Mark Wilcox, Tech Today, May 11, 2017

Established in 2014, Michigan Technological University’s Diversity Award recognizes the accomplishments of a Michigan Tech faculty or staff member who contributes to diversity and inclusion through exemplary leadership and actions.

Susan Liebau, director of the Waino Wahtera Center for Student Success, has been named the recipient of the 2017 Michigan Tech Diversity Award.

To qualify for the award, individuals must be nominated by fellow employees, students, alumni, University groups, employee networks and community organizations or other University partners. The award is intended to honor those who have gone above and beyond to further and foster diversity and inclusion at Michigan Tech.

In one of three nomination letters on Liebau’s behalf, Associate Vice President and Dean of Students Bonnie Gorman stated, “It’s always gratifying when a student comes and asks for your support because they want to submit a nomination for an award. That’s what happened in this case for Susan.”

Gorman wrote that Liebau, for years the advisor for the Society of African America Men, was approached by members of that organization when the previous advisor left and the group was about to fold. Gorman notes Liebau is an active supporter of the Society of Intellectual Sisters Bra Show and oversees the training of the Orientation Team Leaders and the Wahtera Center coaches which involves nearly 100 students annually.

In another nomination letter, Heather Simpson, assistant director of the Wahtera Center, wrote, “As director of the Waino Wahtera Center for Student Success, Susan places an emphasis on diversity and inclusion in all areas she supervises. She actively recruits and encourages underrepresented students to work for the Wahtera Center, in a variety of positions, include key student leadership roles.” Simpson writes that she knows of “no one more deserving” of the Diversity Award than Liebau.

“I feel honored and humbled.”Susan Liebau

“The 120 Wahtera Center staff connects with every first-year student and hundreds more each year,” wrote Ryan Bennett, assistant director of orientation programs. “To say their ability to relate to students is essential would be an understatement. … The stories that result from their efforts provide extremely compelling evidence of Susan’s commitment to promote a diverse and inclusive campus culture.”

Bennett writes Liebau “works determinedly to cultivate and change the norm from the ground up, through the development of meaningful individual relationships and dialogue.”

Kellie Raffaelli, director for the Center of Diversity and Inclusion is chair of the award selection committee, a subset of the University’s Diversity Council, says Liebau is a worthy recipient of the award.

“Susan has been a consistent champion of increasing students understanding of diversity and inclusion throughout campus as well as continually working toward underrepresented students having a stronger sense of belonging here at Tech.”

Raffaelli says Liebau embodies what it means to be an ally and most certainly has “gone above and beyond to create an inclusive campus community.”

Liebau says she looks to ensure students feel welcome, valued and part of a community that will support and encourage them.

“I feel honored and humbled that others recognized how much this means to me and took the time to nominate me for this award,” she says.

“It isn’t always simple or easy, but creating an inclusive and supportive campus is something we should all strive for as a campus community.”

Liebau will receive a $2,500 award and will be recognized during the Faculty Awards Dinner in September. In addition to Liebau, Allison Carter, director of admissions and Josh Olson, chief information officer, were also nominated for the award.


Stephanie Carpenter winner of 2017 Press 53 Award

Humanities Professor Wins Fiction Award

Stephanie Carpenter (HU) has been named winner of the 2017 Press 53 Award for Short Fiction for her short story collection “Missing Persons.”

Besides publication by Press 53 in October, Carpenter will receive a $1,000 advance and a quarter-page color ad in Poets & Writers magazine. The judge for the competition was Kevin Morgan Watson, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Press 53.

Of the winning manuscript, Watson says, “These stories are diverse in voice, setting, conflict and style. Ms. Carpenter’s skills shine in this collection, as does her ability to step into the shoes of a wide range of people while peeling back the complex layers of their lives. For a group of stories to rise above 230 other manuscripts competing for my attention, every story has to deliver an interesting, satisfying and powerful experience, and ‘Missing Persons’ did just that. I’m looking forward to sharing this collection of stories with readers everywhere.”

Carpenter’s prose has appeared in prestigious journals and magazines such as Witness, Nimrod, The Cossack Review, Big Fiction, The Crab Orchard Review and others. She teaches creative writing and literature at Tech. “Missing Persons” is her first book-length publication.

A limited number of advanced reading copies of “Missing Persons” will be available for review. If interested, contact Press 53 at 336-770-5353 or email editor@press53.com.


Gupta and Langston Broadcasting Award

[From Tech Today, “Notables,” March 14, 2017]

A radio interview featuring Latika Gupta (SBE) and Nancy Langston (SS) won the Michigan Association of Broadcasting Award for Best Feature Programming. The Copper Country Today Segment discussed the Dakota Access Pipeline Controversy and initially aired on Dec. 18, 2016.

Gupta had provided her expertise as an energy economist and Langston had focused on sovereignty and environmental justice issues. The entire interview can be found on the Copper Country Today website.